June 29th, 2009
I first saw Jimenez Lai‘s work when it was presented at Materials & Applications in LA. Finally he’s put together a website so I thought I’d cover 2 recent pieces of his work. Jimenez describes his work as an exploration of “hypothetical scenarios of experimental architecture. By pressing alternate conditions against our context, the projects aim at interrogating different points of views and broaden the ways we engage conventions. Graphic novels and physical installations are the two primary weapons of choice, and we believe representation is more than half the battle. The drawings often explore storylines of architecture and urbanism that dramatize exaggerated realities. The projects swerve back into the physical world via the interactive installations derived from the stories. These installations are attempts to better understand the spatial implications of the two-dimensional fiction.”
This installation grown from the hypothesizes that in zero-gravity, one can rotate (in) architecture and treat all elevations as plans – i.e., walls, ceilings and floors. Without gravity, all surfaces can be occupied. In essence, the distinctions between orthographic drawings become obsolete. To this end the installation will be a large constantly rotating structure which visitors will be able to approach and use differently every time.
The installation is inspired by a comic book Lai created to assert commentaries regarding the Broadacre City– a 1932 Frank Lloyd Wright vision of a Utopian city where each family own a one-acre agrarian plot and commutes by private automobile. Wright never really took into account that space and natural resources are limited. We are witnessing such an impact today. Wealthier citizens have fled cities for sprawling suburban sub-divisions.
Downtown cores are left to the poor, and cities are becoming increasingly ineffective in controlling energy consumption. Lai takes Broadacre City to outer space. Flipping it on its side and making it an Ark are ways he signifies that resources are finite. It is a world where every man (gets) a dwelling unit and every man (gets) a pointlessly boring job… until the citizen dies.”
This project uses a set of standard modules and simple geometric rules to compose a system. The com- plexity Lies within the softness of the connection points.
When force is applied to one rotary joint, the entire structure will respond with further geometrical transformations. Softness allows the piece to be interactive, as visitors can converse with the impermanence of its form. Affordances, as defined by psychologist James J. Gibson, embody all action possibilities latent in the environment, objectively measurable and independent of the individual’s ability to recognize them.
Dimensions, in this case, has various meanings in the many ways our bodies may instinctively inform actions such as lean, sit, grab, skip or pull. Any storyline of the above appropriations will have a physical morphology in the diagram. Self-illuminating pigments are applied to the control points to highlight its topology at night. This project engages the limits of the body as abstractions of architectural programs and their relationships to the formal resolutions.