Between Media and Architecture
Signage, from the billboard to the increasingly ubiquitous urban screen to so-called media facades, has long been an integral component of the urban experience. What is relatively newer, however, is the entire field referred to variously as smart buildings or smart architecture or the smart grid – or in a very real sense all of the above. What I am particularly interested in is how these new capabilities can be used creatively and sometimes subversively to not just make things more efficient or to sell more products but to change our relation to the city and what is/can be. In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino wrote:
“The Great Kahn contemplates an empire covered with cities that weigh upon the earth and upon mankind, crammed with wealth and traffic, overladen with ornaments and offices, complicated with mechanisms and hierarchies, swollen, tense, ponderous. ‘The empire is being crushed by its own weight’ Kublai thinks, and in his dreams, cities as light as kites appear, pierced like laces, cities transparent as mosquito netting, cities like leaves’ veins, cities lined like a hand’s palm, filigree cities to be seen through their opaque and fictitious thickness”
Metaphorically—but no longer just metaphorically—we dream of something more for our cities. Not something planned and canned, like another confectionary spectacle, but something that can respond to our dreams. Something that will transform with us, not just perform change on us, like an operation.
With Between Media and Architecture, I am interested in using artists’ practice as a lens to view the debates swirling around the theories and concerns and prognostications about the responsive city, both in its impact on how we think about building a building, an airport, a city, and how it can be used to provide a sense of human agency that all too often seems lost in the contemporary urban environment, like being trapped in a 3D phone tree.
Between Media and Architecture will critically examines a range of new capabilities for a responsive environment on an urban scale, which are neither media affixed to architecture nor architecture with built-in media but a new hybrid, “in-between,” connecting the limitless topography of the virtual and the site specificity of the physical. By concretizing some of the possibilities through commissioned projects, the exhibition will map the parallel trajectories of control in such “systems cities,” which can equally be new avenues of agency, citizenship, and engagement.
Supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Curatorial Fellowships Travel and Research