Here There Be Monsters


The latest installation at Materials and Applications had its formal reception this weekend. Although the Bamboo Bridge has been present for a week or two, this was the first time many people creaked their way across the bridge over a pool filled with bubbling fountains, and a rubber boot wearing D.J. The information at Materials & Applications promises that this monster will continue to grow, and evolve during the course of its residency. I am already impressed by the excellent use of zip ties to lash together the bamboo.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Rachel Whiteread Brings It


Given our predilection for artists like Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Olafur Eliasson, it will come as no surprise that we are also fans of Rachel Whiteread. Her work always appears underdone at a distance, only to belie themselves as incredibly powerful tactile mnemonics up close. We are looking forwarding to experiencing the installation at the Tate Modern.

We particularly like this quote:

"My mom was on antidepressants for a while, and I have had an opportunity to be on them once or twice, and I declined. Therapy is so New York. Americans are indulgent. In America, people think, I have pain, and I will pay some money to make it go away. Here, it's not like that. It has never been. I think the pain all goes into my work."

Oh it's on!

Interview with Oliver Hess


We Make Money Not Art has an informative interview with Oliver Hess, the force behind materials experimentation projects like last year's Maximilian's Schell in Los Angeles (pictured). A must-read.

Farewell, Not A Cornfield


The Los Angeles Times is reporting on an open competition for the cornfield site east of Downtown Los Angeles. Historically a train yard, and most recently an installation by Lauren Bon called Not A Cornfield which, of course, was planted with corn. The open competition will close April 17th, and the 32 acres will become known as Los Angeles Historic Park. The site is in between two busy streets, with the hills of Chinatown on one side, and a warehouse no-mans land on the other. To add to the drama The Metro Goldline runs along side the park joining a twist of bridges and over passes at one end. For a city that has been maligned for it's dependance on automobiles, Freeways and the resulting sprawl. This park more than those modeled after traditional city parks, seems it can become a solution that is solidly about and for Los Angeles.

Contributed by our Los Angeles correspondant, Colin Peeples.

Detroit Demolition Disneyland


Land+Living has an extensive piece on Detroit Demolition Disneyland, an Anonymous group who has begun covering abandoned structures in gallons of orange paint. The great thing about the action taken on these buildings is that is allows us to see what we normally would not: that the status quo in Detroit is decay. It seems to me that this public action can bring so much more weight and meaning to the problems in Detroit, rather than constantly repeating the words Sprawl and Revitalization. Over the course of one night these Orange buildings become a place again, instead of a place that used to be. DDD's work reminds me of Group operating in Los Angeles under the name Heavy Trash. They also have an affinity for the color orange, and are helping us see what normally we would not.

I highly recommend checking out Google Earth for Detroit. The extent of urban decay visible from the sky is almost unbelievable.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

NOX Loves You


Arcspace has a a little article about the recently opened D-tower, a collaboration between NOX and artist Q.S Serafijn. The Tower displays the emotions of of the inhabitants of Doetinchem via a questionnaire, and the rest of the world via website. Through 360 questions the D-tower evaluates the feelings of the participants and groups them into three states "happiness", "hate", and "love"

From conception to construction it has taken 7 years to construct The tower of milled styrofoam & epoxy, and while 40% of the time is is Happy I think yesterday it was in Love.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Spiral Jetty Entropy Report


It is Spiral Jetty week at, with a second entry about the newly cleaned-up sculpture in Utah. Because Robert Smithson is one of our heroes, we are unable to resist any post about him (although we were conveniently out of town for the floating island thing). Greg asks us some pretty difficult questions, for which we have no answer. Which means, the questions are those posed by Smithson's work, and they are themselves the impact of that work. They are his art:

When he sited Spiral Jetty in BF Utah, was Smithson building against New Jerseyification, or just ahead of it? Is it possible--or is it just convenient acquiescence to suggest--that roped-off "Nature"-driven degradation is not, in fact, entropy, but Romanticism? Maybe letting "civilization" have its paving, scrubbing, sprucing up, licensing, Acoustiguiding, Ritz Carlton Jettyway Weekend Packaging way with the Jetty isn't closer to the end game Smithson envisioned?

Nam June Paik, 1932-2006


Video pioneer Nam June Paik died Sunday, January 29th, 2006. A memorial service will be held in Manhattan on February 3. Details at his website.

Tipped off by Archinect.

Spiral Jetty Cleanup Report


Crack art sculpture journalist Greg Allen does actual follow-up fact-finding for a post about a cleanup project around Robert Smithon's iconic work, Spiral Jetty. Special bonus add-on side bar: space imaging of Spiral Jetty (pictured above).

The View From Above


If you know how to use a computer and log on to the World Wide Internets, you've seen the series by Olivo Barbieri called "Site Specific". Metropolis publishes, and we blog.

But we cannot pass this up. For anyone who is accustomed to seeing the world as bits of balsa wood and gobs of plaster these photos have a haunting yet familiar feel. Metropolis claims that they are real, but I still have my doubts. Check out the Santa Monica pier, it's uncanny.

Now that you're excited: here's a link on how to build your own tilt-shift-lens from DigiHack. Tropolism means why buy art when you can make it yourself?

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Architecture That Defies Death


Much like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the artist-itect couple Arakawa and Madelaine Gins never seem to fade away. They just build bigger and more outrageous projects. This we can respect.

Brand Avenue points us to an interesting article in the Japan Times interviewing Arakawa about a crazy gerbil-city of apartments he designed in Tokyo. He and his partner's work is obsessed with architecture that "defies death", in the sense of defying expectations, therefore bringing back to life original, direct sensory perception. In this case, it means hanging all your clothes from hooks on the ceiling (accessible by non-moveable ladder), light switches at your ankles, and bright colors. It really opens the place up, don't you think?

Their website has more hidden gems, including the weird-yet-in-East-Hampton Bioscleave House, and the weird-yet-great-website park called Site of Reversible Destiny (pictured above). The latter seems like a more suitable ground for this kind of exploration. It's like a jungle gym for adults. The living spaces, while interesting exercises, seem to dominate the inhabitants with the artist's idea of what constitutes living. Tropolism means taking pleasure in Habit.

Alluvial Art


BLDGBLOG's interlude on Alluvial Terrains reminded me of an invitation I'd received to the opening of the Jokla Series by Olafur Eliasson, at Kunsthaus Zug. Then, on Olafur's site, I discovered I can download the entire grid in one wicked 47.2MB file.

Art Everywhere


Xpekt (it pains me to type that. there are two kinds of architecture firms: ones with names, others with formulas-as-neologism) is a Dessau-based group whose projects make art or art spaces out of abandoned or worn out buildings. Our favorites: the housing-block-become-Star-Wars-vehicle, or the reuse of a Burger King on Governor's Island, called "Ginger Kurb". The latter is pictured after you click 'continue reading'.

Via Random Good Stuff

Thomas Heatherwick


Rounding out a week of Interviews With Artist-itects, we direct your attention toward an interview with Thomas Heatherwick by Tokyo-based PingMag. The image above is his proposal for a temple in Kyoto. After my quick survey of Kyoto's temples in 2004, I can tell you it's unlike anything in that town.

Jon Kher Kaw


Jon Kher Kaw, artist-itect, has been interviewed by the fine folks over at Post. Tropolism is wary of when models are taken from science and spread over cities, like peanut butter on bread, because we went to the GSAPP during the first wave of "paperless studios", before the naivete wore off. But in this case we are intrigued. The science fictions are fruitful, and create new urban opportunities. Jon Kher Kaw, on our list to talk to in 2006.

Rural Studio Driving Tour


The New York Times produces an exceptionally useful piece related to works of architecture by calling the Travel section. They tour the work of Rural Studio, Sam Mockbee's legacy in western Alabama, and its ongoing work. Of most interest, besides the helpful who-to-talk-to and where-to-stay, is the fact that Rural Studio has expanded into public work. Growing up in rural Ohio, I would have given my eyeteeth to work with something like Rural. Now, I can simply visit a different state.

Greg Brings It To Zaha For Ernesto


I've been waiting for someone to mention this. Greg Allen has some words for Zaha getting inspired by Ernesto Neto.

Folksongs For The Fivepoints


Continuing our theme of ways people map the city, we discovered, through BoingBoing, the Folksongs for the Fivepoints project. You can remix the sample sounds of the Lower East Side and create your own folk song. A glorious noise.

Paper Canopy


While most of Yuko Nishimura's paper-folding exercises are wall-hung objects, the object shown above portrays a potentially thrilling direction. Way past a simple generic Asian room divider, the canopy shows how the complex operations on a simple material can result in...temporary, disposable, and intimate architecture.

Via Tran

Super Vision


Last week I experienced Super Vision at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The show was thrilling in its technology, with super-highres-and-bright projectors in front, back, and a few actors roaming around amongst the sets. The most interesting thing to me, and architect, was not the show (our data tells a story, it's a bad one, etc etc), because the complete lack of dramatic tension made it a bit hollow. Case in point: you, reading this blog, surely know your IP address is being recorded, whether you or I like it or not. But that hasn't prevented you from surfing your blog circuit this morning. Super Vision excelled because of its staging. The computers and half of the actors were outside the proscenium. The proscenium had been turned into a huge television-shaped screen, with some depth behind it for the actors and multiple, overlapping projections. And, the sets were much like a Jeremy Blake painting, sliding, creating their own, internal dramatic tension. In fact, the people seemed superfluous. They could have said nothing, and the minutae of the projections would have kept me quiet for its 70-minute duration.