To measure the exhibition on display at a/d/o last week against Hugh Dubberly, Paul Pangaro & Usman Haque’s definitions of interaction (as posited in their co-authored research paper What is interaction? Are there different types?) would be to measure the magnitudes of failure on behalf of theLondon School of Architechture students responsible for its existence.
What seemed as though it could have been a thought-provoking exploration of a shifting neighborhood demographic instead became a static fabrication that left little to the imagination and at least this attendee hoping for a larger emotional connection. Their documentation was also terrible.
The machine -effectively a glorified bicycle (which as a process from blueprint to working prototype within the span of ten days was the lone accolade anyone could offer the project) -collected (as opposed to collects because it is no longer in use nor was it built for longevity) samples of neighborhood “artifacts”, and then displayed them in a fabricated museum setting.
What the machine didn’t do was interact with anyone or thing in the environment from which it was collecting said artifacts. What appeared to be a valiant attempt to decipher gentrification and its myriad effects (some positive, mostly negative) was instead a myopic execution without mission or vision beyond its literal purpose.
Rather than focusing on the minutia of machinery -in this case their literal wheelhouse- I would have liked to see the students question the presence of their collected artifacts within the context of the neighborhood. Why are these artifacts so important? Why do we care to see them displayed? What do they represent and how could the answer to that question spark a conversation? The mission should have been more anthropology and less machinery. More connective and less observational. We should have got a conversation piece. Instead we got a non-starter.
ExerciseMake your own material – explore the “materiality” of substances.
I took two approaches to this assignment. One was to create a material from many other materials, that was more structural and geometric, and that might stay in place if executed successfully. The other was to focus on the material itself, and think about materials that are around us every day, that might not be considered materials or that might be used differently than the application I’m interested in.
I’ve recently acquired some triangular paperclips that, for whatever reason, I find to be so much more satisfying to use than regular paperclips.
Though I was really interested in making some sort of mesh out of them and then gluing them together with either hot glue or crazy glue, it quickly became clear to me that the triangles themselves were not cut precisely enough to allow for a smooth line beyond several clips in a row. For this reason, I abandoned the project early on.
Smoke & Mirrors
I have always been interested in the remnants left behind by materials -oils, smoke, fingerprints. I find them beautiful if not ephemeral, and tend to document them as well. For me, this was an obvious point of exploration for this week’s prompt.
The first law of Thermodynamics states that the energy in an isolated system can neither be created nor destroyed. Energy can only be transferred from one form to another.
Bearing in mind the first law of Thermodynamics (which, for existential/atheist reasons I find to be comforting) and thinking about what happens to elements when we burn them, I wanted to focus on using the “smudge” generated from burning different materials:
I attempted to capture the different smokes of different materials in a glass jar.
I then used whatever coating was left as a material to “erase” in order to make patterns/shapes.
Conclusion Though not an entirely satisfying end, I think further experimentation (different vessels/different materials) will yield different results. I look forward to working with more effective materials to burn and surfaces on which to glaze/coat them.
Further Exploration I also thought about how we can use different oils and the ways they bleed as a new material. Though a not entirely developed idea, it’s worth posting some photos here if not for anything else than their aesthetics: