More or Less

Catchphrase for the Whatever Generation



Oct '11 - May '13

  • Post 70: Thesis update 25 (closure)

    Tagged thesis

    “I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”—R. Buckminster Fuller (in ‘I Seem to be a Verb: Environment and Man's Future’, 1970)

    Like my other projects done during my time in Cranbrook Academy of Art, Dept of Architecture, this project is deliberately self-explanatory. I let factors external of me to shape my work: irreparable car that would cost more to fix than to buy new, extremely late scholarship fund, our department studio that was first built as a garage, and numerous other factors. But in Hemingway's rule of simplicity in writing (in his use of verbs and nouns, constraining himself in using only minimal adjectives and adverbs to where they are only necessary) I found a strategy to not only eliminate the need to explain my personal decisions and idiosyncrasies, but also more importantly to open up various readings of the work as wide as possible.

    It works. To date I have heard multiple rich interpretations, ranging from extremely positive remarks (somewhere in the line of “this is my favorite piece in the show”), curiosity (“what inspire you to do this (crazy) thing?”), profession-related specificity (“do you realize that SAAB is the car of choice for most architects?”), up to negative frustrations (the old plain “well, what can you say—it's art, right?”). I am admitting here that one reading that surprisingly stabbed me on the chest was the one made by a young visitor during the opening. “Your work channels a deep feeling in me, it reminds me of the recent incident in Boston”, he said while pointing to a certain detail, a specific moment in the piece. Then, he continued by asking me about my origin.

    Coming from Indonesia, still the country with the biggest Moslem population in the world, and was born a Moslem myself, I am familiar with the violence often identified with the religion. Although I want to make clear that it was never my intention to make any identity-based work, neither have I any aim to make a bombastic direct political commentary on recent events, the moment I was forced to regard this reading, I was nothing but speechless. But having enough time to reflect on the issue to write this post, I can reply now that it is always useful to try to forget everything I know while I am working on something. Do not try to be funny. Do not try to be smart. Essentials never fail to show through. Remembering Bali and Jakarta bombings in the beginning of 2000's, it is clear that the acts of religion-based terrorism that devastated Indonesia the most to this day were indeed done using car bombs. I just had purged it from my memory, subconsciously, I guess.

    Alas, this notion of violence brings me to my fundamental motive for the project. Although it is really easy for me to answer any doubt on how the piece could be considered art (“It is the context. The fact that it is situated in an art museum, next to other one-off art/design pieces, makes it art. I am fully aware of this social contract, being a graduating student of an art school, and have been abusing this awareness to its fullest extent”, is my reply), the skepticism against considering it as an architectural piece requires more eloquent response from my part.

    Poster, Bernard Tschumi, 1976, via Diary of Knowledge


    The notion of architecture as an act of violence is nothing new. In the case of this project, it is double-folded. The first act of violence was done by me: forcing an object (a car) to a space never intended to house such program (museum). The second act was done through me: for the car to be able to enter the museum, applied forces were needed. I only came to the equation as an executor. As it was beyond my authority to apply those forces to the space, these concentrated forces were done exclusively to the object. It would be so much simpler and faster to cut the car into pieces, but I decided to take the laborious path by dismantling the car piece-by-piece, not only to avoid the machismo tendencies often related to cars and machineries, but also to question the understanding of utility and labor in our society. As every other violent acts, changes were brought to every party involved by the result. In this specific project case, the double-folded violence changes the victim (making the car not suitable to be called a car anymore in the end—but is it still a SAAB?), the cause (rendering, at least, a corner of the Wainger Gallery in the prestigious Cranbrook Art Museum to be no different than a corner of any junkyard in Detroit Metro area), and last but not least: the agent (myself). If every architecture is an act of violence, would double-folded violence end up creating double architecture—ultra-architecture? I think it is fair to say that even just the unfolding of this question could justify my consideration of this project to be the most architectural one I have ever done in my life, so far.

    With that closing, I am saying goodbye to the school, and therefore also to this blog. It has been a really productive, albeit challenging two-years. I want to thank everyone who has written their comments, liked, retweeted, or +1-ed any posts that I have made in this blog. I am sorry that I have never been really active in replying comments, but please be assured that without them I would never do what I have done during my time in Cranbrook. I am a changed man.

    For better or for worse? Unfortunately, the answer is beyond my knowledge—I would only let time do what it's supposed to do and hope that the answer might just emerge somehow. If only I would be so lucky.

    Anyway, farewell.


    May 9, 2013 UPDATE:

    I received this year's Academy Director's Award. According to the press release:

    “Through digital fabrication and thinking, Rakun's work questions the role of individual authorship. The Director's award recognizes excellence throughout two years of study at the Academy.”

    You agree? Please tell me.

  • Post 69: Thesis update 24

    Tagged thesis

    A fellow student sent me this Vimeo link (recorded through a TV), showing Reed Kroloff, our Academy Director, talking about the Degree Show in FOX 2 Morning news with my piece as a backdrop (although I decided not to show any video in the show as it would render the physical stuff as props, this...

    Don't forget to turn your volume up

  • Post 68: Thesis update 23

    Tagged thesis

    Sneak preview before clean-up It's finally done, I lost some chance to document since the camera position was funny + unreachable. I will still have tomorrow to spare, just in case.     The aftermath in the studio   And below is a really ungenerous sneak peak of the upcoming show...

  • Post 67: Thesis update 22

    Tagged thesis

    Half a day of installing. I'm so spent, but made less progress than I planned to. But I think it's save to say I've managed to be half-way through. Time to ‘make it work’, as Tim Gunn would say.

  • Post 66: Thesis update 21

    Tagged thesis

    The battle has finally been won (with an assistance of a powerhouse for the last part): the beast's body has finally been taken apart. I have to confess that I finally succumbed to machoism of saw-cutting for the last process. No matter how hard I tried to reject Gordon Matta-Clark-ism, it's...

  • Post 65: Thesis update 20, including Frank Lloyd Wrong's piece for ‘Noise/Sound’ show in Forum Gallery

    Tagged thesis

    Second day of install. Slower than I expected to be. On the other hand, the ‘SAAB 9-3 Side Elevation’ is shown in the group show ‘Noise/Sound’ opening tonight until this Wednesday at Forum Gallery.

  • Post 64: Thesis update 19

    Tagged thesis

    First day moving in. I feel like an interior decorator, I just smell way much worst. FYI, it's save to say that #liltreasures series has come to an end. No more little bolts + screws + other easily lost things left to take.

  • Post 63: Thesis update 18

    Tagged thesis

    With a little help from someone, I got the engine off. Finally. Going to start moving in the museum tomorrow + the day after, with hopefully ending up with dismantling all the body (the only element left in the car) apart Friday night. Hopeful. Wishful. #liltreasures series Day 18

  • Post 62: Thesis update 17

    Tagged thesis, gallery a

    #liltreasures series Day 17 A freakin' sad day. No, not because of The Iron Lady, but I'm giving up. I tried to make some progress with so little to no avail. All I could take out were a couple of screws. I need some professional help. I hollered. Will update on how it goes. On the other...

  • Post 61: Thesis update 16

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures series Day 16 A productive, exciting, albeit not speedy enough day. Hurt my right middle finger pretty bad, though. I knew that there would be blood. As you can see from one post before this, I recorded the audio (+ video, while I was at it, why not, right?) for the show's audio...

  • Post 60: Degree Show multimedia permalink

    Tagged thesis

    This post was made to provide a web link for additional multimedia materials to accompany my thesis project for the 2013 Graduate Degree Exhibition of Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Cranbrook Art Museum. Note: For those who visits this page before April 20, 2013, please revisit after...

    ‘How to bring a SAAB 9-3 out of Cranbrook Art Museum’, a supplement video piece for ‘How I put a SAAB 9-3 into Cranbrook Art Museum’.

    ‘SAAB 9-3 side elevation’ by Frank Lloyd Wrong, as heard in the show's audio tour. Created using Soundrop iPad app by Max Weisel (Develoe LLC).

  • Post 59: Thesis update 15

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures series Day 15 Another (unintentionally) slow day. Just need to get through. A lil bit more.

  • Post 58: SITE(UN)SEEN

    Finally, this is the Pontiac story, get ready. It began with Bill (Massie) taking my fellow student/often partner-in-crime, Fernando Bales to an auction of foreclosed property held by the township of Pontiac, MI, which is currently under the Emergency Management scheme of Oakland County. I...

    Interview about Reality Properties Fake Estates: Glendale Sliver (behind houses), Block 3660, Lot 140' (1973) by Gordon Matta-Clark. Part of the exhibition Mind the System, Find the Gap (02.06-30.09.2012)

    Art is a mess. Watch SITEUNSEEN stop-motion filling a dumpster at artist-run space Convenience to Convene.

  • Post 57: Thesis update 14

    Tagged thesis

    It's good to be productive once again. Yesterday was our last crit for the semester (there will be a series of final review, but no more public crit), + I, together with Prachi Kamdar—an elective from 2D Design dept.—volunteered to cook. Yes, brown Asian food night. I also cleaned...

  • Post 56: Thesis update 13

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures series Day 13 I feel better.

  • Post 55: Thesis update 12

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures series Day 12 Back to this again after 2 days concentrating on something else (I'll post something on it soon, I promise). On SAAB, I'm really freaking out. This is really difficult.

  • Post 54: Thesis update 11

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures series Day 11 Slow, really slow. Hard, really hard. I'm freaking freaking out. Just sayin'.

  • Post 53: Thesis update 10

    Tagged thesis

    The pile Yesterday was an off-the-car day. I went to Home Depot + AutoZone to buy some needed tools first thing in the morning, but that was it. I needed to work on something else, a project that I cannot publish here yet. It's so exciting, though, I give you that. I hope I would be able to put...

  • Post 52: Thesis update 9

    Tagged thesis

    #liltreasures Day 9 Tried to remove the windshield + other glass panes. Unsuccessfully. Ended up calling a glass store (that charges $100 per piece) to remove just the windshield. I'm keeping other glass panes in their respective places. Ending up removing a lot of leftovers from the sterring...

  • Post 51: Thesis update 8

    Tagged thesis

    Not specifically an eventful day. I managed finishing seat belts, security stuff that's left, + exterior sidings. I had to postpone glasses to tomorrow. Can't help but to start thinking about presentation strategies. #liltreasures Day 8

  • Post 50: Thesis update 7

    Tagged thesis

    Seatings: the most challenging so far. But they're all gone in the end of the day. WIS rendered useless for this one, since most of the seats' electronic control were no longer working from the moment we bought the car. Access to joints were ridiculously difficult. I had to stop trusting the...

  • Post 49: Thesis update 6

    Tagged thesis

    Ripped off the dashboard + interior panels. ‘Interior’ section done. I think chairs or glasses are up next, but let's see tomorrow. #liltreasures Day 6 Airbags

  • Post 48: weekend break | ‘YUM’ Forum Gallery entry (3)

    Tagged forum gallery, art

    Installation This work was done a while ago (last semester, to be exact). It's the third + final installation of my 3D Printing Forum Gallery Open Call series (the first can be found here, while the second one can't be published for several reasons). Using the theme of the show (I translated it...

  • Post 47: Thesis update 5

    Tagged thesis

    All trimmings + most interior panels. The luggage has been stripped down completely. I started Monday, on the end of day 5 (Saturday), this was the condition: And the pile I've made: Although I was too tired to do anything by the end of last night, I'll keep on trucking. Only a couple of weeks to...

  • Post 46: Thesis update 4

    Tagged thesis

    Got all the hinged parts, as planned. I haven't taken the windows + glass panes out though. According to WIS, it has to come later. But it's rewarding to do some un-making while everyone else is making stuff. Progress #liltreasures Day 4

  • Post 45: Thesis update 3

    Tagged thesis

    A kind of slow day. I spent most of the days making trips to Home Depot. Plus, there are some elements of the AC that are unreachable + I needed to postpone working on them when it's time for me to work with either body +/or engine. Anyway, here are some picture updates from today: #liltreasures...

  • Post 44: Thesis update 2

    Tagged thesis

    Second day. AC, I got most of them done but not all. Thinking to go to doors (maybe with trunk as well) next. Last pictured condition. Air conditioning stuff behind the glovebox (already removed), top: before, below: after Dashboard panel with removed AC elements.   Last but not least, new...

  • Post 43: Thesis update 1

    Tagged thesis

    Day 1: Mock up the 8' x 8' area, set-up cameras, begin dismantling (first components: the last ones according to the Workshop Information Systems (WIS)—plastic repairs).  What I got til now: Next one: Air Conditioning (AC) system!

  • Post 42: ‘How I put a SAAB 9-3 into Cranbrook Art Museum’ (Degree Show piece)

    Tagged thesis

    OK, apologies for the really long non-announced hiatus. Honestly, I have been busy with everything but school projects (well, some of it are school projects, but as you might already find out by now, I rarely make consumables—either objects or images, so there was nothing seductive enough...

  • Post 41: Gallery A for 2D Design crit

    Last Friday, Nov 30, I went through this semester's 2D Design crit (as an elective) that might be my last crit I've ever done in Cranbrook (crits for Second-years in Architecture are not advisable anymore. Fair enough, it's time to work… We should be in the spot where we don't need...

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A school blog on Arch Dept, Cranbrook Academy of Art. By farid rakun, admitted Fall 2011.

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