Good evening Archinect!
Here comes the 2nd part of the 3-part Whither Installation Symposium coverage from the University of Michigan. I'll do my best to keep my fingers up to speed with the presentations, but no promises. The presentations should be starting in about 15 minutes, so coverage will start then. I have a colleague (Prof. Rob Trumbour from Wentworth Institute of Technology) taking photos with me of both the presentations and tonight's gallery opening which I'll be adding later to this entry and including as a separate post.
Lets do this thing....
6:06pm - Introductions from Monica Ponce de Leon discussing the history of the RTM grant program. She initiated it as a means to provide seed funding to faculty to pursue the creative process of making as a form of research. Its meant to give the faculty the latitude to explore the "messy area" that exists between established categories of architecture.
6:12pm - Catie Newell and Wes McGee are presenting "Glass Cast" with the expected technical difficulties all lectures provide. Their project focused on exploring the architectural implications of warm glass slumping and hot glass blowing through the creation of "custom environments and manipulators".
6:16pm - Catie introduces a short video documenting the making process of their research done by my friend Stebs at Paperfortress Films. Nothing wrong with a bit of process porn!
6:21pm - Video is over and Wes is talking about the technical aspects of the process which "seek new ways to work with glass". Unfortunately specifics were avoided but "servo driven variable mold kiln" was tossed out there.
6:24pm - Mary-Ann Ray and Robert Mangurian jump right into "Ruralopolitan Maneuvers: HOUSE 50". Robert is giving the back story of the establishment of the BASE summer program while Mary-Ann nervously watches the countdown clock. "Ruralopolitan" is exactly what it sounds like - and exploration into the rural Chinese condition which is neither rural or metropolitan, but a hybrid of the two.
6:31pm - Goal of the research is to bring "citiness" to the rural area and try to sustain it by attacking the scale of the house and its infrastructure. Since they've only got a couple minutes left Mary-Ann is quickly going through the various facets of the installation. The most interesting is "the cloud' which hovers above a rural village providing internet service and lighting. Think low-flying, amorphous hot-air balloons that glow.
6:34pm - Neal Robinson and "Dirty Work." For the first time Neal has been allowed to do what he's always asked his design fundamental students to do: play with dirt. Also turns out his grandmother used to feed him dirt. Since dirty is associated with the weighty they asked it to be light and questioned its "tactile condition". Historic precedent include the state change taxonomy in Viollet-le-Duc's Maount Blanc.
6:40pm - Finally some images of final results show up: beautiful wrapped string forms with an applied dirt glazing. To protect their work during transportation they developed maps of the smoothest roads between North Campus were their kilns were and the Liberty Annex research space. The quilting bee was also revisited as a social moment in the production of the objects. The delicate nature of the results are really amazing.
6:42pm - If the "quilting bee" focused on the 'line' condition, the second half of the research focused on the "surface" condition. Both used "galactic apparatus" to produce their forms. The work is going to continue in the form of two pavilions which are in the early form-finding stages.
6:44pm - Up next: "Morphfaux... Recoving Plaster As Architectural Substrate" by Steven Mankouche, Joshua Bard and Matthew Schulte. This piece builds upon their earlier work looking at the relationship of material techniques and the economic/societal conditions which lead to their demise.The thing that attracted to them to plaster was the material's ability to work in a variety of scales and morphologies.
6:52pm - Lots of talking about the specifics of process and tooling, now in regards to our KUKA arm. The team make two end-of-arm-effectors for the machine: a wire saw and a variable-profile plaster scraper. This allowed them to work with the material in two forms: dry and wet, investing in methods facilitated by the strengths of the machine.
6:57pm - Last talk of the night: Geoffrey Thun presenting "Resonant Chamber", an interactive ceiling environment focused on acoustics. Historically it ties back to the use of geometric sound spheres as both mathematical and volumetric architectural models.
7:00pm - "A thick kinetic surface" based on origami and variable spacial volumes.
7:02pm - Images of their Grasshopper/Kangaroo model and a video of acoustic energy modeling. Super informative but it doesn't seem to sync up with the deeper theoretical discussion Geoffrey is touching on. Unfortunately people are paying more attention to the videos than to his words.
7:05pm - More process/making porn - I'm such a sucker for these types of things.
7:07pm - Geoffrey is closing with a nice long thank-you to his student workers that clearly put in a lot of time into this project. Hopefully I'll be able to get some good photos of this one.
7:09pm - Thats a wrap folks. Everyone is going to be heading off to the Liberty Annex in downtown Ann Arbor for the opening. Thanks for reading, pictures to follow!
An in-the-trenches view of digital fabrication, academic research, post-hardcore music and whiskey. Not necessarily in that order and often in combination.