’ Peter Frankfurt Collaborates with Greg Lynn/FORM and Alex McDowell to create New City for MoMA... (photos and video after jump)
The installation, which is part of MoMA's Design and the Elastic Mind show, represents a virtual world conceived by the architect, I.F. co-founder, and the production designer.
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MoMA describes “Design and the Elastic Mind” as a show that “focuses on designers'
ability to grasp momentous changes in technology, science, and social mores,
changes that will demand or reflect major adjustments in human behavior and convert them into objects and systems that people understand and use.” According to
the New York Times, the show is “as revolutionary in its own way as MoMA’s ‘Machine Art’ exhibition of 1934.” It was organized by Paola Antonelli, Curator of the
Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, and runs through May 12, 2008.
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s1.write("player1");New City Mosaic Film. Click here to download hi-res version (217mb, .mov)
Visitors to “Design and the Elastic Mind” will experience New City in what looks like
a three-sided geodesic dome, surrounded by a mosaic of screens. In this immersive environment they’ll be able to experience a seven-minute film, produced by
Imaginary Forces, that is rear-projected onto the interlocking screens, which fit together like a mosaic.
“What’s on display at MoMA can be described as the world’s grooviest napkin
sketch,” says Frankfurt, who led the I.F. team on the project. “It’s a multimedia
experience describing what New City could really be, which is the first architecturally-considered virtual environment.” View more still frame shots in the Gallery
On a more practical level, Frankfurt describes New City as a place where the world’s
leading architects, planners or designers could erect structures and experiment with
urban designs that couldn’t possibly exist. “It becomes a very interesting space to
showcase thinking and work that may not be doable in the actual world,” he says.
Surrounded by the moving images, sounds and lights of the exhibit, New City is
meant to overwhelm its audience with the vastness and imagination of its premise.
The total effect, according to its creators, is to create for audiences “a very smart
and probing look at what virtual space could be,” says McDowell.
The opportunity for I.F., Lynn and McDowell to collaborate on New City was serendipitous. Frankfurt has toyed with the idea of converging the studio’s work in experience design with its work designing virtual worlds for such companies at MTV and
Coca-Cola. “I was interested in trying to build out a small prototype with the idea
that we would use a museum or gallery as a kind of pedestal to put it on, and
where we would get different kinds of audiences to see it,” he explains.
An opportunity to actually achieve this arose last year, when Antonelli asked Frankfurt to team with Lynn and McDowell to create a piece for the Elastic Mind show.
The studio has previously collaborated with both designers on a variety of projects,
working with the former on designs and media installations for the Grimaldi Forum
in Monaco, and with the latter on the gestural interfaces seen in Steven Spielberg’s
“What we’ve always done before is try to get the media component integrated into
the spatial experience,” explains Lynn of his previous experience design work with
Imaginary Forces. “What’s different here is that we’ve never indulged ourselves in
a topic which is a one hundred percent virtual media experience.”
Adds McDowell, “New City is an opportunity for the first time to use architecture
and environment to stimulate not only narrative and storytelling, but to actually
look at an equivalent of how a city might develop in the real world, and how you
explore the equivalency for that in the virtual world.”
“This is a really interesting way to be in this world from a different perspective,”
Frankfurt continues about the project. “We’re really talking about the implications
for design and architecture, for information and visualization, or for narrative. The
most compelling aspect of this—and the thing that makes me most excited about
it—is that everyone I’ve talked to about it wants to get involved, they want to know
more. And that ranges from filmmakers to designers to technologists to planners—
they all see the possibilities of doing things in New City.”
Frankfurt adds that the rendition of New City currently on display at MoMA is just
the first phase of the studio’s plans to develop the concept as a more robust platform, and to invite more experimentation and innovation. “This is really just the
beginning of the conversation about New City, not the conversation itself,” he says.
“It’s really meant to be as much of an invitation as it is a provocation.”