Cranbrook Academy of Art (Doug Johnston)



Sep '05 - Apr '07

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    the trailer project

    Doug Johnston
    Oct 7, '05 4:04 PM EST

    I mentioned the trailer project in my previous posts so i should explain it a bit. Bill developed the idea for a project which would be a way to get the work of the architecture department out into the public almost immediately after it is produced and without the usual situation of publishing it in book/catalogue, and also to avoid having it be available to a limited audience in a student gallery. He looked into the american shipping/trucking industry as a way to get the work shipped around the country to any number of venues and there seems to be a lot of possibility there. Also, Cranbrook Architecture Dept. has a history of working at full scale on smaller projects, often involving the modification of the studio (especially during the Dan Hoffman era). In the USA there is the popular culture of "chopping", as in West Coast Choppers, Orange County Choppers, monster garage, monster house, junk yard wars, etc. The trailer project is intended to roll all of these into one work.

    So basically, bill has aquired this rusty old trailer for us, which he used to ship his laser cutter and cnc router to the studio from Troy, NY. Now the trailers sits in our department (it used to be a school bus storage garage.) Traditionally several departments at CAA have a first semester project, usually a group project, to sort of get the work going to break the ice. Bill has turned that into a semester-long project for us - mandatory for the 1st years, optional for the second years. Our task is to "chop" the trailer in whatever way we want, relavtive to our investigations or as a container of our work, but mainly as a way to transform the trailer into a collective mobile exhibition of work by CAA architecture students. In the spring it is going to travel around the country to several universities and museums. Bill has been in contact with 11 universities and at least 2 museums already, and apparently 6 of them have confirmed commitment to hosting the trailer for up to a week.

    So for the first 2 weeks we spent ripping the trailer apart with the grinders, the torch, plasma cutter, the pry bars, and hammers. it was ridiculously intense work, which i'll present pics and video of soon.

    here are a bunch of pictures of the trailer before we touched it.


    • brian buchalski garage cranbrook style

      Oct 7, 05 4:19 pm

      check out the thread on "hotrod architecture". there has been some really good discussion in there that may be helpful for your project.

      Oct 7, 05 4:56 pm

      cool pix. nice project. rockin' trailer. this'll be a blog to watch. keep taking pictures.

      a beautiful challenge with a project like this is determining to what extent the intervention is all new and pure vs how many of the wonderful little existing details you keep. there is a tendency to fetishize/overvalue what you like about the existing trailer (the bits in these pix), but this can also stymie your ability to generate something that may not be well-served by keeping these entropic elements. mmm, rust...

      Oct 7, 05 5:16 pm

      freakin' awesome, have fun...

      Oct 7, 05 5:47 pm

      Pardon my French, but...

      Fuck. Yeah!
      There'll always be a piece of me that hates myself for taking Cranbrook for granted and deciding to go elsewhere so quickly...

      Oct 7, 05 11:01 pm
      vado retro

      make sure u get some of those silver naked lady mudflaps!

      Oct 7, 05 11:07 pm

      Very cool. Keep us updated.

      Oct 8, 05 8:19 am

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