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    Jan Edler/realities:united Lecture

    Scott Kepford
    Nov 21, '08 7:22 AM EST
    Denari, Abe, Edler

    I went to the Jan Edler/realities:united lecture in the department on Monday. He has done and is doing currently some very interesting work, collaborating with firms like Herzog & DeMeuron and BIG. Edler's interest seems to lie in making design more communicative, and mentioned exploring a concern with "what makes an 'architectural pixel'" and the firm's projects appear to be almost exclusively in facade lighting/animation schemes. It sounds like Edler would like to branch out into other types of projects, but the success of the animated facade of the Kunsthaus Graz has seemed to pigeon-hole the firm into facade commissions. However, the only project I saw that wasn't mainly lighting was a very minimal cladding of a historic modern facade and lobby, which Edler said was his favorite, but was probably my least favorite of his work. Some of the really amazing work we saw included the aforementioned Kunsthaus Graz, with its circular fluorescent bulbs animating the entire bulbous skin into an animated screen. I would love to visit the museum at some point, especially since it's very close to the Acconci Studio project called Mur Insel that I became very familiar with when I interned at the Studio (I organized all the drawings and sketches to be sold to a prominent NY gallerist). Edler's firm developed some remarkable 3d software so the videos fed to the Kunsthaus' extremely irregular screen (in terms of pixel arrangement) could be previewed from any possible vantage point. After Graz, Edler got more facade projects, including a bank facade in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz that was a showcase for artist videos and was meant to promote the office space for rent in the building (I actually saw the screen in action as I was living in East Berlin during the summer the facade was active, but I only ever saw it showing soccer world cup ads so I just thought it was another world cup promotion - and there were much weirder ones nearby to look at). A facade in Singapore got a little past strict lighting design with big plastic units applied to the facade, but Edler considered this project "only partly successful", apparently due to problems working in Asia, though it wasn't clear what would have been done differently elsewhere.

    "only partly successful" facade gems

    In one very beautiful and evocative project, a civic building in Cordoba, Edler tried something other than lights behind a glass curtain wall - this time irregular geometric puckers in a concrete facade would be lit so that each pucker was a pixel, creating a very beautiful screen at night, but also allowing interesting play of light and shadow during the day. He moved back to the glass curtain wall in another project in Singapore, where he was asked to activate a facade around a high-res advertising screen. This was his first project using color lighting, employed with an interesting technique of colored LEDs lighting closed shades behind the window - if people are still in the offices behind, the shades go up and the LEDs turn off. In another facade project not using lighting, he collaborated with Bjarke Ingels on a competition in Abu Dhabi, where the facades would be made of rotating triangles, a super-sized version of those pre-LED rotating billboards. This was actually a highly striking effect, and seemed so obvious and captivating that I'm surprised I haven't seen the technique on an architectural scale before. The last project shown was another lighting project, a collaboration with Herzog & DeMeuron, but this time all the lights (including desk lights) on every floor of a skyscraper would be programmed into a 3d screen to be switched on after hours, to mesmerizing effect. Unfortunately, it sounds like the project won't be realized. There was also an opening for the gallery show of Edler's work, but it was all images and video from the presentation, with no prototypes or models displayed. Free Heineken though, so I was happy.

    I don't understand why it cleared out so quickly; there was still booze left! Ran out of crackers though; what, everyone's moved on from being booze hounds and are now carb queens?

    Ultimately, while Edler is clearly doing great work and is most definitely at the top of his game, achieving things I didn't think possible with facades, the work shown was a little too focused in that area to be too inspiring for me. But if I had a glass curtain wall that could use a little jazzing up, he would DEFINITELY be the first person I would call.

    Jurgen Mayer is speaking Monday; I'm excited to see what he has to say. I'd like to see all you other LA Archinecters there, but don't sit in my chair. Just kidding, sit anywhere. After all, My Decafe is Your Decafe.

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