web analytics

— urbantick

Tag "art"

The landscape is many things and indeed a big topic in architecture and art at the moment. Far from the sustainable and eco discussion, landscape has become a more approachable term taking over from a very technical system sort of term. It essentially means the same – things working in interconnected ways – and are not entirely to be framed in one single way.

From early Dutch landscape painters quite literally bring the view of the surrounding nature into the house it has evolved to a very intellectual construction of everything that surrounds us. Artists ha a hand in the terms development from the beginning and still do chiefly influence the direction its interpretation develops.

Image taken from Zimoun / 435 prepared dc-motors, 2030 cardboard boxes 35x35x35cm. Zimoun 2017. Installation view: Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark. Curated by Marie Koldkjær Højlund and Morten Riis.

Landscape is however not less technical than its predecessorial term and in the work of the Swiss artist Zimoun this is fascinatingly illustrated and heightened. I stumbled on this via inverses. The mesmerising work develops a multitude of landscapes from object to technology, flows and not least sound.

Video by Zimoun / 127 prepared dc-motors, sticks 30cm, 2015

Video by Zimoun / 240 prepared dc-motors, cardboard boxes 60x20x20cm, 2015

The installation was part of the exhibition What Lies Beneath Installation view: Borusan Contemporary Istanbul Exhibition: “What Lies Beneath”, September 5, 2015 – February 21, 2016, Curator: Christiane Paul. The exhibition «What lies beneath» strives to capture one of the current conditions of our culture: an atmosphere of increasing alienation and decaying trust resulting from factors that often lie beneath the surface of the visible. The show comprises four room-size installations — by Krzysztof Wodiczko, Michal Rovner, and Zimoun — that create a contemplative space for reflecting on cultural and social conditions and visceral forces that may not be easily perceivable and create feelings of uncertainty.

Read More

In many ways cities are developing a pressurised and highly specialised environment in large areas driven by competition. It is buzzing environment defined by constant change at fast pace where everyone who slows down risks to drop through the loopholes in the system.

For this is an extreme and very narrow view of urbanised places it describes an image cities have fostered for years in order to compete and grow at such a rate they don’t recognise themselves. It os attractive and offeres opportunities, however only really works as a concept if there is an opposite pole it can be balanced with.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, view of the islands.

The countryside is fading away in such a role as balancing pole due to many and complex interwoven reasons, mainly economical ones. However, the slowness creating a relaxed atmosphere of rural areas is inspiring to a number of projects and visions recently. The villages and the traditions are not forgotten, they still have their power and intensity if we only pause and look, stop and experience.

Insular Insight: Where Art and architecture Conspire with Nature is a Lars Muller Publication, edited by Lars Muller and Akiko Miki in collaboration with Hiroshi Kagayama on a large scale project to develop such a thing as public capitalism or an investment in culture.

The book documents the project developed by Soichiro Fukutake, a Japanese businessman who invested in art and he community on islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan, bringing the place, the art and architecture together to shape an spirit and way of life. He believed contemporary art to be the best way to inspire people and transform an area.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, inside the Teshima Art Museum.

In various projects with renown international artists and architects a series of instaations permanent and temporary have been built in the ast on the Setouchi islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea. Contributing artists and architects include James Turrell, Tatsuao Miyajima, Tadao Ando, Rai Nito, Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA and many more. Many of the works are set as art houses where artists and architects have actually worked together to create permanent locations for installations. Then there are aso larger infrastructural buildings such a port terminals and museums buit as part of the investment.

Image taken from aureon / Book spread, artwork ‘The Secret of the Sky’ van Kan Yasuda.

These infrastructures are essential to the change the efforts have brought about the islands. The project has lead to a dramatic increase of visitors to the islands. In the past twenty years the number of guests has increased from about 20’000 to over 620’000 a year. economically this is a very big change, but definitely this is also a turning point for culture and especially society on the smal islands.

This is of course seemingly pushing in the same direction as any city does with unconditional aspiration for growth and change. However, at the hart of this project lies the desire to conspire with nature and this book is a manifesto for it. It offers more than just a documentation or a catalogue of the realised projects, but is a discussion and presentation with background and contextual details. Renown writers such a Peter Sloterdjik, Nayan Chanda or Eva Blau contribute essays to this discussion the founder Sochiro Fukutake want to be carried out into the word. A manifesto for stillness and slowness.

Insular Insight
Image taken from fontanel / Book cover.

Muller, L. & Miki, A., 2011. Insular Insight: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.

Read More

Megeastructures have a fascination of their own, blurring the attention to detail with the impression of now detail at all. Especially in the way such a structure manages to trick the impression of scale is in it self a fascination.

The last century has seen many different styles, but the megastructures had a sort of live of their own fitting in with most of them or none of them. This fascination sort of developed in parallel or through out the styles, mainly in the late sixties and seventies.

Singapore New City Landscape
Image taken from mg-lj / A sketch of
Ville Spatial
project spanning across the horizon .

They are still a big topic. The office producing the most megastructure proposals is definitely BIG, led by Bjarne Ingels. Is basically the practice’s solution to anything. However the most beautiful recent megastructure is probably Steven Holl Architects’ Beijing project.

The megastruture was especially in after the 1950 a big topic, sort of at the end of the modernist area. Yona Friedman, who is branded one of the fathers of the megastructure, presented his project ‘Ville Spatiale‘ at the last CIAM congress in 1956 in Dubrovnik. The invention of the structure, its conception and purpose was however not at all intended aesthetically as it might be nowadays. Friedman formulates the motivation as “The Ville Spatial is in fact harmony between individual, extreme individual and community”.

In a new Actar and AA MUSAC publication edited by Maria Inés Rodriguez with the title Yona Friedman: Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People the architect and artist Yona Friedaman’s projects and ideas are republished and critically discussed with contributions by Kenneth Frampton, Manuel Orazi and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Métropol Europe
Image taken from deconcrete / A sketch of Métropol Europe showing the different hubs of Europe and how they form sub areas.

Yona Friedman was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1923 and lives and works in Paris. He studied at the Technical University in Budapest (Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem) and in Haifa. His work has spanned areas ranging from architecture, art and animated film to education and writing. He has participated in numerous art biennials including Shanghai, Venice and Documenta 11. His highly visionary ideas have nurtured various generations of architects and urbanists, influencing groups such as Archigram and even Kenzo Tange, who declared as such in 1970 in Osaka.

It is a monograph looking back at the work by this fascinating architect who is actually many other things too, but does in most of his projects refer back to architecture. The publications presents a range of his projects, with a focus on the tree main works he is still continuing. The Métropole Europe, the Ville Spatial and the Museum are the sort of main strands in the book.

Image taken from Yona Fridman Blog / A model at the scale of 1:50 of the Iconostase structure for a outdoor museum.

The contributions discuss the work in context and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with Yona Fridman provides a sort of link to the present as wel as probably the future. Thanks to this part of the book, the reader gets a sense of actuality. With its retrospective setting one could easily believe these topics to be a thing of the past, but the interview brings it tot he here and now as something that is still happening.

And yes it is, Friedman is still okring on his projects and he has so many upcoming projects, it’s fascinating. He’s go his Museums set up in Singapore and Italy, shoed the Iconostase at the Art Basel last year and showed a prototype of the Ville Spatial at the Biennale in Venice last year.

Yona Fridaman
Image taken from amazon / Book cover.

Rodriguez, M.I. ed., 2011. Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People: Yona Friedman, Barcelona: Actar.

Read More

Milan based Mousse magazine is running a series with the title ‘Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating‘. The editor of the series, Jens Hoffmann explains: “it emerged from a desire to trace the coordinates of contemporary curatorial practice, to take stock of a profession that is constantly evolving. Through the contributions of ten curators, the ten essays in the project examine ten fundamental themes in curating. The booklets are structured as hypothetical chapters in a book that once completed, through the reflections of some of the leading figures in the contemporary scene, will try to offer an answer to the question of “what it means to be a curator today”

I was invited by the London based artist Marysia Lewandowska to collaborate on her contribution to the fourth edition.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’.

The fourth instalment of “Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating” looks for an answer to the question “Why Mediate Art?”. The editor Jens Hoffmann invited Maria Lind to contribute who in turn proposed to work with Marysia Lewandowska as an artist curator collaboration. In her text Maria Lind examines the seeming paradoxes that revolve around art institutions: an overabundance of traditional educational activities, aimed at engaging an ever broader public; marketing departments and press offices that take on a strategic role; curators who have no real interest in making their project known outside the professional sphere. The Swedish curator explains the importance of weaving connections between works, curatorial projects and the public, for a new kind of artistic “mediation”. Marysia Lewandowska proposal extends the meaning of mediation in our networked culture by connecting the ‘followers’ of major contemporary art museum and public galleries and Maria Lind’s text through twitter.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’. Click Image for the interactive version.

This is the time when art is mediated to its audience not only through lectures, seminars, artists’ talks, guided tours and publications but when mediation intervenes as a pulsating stream of immediacy, mixing the promotional intentions of the institution with the visitors’ desires of sharing their observations and responses. The banal is closely entangled with the political, the randomness is attached to a system as announced by the ubiquitous banner: Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It’s easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. By utilising the social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that emerged over the past few years, the communication between the art institutions and their audiences has grown into a real time stream of information snippets.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

What appears on the visuals are graphs mapping tweets sent by three major art institutions, Tate in London, MOMA in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm to communicate and mediate their activities as they are enmeshed together with Maria Lind’s text. The two text streams have been aggregated as a word chain, where each word is connected with a link to the following word in the sentence. Each word is represented only once as a node in the chain, but in many cases with multiple connections, edges, to the following words. The resulting visualisation is of a network based on the structure of the words in use. The two different sources are distinguished where red lines represent the links between the words in the tweets sent by the art institutions, while the black lines show the flow of the essay written by Maria Lind. The tweets cover the period between 2009-09-16,15:18 and 2010-11-29 16:03.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of ‘4/10 Why Mediate Art?’. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click Image for the interactive version.

For artist Marysia Lewandowska the mapping of this flow expresses a desire and interest in distributive networks without restriction; it is the desire of being in touch and engaged, of organising one’s thoughts and sharing them instantly. The knowledge ecologies of a wider world intersect in unexpected ways and point to the role mediation plays in shaping our current social and political life.

Publication – Mousse, Editor – Jens Hoffmann, Text – Maria Lind, Art – Marysia Lewandowska, published 2011.

Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, edited by Jens Hoffmann and published by Mousse in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust, is distributed with the international edition of Mousse and with subscription copies.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

Read More

As part of the Spill Festival of Performance 2011 at the Barbican, Ryoji Ikeda played a set. It was another installment of his Datamatics Series started back in 2006. The new Datamatics [ver.2.0] series has evolved quite a bit from the first version already played at events around the world including Sonar, Barcelona (2006); Mutek, Mexico City (2007); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2007); RomaEuropa, Rome (2008); Itaú Cultural, Sao Paulo (2009) and Second Nature, Aix-en-Provence (2010) to name a few.

The soundscape is an artwork based on purely mathematical parameters transforming electronic data into sound and visualisations. Ikeda describes it: “Using pure data as a source for sound and visuals, datamatics combines abstract and mimetic presentations of matter, time and space in a powerful and breathtakingly accomplished work.”

Image taken from ryojiikeda.com / data.tron [8K enhanced version] audiovisual installation – 2008-09. Materials – 8 DLP projectors, computers, 9.2ch sound system. Dimensions – W16 x H9 x D9m. Date / Place JAN 1, 2009 – DEC 31, 2010 Deep Space venue, Ars Electronica Center, Linz, AT. Credits – concept, composition: Ryoji ikeda, computer graphics, programming: Tomonaga Tokuyama commissioned by Ars Electronica, 2008-09.

Breathtakingly it definitely is. The installation has you on the edge of the seat from very early on. The level of abstraction, the volume and the frequency of the flickering on screen mount to a experience very close the the limitation of the actually perceivable. After onl ten minutes the first people leave.

This work is clearly set in a wider context of sound art and electronic music. A few references to spring to mind immediately are John Cage as the very early highlight, Daft Punk with the Tron collaboration. Then there are also some more recent web project where data visualisation has turned into very playful results as for example with the Subway Conductor by Alexander Chen.

Interesting are Ikeda’s use of geometrical elements for the visualisation. The main elements obviously are lines, both as geometrical lines but also as animated data lines. The Datamatics 2.0 performance then also starts with a linear setup, first vertical scrolling, then horizontal scrolling. The next element is the data point. Here again in many different variations, including as a node connected to other data points in 2D and 3D. Additional elements are planes and then effects such as spinning, copy and fast forward. With this basic setup the set reminds also of the short story ‘Flatland‘ (if you haven’t read it pdf is available HERE).

Image taken from artshool.cfa / John Cage Liberation of sound.

However the visuals are not limited to the geometric elements. From early on, also with rather simple elements the screen is only showing a flat representation. The visuals are always rendering, an abstract, three dimensional scape. The visuals have clear references, of ist and arrays all the way to interstellar arrangements, the big bang and the glow of a sun with the removing of the geometries keeping only the texts. The audio on the other hand also has its elements that it evokes, from highway traveling to train journeys or rain you’ll find it all in the sounds scapes.

Of course on is curious what sort of data sets Ikeda is using for the performance. Is it a sort of stream like a twitter feed, or is it a more static field like property data, but maybe it is some medical data on DNA sequencing or the time table of the Moscow subway?

At first the performance at the Barbican feat like a film screening, only at the very end as Ikeda rushed from the back onto the stage during the applause it became clear he was actually present and involved in the performance. However how much of it was live and ‘interactive’ remained unclear.

Nevertheless the audience was engaged from early on. Each time the performance released the audience from its strong grip of audio visual bombardment sighs of relieve and cheers spread the ranks. This almost physical link through the intensity of the experience was challenging, but at the same time created a very intimate connection.

A trailer of Ikeda’s Dramatic [er.2.0] set.

Read More

Taking pictures is the main activity for tourists. They are constantly snapping away, trying to capture the extend of their explorations, banning experience onto the sensor. A certain desire drives them, the eager to document what has happened in order to proof that it did.

It is like almost taking a piece of it home. This idea of possession or conquering is still part of the human nature as hunter and collector and going on holiday is only successful once one can see the perfect view on the tiny little LCD screen of the camera over and over again. Like a box ticked.

Vionnet Moscow
Image taken from mymodernmet / St. Basil’s basilica on the Red Square in Moscow

The Swiss artist Corinne Vionnet has built here work ‘Photo Opportunity‘ around this topics. From online sharing sites she sources her material of hundreds of similar snapshots of landmarks, in German ‘Sehenswuerdigkeit’ (literally translated ‘worthy to see’), and overlays them as transparent images. The results are slightly blurred, but recognisable images of the landmarks of the top snap shot locations around the world.

Regarding the sourcing of images Vionett explains “This work is intrinsically linked to the people who took these pictures. The collaboration is obvious, but it is without their knowledge. These pictures are on the Internet, to be seen by any eventual visitors. I am just one of those visitors. It is the sheer quantity of these almost identical pictures that gave me the idea of superimposing them. I do not think I would have had the idea if I had made all these pictures of the same places myself. Anyway, the work would loose its meaning.”

Vionnet London Parliament
Image taken from photolucida / THe Parliament in London

The images evoke a sense of a collective memory. They quite literally illustrate this idea of hundreds of people sharing he same experience. In this case it is having see the same thing, or more precise having taking almost the ame picture. What they have seen is not quite clear.

Interesting is that each image shows the same subject, largely they are visually the same images. However the collective memory is defined by Maurice Halbwach as: “While the collective memory endures and draws strength from its base in a coherent body of people, it is individuals as group members who remember” (Maurice Halbwachs, Collective Memory, p.48) His conception of collective memory as a very confined and group specific construction is very clear and he was one of the first to promote this idea of connected and very local collective memories.

Vionnet Beijing Forbidden City
Image taken from photolucida / The Forbidden City in Beijing China. Here Vionnet has focus on the Mao portrait to adjust the different images overlaid.

A similar approach is taken by the German artist xxxx. He also uses online photo sharing platforms such as flickr to manipulate images and provoke memories of personal experiences.
He explains: “The installation consists of two projections, the perception and the memory layer. Both shell be explained in what follows.
The perception layer represents the sensory memory before any priorities have been chosen. It receives the newest images from flickr (flickr.com) which get distorted, mixed and blended to persuade some sort of sensory noise.”

Image taken from Matthias Dörfelt / Screenshot of my installation “Selective Memory Theatre” which is my bachelor thesis at art school.

Read More

Sound is part of the everyday experience landscape as much as the visual, however dramatically less present. The dimensions and the extensions of sound scapes were earlier discussed in the MyTime interview with Salomé Voegelin.

One of the major topics in this discussion was the relationship between sound and space or the construction of an soundTimeSpace a Voegelin called it.

Check In / Check Out
Image by Andriko Lozowy taken from merlepachett / View of a tailings pond and Syncrude Oil Sand Mine in the distance.

In some new research work, Merle Pachett investigates sound landscapes. She has be working recently in Canada and her project im by mapping the acoustic ecologies of the Athebasca Oil Sands to develop on the work of the ground-breaking 1970’s project Soundscapes of Canada whose objective was to capture disappearing sounds in response to over noise pollution.

Sound by Merlet Patchett

In her most recent presentation of the collected raw material she collaborates with a photographer, Andriko Lozowy, from the University of Alberta. The two media appear to work rather well together and do not simply merge into one as if it were video recordings. The tension that builds up between the different media is really the interesting bit in this documentation.

It is not as if sound was too boring to listen to just like that, but with the photographs a certain dialect emerges between how it looked at this time and how it sounds in this moment.

It seems surprising how the aspects of time play a very different role in both these two medias. We are trained and have acostomised to read photographs as a document of the past. Certain aspects of the image can be read as to guess the approximate time distance. With sound however, this seems less of an immediate reaction. This data is much more in the present, there is not this reflex as to put it as something of the past.

Sound by Merlet Patchett

Check In / Check Out
Image by Andriko Lozowy taken from merlepachett / Fort McKay Industrial Park.

Read More

What would the world look like if we get everything sorted? Things would be tucked away neatly, places are clean, papers sorted and regulations clear. Maybe.

Sorting and cleaning, polishing and updating, pushing and flushing are frequent terms used in design and research and as part of the discussion definitely have a relevance. They convey a certain change and proposition together with implied ‘to the better’.

Armelle Caron
Image taken from Armelle Caron / Paris as it is and sorted.

As usual with terms they can be overused, for things they don’t apply or to describe something that is not this way or doesn’t even exist. Even more so, they can be over stretched and filled with an missionary believe and practice and followism. This is definitely the case when people start to believe in one of the terms as being the only one, the world saving solution.

Academia is pruned to be a place for sorting and clearing, but on the other hand is also a very messy place. But hey invention and creativity are different beasts altogether. Anyway, it is probably the exchange and the collaboration that prevents ideas and concept to overflow and draining down one of these few juicy terms.

Armelle Caron
Image taken from Armelle Caron / Tamarac as it is and sorted.

Mapping is one of the very visual disciplines that is fundamentally about ordering and sorting. This is built on a intelectual concept of reference, singularity and ultimately truth. A very helpful strategy actually, with a lot of benefits as an abstract representation, simplified to clarify. Nevertheless, the combination of the terms is lethal in terms of reprojection. The things do no longer add up if the abstraction is reversed as a revitalised self. A map is a map, is a map, is a map.

For not bringing them back we can as well sort them pieces. In any order, as you please, but let them be abstractions.

Armelle Caron
Image taken from Armelle Caron / MontPellier as it is and sorted.

Armell Caron has produced these wonderfully sorted pieces of sections or urban plans, sorted into order, any order but the previous one. Nights working on the computer tracing and then moving piece by piece with the curser in Illustrator until neatly sorted in rows. Seems like a very meditative work, at least the power of them illustrations suggests this. Works developed 2005 / 2008.

Via PYTR 75, more details on Armell’s blog, on socks-studio, urbain-trop-urabain, the map room or on deconcrete.

Armelle Caron
Image taken from urbain-trop-urabain / City blocks made from wood as a giant puzzle. Probably impossible to sort it exactly in the original way, but there are plenty of variations to mess about.

Read More

Google Street view is now continuing inside, at least for some of the words most important museums. Using the same technology Google has started the Google Art Project, making museums virtually accessible. Together with the indoor navigation a selection of paintings can also be seen and navigated in a Google Maps style in great detail. You can get up very close to Chris Ofilli’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ at the Tate Britain. Close enough to see the individual dots of paint. In this case you can even switch to night view mode to see the fluorescent second layer of the painting. This of course applies also for all the other paintings marked with a pus sign, were you can study the details of Van Gogh’s brush stroke for example.

Image taken from the Google Art Project / Chris Ofilli’s No Woman No Cry at the Tate Britain in London, United Kingdom.

Earlier, back in 2008 the Kremer Collection was one of the first to offer such a detailed look at paintings using the Google Maps style navigation and zoom function. The software used back then was the ImgeCutter software developed at CASA.

There is currently quite a lot of development going on with these digital visualisation and visiing technologies. From video street view to panoramic street view with street slides of bing maps, featured last week on digital urban.

Image taken from the Google Art Project / Detail of Chris Ofilli’s No Woman No Cry at the Tate Britain in London, United Kingdom. See the night view HERE.

After the Street View Project and earlier the Slope View for the Winter Games in Vancouver this is now a further step applying the technology in large public buildings.
It does require a bit of patience and an effort for not losing the orientation, since the museums network of possible routes is a lot more complicated than the roads. This is mainly down to distance and size. almost wich each click new route choices apply, this will keep you on your toes. In comparison the street view is relaxed with sometimes many clicks between crossroads.

However, the new project lets you browse 385 rooms in 17 galleries, and see more than 1,000 works by 486 artists. This includes galeries such as the National Gallery in London, the Tate Britain, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence or the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Image taken from the Google Art Project / A visit to the Palace of Versailles, France on the Google Art Project.

Google seems very interested in getting many different aspects of ‘knowledge’ represented through their technologies and after the Book Project this is now the art project. Of course the paintings remain property of their owners and remain copyright projected but are virtually accessible through this Google Service.

These copyright issues seem still very constraining. Some of the museums have surprisingly little rooms accesible on the database so far. It is unclear whether this project will extend and in what time frame. If you peak through doorways into rooms that are not accessible on this virtual tour the buildings are blurred as known from the Street View. This looks rather disturbing, probably more so than in the street scenes.

Ultimately notable is the change in design stile. It is a great relief to see that Google has adopted different style for this project and not using the comic, round edge, many colour approach that has become iconic for their brand. It would have been ridiculous to show these works in such a context. The only thing they coud not get to follow this new style is the page icon displayed in the browser tab.

On the navigation side, Google has decided to drop the view lines used in Street view. For this indoor version the user only has arrows to click on. There are usually is or eight arrows used for one point to allow for more detailed navigation. However, it is still difficult to just move slightly to one side and look beyond this annoying pillar, as for example in the State Hermitage main gallery. In general the navigation is much more free than experienced before and also works by just clicking on a doorway to get into the next room. The session will also remember the previous location in each museum. If you decide to look at some other paintings you can always jump back were you have left off, quite helpful.

Google has also added additional navigation features such as foor plans. As well as contextual information to the museum and the art work in a side frame. It is also possible to create a personal art collection by adding paintings to the collection. And Google has also embedded a sort of a social tool, where people can start a discussion about paintings by leaving comment.

However, with the navigation and the representation there is a very big remaining question regarding the architecture. All the museums are set in a very grand building and the experience of space, sequence, material and light , to name a few is in most cases very grand and worth the visit in itself. This is not the case in street view. On the contrary Google has managed to kill any such experience and completely flatten it out, architecture is dead.

Possible though, it would require rather little to take this in to account and the contextual setting of the individual art works could be part of the experience. On of these options would be to introduce a proper starting point or entrance to each museum. Currently the virtual visitor is simply dumped in one of the rooms in front of a painting at selecting the museum. Since many of the rooms at first glance look very similar it is very difficult to orientate or even know which museum one is visiting. If it is as in the case of the MoMa, where the starting point is in the entrance hall one is lost all together. The introduction of a stronger spatial narrative would definitely make a difference.

The quality of the images is possibly another issue. The different museum or rooms in the museums are not all being translated well into the digital format. Some seem to fit better than other. Especially the lighting quality seems to be very tricky to capture on camera. Appears the MoMa in New York very poor quality is on the other hand the Palace of Versailles is a lot more lively. Generally it can be said that the museums using colour tains on their walls come across a lot better than the white boxes. In a side note, this might change architecture trends if this technology becomes more trendy.

Image taken from the Google Art Project / A visit to the Gemaeldegalerie in Berlin, Germany on the Google Art Project. The blue colour makes for a better quality image than most of the white rooms used in the other museums.

In terms of art and culture communication it will be very interesting to see how this influences the way the institutions are communicating about their works and collection. Potentially one can think of many applications including works discussions and art education. We will see how this develops.

Of course it would be great if this technology could move away form this simple panning style of navigation towards a more spatial representation of navigation. Also the respect for the architecture or een more important the spatial and sequential quality of the building would greatly enhance the experience. But for now we have to live with this, which good for a quick ok around the galeries and see some exciting art work one would maybe never or not for a long time see in its context.

Read More

No project is like the other, even if you run projects around the globe ranging in scale from big to large. Steven Holl currently is one of the very busy architects working on some large scale building projects in different countries from America, France to China.
The work grows and develops dramatically and already since his book Urbanisms was published last year a whole portfolio of projects can be added.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from archicentral / Sketch by Steven Holl for the Knut Hamsun Centre in Norway.

This one here however is not one of them, this project is different and it has its own book. It is not about Steven Holl or his architecture. It is about something more, about a very successful synthesis for which architecture only plays a part.

Lars Mueller Publishers have published a new book ‘Hamsun, Holl, Hamarøy ‘on the Hamsun Centre, a museum or a cultural centre for the work of the important Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, who won the Nobel Price in 1920 for his literature work “for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil“.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from bustler / The Knut Hamsun Center, located in Hamarøy, Norway and designed by Steven Holl Architects, opened to the public on August 4, 2009.

The publications brings together the two characters Hamsun, Holl and adds the great landscape of Nordland. It is not a project that is calling for attention and screams, this is a very pure piece of work, very focused and dedicated.

Holl was contacted back in 1994 to consider working on this project and over fourteen years later the building was opened in 2009. It seems like a real ove story, its not the typical job and the publication emphasises this personal aspect to a great extend, witch makes it a great read.

Hamsun’s most famous text ‘Hunger‘ plays a very important role in the building Holl proposed and as Juhani Pallasmaa in the essay puts it: “past the stone foundations of the former vicarage, we suddenly arrive at the tower, which seems to be tossing and turning in search of vertical posture. The upright image of the building with its window -eyes and ochre hair around its top suggested a human figure.”

The landscape as mentioned, plays an important role too and features in each text contribution as either the context, but very often as the introduction, how the building is approaches is very central. Further more the landscape of course plays the dominating role in the sketches and photographs documenting the project. Its a journey, in the many meanings of the word, is the central theme. The fact that the site is above the Arctic Circle makes it just this bit more romantic.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from Abitare / THe tower with one of the balconies and some of the context landscape.

The dedication goes through the project into the book. This publication will be your little treasure and you’ll find a special place for it on the shelf.

Langdalen, E.F. et al., 2010. Hamsun, Holl, Hamarøy, Baden: Lars Müller Publishers.

Read More