Saturday, August 9, 2008

A CROWD PLEASER AT SCI ARC GALLERY; Voussoir Cloud is a spatial texture


This week SCI Arc Gallery features Voussoir Cloud, an installation by San Francisco based architecture firm IwamotoScott, with Buro Happold.

The show is an instant charmer with the help of the alert media and the fans world over.
The venue having produced and/or displayed couple of PS1 shade structure winners in the past, again pitches a very likely candidate for the bigger and more crowd pulling venue in Brooklyn.
A school gallery that feeds its museum uncles, if you will. We will save the article on the role of galleries for launching and sometimes limiting architectural carriers in coming weeks.

Back to the installation.
Ahead of its opening, the show supplied the press with accompanying digital drawings, which can fool the viewer for the actual installation, as they did for me.
And that was good because this is where I want to enter the discussion.

It used to be actual installations trumped the drawings. Nowadays the equation has changed; after a brief stop at the physical construction, the drawing is the final object destination. It is the eager need to prove the digital media’s “see, it can be built” hook, that starts to eat actual ideas or overshadows the real critique of the work itself.
As stated by the architects, “By beginning with a material operation, the design process is focused on calibrating the relationship of digital model to physical result.”
One is the duck the other the egg, both on the same plate.
But let’s not conclude it with that obvious call.

What about this?
Another quote; “Voussoir Cloud’s design explores the coupling of potentially conflicting constructional logics – the pure compression of a vault with an ultra-light sheet material.”

The compression forces are well countered with the shape of vault like structures even before the actual material choice.
Therefore, I again like to point to architect's wording, the accumulation of peripheral references. It is no scientific wonder or discovery point that a sheet of paper like veneer will be more resistant to compressive forces if bent like a vault, however doubled or tripled the surface curve with the frame like stiffened edges and ribbing are, no?
Pragmatically clever, yes.
Think of solid brick vaults with occasional void to create the web like transfer of downward wood veneer weight and bi-benefit of the light transfer through the holes or through the material itself.

Oddly enough, the compressive resistance movie was also played in the previous show by the blob guru Greg Lynn in a rather toyfull way.
Same place-same compression show, I even vaguely remember there were other
similar installations, to sample.
However, each time this vaulting, reverse vaulting, thinning the material, carving it from the plastics, hooking it to walls or self supporting; the ways one can resist the gravity via arching are familiar subjects.

Where are the punch lines of the installation?
The eye catching aspects of this show rely on material qualities, light transmissions, shadow castings, precision coupling, edge sharing, bending via digital resultants, modeling, and, achieving candidacy to next year’s PS1 canopy sensation.
If anything, that might prove to be the ultimate destination of this installation and rightly so.

But let’s not veer off, we are still talking about “spatial textures” undercover for now.


SCI-Arc EXHIBITION: IwamotoScott Architecture: Voussoir Cloud
Los Angeles, CA - SCI-Arc Gallery
Friday, August 08, 2008 - Sunday, September 14, 2008

More from BIOS
IN-OUT Curtain
Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott

Jellyfish House


fleur de gris said...

i think your critiques are right on, orhan, but i also think a gallery like sci-arc's is exactly the right place for an exhibit like this. it's really just a display of a technique in search of a project.

the technique is exquisite. maybe there is no burden of 'content' or any necessary purpose beyond that right now. even ps1 is limited in its programmatic requirements - only one step removed from this gallery environment.

note that some of the comments in the archinect news circled around a 'cool, but what else can it do?' theme.

orhan ayyuce said...

i think a lot can be done with this technic and basic concept. it is certainly one of the best sci arc gallery shows and it is one of the few that actually maps a destination for its creators which may mean more than a ceiling applique or a wall decoration in a restaurant/bar interior. it all depends how it is going to be applied in coming issues. in its current form it doesn't grant anything that much more than its relatives.
i hear its simplicity earns so much sympathy and its shapely sweetness encouraging many people who have been exploring blobby shapes for many decades.;.). it also backtracks the architects' last known plasma like house called jellyfish, at least as a drawing.