Interactive installation, "The State of The Art of Architecture", Milan Triennale, 2020
Curated by: Joseph Grima
The State of the Art of Architecture Milano is intended to be an invitation to reflect on the creation of new forms of contemporary architectural thought, through the involvement of 38 innovative and emergent architecture studios and researchers. The exhibition is intended to be an invitation to reflect on the creation of new forms of contemporary architectural thought, focusing on future generations in order to understand current lines of development and new directions in design.
“When your house contains such a complex of piping, flues, ducts, wires, lights, inlets, outlets, ovens, sinks, refuse disposers, hi-fi reverberators, antennae, conduits, freezers, heaters - when it contains so many services that the hardware could stand up by itself without any assistance from the house, why have a house to hold it up? When the cost of all this tackle is half of the total outlay (or more, as it often is) what is the house doing except concealing your mechanical pudenda from the stares of folks on the sidewalk?”
In “ a home is not a house” Reyner Banham, introduces for the first time the paradoxical condition in which architectural practice felt in the last decades. The restless increase of technological apparatus within the body of a building has reached a critical point for which architectural envelopes have been becoming less relevant than the hardware helping it to perform as a building. He remarked how the profession of architecture and design has been slow in adopting solutions that integrate technology in the building structure, having as a final output a shape that is highly affected by weird and asymmetrical superfetation. Yet, after the sixties, hardware, sockets pipes, have been hidden by means of design, encapsulated in beautifully designed bars.
Technology in general, has become more and more a tool for selling products, supporting an idea of the future in which freedom and satisfaction can be achieved only through technological progress. Reyener Banham himself criticized the use of the analogy with the Machine, exploited by Modernism to promote a radical agenda, in which ornament was neglected, in the word of the modernist, for the sake of efficiency. The way technology has been used and embellished by Modernism is a fraction of a much larger paradigm that can be traced back to Edward Bernays. One of the first who pioneered the exploitation of technology and the overall concept of the Future, was Edward Bernays. He was called in 1939 to curate and direct the universal exposition in New York City. The title, Democracity. The theme, technology and corporation at the service of the people. In this case technology became the framework of a huge operation of persuasion, bringing people to desire a futuristic lifestyle. Hence, we could say that he bypassed the paradigma of efficiency and functionality, exploiting the idea of the future, led by technological progress, rather than technology itself. Hence, from a Technology intended as a skin for design objects to technology as the hidden intestine of these. Rather than its rationale, the relationship between capitalism and technology has brought technology to be sublimized by a veil of “cuteness”, in order to make it desiderable by the markets.
Nevertheless, it is a passive tool: it gives abilities without understanding. As designers, we should istigate to critically interact with objects, promoting comprehension at a deeper level. Our main interest as (ab)Normal, revolves in questioning the use of technological tools, drifting from its original - passive yet desiderable - purpose, to stimulate and reveal its inner mechanisms. In architectural representations, we tend to show a result that comes out from a not efficient use of the rendering tool rather than abandon us to the muscular photorealism that should come out as a preferred output. The images we have been producing express more the structure of an image rather than the image itself putting the accent on how tridimensionality is generated. This approach not only helps us to be more conscious of the process, it also promotes a more mature use of the tool. Our object - Paraphernalia - inverts the relationship between technological apparata and container, it shows hyperbolically the intestine of technology to return the visibility of the process. A simple and functional metallic structure works as a holder for an array of different devices that range from surveillance (CCTV camera, 360 cameras), energy (solar panels, fans, thermostats), to survival tools as a portable shower and sleeping mats. It appears as a deconstructed device in which decoding, controlling, ventilation and transmission come back on the skin, rather than occupying its interstitial space. A totem for which we envision a ritualistic upgrading process, resulting in the neglection of form: Technology without architecture.