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Airships & Architecture | Other Brother Coffeebar | May 2015

The images in front of you were cut from the pages of nine books published between 1969 and 1999. Intending to mine them for visual material, I purchased the hardbacks over the past eighteen months from a handful of local secondhand booksellers.

Each image is now a discreet object beginning a life outside the darkness of the ordinarily closed book it was printed for. Mounted with archival adhesive film to rigid 30-ply chipboard, they posses a new weight and durability. The images’ content is largely architectural, with an emphasis on cast concrete constructions of the sixties and seventies. The rest is experimental architecture (pneumatic and tensile), airships and natural landscapes.

For this installation, the mounted images were organized into nine wall compositions (one for each book) where a blend of mathematical, visual/spatial and thematic logic was applied. Images of consistent width naturally fell into columns and attention was paid to placing images of the same or similar content in proximity.

The layout of the wall as a whole follows another set of rules. Neighboring compositions are connected by visual links both overt and subtle. For example, Kenzo Tange’s structuralist edifice Communications Centre for the Yamanashi Region is presented by two books at opposite ends of the print quality spectrum but situated next to each other on the wall. Accomplishing the same thing are two images of a girl standing with her legs crossed. Different girl, different decade. Using these bridges we move from the heaviest of concrete architectural monuments through lighter-than-air travel and back again.

What applies more broadly to all that we see here? Images were chosen that evoke a sense of optimistic, in some cases utopian, modernity. Brutalist buildings were once promoted as forward-looking urban housing and airships, the first controllable powered aircraft, floated passengers gently through the clouds on the way to distant lands.

Perhaps more interestingly, these images depict outmoded forms and ideas. (This antiquated status helps explain their relative prevalence on the shelves of used bookstores.) At best they offended sensibilities and fell out of style. At worst they became historic catastrophes like the Hindenburg and the housing project. Their obsolescence paints them in a curious nostalgia and brings to mind an alternate future/present that failed to come about.

Separated from captions and contextual information, the images are free to drift into realms of fantasy and speculation, becoming raw material for the imagination. My own inclination is to envision them as crumbling ruins, which some are no doubt already becoming. Such architectural remains are scattered about the hinterlands of my idealized resource-scarce future. The (far fewer) people that live in my fantasy have returned to a moderate pace of life where a trans-oceanic flight at eighty miles per hour is plenty fast and the view is heavenly.

I not only find the objects in these images interesting and beautiful, I have a certain reverence for them. I’m currently gathering the means to visit architectural sites of interest on the fringes of the former Soviet Empire. It’s to be a pilgrimage tour by bicycle and I’d love to talk to anyone interested.

 

B. Tracy
May 2015

 

 

Titles from left to right:

The Architecture of Arata Isozaki (1982)
New Japanese Architecture (1969)
Kenzo Tange (1970)
The Work of Frei Otto (1972)
Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of the Airship (1977)
Pneumatic Structures: A Handbook of Inflatable Architecture (1976)
Twentieth Century Classics: Le Corbusier, Unité d'Habitation (1999)
Observations on American Architecture (1972)
Visions of the Soviet Land (1988)

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anomalous shared cap. Winter Harvest, February 2015

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'Hello! I need a Roommate' button by Molly Costello

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halloween mix 2014 (part 2 of 3)

Halloween Mix (Part 2).mp3 (ctrl+click 'Save Link As...' to download)
209 MB / 01:26:59 / 110-123 BPM

image: contaminated agar plate

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flyer for dance event at Evanston yoga studio. June 2014

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Brownlands, December 2013

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december mix (draft)

December Mix (Draft).mp3 (ctrl+click 'Save Link As...' to download)
226 MB / 01:38:31 / 106-126 BPM

image: LZ-11, the Victoria Luise, cruising over the Kiel Regatta, February 14, 1912

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business card

hand-written script done with hand-cut quill pen, axonometric drawing from Modern Housing Prototypes, 1978

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dancefloor visuals comp. no.4: kaleidoscopic

02:00:00 / [no audio]

1. Vintage kaleidoscope
2. Epcot Center Preview (1978)
3. Walt Disney's Original Plan for EPCOT
4. Soviet TU-144 Civilian Supersonic Aircraft Documentary
5. Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular, Nags Head, NC (1975)
6. H. G. Wells’ Things To Come (1936)
7. Phase IV (1974)
8. Butoh dance performance at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Japan
9. Manufactured Landscapes (2006)-- opening sequence
10. Where the Toys Come From (1983)
11. Maersk Drilling’s Ultra deepwater semi-submersible rig
12. The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971)-- Black Widow mating sequence

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relocation fires

00:13:19 / part one: shot October 26, 2013 at the Brownlands / part two: shot November 16, 2011 in the 'Little House in the Garden' cabin at the Lord's Land Christian Retreat Center, Mendocino Coast

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Brownlands, October 2013

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Messor pergandei harvests Tribulus terrestris nutlets

00:05:34 / shot August 23, 2013 in Tucson, AZ / audio recorded in the Brownlands tower April 9, 2013

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Insects that died in my room during the summer of 2011, San Jose, CA

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Papilio rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly) with Brownlands Disk

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Brownlands Fuse

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Barn Owl drawn by Peter Parnall for the book Nightwatchers, 1971

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[canceled due to unstable weather conditions and nausea]

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positron emission tomography scan

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brownlands fitness (extended edit)

00:13:05 / shot October 31 through November 12, 2009

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collage for Jayce

12 in. x 22 in. / cut paper on mat board

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JAN.20.2013.mp3 (ctrl+click 'Save Link As...' to download)
412 MB / 03:00:00 / 86-122 BPM

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dancefloor visuals comp. no.3: mirage

02:00:00 / [no audio]

1. Blow-Up (1966)-- model shoot, playful romp with girls
2. Zabriskie Point (1970)-- roll in the dust, slow motion explosions montage
3. The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974)-- slow motion flights
4. Fata Morgana (1971)-- Planes landing, dunes
5. Airbus approaches
6. Snowfall
7. Insects in flight
8. Desserts
9. Lessons of Darkness (1992)-- helicopter flyovers (flipped)
10. Tewaterlating (Parallel Worlds Edit)-- mine
11. Market Street streetcar voyage (1906)
12. Dolphins playing (from Oceans III-- French documentary)
13. Shaky eclipse
14. Avalanche approach
15. Crystals
16. Fantastic Voyage (1966)-- first look
17. Voyage in Time (1983)-- Tarkovski Documentary, girl with balloon and Roman bath
18. Space Shuttle Start super slow motion
19. Chinese military marching
20. Deserto Rosso (1964)-- steam release
21. Winged migration (2001)-- choice flight scenes

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dancefloor visuals comp. no.2: space program

02:04:15 / [no audio]

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dancefloor visuals comp. no.1: visualizer killer

02:00:00 / [no audio]

1. Stars and Watercarriers (1974)-- time trial
2. Phoenix Mars Lander Landing Animation
3. Going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam in China (time lapse)
4. Godard’s Breathless (1960)-- various scenes
5. Thrust SSC Supersonic Boom
6. Toad’s Dream Frog and Toad Together
7. World's Largest Airship Inflated for the First Time (time lapse)
8. Quicksilver (1986)—flirtatious bicycle dance
9. Drive-- mine
10. Time-lapse of Butterfly Lifecycle
11. Rough seas Iceland
12. 60's Fashion (Look at life again soon)
13. HTO Remix (mine)
14. train ride in the dead of winter
15. Theo Jansen's Animaris Rhinoceros
16. The Bullet Train NOZOMI-- Hakata-Kokura
17. CNC Cutting a Face
18. Vintage Lego Men dance-off
19. Monster Truck Rally (tilt lens)
20. Blast into Space, Spectacular Fall to Earth
21. Band of Outsiders (1964)—café dance scene and final drive scene
22. First Images, The Solar Dynamics Observatory
23. Kinetic Horse Sculpture
24. Alina Kabaeva Rhythmic Gymnastic warm up routine-- heavily edited
25. Cousteau Divers and Underwater images
26. Bullet train 500series Shinkansen Nozomi
27. Lions mating in the Serengeti
28. Twiggy modeling and dancing!
29. Lockheed Martin P-791 (airship)
30. Sesame Street's 'That's about the size of it'
31. Oolong-- (mine)
32. Saturn V - S-1C Stage Testing
33. Eagle owl in flight (high speed camera)
34. Large Hadron Collider 7 TeV Collision Visualization
35. Vintage Ski Movie
36. Murata Boy (bicycle riding robot)
37. Demolition Montage (selections)-- mine
38. The Neverending Story (1984)-- Falcor flight
39. Hoover Dam construction (time lapse)
40. Massaud: Manned Cloud Airship Hotel
41. Burj Khalifa Dubai Cloud City
42. Cloud Lapse-- mine
43. Antonov An 225 Mriya
44. WindDancer by Dawn
45. Tarkovski’s Stalker (1979)-- splash in well and rain indoors scenes

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