The “Possible Mediums” Conference, which took place at The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture from February 07-10, 2013, brought together 18 designers, 120 students (from the four co-host schools: The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and University of Kentucky College of Design), and special guests John McMorrough and Jeffrey Kipnis, to participate in design workshops and formal discussions surrounding the question of mediums in contemporary architecture.
Challenging the boundaries of architectural convention, the invited workshop leaders led students in exploratory processes rooted in mediums external to the discipline (such as film or comics) or developed from atypical applications of more conventional mediums (such as drawings or models). The conference results, both in design and discourse, demonstrate the profound potential of an expansion and diversification of architectural mediums as format, as material, and as a means of projection.
“Tactile Objects” brought together a group of designers defining new disciplinary territory for materials and form. Moving beyond the common criteria of performance, complexity, and elegance, this group steers material and formal articulation toward the tactile, the visceral, and the animal. In the work of Andrew Holder (The LADG), fat folds and creases replace facets and corners, as the clichés of formal composition give way to the idiosyncrasies of bodily physics. Michael Loverich (Bittertang) vitalizes designed objects at multiple scales. From plush toys to pavilions, he deploys animal figuralities and materials, evoking strange associations and exotic passions often absent from architectural form. Ellie Abrons’s (Ellie Abrons) practice focuses heavily on materiality and haptics. Through specialized treatments she extracts unconventional traits from conventional materials, producing lush interior environments that intensify architectural occupation. Combating the routine distraction of architectural audiences, this group uses objects as attention-getters, luring subjects into new forms of intensified engagement.
Curated by Adam Fure (SIFT), the workshops in this group covered a wide range of formats and events. Ellie Abrons’ students sorted through foam, fuzz, and flocking, constructing ambiguously-scaled architectural models that evoked peculiar haptic and visual experiences. Andrew Holder and his students casted plaster in balloons, producing piles of nestling objects akin to suckling piglets. In two teams, Michael Loverich’s group constructed multi-player bagpipes, ending the weekend with a hysterical musical event that promised new comedic powers for a discipline that is typically unshakably sober.
Additional information on each workshop, workshop leader’s bio’s, and photo/video documentation can be found on the conference Web site: http://possiblemediums.wordpress.com/
Video of Michael Loverich’s “Pet Sounds” workshop:
Photos: Phil Arnold