The Bartlett, UCL
critics: Marjan COLLETTI & Hannes MEYER.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Zack SAUNDERS: The primordial desire to probe the depths of the human body’s interior has historically been driven by varied and sometimes contradictory aims, pursued through diverse methods, while in many ways contributing to the way we see not only ourselves but our relationship with the outer world—and in turn our relationship with architecture. . . .
The Body from Daedalus to Dissolution
The primordial desire to probe the depths of the human body’s interior has historically been driven by varied and sometimes contradictory aims, pursued through diverse methods, while in many ways contributing to the way we see not only ourselves but our relationship with the outer world—and in turn our relationship with architecture. Corresponding with the mapping of the body through the ages the idea of the body itself has transformed from that of the Daedalean body of mystical potentialities, to the Renaissance body as object to be dissected and anatomized, to the machino-body of the Industrial Revolution, to the digital-data-body of the Information Age as exemplified by contemporary medical imaging—the body as “dissolved” in the digital realm.
The House from Home to Host
With this conceptual transformation in view, one can then begin to trace a relationship between the increase in knowledge of the body’s interior and the disintegration of the notion of the body as purely organic entity. Concurrently, as the body has become less and less “purely organic,” architecture has become increasingly imbued with notions of the natural; ultimately resulting in a contemporary concept of architecture which can only be described in biological terms: structure and enclosure have become skeleton, flesh and skin. The distinction between the biological body and the architectural body as obscured, and convoluted; thus marking the conceptual emergence of an architectural entity.
Architecture [or] Individuation
Theoretically then, as architecture enters the realm of the living it must go through the process of individuation, become individual, and in turn ultimately evolve to avoid obsolescence in a complex, ever-changing and even hostile world. The anti-thesis to traditional concepts of architecture. Might such an individualistic architecture ultimately forsake the function of housing the human being as its sole reason for existence? If not, how might we inhabit such a complex architecture? If so, how might we engage such an entity in order to formulate new ways of habitation? The project herein, while actively dissecting a digitally developed body of architecture, simultaneously explores a series of scenarios whereby the boundaries between man and architecture become confused, yet inseverable and interwoven.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
ZS: Marcos Cruz, Marjan Colletti, Tobias Klein; Sarah Lucas; Friedrick Kiesler; anatomical drawings of William Hunter; contemporary medical imaging techniques; the soft, wet pulpy-ness one finds when cutting open a lemon; current trends in digital/computational design; current/future technological advances in tissue engineering and bioprinting; and human anatomy.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
ZS: From slicing lemons to dissecting mice. Reading: Michel Foucault, Birth of the Clinic; Gottfried Semper, The Four Elements of Architecture; Brian Massumi “Interface and Active Space”; Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture; and various texts by Stelarc. Watching David Cronenberg (dir.), Crash.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
ZS: marcosandmarjan; Acconci Studio; Studio Tobias Klein; CRAB Studio; J. MAYER H.; Thom Faulders; and so on.
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