suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Clay ODOM (studioMODO) with Sean O’NEILL & Adam OWENS: The projects are temporary installations that in that have been realized recently in Austin, Houston, Winnipeg, and Melbourne. They represent an on-going exploration into how maximum spatial, atmospheric, and surface effects may be produced through a systemized, generative collaboration between material, form, light, and sound. . . .
One of the primary questions this work engages, is how experiential spatial atmospheres and ephemeral images—as contemporary potentials for ornament—may be produced that are orders of magnitude more intricate than the systems that are generating them. This shift toward using interventions as agents for effects production, sets the conditions that allow for the exploitation of feedback loops between the inherent qualities and localized points of control we use to engage with existing conditions and the new systems. This feedback between the existing and the new and the unplanned engagement with visitors ultimately generate emergent effects such as caustic lighting patterns, dematerializing form, and the generation of new spatial conditions and contexts.
The philosopher Gernot Bohme said that “Atmosphere can only become a concept . . . accounting for the particular intermediary status of atmospheres between subject and object.” The goal within this work is not focused on how form is generated as an end-goal, but instead turns toward how material-form is both responsive and generative, formed by and forming spatial, atmospheric and experiential conditions. The interior productions often have the effect of dematerializing both the existing formal-spatial contexts and our formal intervention, subsuming them into ephemeral atmospheric effects and experience.
Operational methods of deployment and material limitations led from conceptual strategies to local tactics that incorporated super– light-weight, reflective materials and methods of rigging, folding and draping. These help to further both the engagement with and generation of contexts. This combinatory method also helped to generate many of the emergent lighting and surface effects that are now of primary interest. The ability to unpack, re-formulate and reconstitute the work as a system of components, operations and effects is what allows it to link with the idea of addressing situations as and this active quality ultimately allows the work to re-situate and re-form and spatialize themselves over and through the times and spaces through which they move, change and grow.
In many ways, this exploration allows us to rethink Buckminster Fuller’s seminal architectural question “How much does your building weigh?” and reframe it through the lens of effects to ask “What does your project produce?” This exploratory, open model of spatial inquiry focuses on how production of effects may be generated through what we have been describing as a patterning process—a systemized, diagrammatic collaboration—of material, form, light, and sound activated locally by engagement with situations stemming from constraints of time, budget, existing building conditions and ultimately through a range of engagements with people. Facilitating interactive, experiential situations whether simply as spatial sequence, proximity to effects, touch or motion manipulation become modes allowing components and effects to merge into a coherent ecology of space and experience. As a diagrammatic organization of materials, operations and interactions that generate both pre-figured and emergent situations, these byproducts are not referential to preconceptions or metaphor. Ultimately, these effects are considered as essential to the totality of the system.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
CO: The initial conceptual inspiration for the work stemmed from childhood memories of reading the book A Wrinkle in Time, and a quest to explore experiential potentials and engage in the resonance between space, light, sound, and time. In addition, finding the generative in extreme limitations of budget and time and due to the fact that we were interested in emergent conditions we had many discussions about the work of John Cage.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
CO: In terms of what we were listening to, we were actually listening to our own work.The projects themselves have had a sound component generated primarily through sensing emergent light and movement patterns. So we could actually listen and respond to the developing patterns as well as see them. We discovered this aspect of the work in early iterations and have subsequently been working on pushing space, light, and sound closer together. To do this we combine the use of MAXmsp scripts that we manipulate in real-time and the Rhino/Grasshopper models used to generate the initial forms.
Although they may seem at opposite ends of the spectrum, we continue to be influenced by the writings of both Graham Harman, and Gernot Bohme, and Manuel DeLanda. In addition, we would cite Surroundings Surrounded, a book of critical essays from a range of architects, designers, and theoreticians surrounding the work of Olafur Eliasson.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
CO: Currently I’ve been very excited by some of the work I’ve seen outside of interior design and architecture. In fashion and art there are really exciting things happening that have impact on me as someone interested in space, experience, and atmosphere. For example, the work of fashion designer Iris Van Herpen is very exciting for its formal, material, and technical explorations. I also continually keep an interested eye on installation artists like Do Ho Suh, Anish Kapoor, Tomas Saraceno, Katharina Grosse, and Olafur Eliasson.