advisors: Sylvia LAVIN & Michael MEREDITH.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Joanna E. GRANT: This thesis project seeks to define a territory in which cuteness can operate in the discipline of architecture. In the soft sciences, research has proven that cuteness is a biological adaptation of babies and young mammals to ensure survival, which is known as the caretaker affect.
Drawing on an interest in the proliferation of kawaii aesthetics in the cultivation of lifestyle of consumer culture and the affect of soft power in East Asia, the inherent ability of cuteness is to coerce an audience into enjoying architecture through the production of cuter images.
Several existing buildings in need of preservation were selected, each representing a defunct architectural style: Brutalism, Metabolism, and Postmodernism. Rather than acting through redesign, the buildings were translated into paper dolls and a sticker book kit of parts was designed through which users are allowed to “renovate” the building. The interactive version available online is a game in which users become designers, actively applying stickers to renovate the façade. Over the course of a few minutes, the façade becomes dirty and designers must clean it. Stickers eventually fall off the façade to force users to actively design and redesign. The iterative process of renovation through the application of stickers engenders a familiarity with the image of the building, creating an audience of fans. Through the consumption and proliferation of the images produced by the game, the future of the individual projects is (in theory) preserved.
The act of applying stickers simultaneously transforms the designer into a performer who becomes frustrated, and therefore cute.
sP: What or who influenced this project?:
JG: Fluxus, Fluxkit; Hello Kitty; Bruce Nauman, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square;Takashi Murakami; Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me; and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
JG: Tunes: Kero Kero Bonito, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and Kali Uchis. Print: Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting; Dave Hickey, Enter the Dragon: Essays on Beauty, and Gillo Dorfles, Kitsch: the World of Bad Taste. Youtube: rrcherrypie, YolandaMeow, Mike Diva, and EVERYTHINGISTERRIBLE.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
JG: Sebastian Masuda, 6%DOKIDOKI, Sanrio, Mike Diva, and Theo Trian.
Additional credits and links:
Super special thanks to Kevin Pazik, Tyler Kvochick, Jeff Anderson, and Jimenez Lai for their assistance and/or willingness to embarrass themselves in front of a live audience of influential critics.