Angela HUANG & Alex TAHINOS, "Real Fictions II: Pier Gardens." Model.
    lake forest ILLINOIS


    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
    Cyrus PEÑARROYO: SRFC_PLAY is a landscape of nine loosely-arranged, discrete surfaces that appear to droop, bend, crease, and lean on one another to provide platforms for performance.

    The 16’ x 16’ squares appear to lift off the lawn, each one presenting a variation on the same image of grass. Their light footing draws attention to the artifice, and at times, the surfaces appear to slip off their supports.

    This proposal engages the Arts and Crafts history of the adjacent Tudor-style house by using images from nature to set the stage for a series of visual and spatial effects. Around the time that the original owner built the house and barn in 1897, it was not uncommon to see household interiors decorated in wallpaper patterns inspired by botanical motifs. In their simplicity, these block-printed wall coverings seemed to capture the unsystematic yet uniform qualities of nature, all within the domestic realm. These depictions also called into question the authenticity of natural encounters.

    SRFC_PLAY unrolls these surfaces onto the front yard and offers a contemporary approach to pattern production. Taking cues from Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright and stage director known for his use of techniques to remind spectators that they were witnessing a representation of reality, SRFC_PLAY brings offstage tools for image-making back onstage as active players in the production. The proposal exploits certain commands and filters to expose the requisite labor behind editing a photograph and constructing a reality. SRFC_PLAY addresses our mediated relationship to the physical world by pushing post-production techniques to their extreme and by collapsing the handmade with the digitally-defined.

    The nine squares of SRFC_PLAY deny axiality in favor of a radial configuration of modified thrusts that still maintain the presence of a traditional stage. This allows for varied audience-to-performer relationships, multiple staging and seating arrangements, and the possibility to generate new content inspired by the diverse imagery. Because of its casual disposition, SRFC_PLAY can easily transition from theater to garden pavilion and disappear into its surroundings.

    SRFC_PLAY has no clearly defined front or back, which allows each surface to act as both stage and means of staging. The exposed steel framework behind each surface doubles as scaffolding for lighting and audio equipment. The overall result is an outdoor venue that, as in Brecht, foregrounds and formalizes the requisite labor for theatrical production and visual effects.

    SRFC PLAY from Cyrus Peñarroyo on Vimeo.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    CP: William Morris wallpaper patterns; Rene Magritte’s “The Human Condition;” Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream;” Richard Mosse’s “Infra” series; Thomas Ruff’s “JPEG” series; Banks Violette; Jon Rafman’s “Brand New Paint Job” series.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    CP: Hito Steyerl’s “In Defense of the Poor Image,” Artie Vierkant’s “The Image Object Post-Internet,” Jesus Vassallo’s “Seamless: Digital Collage and Dirty Realism.”

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
    CP: Curtis Roth, Ania Jaworska, Soft Baroque, New Affiliates, Michelle Chang.

    Additional Credits/Links:
    Project Team: Cyrus Peñarroyo, Andrew Barkhouse, Kevin Sani
    Photography: Salam Rida