ma.r.s.

ma.r.s. C-print

Finishing this week is Thomas Ruff's exhibition ma.r.s. at the Gagosian gallery on Brittania Street.

The exhibition features a series of large C-prints of manipulated photographs, based on digital images originally taken by the HiRISE camera aboard the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2006.

Ruff firstly blows these image up to room size proportions, often 2.5 metres high, to the point where the C-print takes on the surface appearance of a painting.

Further manipulations push the images further - sometimes slanting them to make it look that they were taken from a lower angle, rather than an orbiting craft; sometimes saturating the colours with a red hue, and sometimes adding a 3D stereographic process that splits out red-green spectrum.

ma.r.s. C-print

In the description that accompanies the exhibition at the Mai 36 gallery in Zurich in 2011, Valeria Lieberman describes Ruff's Ma.r.s series thus:

"Not only does he use the pictures themselves; he processes them to bring out the aesthetic quality of his scientific sources. He invites us to take a fictional voyage of exploration into the beauty of outer space. Given the current debate on the near future of manned space travel for the public-at-large, these pictures seem to prefigure what travellers will one day bring home from their journeys into outer space."

ma.r.s. C-print

Viewed close up, the surface of Mars occupying almost all of your vision, it is almost possible to fall into the image, to be hovering over the red planet, to imagine yourself there. Then you pull back, and contemplate the immense human achievement in capturing these images, and the meticulous work of Ruff in turning these scientific images into works of art.

ma.r.s. C-print

You can view the original HiRISE images on the NASA HiRISE viewer site. There's also a good review of the MRO mission on the Planetary Society site.

Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture

Coop Himmelblau - Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture

Continuing on the theme of Constructivist sculpture in Rotterdam, there is this remarkable piece by Coop Himmelblau, first built in 1988 and still present today. Called the Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture, it was made as part of the Sculpture in the City project of 1987.

Coop Himmelblau - Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture

As the Sculpture International Rotterdam site describes it:

"A series of sculptures was planned to link the Central Station with the Veerhaven, as part of the event entitled The City as a Stage. Various internationally renowned artists and architects were invited to contribute with a temporary or permanent work. Coop Himmelb(l)au’s sculpture is one of the few works in the Sculpture in the City project that was to acquire a permanent location in Rotterdam. It was originally intended to be located at Oud’s café De Unie (The Union, with its façade in De Stijl architecture) at the Westersingel. However, the sculpture was so big that a different spot had to be found – that was to be on the corner of Vasteland and Scheepstimmermanlaan."

Coop Himmelblau - Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture

Coop Himmelblau - Long Thin Yellow Legs of Architecture

A sculpture was also designed by Zaha Hadid, sadly no longer in situ, and while I remember seeing it, there is absolutely no information available on it online. It is almost as if it has been erased from her oeuvre. Does anyone have any images of it?


Previously:

Boompjes 2

Boompjes observation tower, OMA, 1980

Following on from the previous post about OMA's Boompjes project from 1980, here is the amazing image of the observation tower that formed part of the scheme. The tower is a pure Constructivist monument, a homage to Leonidov and El Lissitzky. Compare it to Lenin Tribune design of El Lissitzky from 1924.

Lenin Tribune, El Lissitzky

As this article on the fantastic Russian Utopia site puts it:

The tribune designed by El Lissitzky became an icon of the Modernist movement. Leninism became a dogma. When both were subjected to revision, it became clear that invigoration socialism was more difficult than updating Modernism.

If you don't find this worms-eye axonometric view of a Constructivist tower in Rotterdam totally awesome, then you're probably reading the wrong blog.


Previously:

Buran Suprematism

Buran Suprematism

Buran Suprematism

I was mucking around with a 3D model of a Buran spacecraft, when I switched all the objects to display as bounding-boxes. Result - instant Suprematist composition.

In "From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting", written in 1915, Malevich wrote the following:

"If all artists could see the crossroads of these celestial paths, if they could comprehend these monstrous runways and the weaving of our bodies with the clouds in the sky, then they would not paint chrysanthemums"

Buran Suprematism Buran Suprematism

In the Suprematism Manifesto, he speaks of a pure expression of visual abstraction, just as the form of a plane is determined as a pure expression of its purpose.

"It was nothing other than a yearning for speed ... for flight ... which, seeking an outward shape, brought about the birth of the airplane. For the airplane was not contrived in order to carry business letters from Berlin to Moscow, but rather in obedience to the irresistible drive of this yearning for speed to take on external form."

Kasimir Malevich is a fascinating character, prone to making bizarre proclamations about the nature of space and time, that seem ever more prescient in the technological imperative of modern society. Malevich's Suprematist painting are a search for imagery and composition which does not seek to represent, but create new forms. The paintings and constructions ("Architectons") are manifestations of a multi-dimensional spatial composition, and speak of a new language of non-objective form-making.

"The new art of Suprematism, which has produced new forms and form relationships by giving external expression to pictorial feeling, will become a new architecture: it will transfer these forms from the surface of canvas to space. The Suprematist element, whether in painting or in architecture, is free of every tendency which is social or other wise materialistic."

Architectons

Inevitably marginalised during his own lifetime, Malevich emerges today as the epitome of the avant grade artist - dense, often unfathomable, and bending space, time and language to his will.

"I have destroyed the ring of the horizon and stepped out of the circle of things."

One of my favourite photographs shows Malevich at the Vkhutemas, surrounded by his students, and like Alan Partridge, holding a big plate.
Malevich

Communal House of the Textile Institute

Communal House of the Textile Institute

I absolutely love this painting by Mikhail Nemtsov of The Communal House of the Textile Institute in Moscow.

Designed by Ivan Sergeevich Nikolaev and completed in 1931, it is one of the seminal buildings of the Constructivist era, and is often referred to simply at Nikolaev's House. It embodies the radical approach to communal living and education that gained popularity in the post-revolutionary fervent, when all social institutions became open to re-examination. The painting by Nemtsov doesn't just represent the building but also tries to capture the multitude of social relations that would have taken place in the building.

Since 1968, when it was last repaired, the building has fallen into disrepair, and although Nemtsov likes the fact that it still supports a variety of uses, a renovation is planned.

Watch this video interview with Nemtsov from the excellent Ogino Knauss site here:

MIKHAIL NEMTOV from OGINO KNAUSS.

Het Nieuwe Bouwen

Het Nieuwe Bouwen in Rotterdam, book jacket

Back in the day, I probably knew more about the modern movement in Dutch architecture, Het Nieuwe Bouwen, than just about anything else. Had I been asked to select a specialist subject to appear on Mastermind, it's probably what I would have chosen. These days I've forgotten more than I can remember, but the recent sight of these posters by Wim Crouwel has rekindled my memory, and why I was (and remain) so fascinated by it.

The Dutch experiment with Functionalism seemed to be much more engaged than the brief flirtation of the UK. The evolution of ideas and form works of precursors such as Berlage, van de Velde and Dudok, through to Duiker, Oud, Rietveld and onto to Brinkmann, van der Vlugt, Bekama etc. to my eyes form a compelling continuum of experimentation, openness and shared ambition, and established a platform for the confidence of Dutch architecture throughout the course of the 20th Century.

Het Nieuwe Bouwen, CIAM poster

Het Nieuwe Bouwen, posters

These posters, created by Crouwel's Total Studio in 1983 to accompany a series of exhibitions across museums Holland including the Stedelijk in Amsterdam, Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Kröller-Müller at Otterlo, and the Gementesmuseum in The Hague. Each of the exhibitions was accompanied by a book, also designed by Crouwel/ Total Studio, and these are well worth tracking down for both their beautiful design as well as their content.

The beauty of the covers/ posters, with the axonometric view of the signature buildings, on a silvered background with the roof picked out in white, and with the helvetica type set at a 45 degree angle, reflects a total synthesis between graphic design and architecture. It doesn't get better than this.

(The images shown here don't really do them justice - I will scan and photograph the covers of my book copies to replace them shortly, if anyone has any decent images of the posters please let me know).

Het Nieuwe Bouwen, books You can pick these books up second hand but you can also download 4 of them from Scribd (links: Previous History, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, De Stijl, CIAM). If you're feeling rich you can also buy the posters, try here.

This post sponsored by Portakabin:
Modular construction