"The exhibition proposes a letting go of architecture understood as the production of material goods in favour of architecture as the production of ideas." – Mirko Zardini
Other Space Odysseys presents three approaches to the idea of an adventurous journey that started 40 years ago after the 1969 moon landing. Featuring the work of architects Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, and Alessandro Poli, Other Space Odysseys comes at a time when space exploration is the subject of renewed enthusiasm, but also of debate which questions its justification. Scientific expeditions, satellite launches, and the emergence of space tourism are pushing us to reconsider our relationship with the planet. For these architects, space has provided not only a rich context for experimentation, but also an extreme condition in which to test new ideas for life on Earth.
Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, and Alessandro Poli have developed unique and imaginative responses to the questions of space travel and the inhabitation of new, extraterrestrial realities. Their odysseys, real and virtual, ultimately promise a rediscovery of our own planet.
The architects’ projects are presented in two galleries each, adjacent and open to one another in order to establish relationships among their respective works. Featuring models, collages, animation, and drawing Other Space Odysseys presents an array of material both real and virtual, from the simple tools of a farmer to the digital animation of a science fiction film. The architects have worked to select the material and present concepts through the exhibition design.
Greg Lynn’s projects on view make use of extreme conditions – such as virtual reality or the absence of gravity – to introduce new directions, technologies and forms into the world of architectural possibility. New City, an architecturally considered virtual world, is presented through animation and five models digitally fabricated for the exhibition. The project responds to the emergence of social media through the design of a parallel virtual reality in which all of the earth’s inhabitants reside in a single, interconnected city. Also on view are models and documentation of N.O.A.H. (New Outer Atmospheric Habitat), a series of four planets developed for the science fiction film Divide, as well as drawings and animation of space colonies that explore the notion of ‘ground’ in the absence of gravity.
Michael Maltzan’s proposed new building for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a NASA laboratory in Pasadena, California, challenges existing architectural models for campuses that house scientific research, and proposes a new type of physical environment to facilitate collaboration. The dichotomy between earthbound scientists and their work at the scale of outer space is reflected in the exhibition. In one gallery, a video of space exploration shows the sublime and heroic qualities of the images received from outer space. A second gallery presents the day-to-day technical and bureaucratic life of the JPL through data received from the ongoing Cassini mission.
Alessandro Poli’s vision of planet Earth was changed radically by the 1969 moon landing. His projects in the exhibition explore different proposals for connecting the earth to the new reality of outer space. The first gallery is dedicated to Architettura interplanetaria (1972), a film by the radical Italian architecture group Superstudio, of which Poli was a member. The film imagines architecture at an interplanetary scale, such as a highway from the earth to the moon, and is accompanied by preparatory materials including sketches, collages, and storyboards.
Poli and Superstudio’s research for Cultura Materiale Extraurbana challenged the optimism and technological dependence of space exploration. The protagonist of one chapter in this project is Zeno, a Tuscan peasant. In contrast to the astronauts of the Apollo missions, who required highly sophisticated capsules and suits to survive in their new environments, Zeno used and reused the same objects to become completely self-sufficient. Poli’s reflections are crystallized in the 2008 collage Zeno and Aldrin meet in Riparbella, which illustrates the relationship between the two characters, while highlighting the principal theme of the exhibition: the rediscovery of Earth through the exploration of space.
Other Space Odysseys is curated by CCA Curator of Contemporary Architecture Giovanna Borasi and CCA Director Mirko Zardini, in active collaboration with the architects.
A publication edited by Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini accompanies the exhibition.
7 April 2010
Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, and Alessandro Poli discuss the ideas and implications of space in relation to their work and the projects presented in the exhibition.
Testing at Home Lecture Series
15 April; 6, 13, 26 May
A series of lectures exploring the possibilities of other worlds here on Earth.