Virtual Research Fellows 2021

Residency, March 2021 to October 2021

Building Matter

The inaugural edition of the CCA Virtual Fellowship Program in 2021 asked researchers, curators, artists, and other cultural producers to consider how architects and other designers have relied on practices of the manipulation, extraction, projection, and inhabitation of planetary matter. From the Greek classical elements of earth, air, water, and fire to chemical elements scattered across the periodic table, designers have reconfigured and shaped the compositional elements of our planet through the projective needs of building. This process has resulted in so-called new materials—from alloys to solar panels to synthetic woods—that foreground the malleability of matter and the broader consequences of a human-led manipulation of ecological systems.

Researchers were welcome to propose research projects that encompass any time period or geography, as they intersect with our Collection—from Gianni Pettena’s speculative Ice House series to the Minimum Cost Housing Group’s fabrication of concrete sulphur bricks. Projects can engage with any event, narrative, or object in which the process of building matter—architecture being made through materials, but also earthly materials made for the purposes of an architectural intervention—is opened up as contingent and historically specific.

We were interested in an array of questions:
• What constitutes an appropriate material scale of analysis for architects and architecture historians to apprehend the limits of earth-based matter?
• How do processes underlying the constitution of matter tie together disparate, often regional iterations of global design movements?
• Does matter inscribe and articulate its ecological points of origin?
• Can matter-driven architecture histories point to the limitations and harm enacted by chemical manipulation?

Marina Oba
Federal University of Paraná

“Building ephemeral matter in the Georg Lippsmeier collection”

James Graham
California College of the Arts

“Planetary Dam”

Maren Koehler
University of Sydney

“Paper, Pulp and Plywood, ca. 1967”


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