Posts

Field of Dreams

Architecture was once said to be technologically decades behind other constructive disciplines. Post-World War II mass production yielded the modern airliner for aviation, but Levittown for architecture. Now, thankfully, we’re catching up. Rapid prototyping soft- and hardware allow designers to directly test and manufacture at the human scale, from jewelry to complete building components. Our expanded tool kit arrives just as we’re also tasked with addressing our collective environmental crisis. These advances in fabrication and environmental investigation were key components of Field Constructs, a recent competition in Austin that featured four installations by talented, young designers. Field Constructs Design Competition…

Follow the Light

On the subterranean beer garden’s creek-side deck, a picnic table is packed with a young professional bunch in rapt conversation, men with their backs to the water oblivious to the glowing presence creeping up the wall behind them. From Waller Creek below, looking up at them and the rest of the Austin skyline, the beast is visible in full: a ghostly creature emerging from the murky depths, its long legs, made of flexible LED Neon lights, frozen in mid-leap, looking as desperate as any other Austin-dweller for a good seat at a bar patio downtown. This is “Waller Phantasm,” University of Texas…

FCDC Announces 18 Projects as Jury Selection Finalists

Temporary installations have become a potent medium for young architects and designers to explore new technologies, materials, and models of practice. Field Constructs Design Competition (FCDC) was conceived as an effort to bring attention to a peripheral landscape in East Austin by engaging the design community. "The core idea with the competition is to stage an encounter between local audiences and emerging regional, national, and international talent,” explains Igor Siddiqui, co-founder and co-director of FCDC. The site, Circle Acres Nature Preserve, a former landfill-turned-park in Austin, allows the participants to critically and creatively explore two sets of issues: (1) the capacity…

Do Ho Suh

Beginning on September 20, The Contemporary Austin will feature work by Korean-born sculptor and installation artist Do Ho Suh. His first major solo exhibition in the U.S. in more than a decade will be on display at the Jones Center on Congress Avenue and the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. “Do Ho Suh has assembled a collection of pieces that seamlessly thread the museum’s two sites together,” said Heather Pesanti, curator at The Contemporary Austin. “The exhibition focuses on a mini-survey of his architecturally inspired works based on domestic spaces and objects.” Do Ho Suh’s meditations on…

‘Soft Walls’

While textiles and fiber materials are at the heart of Akiko Kotani's practice, inspiration for her latest installation first arose from noticing interlaced steel walls. These walls pushed the artist to think about the juxtaposition of the fluid appearance of the steel with the inherent strength of the material. This idea exerts a major influence on "Soft Walls," a large-scale installation consisting of two walls draped with over 150 sf of crocheted plastic bags. The artwork is on view at the Women & Their Work Art Gallery in Central Austin until August 29.  Working with a minimalist palette — an approach used consistently throughout her long career — Kotani…

Plastic Effects

While advances in digital technology have made many designs look sleeker, there is a continued desire to move “off the screen.” With this in mind, the marriage of materials with production has come to the forefront of design. For many architects, including Austin-based Igor Siddiqui, materials are capable of great transformation and should be considered early in the stages of the design process. Siddiqui, an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and principal of ISSSStudio, is drawn to specific materials, such as rubber and bioplastics, that are flexible, pliable, and allow themselves to be…

Seher Shah’s “Constructed Landscapes”

Artist Seher Shah (b. 1975, Pakistan) discusses the intersection of architecture and drawing in her work. With degrees in art and architecture, Shah’s areas of interest include overlapping historical and geographical elements, reconstructing modernist architecture and urban monuments, and examining futurist landscapes. Austin's AMOA-Arthouse (now The Contemporary Austin) presented Shah’s first solo exhibition, “Constructed Landscapes,” earlier this spring. You attended the Rhode Island School of Design for both visual art and architecture. How do your overlapping degrees translate into your work? I am interested in the effects of rendering a space and how various mapping constructions can be represented through architecture,…

Soo Sunny Park’s “Unwoven Light” Installation at Rice

Suspended from the walls and ceiling, 37 individually sculpted units are arranged as a graceful, twisting flow of abstract form. Entering the gallery there is no set path to follow. Instead, we are invited to meander slowly as one might stroll along a river’'s edge, stopping to admire the glints of light that dance on the water’'s surface. "Unwoven Light" continues Soo Sunny Park'’s ongoing experimentation with the ephemeral qualities of light and how light affects our perceptions of architectural space. Though immaterial, light is a critical structural element in each of Park'’s works. Here, she has utilized both the gallery'’s lighting…

Remain in Light

No longer confined to a single machine, data storage has gone atmospheric. Content stored in “the cloud” is better protected against loss and is accessible anywhere, a technique enabled by the light-transmitting properties of fiber optic cables and LCD screens. This technology allows a new relationship with past experiences; even distant memories can be easily revisited, visualized, and shared. Expanding on this paradigm is “Memory Cloud,” an installation at the Texas A&M University Memorial Student Center created by Re:Site and METALAB, two Houston-based firms of artists, designers, and architects. The proposal was selected from over 300 submissions to a competition…

Waller Creek’s Creek Show

On the heels of the Waller Creek Pop-up Adventure Picnic, when the typically deserted Palm Park hosted five hundred Austinites with an evening of food and live music, there may soon be several other reasons to visit Waller Creek before its upcoming metamorphosis from derelict and forgotten waterway into a vibrant downtown destination. If funding prevails, Creek Show, a series of temporary installations, will appear along the 1.5-mile Waller Creek site in an attempt to surprise and delight the community while also creating awareness about the importance of Waller Creek’s transformation for Austin’s connectivity. “Illumination is the theme,” says Ingrid…