Icons, Festivals & Manifestos



I was fortunate enough to lead a workshop last weekend as part of the Festival of Ideas for the New City directed by the New Museum.

Much of my work starts from the premise that we are much smarter than we give ourselves credit for, in terms of having worthwhile and innovative ideas, and that the disappointment that we experience with the status quo is not so much due to a poverty of innovative ideas (or "creativity") but, rather, a hesitancy to act on those ideas. Somehow we require consensus or major mind-bending enthusiasm to act on an innovative idea, yet continue to repeat an impoverished status quo without enthusiasm, in massive conflict with each other.

So I aim to produce opportunities for direct action, one could say, in the built environment and its discourse.

The workshop at the Festival of Ideas was an opportunity to try out a methodology of making 45 minute manifestos about the built environment - this one being specifically about the Lower East Side.  One of the most poignant responses was this one (pictured) for a series of buttons.  Each button presents the iconography of a recognizable building in the Lower East Side.  The New Museum by SANAA is immediately recognizable.  Another is perhaps the Hotel on Rivington or, perhaps, another mullioned glass facade building.  Likewise what appears to be a child's outline of a house is most likely the elevation of a Synagogue.  These are obviously quick sketches that would require another level of graphic design articulation to be purposeful, but what is implied is a vague possibility that the iconography of banal (non-iconic) architecture might be marshaled toward a conversation about architecture's role in local identity outside the confines of contextualism and preservation.

You can see the full results of the two 45-minute workshops here.

9 May 2011 / 0 comments
From More or Less by Mitch McEwen in Architecture, Art, Design

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