Hairy Value: _FinalFinalFinal Exhibition✕ close
Taubman College Gallery, Ann Arbor, USA 2014.
Design Team: Hannah Dean, Ian Donaldson, Philip Marcantonio, Luis Orozco
Curatorial Team: Alexandra Bernetich, Chelsea Meyer, Annie-Locke Scherer, Han-Yuan Tsao, Samuel Xu, Liyi Zhu
Research Contributors: John Arnold, Mary Kate Bachler, Alexandra Bernetich, Taylor Carr, Ian Donaldson, Phillip Gavrilovski, Kevin Kerwan, SJ Kwon, Philip Marcantonio, Eric Minton, Chelsea Meyer, Lian Ojakangas, Daniel Tish, Madelyn Willey, Samuel Xu, Sarah Zamler, Liyi Zhu
Hairy Value investigates the means by which sites, objects, and systems acquire cultural value, and how this value might be represented as a form, or as an architecture. What is of interest is a way in which architecture can engage questions of history, preservation, and political contingency. Can a method of intervention in these matters be learned from the hairy logic of computational processes?
<<I’m interested in how architecture can translate cultural value into form.>>
This exhibition samples and presents research undertaken as the 2013-2014 Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The research explores computational systems and institutional processes that in one case produce form and in the other value. This interest is concurrently pursued under three trajectories: 1) Hairy Balls conducts a series of algorithmic experiments that test the contingent capacities of form; 2) UNESCO analyzes the institutional logic of the World Heritage List in its formulation of ‘universal value’; and 3) Elvis synthesizes these findings into a response to preserve Elvis’ cultural heritage, with a radical proposal for his home in Graceland.
The exhibition itself is an experiment in designing interactive and transforming systems. An assemblage of devices—some found, some produced, some intrinsically interactive, some forcefully made so—allow visitors to alter the exhibition content and its appearance. The design comprises of two elements: a 103lb Hairy Ball of robotically extruded polypropylene, suspended from the ceiling, connected and held in tension to the floor; and a light box housing three slide projectors. Attached to the Hairy Ball are 200 35mm slides, in custom metal jackets, with each slide featuring one object from the fellowship research. The slides are both content and architectural detail, performing as a kind of joint when connected to the Hairy Ball, holding the plastic in tension and linking it to the weighted steel cables below.
Installation photos showing incremental superimposition of 35mm slides from three projector rig.
Installation photos with diagrammatic overlay showing overlapping projection throws.
It is a coded system. Each slide is tagged with its relevant research trajectory—Hairy Balls, UNESCO, Elvis—which corresponds to a similarly tagged 35mm projector. Visitors disconnect slides from the Hairy Ball, and place them in one of the three projector carousels. Releasing a slide severes the connection, sending steel flying, and plastic unraveling. The Hairy Ball recoils, and the collection of slides settled, reconfigured. Visitors became active researchers, contributing to the project by superimposing the projected slides, producing new relationships and adjacencies. In its initial condition, the distribution of slides is coherent, relating to the internal logic of each research trajectory, over the course of the exhibition, slides travel from the Hairy Ball to the light box, the projectors, the floor, into visitor’s pockets, and perhaps out the door.
Detail of a 35mm slide in custom metal jacket; Fabrication photos showing robotically controlled plastic extrusion process, aka RoboPoo.
Timelapse photos of installation, showing transformation over six week period.
Axonometric drawing of installation.
The plastic is both fragile and resilient: the precipitate of a kinetic fabrication process. A robotic dance and chemical process become half a sphere—a proper (half) Hairy Ball. The frozen outcome is once again made kinetic, with each interaction expediting its ruination. The more slides fill the carousels, the less the Hairy Ball survives, exponentially accelerating towards its own demise. Over the course of the exhibition, visitors are forced to reconcile their desire to participate with their sympathy to preserve the Hairy Ball. At the conclusion of the exhibition, the Hairy Ball undergoes divine transmutation. It is coerced from object into information, indexing and negotiating complex interactions between visitors, physical forces and its own material memory.
<<I like transmutation, in appearance and performance.>>
Top: Design to fabrication process; Bottom: Initial robotic tool path tests, developing structural and organizational strategies.