farzinfarzin investigates the means by which objects, sites and systems acquire cultural value and examines the representation of value in architectural form. In what unexpected ways might architecture 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?  The studio addresses these questions through the design of spaces, software, and media. 


farzinfarzin was founded in 2008 by Farzin Lotfi-Jam. Lotfi-Jam (b. Tehran) is faculty in the graduate school of architecture at Columbia University and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and was previously a Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan. His research has been funded by the Veski organization and the Graham Foundation, and has been collected by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He has been exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, AIGA/NY Annex, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, the Venice Architecture Biennale, and elsewhere. 

 

 

 

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Designed and developed with v-a.nyc 


Hairy Value: Preserving the Elvis Hip Thrust

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Taubman College Gallery, Ann Arbor, USA 2014.

 

More than 40 years after his death, Elvis’ image continues to circulate and attach itself to the strangest sites and objects. He can be found on toasters, peddling the merits of dry cleaners, selling cars, giving intimate repose to lonely souls at saintly alters, or most recently there has even been talk of literally giving life to his image via holographic reincarnation. His image has proven to be extremely malleable, a cultural obsession and a site of cultural production in its own right, a site upon which many myths surrounding Rock ‘n’ Roll and the American Dream have been projected. This project queries this fascination with his pop stardom, and the processes that produce and reproduce his cultural significance.

 

An alien cultural object is inserted into the UNESCO system of valuation by nominating Graceland to the UNESCO WHL. Although Graceland operates on a different strata of cultural value, the low brow of popular Rock n Roll mythology, it is in a sense America’s Parthenon. The project tests what can be entered into that system, what forms of value can be registered, what it refuses and what it accepts. What is revealed is that Graceland is absorbed quite easily, and that value is contingent. If the project makes us think about Graceland in a different way, it also begs us to reconsider our understanding of the WHL. Mythology, as with Elvis, applies equally to the WHL sites. Their value is not produced by archaeological certainty, or art/historical/scientific objectivity—even though this is part of the archaeological enterprise—it is produced by the collective mythology of their universal worth. Hairy Value is interested in this question of the value of myth, and seeing if that mythology can be reprogrammed. What is exposed isn’t just the contingency—which would be the hairiness—of UNESCO, in a sense the project seeks to make UNESCO—and in turn architecture—hairier, by opening them up to new systems, tendrils and networks of value.

 

<<His hip thrust is best signifier, both of his popular value, and as a kind of symbol of the movement, the transformation and transmutation that the project is looking to evaluate. It has acquired cultural value, and can be translated into architectural form. (So can other stuff)>>

Extract from nomination application of site Graceland for World Heritage List designation.

Animation stills from archival footage of Elvis’ mythical dance moves with overlay of optical flow analysis (a process that estimates the 3D motion of objects in a scene from 2D video data).

Animation stills from archival footage of Elvis’ mythical dance moves with overlay of optical flow analysis (a process that estimates the 3D motion of objects in a scene from 2D video data).

Analysis of iconic pose.

Analysis of iconic pose.

Fat Elvis crooning his skinnier former self.