Elastic Architecture: Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture
Reception, Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion with Presentations, and Book Launch:
Speakers: Annie Chu, Joe Day, Tom Gunning, Julia Koerner, Jimenez Lai, Priscilla Fraser, and Stephen Phillips
Description: In 1960, the renowned architect Philip Johnson championed Frederick Kiesler, calling him “the greatest non-building architect of our time.” Kiesler’s ideas were difficult to construct, but as Johnson believed, “enormous” and “profound.” Kiesler (1890–1965) a member of the European avant-garde, found inspiration in the plastic arts, experimental theater, early animation, and automatons to develop and refine his innovative formal and spatial stage design and installation art practice. Upon moving to New York in the 1920s, he applied these radical Dadaist, constructivist, and surrealist practices to his urban display and cinema building projects. After launching his innovative Design Correlation Laboratory at Columbia and Yale, Kiesler went on to invent new houses, theaters, and galleries that were meant to move, shift, and adapt to evolutionary changes occurring within the natural and built environment. Although many of Kiesler’s designs remained unbuilt, his ideas have proven influential to generations of architects and speculative artists.
Hosted by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture inCollaboration with the Cal Poly LA Metro Program in Architecture and Urban Design the panel will discuss Kiesler's visionary approach to interdisciplinary design.
Annie Chu (FAIA, IIDA) is founding principal of the award-winning CHU+GOODING Architects in Los Angeles and professor of interior architecture at Woodbury University. Leveraging her design reputation, she champions interior architecture as a distinct and emerging discipline through teaching, public speaking and her leadership in the civic and professional realms, including her role as a Cultural Affairs Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles and the AIA Interior Architecture Advisory Group. Annie is the recipient of the Leadership Award of Excellence from IIDA’s Southern California chapter and thePresidential Honoree Educator Award from the Los Angeles chapter of the AIA.
Joe Day is a designer and architectural theorist in Los Angeles, where he leads Deegan-Day Design LLC and serves on the design and history/theory faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). He contributed a foreword to the 2009 edition of Reyner Banham’s seminal study, Los Angeles: Architecture of the Four Ecologies (University of California Press, 2009), taught at Yale School of Architecture as the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Chair and is the author of Corrections & Collections: Architectures for Art and Crime (Routledge, 2013). Joe Day serves on the Board of Trustees at SCI-Arc, and as a Director at the W.M. Keck Foundation.
Tom Gunning is Distinguished Service Professor in the Department on Cinema and Media at the University of Chicago, and author of D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film (University of Illinois Press), The Films of Fritz Lang; Allegories of Vision and Modernity (British Film Institute), and over a hundred and fifty articles.
Julia Koerner is an award-winning Austrian designer working at the convergence of architecture, product and fashion design - specialized in additive manufacturing and robotic technology. Her work stands out, recognized at the top level of these disciplines, where it has been featured internationally in world-renown museums, institutions and publications. She is founder and director of JK Design GmbH. Her recent collaborations involved 3D-Printed fashion pieces developed with Haute Couture Houses for Paris Fashion weeks. Julia is a graduate of the Architectural Association, London and University of Applied Arts, Vienna; she is a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jimenez Lai works in the world of art, architecture and education. He is a faculty member at UCLA and the founding partner of the design studio Bureau Spectacular. Lai has worked for various international offices including MOS and OMA. Lai is widely exhibited and published internationally including the MoMA-collected White Elephant. He is author of Citizens of No Place (Princeton Architectural Press) and received the Architecture League Prize for Young Architects and Debut Award at the Lisbon Triennale. Lai designed the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Architectural Biennale (2014), organized the Treatise exhibition and publication series at the Graham Foundation (2016), and in 2017 Lai and his studio exhibited an installation based on the drawing insideoutsidebetweenbeyond at the SFMOMA.
Priscilla Fraser is the Director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in Los Angeles. Prior to this position she was Senior Architect and Project Manager at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 2011. Well recognized for designing notable installations like Chris Burden’s Metropolis II and the James Turrell retrospective, Fraser joined architect Peter Zumthor to oversee multiple teams working on the forthcoming LACMA redesign. She has also served as Director of Exhibitions and Publications with Steven Holl Architects and worked under Barry Bergdoll in the Architecture Department of the Museum of Modern Art.
Stephen Phillips is an architect, historian, and theorist. He is Professor of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Founding Director of the Cal Poly Los Angeles Metropolitan Program in Architecture and Urban Design. He is principal architect in the firm Stephen Phillips Architects (SPARCHS) and author of LA [TEN}: Interviews of Los Angeles Architecture 1970s to 1990s (Lars Müller Publishers, 2014) and Elastic Architecture: Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture (MIT Press, 2017)
Elastic Architecture: Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture
This new publication on Kiesler is the first scholarly book on his architecture. It is a canonical study of 384 pages, with 155 color and b&w photos. The book is being sold in hardback ($39.95 trade) and has been funded through grants and fellowships from the Getty Research Institute, Graham Foundation, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Museums Quartier, and Barr Ferree Foundation (Princeton University) among others.
Elastic Architecture will be available for purchase at the event
“With this book the MIT Press continues its support for architectural thought at a time when both print books and the authority of thought are under attack. Certainly an English-language monograph on Kiesler is long overdue, especially today when the avant-garde seemingly consists of random façade shape-making. Kiesler is one of the few people since Alberti to compare the design of an individual house to the scale and space of the city. His work on the City in Space, a De Stijl-like composition that could be read at either scale, showed a full range of design and theoretical potential. Kiesler exemplified what it meant to be an architect who wrote, thought, and designed in the cultural medium of space.” —Peter Eisenman, architect
“Kiesler went from applied arts in Austria to applying every technology within reach in New York, moving from experiments in perception, theater, and robotics to a single-minded obsession with elastic space and its endless iterations. Phillips has discovered in him the half-forgotten originator of so much recent architecture whose allure comes from fluid shapes and swiftly changing surfaces. This is a revelation, as there was only one Kiesler with the ability to wing it in the old and in the new world, leaving a trail of ideas and conundrums that seem forever just over the horizon and tantalizingly out of reach.” —Kurt W. Forster, Hon FRIBA, Visiting Professor, Yale School of Architecture
“Frederick Kiesler’s avant-garde production stands at the threshold of modernism with a set of intuitions, ideas, and experiments that appear retrospectively as key milestones on the path leading to contemporary digital architecture. In this brilliant book, Stephen Phillips reveals the relevance of the ‘greatest non-building architect’ for whoever attempts to rethink today the relations between the body and the built environment.” —Antoine Picon, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design
“Frederick Kiesler is an immensely important influence in contemporary design thinking. His visionary redefinition of architecture’s scope—and its relationship to technology, research, and interdisciplinarity—modeled the notion of ‘alternative practice’ and continues to shape the discipline today. Stephen Phillips thoughtfully charts the development of that redefinition with new and provocative connections to contemporaneous thinkers and movements. As the mechanisms of controlling subjectivity evolve to become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, this nuanced revisiting of Kiesler’s concepts of embodied freedom and ‘elasticity’ is absolutely critical.” —Thom Mayne, FAIA, Design Director, Morphosis
The event is sponsored by: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, HMC Architects, Morphosis, Bulthaup, CSDA Design Group, Theatre DNA, ARC Reprographics alongside media support from AIA LA, CALA, A+D Museum, Helms Bakery District, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.
For more on Elastic Architecture from MIT Press: CLICK HERE
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