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FALL 2014 EXHIBITIONS


Bryan Cantley, Form:uLA: Dirty Geometries + Mechanical Imperfections

October 10—November 30, 2014 in the SCI-Arc Gallery

Exhibition Discussion & Opening Reception: Friday, October 10, 7pm
Bryan Cantley and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss discuss the exhibition

Bryan Cantley and Form:uLA’s exhibition is an opus in three distinct parts—the articulation of fallacy and artificial chronology of the architectural drawing; the suggested operational misalignments of his visionary projects; and the symbolic deconstruction of the gallery.

Form:uLA has always defied established contexts and criteria. The SCI-Arc installation is no exception. Challenging the normative ‘current building practices’ that substantiates the gallery’s lexicon, Cantley displays a more ‘conventional’ oeuvre of drawings, models, and images. Not a singular materialization, he presents a body of [predominantly] new work that suggests alternative spatial discourse. The space itself is conceptually dissected into a series of graphical surfaces, with the manifestation of the ‘antiobject’ serving as both display [backdrop, organizational maneuver] and spatial delineator [object, anchor].

Cantley’s work is regularly divided into two distinct, yet transecting conditions—the experimental architectural drawing [image], and the ‘mechanical architecture’ paradigm [building-object]. The exhibition presents both of these archetypes as conjunctive informants. His drawings challenge the architectural descriptive posture of singularity, while his building indicators suggest a world of implied functionality and machinic soul. And while the drawings and projects somewhat overlap, each artifact is its own threshold to a vision of architectural potential. The gallery is conceptually divided to document two radically different, yet unmistakably connected tissues of a conceptual chirality.

The Dirty Geometries portion houses a series of over 30 hand and hybrid drawings that attempt to enhance the audience as both voyeur and inhabitant, while simultaneously removing the framework of ‘the recognizable’ as a tool of navigation. The dirtiness of the geometries refer both to the unresolved nature of the content, as well as a condition of physical residue left over from an imperfect and [sometimes] organic digitally-infused process of drawing. These graphic experimentations serve as a proactive mode of research, becoming not so much drawings of objects, as much as they predict drawings of drawings.

The Mechanical Imperfections section presents 10 conceptual projects that engage a dialogue of imperfect machines struggling to construct perfect moments of architecture. These visionary projects abandon perceived mechanical precision in lieu of spatial poetics, political overlay and architectural inquiry.

Both of these categories of work speak of the degree of flaw that is derived from the human condition of the analog, though they do so under a disguised veil of ostensible accuracy. The exhibition is not as much about the strictness of the execution, as it suggests the fallibility of [all] technology. Wabi-sabi insinuates the condition of transience of not only an architectural solution, but of the vehicles through which such undertakings are discussed. These visionary projects attempt to establish a dialogue that broadens the interpretation of the underbelly of architecture as an explorative discipline. Cantley’s work is that of questions, not answers. This exhibition questions the role of representation in architecture, the potential of the non-building as critical dialogue, and the vehicles through which architectural discourse are delivered. It also questions the nature of the imperfect analog within this digital guild.

About Bryan Cantley / [Form:uLA Dimension Laboratory]
“Racing toward the future implied by the post-urban concatenation of human dwellings that is Southern California, Form:uLA envisions a world where the mechanical certainty with which we have shaped our physical environment dissolves into the endlessly hovering limbo of the freeway, the collage of the televised world view, and the directional certainty of diagrams that tell us where we are in nowhere. Bryan Cantley, the brain behind the post-architecture firm Form:uLA, gives us a chart to what he sees as our world. He thus is one of the last (though one hopes not the last) architecture visionaries looking beyond the needs of form and function to formulas for future orders…” — Aaron Betsky, In a Galaxy Closer Than We Think (2006)

In 1992, Bryan Cantley established Form:uLA, a practice that explores the boundaries of architecture, representation and the role of drawing, within the discourse of visionary space. He filters this research through his conceptual framework of ‘Mechudzu,’ a system that incorporates biomorphic behavior of mechanistic entities. Drawing from architecture, graphic and industrial design, music theory/notation and applications of kinesiology, Cantley merges these into a voice of undefined chronologies and place, asking the viewer + occupant to question not only where they are, but when…

Form:uLA’s work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and has been exhibited internationally, including a solo exhibition at The Bartlett in 2008. Cantley has lectured internationally, and is the recipient of a prestigious Graham Foundation grant.

A more intimate selection of Canley’s work will be exhibited in November 2014 at the Christopher Mount Gallery in Los Angeles, and his work will be the subject of a solo retrospective exhibition at the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s College of Architecture in 2015. Cantley holds a Master of Architecture from UCLA, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UNCC.


11.03.14 - 12.05.14 | SCI-Arc Library Gallery
Opening reception: Monday, Nov 3, 7pm
IDEA Office: Thinking the Future of Auschwitz

Mon, Nov 3, 7pm
SCI-Arc Library Gallery

Exhibition discussion with SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss and Architect Russell Thomsen; reception to follow.


Aerial view of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Thinking the Future of Auschwitz is an architectural proposal for the future of the Nazi concentration camps in Poland. While the original concentration camp and Polish State Museum at Auschwitz maintain their status as a narrated, didactic experience, this proposal transforms the extermination camp at Auschwitz- Birkenau into a Tel Olam. Originally cited in Deuteronomy, a Tel Olam marks a place of unspeakable evil, blotting out and rendering it inaccessible. Translated as a perpetual heap--in contemporary terms, a machinic field--it produces a traumatic figure, steadfastly delimiting a perimeter.

Proper to its unutterable status, Birkenau becomes perpetually indeterminate, generating a probing, hermeneutic experience without immediate answers, withholding solace and defying convenient philosophical closure. While the project is unique to Auschwitz, it tests architecture's own particular agency in the twenty-first century and contributes significantly to an expanded discourse on the conventions of catastrophe.

Architects Eric Kahn and Russell Thomsen founded IDEA (formerly COA) in 1987 in Los Angeles. The office works on a wide array of projects that include building, installations, writing, and speculative architectural proposals dealing with the relationship between architecture and culture. Both have served as senior design studio faculty at SCI-Arc. The partners have lectured at major universities and institutions around the world. They are recipients of both the Young Architects Award and the Emerging Voices Award sponsored by the Architectural League of New York. The Y-House in Tokyo received a first award from Architect Magazine in 2009 for the 'Best in American Architecture.' The work of the office has been exhibited and published in the US, Europe and Japan, and is held in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Eric Kahn passed away in June of this year.

Exhibit Reviews:
KCRW: Rethinking the Future of Auschwitz
Jewish Journal: SCI-Arc Exhibit Reconsiders a Future for Auschwitz
Archinect: Proposal for the Future of Auschwitz-Birkenau