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LECTURES: Fri, January 17, 2014

Jeffrey Kipnis + Stephen Turk: Figure Ground Game,
An Architecturalists Show

Exhibition Discussion: Friday, January 17, 7pm, in the Keck Lecture Hall
Jeffrey Kipnis discusses the exhibition with SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss Opening reception follows in the SCI-Arc Gallery

Like the Greek Demigod Antaeus, Architecture derives its most mysterious and ancient powers from its contact with the earth. For millennia, it has used those powers to stage the realms of Pharaohs, Emperors, Popes, the Rich and the Powerful. With the advent of Modernism, the desire to redeploy its powers to more egalitarian ends captured the minds of the century's greatest architects, from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to Archigram to John Hejduk, an ambition that gave rise to the single most important statement in the discipline’s history—Architecture or Revolution—the oft-cited chapter title from Corb’s Vers une Architecture. In every case, a central motif in that enterprise has been a revised relation between building and ground and all the consequences that such revision entails. Lift the building off the ground, turn it into a floating inflatable, set it into motion, turn the ground into a building, turn the building into the ground. Even today, 100 years into that tale, revisiting yet again architecture’s relation to the ground continues to drive many of our most adventurous experiments.

The Figure Ground Game, a multimedia, multidisciplinary romp, draws upon animation, film, computer games and art to reaffirm and amplify architecture's ongoing speculative contest with instantiated power staged on the ground. Not an exhibition, but rather a curated show, the Figure Ground Game features the work of a half-dozen architects, painters, a sculptor and more, all related to one another by a desire to mine the tradition and history of figurality in the arts as it has been inflected in recent years by technology, media and the discourse of enfranchisement in order to rethink the consequences of the building-ground relationship a step or two further.

Among the conjectures foregrounded in the show are new building postures, co-dependent structures, non-local contextualism, and perhaps most important of all, an assertion of a desire to see comedy achieve an equivalent status to tragedy in architecture, as it has for centuries in all of the other arts to the profound increase in their powers and the resultant existential benefit to each and all of us.

Exhibition curator: Jeffrey Kipnis, Professor, The Ohio State University
Chief Architect: Stephen Turk, Professor, The Ohio State University

Featured Exhibitors:
Architecture: Stephen Turk, John Yurchyk, Paul Adair, and Ryan Docken , all of The Ohio State University; Mr. Docken courtesy of Captain Dust
Painting: Fabian Marcaccio (NY), Maurice Clifford (Atlanta)
Sculpture: Beverly Stephens

Panel Discussion & Book Signing: Et in Suburbia Ego: José Oubrerie’s Miller House & A Question of Qualities by Jeff Kipnis

Friday, January 17, 4-5pm
SCI-Arc Library

Join us at SCI-Arc for a panel discussion and book signing with Todd Gannon, José Oubrerie and Jeffrey Kipnis to celebrate two recently published books: Et in Suburbia Ego: José Oubrerie’s Miller House, edited and featuring an intro by Todd Gannon, and A Question of Qualities, a collection of essays by Jeffrey Kipnis.

Completed in 1992 in Lexington, Kentucky, the Miller House stands as one of architect José Oubrerie’s most notable accomplishments. Among the last members of Le Corbusier’s Paris atelier, Oubrerie is best known for his collaborations with Le Corbusier on projects including the Venice Hospital and the Church of St. Pierre de Firminy-Vert, which Oubrerie completed to great acclaim in 2006. A deft synthesis of Modernist elements with American vernacular construction and an array of historical sources, the Miller House marks a highly original swerve from Oubrerie’s Corbusian training and stands as a landmark achievement in American architecture.

Et in Suburbia Ego: José Oubrerie’s Miller House gathers new commentary and interpretation by leading voices in contemporary architecture including Jeffrey Kipnis, Kenneth Frampton, and Douglas Graf alongside a wealth of newly commissioned photographs and never-before-published drawings and models from Oubrerie’s archive which documents the house at a level of detail not normally seen in architectural monographs. The book also includes an extensive interview of Oubrerie by John McMorrough which examines the architect’s design process for the house as well as his personal motivations, his early training and collaboration with Le Corbusier, and his experience as a leading architect and educator in the United States since the early 1970s.

Jeffrey Kipnis’s writing, thinking, and teaching casts architecture as both an intellectual discourse and a lived, affective experience. His essays on contemporary architects are less about making critical judgments than about explication, exegesis, and provocation. In these eleven essays, written between 1990 and 2008, he considers projects, concepts, and buildings by some of the most recognized architects working today, with special attention to the productions of affect. He explores “intuition” in the work of Morphosis, “exhilaration” in Coop Himmelb(l)au, “freedom” in the work of Rem Koolhaas and OMA, “magic” in Steven Holl’s buildings, and “anxiety” in Rafael Moneo’s writing about contemporary architecture.

Kipnis’s deft integration of art, critical theory, philosophy, pop culture, classical music, and science—what the volume’s editor Alexander Maymind calls “ancillary material”—into a rigorous architectural theory and criticism makes A Question of Qualities an exemplar of a new way to write about architecture. Kipnis transcends the fractious intellectual climate in architecture, stepping outside the boundaries mandated by the vast specialized criteria that the discipline now claims to address. The essays in this volume demonstrate a style of writing that is not so much about architecture as it is an affect of architecture itself.

Both books will be available for sale at the SCI-Arc event.


SCI-Arc lectures, discussions, symposia and special events are archived on the new SCI-Arc Media Archive. Click on the link below to visit the site.