Ley teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at SCI-Arc and is principal of Urbana, an architecture and design studio based in Los Angeles. The projects on display at Taubman Museum emanate from Ley's 5-year joint research endeavor with Joshua Stein, who heads Los Angeles-based Radical Craft and who previously taught at SCI-Arc. Their work explores the role played by emerging material technology in the sensitive reprogramming of architectural and public space.
Among materials used in the projects, shape memory alloys (SMAs) represent a category of metals that change shape according to temperature, offering the possibility of silent, fluid movement without the mechanized motion of earlier technologies. Operating at a molecular level, this motion parallels that of plants and lower level organisms that are considered responsive but not conscious, such as a sunflower tracking the sun across the sky. Both White Noise and Reef's exploration of the technology shifts from the biomimetic to the biokinetic, while liberating and extending architecture's capacity to produce a sense of willfulness.
The exhibition is funded by the AIA Upjohn Grant and the Graham Foundation Grant for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.