Monthly Archives: December 2011

Interesting architectural project designed by Severino Alfonso & Xiang Li in (n)certainties unit. This machine re-generates out dated concrete at post-industrial area borrowing human’s digestion process.

Finally, figured out how to post url, images, video, others blogs to our unit blog well… Keep publishing!!


Publisher Springer writesIs science the new art? Starting from this provocative question, art historian Ingeborg Reichle examines in her book fascinating responses of contemporary artists when faced with recent scientific and technological advances. In the last two decades a growing number of artists has left the traditional artistic playground to work instead in scientific contexts such as the laboratories of molecular biology, robotics, and artificial life. New art forms like “Transgenic Art” and “Bio-Art” have emerged from the laboratory. These art forms differ dramatically from traditional artistic approaches that explore the natural: they have crossed the boundaries between the artificial and the natural, and thus provoke passionate debates about the growing influence of science and technology. This first comprehensive survey presents a well-selected number of significant artworks and with over 280 colour illustrations provides a broad overview of this new and relevant development in art.

Edgar Lissel, Domus Aurea, 2005

Right from the introduction to the book, written by Robert Zwijnenberg, a professor of Art History in relation to the development of science and technology at Universiteit Maastricht and Universiteit Leiden, i knew i was going to be the happy customer. His text does far more than act as the token, compulsory entry to a volume. Instead of focusing strictly on the relationship between life sciences and art, Zwijnenberg’s essay comments on the place that, over time, humanities have lost in the conversation with and about life science. He suggests that it is now time for humanities to find a position of their own in the debate about designer babies, the commercialization of life, cloning, heredity, bio warfare, advancements in brain research, etc. According to him, the new breed of artists who have traded their workshops for the laboratories and are exploring issues typical of the study of the human condition could act as mediators and provide humanities with direct access to life science.

Ebener and Winters,BYTE, 1998

The book itself is the outcome of a solid research on art and technoscience. Instead of presenting these new art forms as coming out of the magic hat of some lab renegade, the author brings them into a broader context and explains their kinship with art history (reminding us for example that Kazimir Malevich used bacteria in his work), history, science, etc. Every single fact is documented with many notes, references and photos. Quick parenthesis: the many images that illustrate the text are presented one after the other at the end of the book, an editorial decision i haven’t encountered since my years at the university.

The work of dozens of artists is analyzed in the book. Jane Prophet, Suzanne Anker, Tissue Culture & Art Project, Pam Skelton, Steve Miller, Herwig Turk, Paul Vanouse, Peta Clancy, etc. Some with more depth than others. The chapter titled Art in the Age of Genetic Engineering is all about Eduardo Kac’s career, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau get the chapter Art and Digital Evolution almost all for themselves, while the work of Joe Davis is used to examine Genesthetics: Molecular Biology and the Arts.

Catherine Chalmers, Genetically Engineered Mice

If there’s one book that can finally shake off the pure shock and horror stigma from ‘technoscience art’ it’s this one. Reichle does justice to the artists who have chosen to address life sciences but also in many cases the social, economical and political forces that might drive their research. Art in the Age of Technoscience has academic gravitas. It is dense, remarkably well documented and it demonstrates that you don’t have to dumb down a discourse to make it accessible to a broad public. The language of the book is clear, its argumentation limpid. It should interest you whether you know a lot or almost nothing about the theme, whether you have a background in science or are an artist.

Herwig Turk and Paulo Pereira, Labscapes, 2007

Image on the homepage Victimless Leather The Tissue Culture & Art Project.


The extent of boundless movement of water has led to its description as an ‘organ’ mediating between earth and sky.  Existing in a range of material states, under varying conditions of pressure and temperature, the project hypothesizes water as a complex ‘living’ architectural material.

Weather material marks the passage of time – it punctuates our everyday lives, informing patterns of behaviour. Olafur Eliasson stresses that people ‘have learnt to use and relate to the weather as a mode of time.’ The consideration of time is fundamental to my approach, and in the context of the transitory, 4-week Olympic Games phenomenon, my architectural proposition is expressed as a series of events with multiple durations. In relation to this approach, the notion of the journey as a choreographed movement through space and time, operates as an underlying strategy. Michael Webb describes the journey as ‘an interval between the memory of the place one has just left and the anticipation—contrasted with the actuality—of arrival at one’s destination.’ As a flow of material matter, my chosen site – the Lea River, inherently denotes a journey. My proposition employs the typology of the ‘strip’ to support leisure programmes, canal-boat services and water management infrastructure, along the river.

Designed to facilitate the Olympic legacy plans for 11,000 new homes and swathes of leftover sporting facilities, a bathhouse is hypothesized as part of a leisure strip on the banks of the Lea. The bathhouse is conceived as a journey through carefully curated ‘weathers’, that invite juxtapositions of seasonal activity. Inspired by films such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) the bathhouse is conceptualized as a separate reality in which weather is used to construct an alternative perception of time. Here, architecture facilitates a relationship between the body and sensation. The relationship of our bodies to water is exposed further through acts of sweating and shivering. The bathhouse ultimately questions rituals pertaining to washing in contemporary society.

Water is explored in more detail at a domestic scale, in relation to the nomadic lifestyles of canal-boat inhabitants. With the inability to house washing machines on their boats, a launderette is proposed as a social focal-point for this community. This references the historical industries of soap-making and dry-cleaning in the area. Micro-weathers – the agitation of water, heating, drying, and steaming, form programmatic connections with the bathhouse.

The River Lea runs through a wide flood plain which is subject to periodic flooding from its banks. The project aims to integrate systems of water management into the ‘strip’ that tie into existing infrastructure such as Old Ford Lock, the Old Ford Water Recycling Plant and the Middlesex Filter Beds. The water-tower system is proposed as a technique to store and pressurize water and store energy. The strategy proposes controlled flooding to create a series of temporal beach hubs that facilitate a wide range of water and land-based activities along the river. This controlled flooding can also enable the cooling of the urban environment to combat the effects of the urban heat island or in the circumstance of a heat-wave.

Weather is often cited as the last form of ‘uncontrollable nature’, and from the invention of the umbrella to complex systems of forecasting, humans have been perpetually fascinated with controlling it. Given the manner in which the Chinese designed precipitation out of the 2008 Olympic event, the project considers the British approach to London’s water-cycle activity in 2012 and beyond. ‘Although many tourists may dislike the rain and fog, this prevalent weather condition has bred a distinct psychological and cultural heritage that is unique to that part of the world, therefore constituting its own ideal.’