In Patty Harris and Tricia McLaughlin’s project broken the artists destroy iconic architecture to rebuild it based on nanoarchitecture.
The abuse of technology and the increasing power of the machine have been humanistic concerns for the last few centuries. Since the 19th century, there has been a fear of losing control over the instruments of progress that were meant to be in the service of mankind. Today the development of new technologies is so rapid that children have to teach their parents how to use the latest products. An individual cannot assimilate new technologies quickly enough. The technologies then dictate the needs of the individual rather than answer to them. There is a continual necessity to update our technological knowledge. This situation causes generational anxieties unconsciously linked to the feeling of losing control in a present that will too soon become the future. Wellbeing is supposed to depend on improvements provided by the latest technological discoveries. However, what happens when there is excessive attention paid to technological devices based on predetermined scenarios? What happens when an aesthetic testing of these scenarios creates new forms and materials beyond human desire?
Through applying these questions to architecture, the imaginative solutions of John M. Johansen have deeply inspired the Broken artists’ practices. Since retiring, the American architect has devoted himself to produce futuristic architecture by using the newest technologies (from nanotechnology to magnetic levitation). His book “Nanoarchitecture, a New Species of Architecture” presents the structure of his buildings as composed of molecules programmed to replicate themselves based on the coding properties of DNA. Tricia McLaughlin and Patty Harris’ animations and installations develop the science fiction aspect of these provoking projects. They have both imagined postmodern scenarios where, from the ashes of two buildings, once representing the avant-garde, tentacled protuberances grow excessively, like tumor cells in rebellion to a superimposed and predetermined destiny. In reaction to Le Corbusier’s idea of Villa Savoye as a machine for living, McLaughlin’s piece makes the house itself come alive, displacing humans in its infinite reproductive madness. Harris shakes Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater apart with an earthquake. Out of these broken bits a new building begins to grow in a prismatic mutation that replicates natural forms around it. The new structures conceived by the artists are based on the original buiding’s DNA but they became a species of modular architectural design, organically spreading out from the videoanimation to invade the gallery’s walls.
Transparent, white plastic prisms, vinyl and broken lattice coming out of the platform’s explosion in the Harris’ animation, knot the pink blobs that infested the Villa Savoye’s leftovers. McLaughlin’s breathing balloons cast in fiberglass and aquaresin will converge with the haunting crystal shapes for a final unpredictable effect.
Irina Zucca Alessandrelli