by Vatsala SethiDec 31, 2022
Alcantara and the National Museum of 21
For this iteration of Studio Visit, Dardi invited Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, directors of Space Popular to coalesce their thoughts on Aldo Rossi’s architectural masterpieces. Rossi is one of Italy’s most celebrated names in architecture and a leading figure of the postmodern movement. The two invitees explore Rossi's notions of 'urban fact' or fatto urbano and 'analogous city' or città analoga as a foundation to probe the idea of a virtual city.
The two concepts specifically look at the city through an urban lens. Fatto urbano refers to the city as an 'artefact.' Not only contextual to its built entities, but through fragments such as history, urban fabric, spaces, geography, and a connection to its people. On the other hand, Città analoga expresses the city’s urban reality through a more surreal fabric, created to serve a new reality through an analogical base. The collages created by Rossi as graphic representations, also serve as visual inspiration for this exhibit.
Contrasting present-day virtual reality that is inclined towards gaining profits, often in the form of NFTs and private property trading in the metaverse; the exhibit proposes a utilitarian and socially ethical approach. Urging us to look at virtual platforms that suggest creating highly commercial virtual spaces like the metaverse, with an unbiased perspective. The thrust is to ensure that these spaces are not just guised and traded privately, but rather utilised to tackle relevant affairs concerning virtual environments, such as—teleportation, browsing, bookmarking, tracking, and privacy. In essence, the broader canvas intends to limit capitalism from pervading online spaces, too.
The studio attempts to highlight a new dimension, the notions of tactility and virtuality by melding Rossi’s ideals of The Architecture of the City and Alcantara’s remarkable fabrics. Aldo Rossi espouses the theory of experiences over time, and describes the city as an array of spatial experiences, different to each of us yet similar in a permanent sense. According to Space Popular, the ideals of any virtual environment should be similar to this, but instead contrast the former. Alcantara’s fabrics enhance the escapade by creating exceptional designs with regard to material, cuts, textures, and colours. Rossi was familiar with Alcantara's capabilities and was astounded by their experimentation in the 1980s.
In assistance with Alcantara’s materials and Rossi’s references, the studio brings us an immersive and tactical virtual experience. Space Popular’s consistent practice explores presenting virtual experiences with minimal digital means and operating on the same lines, they attempt at creating a new experiential dimension through shifting architectural patterns, composing new environments through movement, and looking beyond the physical capacity of the materials—prints, textures, and cuts.
Zaha Hadid's MAXXI museum is hosting this progressive, state-of-the-art experience for its audience to immerse in an alternate side of the virtual environment, but in a tactile spatial fabric. Along with Alcantara’s limitless iterations in curating materials relevant to the themes and backed by Rossi’s ideals from the previous century, Studio Visit’s Space Popular: Search History' promises to be an intriguing experience. The audio visual space backed with tactual yet implicitly virtual themes is described as "at once an object, a threshold, and an environment" by Space Popular.
The exhibit presents its audience the intrigue to re-think the real and virtual, yet associate the two. Design, dimensions and reality work together creating an experience unique to each one yet uniform in space, whether real or virtual. Modernism and Artificial Intelligence, form a new direction for a make-believe world that immerses its audience in a powerful perspective. The space is intimate and fragile regarding the human mind—making it extremely important to embrace a social, ethical, and inclusive base.
Space Popular: Search History will find a permanent place in the MAXXI Architecture’s permanent collection and is on display till January 15, 2023. Alcantara and MAXXI museum’s collaboration, which is almost a decade old, has reinforced possibilities of experimentation in the contemporary design sphere.
(Text by Aaryaa Joshi, intern at STIRworld)