@ Perth Cultural Centre, WA
Nov 15 – Dec 15
Every Night at 10PM
Fridays & Saturdays at NOON
2019 CURATORIAL STATEMENT
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
It may seem obvious to suggest that the cities we inhabit today are different from those of the past. Despite the seeming persistence of their spaces and architectures, cities are not static things. They are shaped by us as much as we are by them – a social product of our memories, our stories, our aspirations and our conflicts. Contemporary experiences of cities are increasingly complex – disjointed in both space and time by technologies that increase the speed and scope of connectivity between people and places. Many experiences of the urban environment are characterised by the bombardment of the senses by messages that compete for our attention, divorcing our minds from the spaces of our embodiment. This is a world dominated by media representations, and it is in this digital world of images that we conduct many of the interactions that shape the physical world.
Screens are the interface through which we interact with mediated environments in the sense of our communications about places and our physical interactions within spaces of cities themselves. Media entrepreneur Kevin Kelly has identified that it is these screen devices that are beginning to give us a glimpse into the next big tech platform. The Mirrorworld he argues will move the internet “off screens into the real world” into a “shared, persistent place that will parallel the real world”, where “we’ll be able to search physical space as we might search a text”. For many, this image of the future has been inspired by the dream of the author Jorge Luis Borges who, in the 1950s, imagined an empire in which cartography could produce an omniscient and objective reflection of reality.
The idea of the map as a reflection of territory has been criticised by many notable thinkers such as Korzybski, Magritte, McLuhan, Baudrillard, and Deleuze; who identify the subjective and political ideas that underpin them. Representations of places are increasingly experienced through digital platforms whose software algorithms shape the content that we are exposed to in competition for the valuable commodity of attention. The question that we should be asking of any representation of place (especially one that claims to “reflect” reality) should be whose reality?
In reaction to an urban environment saturated with digital media, this year’s Urban Screening aims to explore whether a screen might provide a platform for something other than Representational Space. Contributors are asked to investigate the following questions:
- Can a screen be used to transform the space around it?
- Can a screen draw attention to people or activity in a space rather than itself?
- Does a screen have to operate as a visual medium?
- Can a screen disappear within a space?
- Can a screen produce or enrich interaction within a physical space?
- Can a screen bring people out of their lives into a space or moment? Or even direct their attention towards the notion of place? (Rather than a representation of place?)
Hidden Processes Made Visible
Architectural processes and discourses are often invisible to those not directly involved in the profession, rendering the public grateful recipients/unwilling victims of ‘done deals’. The Urban Screening aims to increase the public awareness of some of these processes by providing a platform for local and international architects, artists, and researchers to communicate their practice to not just a wider audience, but to those who are directly influenced by the outcomes of their work. As our attention is drawn towards smartphones and computer monitors, film and animation have become valuable media for architects and designers to communicate issues and ideas that are relevant to our experience of the urban environment.
Contributor(s): Keiichi Matsuda
Duration: 5 minutes 47 seconds
Description: This award-winning concept film by director/designer Keiichi Matsuda presents a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media. Our physical and virtual realities are becoming increasingly intertwined. Technologies such as VR, augmented reality, wearables, and the internet of things are pointing to a world where technology will envelop every aspect of our lives. It will be the glue between every interaction and experience, offering amazing possibilities, while also controlling the way we understand the world. Hyper-Reality attempts to explore this exciting but dangerous trajectory. It was crowdfunded, and shot on location in Medellín, Colombia.
Video: Seoul City Machine
Contributor(s): Liam Young
Duration: 7 minutes 11 seconds
Description: ‘Seoul City Machine’ is a city symphony from the urban landscape of tomorrow. Narrated and scripted by an AI chatbot trained on smart city data sets the film is a love letter from the City Operating System to the citizens it affectionately manages. The film is a portrait of a city where machines and technology are now the dominant inhabitants of space. Our guide to the city is the disembodied voice of its urban operating system software. The script and dialogue has been generated through a conversation with a real artificially intelligent chatbot. We listen as the city machine voices its own creation story and introduces itself to its citizens. The film is an abstract sequence of vignettes, fragments and moments of a future Seoul, a city in which all of the hopes and dreams, fears and wonders of emerging technologies have come true. Using contemporary Seoul as a visual backdrop the present day city is overlaid with cinematic visual effects to depict an autonomous world of machines where the sky is filled with drones, cars are driverless, the street is draped in augmented reality and everyone is connected to everything.
Video: StickMan / miniStickMan
Duration: 2 minutes 21 seconds
Description: ‘StickMan / miniStickMan’ is an interactive installation that algorithmically actuates a minimal but full-body exoskeleton. The body was attached to StickMan for a five hour performance on Saturday 20th October 2018 at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) as part of the HyperPrometheus: The Legacy of Frankenstein exhibition. Gallery visitors were able to insert their own looping choreography by moving the limbs of the miniStickMan physical interface and pressing the play button. A kind of Virtual Voodoo. The physicality of the performance is flattened by its shadow and modulated by its video feedback on the opposite wall. Mechanical and pneumatic sounds are augmented by sounds generated by sensors on StickMan. Sounds are mapped to eight speakers and circulates and immerses people in the space.
Contributor(s): Keiichi Matsuda
Duration: 3 minutes 44 seconds
Description: With automation disrupting centuries-old industries, the professional must reshape and expand their service to add value. Failure is a mindset. It is those who empower themselves with technology who will thrive. Merger is a new film about the future of work, from cult director/designer Keiichi Matsuda. Set against the backdrop of AI-run corporations, a woman finds herself caught between virtual and physical reality, human and machine. As she fights for her economic survival, she finds herself immersed in the cult of productivity, in search of the ultimate interface. This short film documents her last 4 minutes on earth. Starring Sarah Winter (Versailles, Endeavour).
Video: New Agency
Contributor(s): Sibling Architecture
Duration: 3 minutes 23 seconds
Description: Hello. Welcome to New Agency: Owning Your Future, a research platform by Sibling Architecture that investigated the future of dwelling through the lens of Australia’s ageing population. Who do you wish to grow old with? Will your house outlive you? What kind of ancestor do you want to be? What will your future housing look like? Over four weeks, New Agency transformed RMIT Design Hub into a live research platform; gathering data, public conversations, design speculation and feedback about what constitutes home ownership during the later stages of life. As the retirement of Australians relies upon the asset of the family home (with superannuation), and as home ownership is becoming an impossibility for a huge swathe of younger Australians, how does this influence future models of living for the elderly, including financing aged care, retirement and intergenerational wealth? What can we learn from upwardly mobile grey nomads, multi-generational living or enclaves of like-minded people? A dataset of trends, interviews and a troika of interactive activity chambers – for reading, listening and talking – provoked thinking around these topical questions.
Video: The Window
Contributor(s): Lou Chen
Duration: 6 minutes 44 seconds
Description: ‘The Window’ is a hand-drawn animation that explores the relationship between the spaces of imagination and reality through the journey of its character. The character of the traverse various architectural spaces and spatial conditions as he passes through the windows and openings of the spaces of the film. The animation has been produced for STUDIO 35mm led by Hamid Khalili & AnnMarie Brennan, Melbourne School of Design. Studio 35mm (Studio 29) is a design studio at masters level that challenges the traditional tools of architectural representation and attempts to employ time-based media such as film, animation and virtual reality.
Video: Midwinter Common
Contributor(s): Ryan Williams
Duration: 1 minute 5 seconds
Description: An anomalous event occurs in the Western Australian Wheatbelt. An ode to existing science fiction projects and artists.
Video: The Life Sciences Building – Hassell
Contributor(s): Quan Tran
Duration: 2 minutes 58 seconds
Description: This film is set in the new Life Sciences Building at The University of Melbourne, designed by Hassell. The camera follows a young researcher in a lab who peers into the microscope making a connection between the cellular patterns he is seeing in the microscope and that on the façade and elements within the building. He navigates his way through the building as this discovery dawns on him.
Video: The Tempering
Contributor(s): Devon Ward
Duration: 2 minutes 11 seconds
Description: ‘The Tempering’ is a robotic installation that attempts imbue primordial elements – water, earth and bacteria – with a vital psychological force. It explores the agency of nonhuman actors from the environment by using an emerging technology called microbial fuel cells (MFCs)–batteries made from water and mud–to create low voltages that trigger a mechanical arm to swing a whip in the gallery. Using mud collected from Herdsman Lake as the agent which controls the whip, ‘The Tempering’ questions the passive role typical given to nonhumans elements, especially in the age of the Anthropocene. This video is a documentation of the artwork that appeared at Cool Change Contemporary in February 2019. The artwork itself questions hegemonic notions of progress — that urban development is necessarily a beneficial thing — and and instead presents a speculative allegory about a potential future in which the dynamics between humans and our environment has change and we are subservient to the whims of our ecologies. The artwork and the video invite viewers to reconsider the urban environment as fleeting moment in the grand scale of time.
Video: Urban Below
Contributor(s): Han Wu
Duration: 4 minutes 21 seconds
Description: An architectural short film that depicts a futuristic and dystopic mini-city constructed under a gigantic urban bridge. The film comprises various shots filming rainy synthetic city escapes saturated with wandering drones in the background as well as the congested and incongruous patchwork of the cramped rusty urban cabins clung to the bridge. The initial idea of this short animation originated from research into the urban slum areas of the Philippines where the space beneath the bridge is utilised as a shelter. Drawing from the same idea Urban Below illustrates an informal settlement below bridge and dives into various perspectives and uses of the space and how it has been transformed and adapted as a liveable and buildable space. The animation has been produced for STUDIO 35mm led by Hamid Khalili, Melbourne School of Design. Studio 35mm (Studio 29) is a design studio at masters level that challenges the traditional tools of architectural representation and attempts to employ time-based media such as film, animation and virtual reality.
Video: Guangzhou Places
Contributor(s): Devon Ward, Kirill de Lancastre Jedenov, and Filipe Alfonso
Duration: 4 minutes 52 seconds
Description: Colloquially, Guangzhou is known as the ‘Factory of China’, and, in many respects, it may be one of the great factories of the world. Located in the Guangdong Province in Southern China, Guangzhou is an exemplar of twenty-first century metropolis. It is home to over 14 million residents and is in a state of extreme growth. Old farmlands encircling the city are incentivised, through government subsidies, to build apartment complexes that can accommodate the rapid growth as the city develops. The city is home to migrant population—from the rural areas of China—that is larger than the entire population of Perth. The middle class in Guangzhou is outpacing the growth of middle classes in Australia and the US. Factories, shipping ports, apartment blocks, malls, and urban farms are mixed in a tightly knit tapestry across the city. ‘Guangzhou Places’ is a series of short videos that present viewers with a glimpse of urbanisation that is akin to app development. Guangzhou is a ‘beta city’, an environment quickly built to test out hypotheses about urban development.
Contributor(s): Robert Cameron and Monia Allegre
Duration: 1 minute 20 seconds
Description: A proposal for an interactive mural for the city of Subiaco that would be a playful way for people to send feedback to the local government. At night people could post letters that would “travel” along the conduit to the cloud.
Contributor(s): Ke Suki Su
Duration: 4 minutes 6 seconds
Description: Gaston Bachelard, the influential French philosopher, has stated that: “A table suffices to anchor a house to its centre.” Drawing from the quote from Bachelard, the 2D animation 6PM demonstrates how a dining table plays the role of the pivot of domesticity in a context that is called home. The animation narrates the way a dining table is able to function as a concentric space of gathering, interaction and activities in a domestic environment. The animation has been produced for STUDIO 35mm led by Hamid Khalili, Melbourne School of Design. Studio 35mm (Studio 29) is a design studio at masters level that challenges the traditional tools of architectural representation and attempts to employ time-based media such as film, animation and virtual reality.
Video: Hanger18 (Baggage Handler)
Contributor(s): Jon Tarry and Dom Mariani
Duration: 4 minutes 21 seconds
Description: A digitally augmented film made entirely using stills of an architecturally sculpted model. The original digital model was generated while giving form to light as it entered a complex pre-existing industrial space. This gallery of light and artefact was to be converted to house valuable private collection of artworks. The model reveals the extrusions as if a time frozen light mass. Photographic still although digitally treated in the mode of grain film photography in format of Hasselblad camera two and a quarter spare format. Lights applies extremes of depth of field to reveal diffused penumbra. Extending the thematic the sound track titled Hanger18 is a reference to aircraft in hangers. In this context the hanger houses a distinguished collection of artworks. The track is part of Baggage Handler made by Jon Tarry and Dom Mariani. The music is generated using a range of instrumentation in the format of specialisation of sonically expanding spaces. The Hanger is a space housing of other mysterious art technologies.
Contributor(s): Aleksandar Ristic
Duration: 1 minute 11 seconds
Description: A short 3D animation created for the UWA Architecture Masters Unit ‘Advanced Architectural Animation’ (formerly known as Keytexts: Virtual). The Brief involves placing an architectural design from a science fiction media of choice somewhere in Perth, Western Australia. ‘Origin’ designs and models produced were inspired by the works of Lebbeus Woods and the world building of Viktor Antonov. Modelling, rendering and animation achieved primarily with 3DS Max and VRay.
Video: Ancient Architecture – Virtual Realisations Explored with Dr Nigel Westbrook
Contributor(s): Ryan Williams
Duration: 4 minutes 10 seconds
Description: An interview with Dr Nigel Westbrook, Professor of Architecture at UWA, investigating the virtual settings of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Video: Pansodan Street
Duration: 3 minutes 10 seconds
Description: Animated 3D laser scan point cloud of Pansodan Street in the downtown area of Yangon, Myanmnar for the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT). Downtown Yangon has a substantial collection of extant heritage buildings – particularly from the British Colonial period. Many of these buildings have had no significant changes but have had little maintenance over the years. There is also no enacted heritage protection for any of these buildings and a number of organisations Including YHT are working to raise awareness of the value of this cultural heritage to the city and its people. Myanmar, with its complex social and political structure, is undergoing a period of rapid change. The video considers the future of the urban condition of Yangon at this critical moment.
Video: Frames of Perth
Contributor(s): Louis de Saran
Duration: 3 minutes 48 seconds
Description: A short video project which sees the connection of different locations and times across the greater Perth CBD. A single A2 size white photo frame was recorded in multiple locations and is used a method of connecting space and time. The project was created as part of a Visual Arts project at the University of Western Australia design school over the period of a semester in 2019. Creation of the project was under the project brief of creating images that demonstrated the concept of “frames within frames”.
Video: Event Landscape
Contributor(s): Craig Nener
Duration: 6 minutes 31 seconds
Description: The 21st century is considered the epoch of information – however, we could say with a disheartened and frightening quiver that it is rather the age of information-glut and thus more an epic cacophony of misinformation. In our homes and our pockets, we are buzzed with an excess of content, news, sex, knowledge and social realms not familiar to our primordial homo-sapient framework. Our reactions, retweets, likes, shares, comments, and memes about an event, scandal or disaster are often more damaging than the event itself. This speculative project was ideated on Paul Virilio’s theory of Dromology – the speed of technology’s ability to cause chaos from its utopian intention to order the chaotic. To quote his most notorious adage – ‘by inventing the ship, one inevitably invented the shipwreck’. Applying this theory to an architecture of suspended space-frame servers and carved archeological pits of information, one is able to inhabit the velocity of the Event Landscape. A space of omnipotent witness to all of mankind’s knowledge and yet more seductive – madness. As we enter the age of information-glut, the incipient accident has already begun and there isn’t an off switch, only the blame of our own love of madness.
Video: Hypermediated Space
Contributor(s): Robert Cameron
Duration: 37 seconds
Description: This film is the result of a mapping study of all of the photographs taken on the Flickr platform of Perth city. The aim of the study was to understand what elements of the built environment are more visible online and to speculate upon how this information might be exploited to create Hypermediated Spaces.
Video: High Frontier
Contributor(s): Andrew Tiet
Duration: 1 minute 8 seconds
Description: A hypothetical visualisation of the future, how would a typical day in Perth look like if the city existed on a space colony? Inspired by the research of the late physicist Gerard K. O’Neil on space habitation and the 2014 film Interstellar. The visualisation was conducted as part of a research assignment for the UWA Architecture Masters Unit ‘Advanced Architectural Animation’ (formerly known as Keytexts: Virtual). To conceptualise the possibility of our city existing outside of the Earth. The space colony is based on the designs proposed by O’Neil which are illustrated in his book “The High Frontier”. The concept “Island 3” or “O’Neil Cylinders” are habitats with an atmosphere simulated based on Earth and artificial gravity generated by centrifugal force.
Video: Ceiling Fantasia
Contributor(s): Haoran Wang
Duration: 3 minutes 59 seconds
Description: ‘Ceiling Fantasia’ interrogates the relationship between reality and fantasy by looking at an architectural element that is neglected in the contemporary architecture; ceiling. The animation sees ceiling as a spatial element that is a frame for imagination and daydreaming. The frequently disregarded element has been excluded from our daily experience of spaces, however, when we notice a ceiling, it has the capability to bridge the gap between reality and dream. We look at ceilings before falling asleep, we look at them when ceilings have an elaborate, admirable and uncanny design and we look at them when we dream. ‘Ceiling Fantasia’s camera takes spectators through a journey guided by uninterrupted camera movements, pans, tilts, rotations and tracking shots that put a visual emphasis on ceilings. These continuous camera movements transform geometries, forms, volumes and masses into shots and scenes that will encourage us to gaze at ceilings and to read hidden narratives inscribed in them. The animation has been produced for STUDIO 35mm led by Hamid Khalili & AnnMarie Brennan, Melbourne School of Design. Studio 35mm (Studio 29) is a design studio at masters level that challenges the traditional tools of architectural representation and attempts to employ time-based media such as film, animation and virtual reality.
Video: Loco-motions – Travares Bastos
Contributor(s): Johan Granberg
Duration: 4 minutes
Description: As urban objects, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro might be explained better by the innovation of Lewis Carroll’s Mein Herr than that of the map of Jorge Luis Borges’ cartographers (mentioned in the brief). The Favela is an ever-changing urban making of movement social and architectural, sounds and emotions where maps make little to no sense. Furthermore albeit, being socioeconomically marginalised places, the favela as a phenomenon is far from unexposed. The favela is a place highly mirrored internationally in news and films where the concept of favela has come to existence in the mirror world far beyond the slopes of Rio’s hillsides. This paradox carries a series of problems, such as: lack of uniqueness, Thereness and a general negative image of the favela life. Favelas are often generically portrayed as a dangerous and disordered There. (the place of the Other, the There). This negates the fact that favelas are unique places with possibilities to a rich social life.