• Uncertain Future: Space

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    Session Three: Space

    The third session discusses the term of “Space” from different aspects – physical, virtual and social – and the development of contemporary architecture in China. The invited speakers include James Ke Wei (NYC | Soul), Hajime Narukawa (Tokyo | Hong Kong), Liang Jingyu (Beijing) and Neville Mars (Beijing | Rotterdam).

    The current session is illustrated by Unusual Space – Special Contact with Wang Jianwei, an interview between curator Xiaoying Juliette Yuan, AREA China Magazine, and one of the most influential media artists in China, Wang Jianwei.

    Time: July 11, 2009 | Saturday, 2-6pm

    Venue: Beijing Trainspotting Salon, N.46 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China

    Speakers and Topics

    James Wei Ke (Studio Chiasmas, NYC | Seoul) [James Wei Ke has his current architecture firm in Beijing]

    Topic: A Scaffolding of Space + Time

    What do architects really design?  Space? Structure?  Place? Time? How do we relate our creation to the lives that occupy and change them? Buildings are always related to time.  Is it retrospective?  nostalgic, traditional, contemporary, cutting-edge or futuristic? Chiasmus is interested in creating architecture that acts as “scaffolding” for events and lives.  Both space and time are the material of this “scaffolding.”  It is a framework and a system, it is able to carry program as well as memory, it is malleable, it is organic, it has potential to grow and change over time.

    We are interested in creating architecture that impose “less”, waste “less”; so in the long run they can embody “more” and be filled with “more” life.

    Architect’s bio

    James Wei Ke, architect. After graduating from Berkeley University in architecture, he received his Master of Architecture from Columbia University.  Ke Wei had taught at Columbia University and was co-director of the NYIT-Tongji Joint Program. He is now a Professor of Architecture in University of Seoul.

    James Wei Ke and Korean architect Hyunho Lee founded the Chiasmus Partners in NYC in 2005.  They started their office in Seoul in 2006.  Always working side by side, their many international projects include Songdo IFEZ Opera House, Songdo IFEZ Music School, Performance Center for Beijing Modern Dance Company, Pompidou Beijing design proposal, Casa Luna, Che Wu Ran.

    Liang Jingyu (Approach Architecture, Beijing)

    Topic: Architecture Design for Public Sphere

    Jürgen Habermas’s Public Sphere mediates between the Private Sphere and the Sphere of Public Authority; it is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. It is “a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment.” In Hannah Arendt’s word, only the public realm can help human being counter Totalitarianism. The lack of Public Sphere in today’s Chinese political scene is the cause of the tension between the authority and the private. The value of the physical public space, which designed by architects, together with the individual life meanings, therefore, falls into absurdism. Besides the rational-criticism within architectural profession, what else can architects do to avoid being nihilism or cynicism? Lecturer Liang Jingyu is going to share his opinions and looking forward to discussing the topic with the audiences.

    Architect’s bio

    Architect, researches on urban study; principal founder of Approach Architecture Studio. He received his B.Eng. degree in architecture from Tianjin University in 1991. Liang Jingyu participated the International Biennale of Architecture and Design, San Paolo, Brazil in 2005. His work was selected for the China Contemporary Exhibition (Architecture, Design and Visual Culture) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2006. In 2007, his urban research projects have been presented in both Hong Kong and Shenzhen Biennale. He has been lecturing at numbers of different universities abroad and at home country. His architectural works and articles have been published in different magazines and books both in the country and abroad. Other than his professional practice, Liang Jingyu is one of the curators of 2007 Get It Louder Exhibition and the exhibition space designer for 2009 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale. Also as a computer artist, worked at Electronic Arts (EA) for designing the video games in 2000 to 2002. Liang Jingyu lived and worked as an architect in Montreal and Vancouver, Canada during 1996 to 2002, before he relocated to Beijing. Recent projects include Iberia Centre for Contemporary Art, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai and National Custom Museum, etc. He won the Award of WA Chinese Architecture in 2008.

    Hajime Narukawa (NAL and AuthaGraph Limited, Tokyo | Hong Kong)

    Topic: AuthaGraph and the Global representation

    My argument is why people have been using perspective to represent space for more than 500 years and why people have been using Mercator projection for 440 years.

    Spatial representation and cartography strongly influenced to the perception of space and the world.  I found a technical problem in both representations. Perspective is a precise method to represent 3D space on a plane such as a computer monitor.  But an image generated by the perspective or photograph (perspective and photograph share same principle) contains distortions and a limit of angle (not possible to be  wider than 180 degrees). Mercator world map describes the world in a rectangular format without gaps.  But it can not show both polar regions properly. In many publications, photographs frames the best angle of a subject. That is why we  sometimes are  disappointed when you visit the real site; all guidebooks on Egypt  pictures the Pyramid as if it stands in the middle of a desert. Visiting the Pyramid some may be disappointed.  A burger king and souvenir shops stand in front of the Pyramid. Spatial perception by the existing perspective and photograph are sometime far different from the reality. Many documents describe their global themes on Mercator projection. But it is not suitable to use this map for showing some major themes, such as ozone hole above Antarctica and Sea ice around North polar region.

    I have been questioning “why we still use the perspective in computer games, architectural designs and media arts” and “why many scientists still use Mercator map.” I found it strange that we describe a latest idea by the existing representation formats, 500-years-old technologies.  If structuring space is a role of architect, representation, structuring space in a remote place,  is nowadays more important role of architect.

    AuthaGraph proposes a technical solution for solving the strange situations.

    Architect’s bio

    Architect and structural engineer,  Director of NAL and AuthaGraph Limited.; Tutor at Tokyo Zokei University and Kuwazawa Institute,  Member of Japan cartographers association.

    Neville Mars (Dynamic City Foundation, Beijing | Rotterdam)

    Topic: Speculative Spaces

    Specializing in comprehensive urban research, the Dynamic City Foundation manifests its findings in the form of gargantuan artistic interventions. It dismantles long-term observations, spatial concepts, urban theory, and ideas along all lines to create tangible works of art. DCF is uniquely future-focused, and scientific about its imaginings at a time when closed-circuit televisions patrol streets, where deterritorialized space extends beyond nationhood, and in which urban sprawl spills beyond borders, requiring cultural, physical, and virtual space to be woven together densely as a synthetic mesh. Regarding Chinese cities not only as enormous, chaotic organisms, but as laboratories for global forces, DCF provides refreshing insights in an era of dangerous flash urbanization, in which there is no time to imagine a long-term future.

    Past DCF exhibitions have included: Freeze, a futuristic Noah’s Ark of ideas that forces the observer to imagine the world as it is today, in terms of flow and movement, beyond physical and political boundaries; Neon Dream, an animated city on a blinding neon wall, surrounding The Chinese Knot, a beguiling mass of highways tangled about China’s Forbidden City; the multimedia model Beijing Boom Tower, accommodating all Chinese society in a single megablock; the interactive installation Beijing Real Time, allowing users to play a strategic game with Beijing’s sprawl over a Ming Dynasty table, and Golden Inflation, a luminous landscape of solid gold rendered in the form of inflatable golden mountains, exploring the nature of commerce, dreams, and the ineffable. DCF also published BURB Magazine, a publication from the future that documents urban, political, and cultural issues in the year 2020 with a cynical wink to China’s present.

    Concerning one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world, DCF’s interventions thread together architectural, cultural, and political space by rejecting traditional boundaries. The installations are frequently larger than life, combining models, videos and interactive components demanding the participation of the audience. Simultaneously they challenge issues of generic space, personal space, identity, political interventions, notions of density, identity, social sustainability, reality, and what it means to live in a world of uncontrollable urban growth. Attuned to the new Chinese social condition, its conceptions are at once radical and welcoming, utopian and dystopian, obsessively detailed, and serious about the fantastical.

    Architect’s bio

    Dutch architect, work and live in Beijing, founder of  the Dynamic City Foundation. His research bases on market-dominated urbanization and the envelopment it produces. His work is diverse and characteristic. It moves from environment planning, architecture ,product design, critical writing and art installations. His installations have featured in international art museums around the world. Neville Mars is also known as the founder of  BURB ( an online platform on Chinese urban planning ) and the author of  ‘The Chinese Dream: A Society Under Construction’ (010 Publishers, Rotterdam 2008).

    Onsite Photos

    Session One: Forum on Uncertain Future

    Session Two: Sound

    Session Four: Practice

    Return to Uncertain Future: New Media Art & Games