The LA Forum interviewed architect Mark Foster Gage about his current installation at SCI-Arc, “Geothermal Futures Lab.” Gage’s work has appeared in numerous publications, and his work intersects emergent technologies, computational aesthetics, and interdisciplinary collaborations. He is a tenured professor, and Assistant Dean at the Yale School of Architecture where he has taught since 2001. The exhibition is on view through March 4th. Gage will also speak next week at UCLA. See the calendar below for more information.
That particular installation is an exploration into the tools architecture has for producing the realities in which we exist. My friend David Ruy often says “Architecture is the first thing that tells us what reality looks like,” which is even more true now than it was historically. If you think about it, most of your life happens in architecture — it is the backdrop of your reality. Nobody is living in the woods anymore — we live and work in buildings. Always in buildings. Now while architecture has primarily concerned itself with buildings, in the past, it also now has other tools at its disposal which can be used to produce this backdrop—which is what this installation is about. It uses narrative, research data, fiction, historic references, new technologies, video, social media, technical drawings, photography, staging, and props to produce an immersive experience a full and complete reality. However, this full and complete reality is filled with “reveals” that tell you aspects of it are fictional — there are things like my little ponies in the technical drawings and bunny rabbits CNC milled into the machinery. This does two things — it tests the elasticity of architectures ability to fully form a given ‘reality’ but also invites as certain critical curiosity where people begin to question the reality they have been given.
Yes. Certainly — it is about revealing the elasticity of how architects frame reality, as well as a warning to be wary of, and critical of, these constructions. Architecture today is as much a discipline of marketing as much as it is a discipline of building. Characters like Bjarke Ingels are evidence of this — where the advertising and marketing of the work, or the architect, is far more important than the work itself. People should be unwilling to settle for an architecture of sound-bites. They should be invited to go deeper — this is what the installation is about. An invitation to curiosity about architecture rather than a sound bite that you can quickly understand and dismiss.