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12 Objects & 12 Images
Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, Dean's Alley
An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, January 23 at 8pm in Dean's Alley.
Department Chair: Winka Dubbeldam
Exhibition Curator: Ferda Kolatan
The exhibition features work from the Design Studios of faculty members Kutan Ayata, Hina Jamelle, Simon Kim, Ferda Kolatan, Ali Rahim, and Robert Stuart-Smith. The exhibition premiered at the 2018 Venice Biennale in Palazzo Mora.
Teaching Assistants: Joseph Giampietro, Angela Huang, Aidan Kim, Brett Lee, Emma Peng, Caleb White, and Michael Zimmerman.
Students: Nicole Bronola, Zhuoqing Cai , Mark Chalhoub, Woo Choi, Sarah Davis, Wenjia Guo, Ryan Hao, David Harrop, John Hilla, Angela Huang, Insung Hwang, Bosung Jeon, Dawoon Jung, Keaton Kane, Zachary Michael Kile, Kyuhun Kim, Joung-Hwa Kim, Han Kwon, Wan Jung Lee, Phoebe Leung, Lexie Li, Qingyang Li , Yang Li ,Yisha Li, Michael Liu, Andrew Singer, Andre Stiles, Angeliki Tzifa, Morgynn Wiley, Long Ye, Mengqi Xu, Zehua Zhang, Zheng Zhang, Yuanyi Zhou
One could argue that the oscillatory play between “Object” and “Background Image” defines the way we experience architecture in the city. From our surroundings some qualities leap forward, toward us, in object-form while others fade away and melt into the background, becoming image. This seemingly simple observation carries with it profound questions not only in regards to how we perceive our temporal-spatial environment but also in how we ascribe content, meaning, and value to architecture itself.
For instance, we tend to perceive architecture’s “auxiliary” components such as infrastructure or hardware as background. Regardless of their physical proximity or distance to the beholder, these elements tend to recede backwards into a peripheral architectural context. Objects on the other hand act in reverse as they delaminate from the context with a clear outline and in apparent autonomy. As such, objects feature prominently in our judgment of what gives character and value to architecture, while what constitutes the background is deemed secondary at best.
But why do some entities push to the fore while others do not? Or, more poignantly, why does the very same entity belong to the category of objects at one time yet is perceived as background image at another? These are aesthetic questions as they deal with our sensorial perception and its influence on our judgment. We deem objects aesthetically superior when they “demand” attention, namely when they are designed or in some other way extra-ordinary. Does it follow then, that the background is populated with un-designed or ordinary objects, unable to resist absorption into second tier?
Viewed from this angle, intriguing problems emerge from the object/image dichotomy and its impact on our conception of architecture. Categories are established, hierarchies formed, roles of influence distributed. Unsurprisingly, power structures skillfully exploit both the aesthetic of foreground (through commodification, spectacle, etc.) as well as the aesthetic of background (by utilizing notions of the everyday as a pacifying “normal”). It is at this junction where the aesthetic of fore- and background takes on a political dimension.
“12 Objects & 12 Images” compiles select PennDesign student work, which registers an awareness of these relations and explores alternative modes of representation. Constituents of fore- and background mingle or reverse, mixing the precious with the mundane and the particular with the generic. On this flat ontological stage, the displayed work resists an all too easy absorption into preconceived notions of value, thus provoking the viewer to locate and define architectural qualities in new ways.