Experiments In Motion Blog

The Curator's Blog

9/11/2014

Coal Runs America: West Virginia Senate Candidate’s TV Ad Sends a Strong Message

West Virginia Secretary of State and U.S. Senate nominee Natalie Tennant recently launched a bold TV ad portraying her as an independent leader who will buck her party and “stand up to President Obama” to fight for West Virginia coal jobs. Making energy the centerpiece of her campaign, Tennant states “You and I know it’s our hard-working West Virginia coal miners that power America.” As Tennant makes makes clear in the spot, coal is not just a significant energy source, but a “way of life”: a culture and identity that opposing political leaders threaten to destroy. Over shots of power lines leading back to a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia, Tennant asks “Where do they think their electricity comes from?” In the ad’s final moments, Tennant is shown shutting off a switch in a West Virginia coal plant which apparently leads directly to the nation’s capital. Just before the White House is seen going dark, Tennant says “I’ll make sure President Obama gets the message.”

 
9/9/2014

Hyperlapse of the Supermoon over Los Angeles

The TimeLAX project, started by video-making duo RandyFX and RandyGM, is a growing archive of timelapse photography of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In a recent video made for the project, the so-called “supermoon” from August 10, 2014, can be seen rising eerily over the electrified cityscape. A supermoon occurs when a full moon or a new moon is at the point of its elliptal orbit when it is closest to Earth, resulting in a super-sized appearance. According to NASA, the moon appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than it does when farthest from the Earth. Though supermoons have been associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. Incidentally, the next and closest supermoon of the year will be tonight, September 9, 2014, so remember to keep an eye out.

 
9/8/2014
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Wim Wender’s Pina: The Surreal Beauty of Site-Specific Dance

Pina Bausch was a German contemporary dance performer and choreographer known for her unique style, a blend of movement, sound, and prominent stage sets, and her elaborate collaboration with performers during the development of a piece. Now known as Tanztheater, the style became a leading influence in the field of modern dance from the 1970s on. Director Wim Wenders documented Bausch and the dance company she created, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, in his 2011 film Pina, which showed dancers performing not only inside the theater, but in locations around Bausch’s home city of Wuppertal, Germany. The production is particularly moving in the way it juxtaposes Bausch’s choreography with the famous industrial landscapes of the Wupper valley, placing the massive scale of geologic transformations against the intimate scale of human dancers. Among other locations, performers can be seen on the platform of the Wuppertal Schwebebahn elevated railway; the Zeche Zollverein coal mine industrial complex; the brown landscape of an open-faced coal pit; and SANAA’s airy concrete Zollverein School of Management and Design

 
9/5/2014
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Caught in Motion: Shinichi Maruyama’s Nude Time-Lapses

Japanese photographer Shinichi Maruyama is known for the way he captures and expands moments in time. For his “Nude” series, he re-imagined the traditional nude as a portrait also of movement and human vitality. The resulting images abstract the human body into swirling vortexes of skin, sweeping patterns that offer the viewer an alternative view of what it means to capture the energy and form of the body. 

 
8/29/2014
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Found Typologies: Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Photographs of Industrial Architecture

German conceptual artists Bernhard “Bernd” Becher and Hilla Becher, who worked together as a collaborative duo, are perhaps best known for their extensive series of photographic images of industrial buildings and structures. The images were often organized in grids according to a particular “typology,” such as water towers, grain elevators, coke ovens, and warehouses. In displaying what might typically be considered “banal” or lacking in design, the Becher’s elevated industrial architecture to subject worthy of formal aesthetic and artistic consideration. The photographs also bring light to an architectural ecosystem based on the production and transformation of energy that is paradoxically both hidden and ubiquitous. The Bechers would go on to influence generations of documentary photographers and artists as the founders of what has come to be known as the ‘Becher school.’

 
8/29/2014
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Found Typologies: Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Photographs of Industrial Architecture

German conceptual artists Bernhard “Bernd” Becher and Hilla Becher, who worked together as a collaborative duo, are perhaps best known for their extensive series of photographic images of industrial buildings and structures. The images were often organized in grids according to a particular “typology,” such as water towers, grain elevators, coke ovens, and warehouses. In displaying what might typically be considered “banal” or lacking in design, the Becher’s elevated industrial architecture to subject worthy of formal aesthetic and artistic consideration. The photographs also bring light to an architectural ecosystem based on the production and transformation of energy that is paradoxically both hidden and ubiquitous. The Bechers would go on to influence generations of documentary photographers and artists as the founders of what has come to be known as the ‘Becher school.’

 
8/28/2014

The Energy Issue Mottoes

"The greatest of all environmental powers is thought."

—Reyner Banham (1969)

 
8/28/2014

Capturing the Impossible: Scientists Catch Schrödinger’s Cat with Quantum Physics

Schrödinger’s cat, the famous thought experiment devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, was a way of illustrating a bizarre phenomenon of quantum mechanics called superposition. The experiment proposes a situation in which a cat might be simultaneously alive and dead—until we try to observe it, in which case it appears as either alive or dead. The concept demonstrates the apparent conflict between what quantum theory tells us is true about the behavior of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true on the macroscopic level. Recently, however, scientists at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna have found a way to actually capture these simultaneous states and make them visible to the human eye. They created a combined image (GIF-ified here) where a cat-shaped stencil was bombarded with “entangled” photons. When two separate particles are entangled, their physical properties appear to correlate and they share a single quantum state (the simultaneous states described above). This means that the photons that generated the image never actually interacted with the stencil; instead, separate photons (which shared the same quantum state as the ones that hit the camera) arrived there. When the researchers, who created yellow and red pairs of entangled photons, fired the yellow photons at the stencil, only the red photons were sent to the camera. Spooky. Interestingly, this mysterious behavior could offer a huge array of benefits, including highly advanced data security and quantum communication.

 
8/28/2014

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The Zero-Carbon TV Commercial

As an increasing amount of the world’s energy is fed into powering the virtual realm, WWF Canada tackled the issue of how recycling might be addressed in the internet age. Creating “the world’s first zero-carbon TV ad,” the organization went above and beyond to solve how the carbon footprint created by each step of the production process might be offset. In the spot, fittingly titled “Zero Carbon,” the WWF assembled recycled video clips—some as old as 60 years—created during online collaboration sessions. For any in-person meetings, project collaborators took public transit to reach one another. Finally, the organization brought on environmental consulting engineer Steve Lapp to conduct an emissions audit on the production. For all other energy use discovered by Lapp, the WWF bought carbon off-sets. The experimental rigor of the project, which treated environmental consciousness as a serious responsibility and feasible business strategy, serves as inspiration for the way we might think about and address virtual production in the future. 

 
8/27/2014
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Unlikely Symbiosis: Coalmines and SANAA’s Zollverein School

Japanese architecture firm SANAA, led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, designed the first building to be constructed for the new Rem Koolhaas/OMA masterplan on the historic Zeche Zollverein coal mine site. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001, the Zeche Zollverein, located just outside Essen, Germany, is a monumental array of mine heads, coking plants and coal-washing units scattered over an area of several hundred acres. As the vein of coal expired, the site was gradually decommissioned in the mid-80s. Spurred by the renewed international interest in the site, however, the city of Essen laid out plans to transform the Zeche Zollverein into a primary pole for design, architecture and art within Europe. SANAA’s Zollverein School of Management and Design, a bright white, perforate cube, stands out in stark contrast to its surroundings. But its design is not simply aesthetic: its ultra-thin concrete walls were made possible by pumping warm water from nearby operative coal mines through the facade, doing away with the need for thick insulation. The innovation allowed for the recycling of abundant, naturally heated wastewater from mines and drove the overall cost, both in terms of implementation and day-to-day use, lower than if conventional insulation had been used.

 
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About

This blog chronicles the project from the perspective of the curators. Be sure to follow the individual studio blogs for studio-specific updates, and the student blogs to follow individual's work.

Christopher Barley

Independent curator and partner in the firm Therrien Barley.

Troy Conrad Therrien

Partner in the firm Therrien Barley, and Chief Architect, Cloud Communication Software at Columbia GSAPP.

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