I’m very excited to be giving a lecture as part of the Bartlett’s Constructing Realities lecture series next week. If you are in London, please do pop in on the 15th February. It will also be the first chance I’ve had to see the Bartlett’s shiny new campus.
Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines
‘Scripts’ in architecture are usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to architecture and authorship. This lecture poses the script as a useful critical and methodological tool within architectural design, absorbing and reinterpreting ideas from behavioural psychology, computation, dance, immersive theatre, the Absurd, and the Oulipo. The lecture is illustrated through a series of projects completed during Palmer’s residency at the Palais de Tokyo and PhD by Design at the Bartlett spanning dance, film, installation, and data manipulation.
Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer based in the Netherlands. He holds an AHRC-funded PhD by design from the Bartlett and was artist in residence at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2015-16. His work has been exhibited around the world, including at the V&A Museum, Opera Garnier de Paris, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Royal Institute of British Architects. He co-authored the winning proposal for the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, and sits on the project’s curatorial advisory committee. He formerly taught within the Bartlett’s Interactive Design Lab and at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. He currently teaches at TU Delft.
The installation is sited in a mixed-use university building; the ground floor is a lecture hall, often used for social events, and the floor above is the architecture library. Consequently the space goes from empty to full, quiet to loud, in a matter of minutes. The students conceoved an installation which is a ‘lonely cloud’, becoming more excitable when there are more people in the hall. When it is quiet, the cloud amuses itself dreaming of people.
I taught electronics and coding in Arduino to enable this proejct to come together.
Here is a video that Maria and some of the students put together of the workshop. (Please note, not my video!)
I was very impressed with the efforts of the electronics team. Day after day, they worked together to solve problems, design and build systems and components, and learn about the world of interactive architecture late into the evening (and sometimes mornings!) – all the time whilst smiling. Well done, team!
Thank you to the AA for inviting me to teach, and thank you to the excellent teaching team and highly motivated students for helping make the project happen!
The Architectural Association has a more in-depth article on the project on their Conversations website. There is also a gallery of images here.
An entymological adventure coaxing choreography from a company of obstinate insects
As humans, we are used to hierarchical control systems. Ants are different – they use pheromones to communicate and connect with each other, building complex networks from simple feedback loops.
Working with a team of chemical scientists and entomologists, Ant Ballet is an attempt to ‘hack’ the communication protocols of ants. Witness the trials and tribulations of the first attempts to create choreography, and intercontinental ant colony communication through the use of synthesised chemical compounds.
Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer. Based at the Bartlett School of Architecture, he is a tutor in RC3 on the Graduate Architectural Design course. He has travelled around the world, hitchhiked across Iceland and taught IT skills in the heart of the Amazon. He is a collaborator with Open_H20 (developing open source oceanic technologies) and a Getty Images contributing photographer. www.olliepalmer.com
I helped my good friend Heechan Park shoot a couple of short videos about the amazing machines he built at the Bartlett last year.
Inspired by JG Ballard’s The Cloud Sculptures of Choral D, they fire vortices of smoke, infused with scents, distances of up to 20m. Viewers experience an ephemeral sensation – bewildering bursts of smell defining their interaction with a space.
Video by Ollie Palmer and Heechan Park
Here’s the first testing of the machines near Old Street. There’s a lovely contrast between the rugged, heavy-duty appearance of the machines and the poetically delicate smoke vortex they create.
Video by Heechan Park, with footage by Ollie Palmer
I spent a day taking photos and recording time-lapses with my friend Kimberly Walker in July, as part of her Masters in Architectural Design. I’ve finally had the chance to watch the final edit – it’s a documentary about the process of making the film. Trailer below, full documentary here.