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First came this. Then came boutique hotel walls derived from this.

First came this. Then came boutique hotel walls derived from this.

Today I experienced Archeology of the Digital II: Media and Machines, a joint exhibit between the Yale School of Architecture and School of Art.

The pieces in the show date to the late 90s/ early 2000s, and demonstrate the use of computer technology in rendering designs and aiding in the construction and execution of those designs. Alfie Koetter, Director of Exhibitions, described the works as “provocations”–introducing new forms and aesthetics that have since influenced the design of buildings and interiors.

This is especially true for the above, an image of Objectile by Bernard Cache (1998). It’s a decorative wood panel made by a machine-tool programmed with a computer. This allows for the nuanced topographical peaks and valleys that have since been replicated as chic decor by many hotels and restaurants.

Speaking of texture, there’s the HypoSurface, a series of aluminum panels controlled by pistons on the backside, and programmed by a computer to create patterns, even letter and messages. It reminds me of the surface structure of human skin.


Human skin

The original Hypo Surface

Another responsive surface: this “room” referred to as the “Muscle.” It’s a series of pneumatic tubes wrapped around the surface of this interior space. Sensors inside react to the movement of those in the “room” and expand and contract the tubes, changing the shape of the space.

The room that moves when you do.

The room that moves when you do.

And perhaps the most intriguing: The Chaos machine. This is just one of the many chaos machines constructed by Karl Chu. They are drafting machines that demonstrate catastrophe theory. In practice, a pendulum counter-balances a series of gears. By adjusting the tension between them, the machine drafts an image or shape different each time.

The Chaos Machine in action.

The Chaos Machine in action.

It made me think of Tim Knowles project where he afixed pens to willow branches in the wind. A different result every time.


Nature’s Chaos Machine

The exhibit runs until May 1. You can get more visiting info here.

-by Matt Reiniger