CIA Transmitting Architecture with Invernomuto

Day one in Turin and significant representatives of the CIA crew have now gathered with us for Transmitting Architecture. As we stroll through the pavilions, interviewing interesting people as we go, we've got a few interesting things going on ourselves in the CIA outpost in the Oval.

Our friends Simone and Simone, better known as Invernomuto, performed the first of a series of audio/video sessions, mixing live music and images from the remainders out of the Check-in Architecture footage. An intense experience for those lucky enough (as we feel) to be in attendance. The same formula - not the same performance, since it's going to be different every time - is going to take place twice a day. Don't miss the next one.


Architecture is not building

Aaron Betsky makes it pretty clear: it's not the buildings that make architecture, it's the architects, and they don't even really need to build. In fact, architecture is more about unbuilding than building, or so says Betsky.

Betsky talks about architecture like someone who is not only passionate about the building-lingo, but about life in general. It's no surprise he wrote a lot about architecture and sex, also becoming one of the main contributors to a spatial interpretation of queer theory.
During his conference at Transmitting Architecture in Turin, he explained how architecture is the whole process around building, not necessary including it. Thinking, talking, experimenting with an environment's geography, landscape, history, people, relationships, culture, beauty.
The exhibition he's curating, taking place at the Venice Biennale and titled Out There: Architecture Beyond Building, deals with interventions in space and landscapes aiming to make our world feel like home, without covering it with the "architecture graves." That is, the buildings. Betsky's vision is rather minimal: he looks for beauty in simple and subtle things rather than in grand celebrations of wealthy clients that only house bureaucrats.
Making the people feel at home in their world is the mission of the architect, but by people Betsky means the widest range possible. When we interviewed him and asked him about low-cost traveling, he believes that what we call "low-cost" is not properly "low" for the environment, and it's available only to high-end customers and not to the much bigger crowds of the poor of the world, who can't afford to satisfy their most basic needs. We're not so sure.

But enough with the babble, the video interview we made speaks for itself. Check it out.


The research is on!

Unluckily, we're not always partying. We at Check-in Architecture have a mission too: Transmitting Architecture.
Next week we're going to be in Turin, in the lounge area at the Oval. There are three spaces you should check-out:
- the interactive area, where you can access the internet to check out our website,
- the video exhibitions, where you can watch the Carlos Casas and Invernomuto videos and a selection of missions,
- the upstairs balcony where we'll be working hard as usual - and taking some video interviews - in case you want to pay a visit.
Transmitting Architecture is one of the most important moments in our Check-in Architecture research, so make sure you pass by.


NYC Waterfalls

Summer in the City can be pretty damn hot, so a couple of waterfalls might just do. Although it looks a little like shaman material by someone from the rain forest or Niagara, it actually took a Dane to provide the Big Apple with this spectacular - and refreshing - kick to its already iconical Brooklyn Bridge. New York's last public art piece, commissioned by the Public Art Fund to artist Olafur Eliasson, consists in this one waterfall in the picture and three more, falling from free-standing scaffolding towers on the East river. The artist is known for its past success at London's Tate Modern, the Weather Project, worth the museum 2 million visits, and has had the kind of meteori rise softened by green credentials that makes him almost smug seeming to other artists.

Being as tall as the Statue of Liberty, his new public installations will be temporary landmarks and, since the only thing more powerful than water in shifting our perception of a place is moving water, they're granted to shape the nearby area and its relationship with the passers-by. Rivers are the coolest thing ever, and there's no doubt vertical ones have a special appeal of their own.


Genre, art and architecture

In order to accomplish this mission we went to Venice for Multiversity and had the chance to interview a bunch of interesting people. Here's some of the talk we had with curator Giovanna Zapperi about the relationship between gender and its representation in art.


CIA back in Turin!

Turin loves us and we love Turin. Once again the Check-in Architecture crew will move to the Piedmontese capital for a gaggle of good reasons: the UIA World Congress, the Transmitting Architecture exhibition and yet another party - details about it in the flyer above.
It's a good chance to witness the Check-in Architecture spirit both in video and in the flesh, we're three dimensional and rocking good dancers.


Great Man and Poet

You know a party was a success when the police shows up, and the goodbye party for our editor and friend Andrew Berardini was definitely one. The second of the images above shows how project manager and party animal Luca Legnani Jr. explained the cops what was going on.
A rough translation from Italian would be:

"The party was in honor of Andrew Berardini,
great man and poet.
And the music was of excellent quality."

We already miss Andrew's editorial statements and mid-afternoon blitz-naps and wish him a nice trip back home in LA (he's probably there right now). As for you guys, stay tuned for more Check-in Architecture adventures and videos.


The Architecture of Alfred Hitchock

One cannot watch the films of Alfred Hitchcock without some sense of space. When we first heard about this book, The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock (published by 010), we thought back to all the films we'd seen and in quite a few, the space, the structures, the architecture plays a primary role in the construction of the tales. In Rear Window, L.B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart) confined to a wheelchair due to a broken leg, peeks from the back window of his apartment house, the structure of the building, and where the tenants live defining the story. Or in North by Northwest the famous scene, where villains go toppling off the largest strangest monument in America, Mount Rushmore, or even in The Birds, houses are the only flimsy protections against the fatal attacks by nature.

In all of these movies, and quite a few more, Hitchcock, who worked as a set designer in the 20s, paid very close attention to the structures his stories played out in, often making them not merely plot devices, but strange and haunting characters, the Bates Motel looming at the top of the hill in Psycho; its crazed occupant leering down onto the rooms with a murderous gaze.

But if we can be momentarily expansive about the role of architecture, at the recent Festarch conference, artist Vito Acconci at a conference on the relationship between writing and architecture, simply stated that the two disparate disciplines both have a structure, both as sentences and in totality. We even use this phrase in discussing grammar: a "sentence structure." Cinema as well has a structure, one that Hitchcock was masterfully aware of, watching the below interview with Hitchcock, his sense of direction, and careful consideration of each shot, with who and where, plays directly on the psychology of the characters and the viewers, but also on a poetics of space, perhaps less emotive and nostalgic than Bachelard, but a sense of the poetic potential of not only the physical space of a story, but also the cinematic space from whence is the camera pointed and from there, where will it go, how is it showing the interior spaces filled with, a favorite Hitchcock word, suspense. Below is a clip from a very good interview, where Hitchcock, with the illustrative aid of clips, explains how he built some of the most potent scenes in Psycho.

Before that though, in case you missed it earlier, here's is the publisher's site for the book that sparked our musing. And click on the movie links, they all lead to the best Hitchcock trailers, where he personally tries to pitch the movie to the audience.


The Festarch Report

Festarch has been a pretty fertile ground for us Check-in Architecture guys and we came back to our headquarters in the Lambrate district in Milan with plenty of new material for your viewing pleasure. For starters, we're giving you a taste in this small trailer, just to give you a hint of all the mission videos yet to come. Rick Moody and Oliviero Toscani interviewed, the mysteries of the Buggerru surfers unveiled, our friends José and Nico's Festarch experience displayed. All of this will soon await you on a video blog near yours. Make sure to pass by.


"For Sale: The Arctic?" or Shifting Maps

With global warming jumping off everyone's tongues these days, you better be sure that the administrations that fervently deny it are gearing up to capitalize on its benefits. The world map we felt, had largely been decided, a few pockets here and there with shifting boundaries: Kashmir, Palestine, the Balkans, the occasional Pacific island, mere pockets in the sweeping map of the world. But with the Arctic ice caps melted: a whole new, massively difficult territorial conflict is cooking in the waters that are melting the glaciers and permafrost. The northern countries with claims near the Arctic circle: Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark (through Greenland) are doing the kind of aggressive maneuvers and territorial disputes not seen in this part of the world since the Vikings and with these countries with each other in a long time. Substantial hydrocarbon reserves beneath the ice as well as shipping rights through the strait, that a few short years ago seemed forever out of reach are now up for serious discussion and substantial posturing. Who owns the land under the Arctic, currently not claimed under any international treaties?

So far the Northwest Passage above Canada (once a myth of adventures, now quickly becoming a reality) is not yet fully operational, but it's damn close and who lays claim to the minerals and oil lay is going to lead for sure to diplomatic spats and perhaps to a bit of saber rattling, to which the Russians have already started planting a Russian flag on the bottom of the sea in what Canada sees as it's territory.

In 2007, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister had this to say:

This is posturing. This is the true north strong and free, and they're fooling themselves if they think dropping a flag on the ocean floor is going to change anything. There is no question over Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. We've made that very clear. We've established - a long time ago - that these are Canadian waters and this is Canadian property. You can't go around the world these days dropping a flag somewhere. This isn't the 14th or 15th century.

Peter MacKay, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Or is it?

Read more on wikipedia about the bureaucratic mess and potential problems the Arctic will pose as global warming speeds up...

Territorial claims in the Arctic


"I Don't Believe in Art": Loris Gréaud Talks with CIA

Giulio Frigo, a CIA research affiliate, went on a mission for Check-in Architecture, and had a very interesting talk with Loris Gréaud where the young French artist makes the declaration amongst other things, "I don't believe in art." Check out the mission we wrote about his last exhibition here. This video unlike many other interviews captures the heart of Gréaud's philosophy, and will likely be a resource for artists, students, and scholars trying to wrap their heads around Gréaud's distinctive imaginary.


The Sporting Life: Eurocup 2008

Nothing alters the landscape of a city like obsession. And peasant farmers and wealthy yachtsman all over the face of Europe will be drunk as lords, glued to their television sets, screaming in anguish and in glory from bars, couches, and the streets. No Europe is not in another nationalistic war of aggression, it's just this edition of the Eurocup. When they set down their rifles, it's almost as if they start becoming truly obsessive about football, though I don't have statistics in front of me to back up one iota of this, I'm sure such sentiment makes governments dump a little more money into their national sides.

Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Bern, Innsbruck, Vienna, Salzburg, and Klenfurt will have both fanatical supporters descend on the these cities, but in the participating countries who made the cut, the obsession with sports will send people into the streets, waving banners, sometimes rioting, always letting the pressures of daily life focus into one white hot point called football. Flags waving, cars honking, fists flying, the winners are just as slap happy as the winners.

Nothing beats the energy of a well aimed kick from your hometown hero.

Let the games begin.


Festarch - epilogue

We were still a bit sleepy from last night - which ended up in a street party at the harbor, with the Minis' speakers booming and some street guys joining the dances with the CIA crew - when José and Nico left their four-star hotel to head back to their hometown Cologne. As they went back home, our own Gianmario and Elena got ready to fly to Venice, to join a party in Jesolo with Soulwax. These adventure and more are coming to a theater near you.

Last day of Festarch, we're not ready to head back home yet. Before packing all our stuff up tomorrow, we're gonna make sure to have the last shot at architectonic parties. Architects don't have much of a reputation for naked moonlight swims, but tonight in Cagliari, we're going to be working our hardest to change this.