New York

“From Here to Eternity”

Artists Space Exhibitions

There is a desperation in architecture now to find more all-encompassing and original themes, an anxious climate that places a particular burden on the architectural exhibition as forum. In view of this, “From Here to Eternity” handled its particular mission with unusual restraint and intelligence. Without proclamation or manifesto, the 11 architects (or design collaborators) chosen by curator Valerie Smith came down on the side of exploring architectural issues (theory) rather than confirming architectural values (practice). If there was a certain dissociation from immediate world concerns evident in many of the projects, there was an abundance of formative ideas that hold the promise of altering the present course of Postmodern architecture.

There were three artists represented whose projects indicate the exhibition’s breadth of focus. For the past seven years Donna Goodman’s exhaustive and farsighted work has embraced architecture, planning, social theory, and writing (she is currently working on a novel about a future city). Good-man’s concern is the development of new social and spatial arrangements: the school as shopping mall, a postindustrial “information center” for family teleconferencing. She conceives entire cities organized on the most advanced technologies of communication and construction. Her “Elements of a Future City” 1983– , exhibited here, is a proposal of many parts that suggests new uses for technological systems in existing cities. It also includes a design for a self-sufficient, high-tech “island” that would accommodate living and working spaces above sea level while providing an underwater base for industry, farming, and marine research. Here, Goodman crosses architecture’s narrow ideological threshold to embrace technology as form, space, and program.

Laurie Hawkinson explores the structural and symbolic affinities and the relationship of context, observation, and time in both architecture and film. Her “Cinetrain,” 1983, is a model for a mobile film-production laboratory, a linear system of flexible apparatus that could simultaneously record, edit, and project films while moving through space. It gently subverts the traditional filmmaking process, which is distinguished by nonsequential events and isolated (nonoverlapping) roles. Here, Hawkinson invites the viewer to see that reality is constructed rather than discovered, that truth in film or architecture is found through the process of segregating events in sequence.

In contrast to Goodman and Hawkinson, whose work still has to do with the building of objects and/or models, Mark West creates a disrupted image of space by drawing over the already fractured content of the photo collage. His “Blackout” drawings, 1984, from a larger series of projects entitled "Surviving Logic.; are violent, hallucinatory images made probable and threatening in a nuclear age. They are both a warning and an investigation of a new constructive process based on absolute deconstruction.

“From Here to Eternity” also included work by Douglas Darden; Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio; Michael Kalil; Kenneth Kaplan, Ted Krueger, and Christopher Scholz; and Michael Webb. On the whole, it communicated a quiet optimism that architectural practice can in fact be undermined if corresponding economic and sociopolitical adjustments are made. The creative raw material for this subversion was very much in evidence here.

—Patricia C. Phillips