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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Accelerated Ruin

Photos by Timothy Hull (left) and Nicholas McDermott (right)
Those of us who frequent the BAM Cultural District may have noticed a strange addition to the alleyway neighboring the Harvey Theater at 651 Fulton. At first glance, it appears to be an alien hybrid of sculpture both ancient and contemporary, but throughout the next year, keep tabs on this particular edifice, since each visit will yield an eroded and transformed object. The Accelerated Ruin: a BAMart: Public installation is a far cry from a conventional sculpture.

When we think of sculpture, we often think of static, immutable objects, impervious to time. For many great sculptures, that is the boldness of their statement: the intention is a kind of permanence or immortality. This notion was a point of departure for Timothy Hull and Future Expansion Architects, designers and engineers of The Accelerated Ruin. This sculpture—dynamic and responsive—yields to the passing of time; it is ephemeral and impermanent, like us.

Nicholas and Deirdre McDermott of Future Expansion Architects discuss The Accelerated Ruin:

What was your purpose for creating an impermanent sculpture?

BAM gave us a timeframe of one year, so the built-in obsolescence wasn't a stretch, but we needed to get the timing right. Discovering Ecovative, the company that manufactures the amazing biodegradable (and environmentally friendly) panel material we used, was fortuitous and their willingness to work with us on fabrication allowed us to explore different possibilities for the project. Ruin is one idea that we were working with, but we were also very interested in transformation, the possibility of starting in one complete state and ending in a very different, but still complete state.

Examples of Evocative’s EcoCradle® packaging

Is there any context to this project based on its location?

Conceptually, there is great perverse appeal in designing an architecture of ruin for a neighborhood that is growing, quickly, dynamically, unpredictably. We wanted to embody all of those adjectives, but work in the other direction. Every building contains within itself all the ingredients of a ruin, but usually denies its fate by being more or less well built.

How did you construct a sculpture with this “organic” quality of erosion, and how will it change its appearance?

The wood plinth and the embedded structure of aluminum rods (there are almost 300 holding up the exterior panels) are the stable internal elements that provide order for the external disorder. There will be some period of time in which biomass, wind, heat, and (hopefully) moisture are going to work on the surface in ways we can't predict. From a solitary mass to a field of hundreds of reflective aluminum lines – that's the ultimate trajectory and what keeps the installation exciting for the public who are watching the change.

To us the project suggests the possibility of working with the reality of impermanence, leaving open the question of whether this might be a more ideal condition than perfect stability. We didn't want to work with metaphors for ruin so we built a live demonstration. The installation is a kind of experiment, which means we get to learn from it, discovering the productive qualities and architectural potential of this kind of working.

—Cory Bracken, BAM Marketing Intern

The Accelerated Ruin will be on display 24/7 through June 2013. As you pass through time, take a moment to witness its decay.

The Accelerated Ruin on tumblr: 

1 comment:

  1. I like it. It made me think about the words: dual purpose. Artistic, and fundamental. Old, time-less, and new combined. Good job. Sorry to hear about the early ending. I wish I saw it in person. It seems as if many things in the now are built to last with inherently planned obsolescence.