September 20 – November 13, 2016, Strauss Gallery presents Speak! Listen! Act!
A kaleidoscope of architectural elements for public space, an exhibition of 20 projects by Zenovia Toloudi and students.
Public space has been vital to people and cities since ancient times as the designated space for dialogue, participation, collective activities, interaction and exchange, and essentially democracy. However, due to various social, political, and economic complexities, as well as technological advancements, public space has gradually transformed to less open, less democratic, less comfortable, less enjoyable, less “ours.” From one hand, codes, policies, and regulations reinforce limited use and accessibility, uncomfortable surfaces and furniture, and ubiquitous surveillance. From the other hand, the web culture has absorbed much of the dialogue and participatory practices that now occur more often in the digital realm. Public space is essentially not so “public” and not so “spatial.”
Speak! Listen! Act! exhibition and research presents a taxonomy of projects at the intersection of architecture, art, and urbanism, investigating how design can act as agency to instigate or reinforce for the public a series of actions, such as communication, interaction, collaboration, playfulness, and empathy. Speak! Listen! Act! exhibition introduces new typologies for the public space, communication interfaces, and terrains for unpredictable activities where the citizen becomes an active participant. Through responsive designs, ephemeral interventions, participatory events, collective experiences, and happenings, architecture can serve the commons, and therefore can become the catalyst for social space and public action.
The main curatorial element the Speak! Listen! Act! exhibition is the presentation of the 20 projects through a wall installation at a form of a periodic table of light boxes. Each light box contains a project, represented by one axonometric drawing and one verb. The “x-ray” drawings and the verbs together they constitute a language of types and actions to transform public space to be more communicative, interactive and democratic. In a similar way of how Richard Serra’s Verb List (1967–68) has served as a guide for his practice and future operations, these projects together with their verbs function as a thinking device for architectural, artistic, and civic operations within public sphere.
Speak! Listen! Act! projects are organized in three main categories. They emphasize the presence of adaptive structures, the actualization of tectonics of democratization, and the materialization of playful micro-tectures:
Adaptive structures can transform themselves based on needs and desires. They have flexible programs and can customize themselves to serve social life for multiple audiences and situations. They are user-driven; they can be occupied and personalized by citizens. Due to their small size, and being consisted of repetitive elements they can be implemented with low cost and high customization.
Tectonics of democratization challenge architecture to reinforce civic responsibility through the integration in the design of instability, balance and movement. The expression of fluctuation is captured in the elements, materials, details, and forms of these structures. The constant newly defined situations affect the interactions among the citizens, who (now) need to arrange, discuss, and negotiate among each other. And vice versa, users steadily re-shape and evolve them.
Playful micro-tectures encourage the dialogue, information exchange, and public-ness by integrating ephemeral events, participatory happenings and performances. They often become temporary spectacles that foster the community. The events’ instigators may often be architects that co-participate with the citizens to inspire and produce them.
These ephemeral and participatory architectures become “hackers” that intervene in the public arena through inventiveness and playfulness to alter the social and political conditions. Speak! Listen! Act! projects act as strategic site-, program-, or audience-specific designs for the public space forming an architectural activism.
Micro-Ceasefire Under Shadow, Zenovia Toloudi
Blanket, Zenovia Toloudi
Modular Tectonics, HAEF design-build workshop
Poly-Platform, Magda Billis
REimagining the SCAR, Katherine Mendez
A World of Spectators, Nicholas Dyer
Parrhesiastic Play, Zenovia Toloudi
The Theater of Moving Furniture, Caitlin Horan
Free See Saw, Zenovia Toloudi
Collective Multipurpose Furniture, Jake Weed
Street Warrior, Adenrele Adewusi
Solitent, Zakios Meghrouni-Brown
Spiral, Zenovia Toloudi
Pop-up IC-cream Store, HAEF design-build workshop
Fan, Zenovia Toloudi, Maria Stefanidis
Agora Display, WIT Athenian Agora Studio
Optical Ruin, Matthew Rowell
Urban Venetian Blind, Zenovia Toloudi, Maria Stefanidis
The Cage, Zenovia Toloudi, Maria Stefanidis, Chrysa Lekka
Converse/Construct, Patrick Brady
ZENOVIA TOLOUDI / STUDIO Z
Zenovia Toloudi is an architect, artist, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Studio Art, Dartmouth College. She has received a Doctor of Design degree from Harvard GSD, a Master of Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) – as a Fulbright Fellow, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh). In 2000, Zenovia founded Studio Z, a research and creative practice for architecture, art and public space. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including Venice Biennale, The Lab at Harvard, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, and Athens Byzantine Museum.
Zenovia has created public art for numerous buildings in Boston, including the Lansdowne Street Garage Parking, MIT Stata, New England College of Optometry, and for the campus yard of AUTh, and the entrance of Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth. Her work belongs to permanent collections such as AUTh’s Sculpture Collection, and Threcian Pinacotheca. Zenovia has presented in conferences such as The Right to Architecture, International Symposium for Electronic Arts, Atmospheres-Tomorrow, Atmos, Connections (MIT Media Lab), Design Computing and Cognition, and the MIT Energy Night.
Her essays have been published in Routledge, Technoetic Arts, MAS Context, WAr, and proceedings of ACSA 104 and 101, ICSV17, SIGraDi 2010 and 2008, and the 1st International File to Factory Symposium. She has co-curated the exhibition Made in Greece Plus at the Boston Museum of Science, and organized many academic events including Brain.Storms, Inspire Japan; Critical Digital conferences. Zenovia has also taught at Harvard, MIT, IIT, AUTh, WIT, BAC, and Hellenic American Educational Foundation.
Find out more: www.zenovia.net
Facts & Credits:
Concept / Production: Zenovia Toloudi / Studio Z
Exhibition Team: Panharith Ean, Samantha Altieri
Images Printout & Fabrication: Panagiotis Stamboulidis Shop / Panagiotis Stamboulidis, Yannis Panoudis, Yannis Stratakis, Theodoros Chatziyannidis, Christos Baklatzis, Filio Matsa
Digital Model Fabrication: Thayer Machine Shop / Kevin Baron, Pete Fontaine
Gallery Installation Team: Colby Styskal, Sophie Sheeline
Speak! Act! Listen! would like to thank: Barbara Will, Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Arts and Humanities; Graziella Parati, Chair of Studio Art; Gerald Auten, Exhibition Director; and Studio Art Faculty and Staff, Dartmouth College; John Ellis, Jonathan Foote, and Michael MacPhail from Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT); Anna Stefanidou, and Efi Tzavali from Hellenic-American Education Foundation (HAEF); and finally Wearable Architecture students (Dartmouth College), Athenian Agora Studio students (WIT), and Public Architecture design-build workshop participants (HAEF).
Special thanks: George Toloudis, Maria Toloudi, Dimitris Papanikolaou.
Cover photo: Dimitris Papanikolaou