Unpredictable Flesh – Novel digital crafting, material research and encounters in interactive architecture

5 November 2019 16 November 2019

Group exhibition

Curator Anna Maria Orrù

Scientific leader Małgorzata Zboinska
Contributors: Delia Dumitrescu, Hanna Landin, Peter Ljungstrand, Gunnar Oledal, Fredrik Trella, Eva Amborg, Tabita Nilsson, Karin Hedlund, Erik Landmark, Monica Billger, Pablo Miranda Carranza, Ulrika Karlsson, Fredrik Nilsson

Artistic advisor for Carmen Olsson’s performance: zeppaart.com

The exhibition showcases interactive pieces, hybrid artefacts, graphic animations and tactile samples that have been developed through the encounter between mechanical and human, precision and imprecision, in the field of interactive architecture and digital design.

Flesh implies thickness. As an architectural metaphor, the notion of flesh can extend surfaces into tactile, three-dimensional matter. In this exhibition, the making of flesh – as a replacement for the term “skin,” often overused – is explored in pliable casts and moulds from silicone that engage the visitor and provoke a response. Inviting a dialogue between observer and artefact, they propose new corporeal qualities in architecture. 

These interactive pieces, hybrid artefacts, films and tactile samples have been developed through the encounter between mechanical and human, precision and imprecision. What appears to be a highly predictable process is in fact the result of fluid artistic investigation: architect and researcher Malgorzata Zboinska and her interdisciplinary team have extended the field of computational innovation by introducing imprecision, unpredictability, unpredictability, craft and co-creation with the machines into their research. Seen together, these explorations give voice to both material and digital techniques, broadening the visitor’s conception of surfaces as well as expanding the designers’ potential use of tools. The artefacts on display arise from collaborative making, thus generating an alternative perspective on what contemporary digital architecture could become. 

Traditionally, we see technology as something that moves us away from the visceral but here, we move closer to the body. Technology is often used as a prothesis to gain access to something that is remote, invisible, impalpable, a prolongation of our senses. But in this case, there is a 1:1 relationship between the technology and ourselves, and we are collaborators on the same scale. 

Hence, three elements have guided the team’s artistic process: an investigation of the material’s agency, the emergence of a unique aesthetic language, and the merging of digital precision with manual craftsmanship. And although the design is not driven by biological matter, it nonetheless subscribes to an organic appearance that evolves in the process. This exhibition explores these efforts through four overlapping domains: modes of making, artistic investigation, embodied contact, and interface between machine and human. 

Collectively, these works seek to embody a wider understanding of architectural flesh. They speculate on the kind of digitalized environments that could emerge emerge and push the realm of digital architecture by including artistic and corporeal conditions. In so doing, they invite us to reflect on the future dialogue between human craftsmanship and digital design in a way that also embraces their relationship with nature. 

Photo: Tina Axelsson

Malgorzata Zboinska is an architect with a PhD in digital design. She is a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, leading an artistic research project ‘Architectural Convertibles’, funded by the Swedish Research Council. Working within practice-based research, she develops alternative expressions of responsive human-machine interfaces that challenge the experience of architectural materiality in the ubiquitous computing era.

Anna Maria Orrù works between biomimicry, artistic research and in curating performative research, providing alternate approaches to ecological architecture and design. She is based in Sweden and Italy and holds a PhD in Architecture/Artistic Research (‘Wild Poethics’ 2017). She is a senior lecturer at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts & Design. In her spare time, she is a beekeeper and takes care of an olive grove.

The catalogue Unpredictable flesh. Novel digital crafting, material research and encounters in interactive architecture is printed by:
Vegetable Lamb Press © 2019
Editors: Anna Maria Orrù, Malgorzata A. Zboinska
ISBN 978-91-88249-09-

The Symbiosis project

Supported by

The exhibition culminates from an artistic research project “Architectural Convertibles: Towards an alternative artistic approach to designing interactive architectural Environments”, funded by the Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet, and Hosted by Chalmers Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.