Inside SCI-Arc


MAK Center Premiers Exhibition of Lectures From the SCI-Arc Media Archive

With Out Spoken: Lectures from the SCI-Arc Media Archive, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture Los Angeles has invited four noted architects and scholars to mine the rich history of public presentations hosted by SCI-Arc, and stage a preview of the content of the new SCI-Arc Media Archive, forthcoming in Fall 2012.

Out Spoken offers a first glimpse of this important intellectual resource, which so aptly embodies the school’s adventurous, forward-looking spirit.

(L to R) Frank Gehry (1975), Rem Koolhaas (1983), Thom Mayne (1994), Eric Owen Moss (2002) and Kazuyo Sejima (1999)

Says SCI-Arc Director, architect Eric Owen Moss, "At its aspirational best, speaking at SCI-Arc means speaking to an audience that expects the speaker to bend the discourse, to confront conventional allegiances, and to make a few enemies along the way. Speakers at SCI-Arc anticipate that obligation."

Curated selections explore four decades of lectures, symposia, performances and gallery talks from some of the most talented architects and creative thinkers of our time. Organized by MAK Center Director Kimberli Meyer, the Out Spoken exhibition presents archive selections curated by architects Roger Sherman and Marcelyn Gow and architectural historians Paulette Singley and Anthony Fontenot, educators all. Each curator has poured over the archived video materials and based on their research, is posing a singular argument through their selection.

Out Spoken will open at the Schindler House on Tuesday, May 15 with a curatorial walk-through at 6:00 p.m. and a free public reception from 7:00–9:00 p.m. The exhibition remains on view through August 12, 2012.

The Exhibition
Each of the four main galleries at the Schindler House will be devoted to the selections of one guest curator. With “Cook Off,” architect Roger Sherman focuses on the record 11 talks given over the years by Peter Cook, British architect, pedagogue and co-founder of the revolutionary 1960s Archigram group. Broadcast from a dozen speakers, Cook’s voice is heard in self-dialogue. His professional longevity provides the example of an individual who has made a career as the perpetual outlier, an individual who embraces “the continually new.” Sherman views Cook as a “doppelganger” for SCI-Arc, a voice that is at once a muse and a lens through whom the school may consider its own “alternative” mission and status.

Acclaimed scholar Dr. Paulette Singley offers “Teasers, Ticklers, and Twizzlers,” a look at performance as a form of architectural research. Highlighting performances by Chris Burden, Rubén Ortiz Torres, Survival Research Laboratory, Doug Michaels of Ant Farm, and the queer duo Matmos, Singley riffs on the paradox of permanent change that these videos embody. She sees each as carnivalesque, born of revolutionary practices initiated at times when the normative world order is upset, and emblematic of SCI-Arc’s topsy-turvy history. Responding to theorist Stanley Fish’s work on interpretive communities, Singley asserts that these videos produce a community of thinkers in which architectural meaning seeps through disciplinary boundaries.

“City Talk” is presented by Anthony Fontenot, an architect, historian and curator. As a window into the changing views of the discipline of architecture, this project reflects on the way the city has been discussed and theorized over the past four decades at SCI-Arc. The archive material suggests that the interest in the city declines throughout the 1970s, was practically non-existent in the 1980s, made a measured comeback in the 1990s, and has taken on an even greater importance since the turn of the century. With a video monitor dedicated to each decade, Fontenot excerpts talks by Reyner Banham, Charles Jencks, Rem Koolhaas, Mike Davis, panels chaired by Thom Mayne and Ray Kappe, and much more.

Architect Marcelyn Gow is a partner and founding member of servo los angeles, a design collective. In “Drawn Out,” she explores the role of drawing in the practice of architecture, especially as it has evolved in our era of algorithmic design and fabrication tools. Through talks by, among others, Claude Parent, Bernard Tschumi, Wolf Prix, Zaha Hadid, Eric Owen Moss, and Greg Lynn, Gow probes the many functions of drawing — projective, analytical, inscriptive, descriptive, vectoral and diagrammatic — as a means of engagement with material and informational regimes.

SCI-Arc Media Archive
Since its founding in Los Angeles in 1972, SCI-Arc has presented an eclectic selection of speakers from multiple disciplines, including architects, designers, artists, filmmakers, engineers, theoreticians and performers. Currently, the school’s Media Archive contains more than 1,000 hours of videos of lectures offered by the likes of Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, David Hockney, John Lautner, Thom Mayne, Wim Wenders, and many more. Over the years, SCI-Arc’s public programming has embodied two key principles: that the academic community benefits from engaging different points of view, and that critical architecture practice is not a private conversation among experts, but an urgent public concern. To this end, all programs and events are offered free to the general public.

Major support for Out Spoken: Lectures from the SCI-Arc Archives was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Major support for the SCI-Arc Media Archive was provided by The Getty Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.