Ruy Klein: Apophenia // Exhibition Discussion

SCI-Arc Kappe Library

December 01, 2017 at 6:00pm

An exhibition discussion of 'Apophenia' with exhibitors Karel Klein and David Ruy of Ruy Klein and SCI-Arc Director, Hernan Diaz Alonso. Watch the livestream: http://bit.ly/2BgSLuz


The pictures and models in this gallery installation simultaneously incorporate GIS and CG technologies to design a composite world. A seamless collage of documentary evidence, the world depicted in this exhibition de-familiarizes survey data recorded by the USGS and assembles a visual fiction. Media technologies such as Google Earth have popularized what was once an impossibly distant perspective of our world. From this god-like distant perspective, the mesmerizing beauty of the world is now available to behold from any cell phone. Aerial photographs represent a difficulty for the beholder—no matter how beautiful or coherent, these pictures are without meaning. They tell no stories outside of the stories we project onto them. This SCI-Arc Gallery installation is an examination of how in the presence of these meaningless pictures we find the ever-present apophenia of the human being—the need to see meaning and relationships where none exist.

The first known aerial photograph was produced in France in 1858 by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon. Using a hot air balloon, the first pictures of earth from above were of a modest French village. Though none of these first photographs survived, these pictures inspired an obsessive interest in photographing the world from this new distant perspective. Using everything from kites to birds to rockets in order to elevate the eye, an explosion of pictures of the world from this new perspective started to be made.

Among the transformations of human vision during the twentieth century is the emergence and maturation of geographic information systems (GIS). As a consequence of beholding the world through mechanized media, aerial photography and other subsequent technologies of remote viewing has made our visual relationship to the world progressively more impersonal and clinical. What is provocative, however, about the current state of these technologies is its capacity to not only document but to invent. The very same GIS technologies that are used for surveying the world are also used today in computer graphics (CG) industries for the production of fiction and entertainment. What we have today in the visual culture of world building (both real and imagined) is an uneasy relationship between fact and fiction that mirrors the uneasiness we have today about the real in general.

Ruy Klein

Ruy Klein examines contemporary design problems at the intersection of architecture, nature, and technology. Encompassing a wide array of experimentation, projects study the mutual imbrications of artificial and natural regimes that are shaping an ever more synthetic world. The work of Ruy Klein has been widely published, exhibited, and has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing the office as one of the leading experimental practices in architecture today.

David Ruy is an architect, theorist, and co-director of Ruy Klein. An internationally recognized leader in contemporary architectural theory, David has lectured and written extensively on a range of topics impacting the discipline and practice of architecture today. David received his MArch degree from Columbia University and his BA degree from St. John’s College where he studied philosophy and mathematics. David is currently Chair of the Postgraduate programs at SCI-Arc.

Karel Klein is an architect and co-director of Ruy Klein. Investigating craft, precision, and the evolution of design expertise in the digital age, Karel continues to foreground the persistence of the designer in contemporary culture. She received her MArch degree from Columbia University and also holds a BS degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Karel teaches design studios at UCLA and SCI-Arc.