Source: Mies’s Collages Up Close and Personal

“The Significance of Facts”: Mies’s Collages Up Close and Personal (Neil Levine) – Notes

  • Mies chose the pictorial medium of collage as the one best suited to his expressive purposes
  • The readymade images were not neutral in political/cultural terms
  • Method of appropriation and application implicit in collage technique soon informed the system of structural expression he developed in his IIT buildings
  • Became his way of characterizing/representing “the will of the epoch”
  • Convention Hall Collage
    • 3’ x 4’ collage
    • produced to illustrate what the building might actually look like when in use
    • Franz Schulze:  “Mies’s motive in making the collage must have been more poetically representational than technically instructive”
    • Made of 3 horizontal bands
    • Single vertical element (American flag) hanging near left edge
    • Republican imagery for a city controlled by Democrats
    • Collaged imagery condensed a visual representation of core symbolic moment of American democratic political process
    • Most powerful political statement of architecture in Cold War era
    • Blurs boundaries between modern technology and modern mass culture – submerges crowd of people beneath deep walls and roof structure

mies_convention hall collage

  • Clement Greenberg’s phrase “homeless representation” – somewhere between abstraction and traditional illusionism
  • Continuing effort by Mies to pomote an architecture of geometric abstraction as expression of collective ideas/technological prowess of new National Socialist state (classical representation favored by Hitler)
  • Concert Hall Collage
    • Created by pasting colored paper and reproduction of Maillol sculpture over interior of assembly plant photo
    • “space eddies in all directions among interior planes of subaqueous weightlessness” (Johnson)
    • “here interior columns have been eliminated.  They are replaced by a vast steel truss of the sort used in airplane hangars or factories…Mies suspends completely separate wall and ceiling planes”
    • instead of designing the building himself, used a photo of one already built, into which he inserted his spatial arrangement and iconographic treatment through collage
    • building as an “assisted readymade” (Duchamp phrase)
    • unlike Resor House and Museum collages of paper, this was a gradual/deliberate process of negation (erasing, defacing, masking evidence)
    • image of self-absorption that defines a zone of silence within an interior of machine toold, motors, metalworking
    • elements of collage erase almost all evidence of war

mies_concert hall (kahn image)

  • His work underwent significant change by being rendered through collage
  • American collages had physical imprint of real-world elements, speaks of search to construct a new practice/identity, profound change
  • Resor House (Jackson Hole, WY)
    • Two collages – one looking south, one north
    • Collages are perspectives seen from living room that bridges the stream
    • Compositions of cut and paste photos that sandwich the room
    • Compress the space into a strange, depthless void
    • Foreground becomes background and vv
    • Architecture as construction disappears in this “photographic tabula rasa”
    • Sense of disorientation, displacement – physically reinforced by play on distance/perspective
    • Singular drama of the scene – seems like nothing else is there but the mountains
    • Spatial discontinuity, sense of alienation contrasts with Mies’s earlier designs

mies_resor house 1

mies_resor house 3mies_resor house 2

  • Difference b/w seamless continuity of the drawing and abrupt transitions/dislocations of the collage
  • Alexanderplatz (Berlin)
    • In earlier photomontage, new is highlighted in contrast to the old – modern building foregrounded, surrounding environment is in dreary relief (priorities reversed in Resor House collages)
    • Continuous surface and hierarchically gradated design show architect in control
    • Manipulating existing urban fabric, asserting new presence in center
    • Collage maintains environment’s “otherness”


  • Museum for a Small City
    • Collages of museum’s interior dependent on Resor House – same type of planar composition
    • Completely different from dynamic, diagonally based German/Soviet compositions (Lissitzky or Schwitters)
    • Driving idea:  to create a space for Picasso’s Guernica so “it can be shown to greatest advantage,” becoming “an element in space against a changing background.”
    • Nature becomes calm background for culture
    • Flat cutouts describe a perspectival space where Picasso’s painting (only scene of activity) is isolated in space and time – an event still unfolding
    • Reaction to terror of a new form of technological warefare
    • Construction of a “museum-without-walls”

mies_museum for a small city

  • War is naturalized and aestheticized by act of collage (in Museum, painting is framed by two works of art – in Concert Hall, evidence of war is obliterated)
  • Mies’s collages become a denial of war itself
  • Ambiguities of collage (as opposed to unified/totalizing character of photomontage technique he explored earlier) – became architectural correlative of his evolving political thought
  • Question of representation came into play around 1945 – start of construction on building at IIT – Mies externalizing steel structure of the building – acknowledged the applied (collaged) character of elements by stopping them just short of the ground
  • Collages provided a basis for this development
  • I-beam was new to his vocab, contrasted typical cruciform support he favored earlier
  • Abstraction of form came into conflict with “reality” of photographic image
  • Farnsworth House – physical reality of steel structure in background of Concert Hall is brought into the foreground as the declarative image of the building
  • Concert Hall was on the cusp of Mies’s changeover from cruciform to I-shaped column
  • Concert Hall as inversion of Resor House:  in the house, physical reality of the readymade imagery is given to nonarchitectural elements; in concert hall, architectural structure is made physically present through the photo
  • Realities of construction forced Mies to make distinction between real and ideal, and thus give evidence of deception
  • Change from one material to another read as a sign of artistic progress and quality – image of this sign being the illusion of representation
  • Representation (of human body or trees of primitive hut) substantiated the myths in which forms were grounded
  • Steel mullions were a “reiteration” and not a transformation of what was underneath
  • Mies’s collaged I-beams don’t represent something other than what they are, simply function as sign of what is not there to be seen otherwise
  • I-beams redefine process and meaning of representation in modern terms – matter of signification
  • By definition – representation is a matter of concealing something else, something suggested by its replacement as well as something we’re dissuaded from thinking about by the act of replacement
  • Mies’s wartime experience as viewed through collages as a time of profound/substantive reorientation

Levine, Neil.  “The Significance of Facts:  Mies’s Collages Up Close and Personal.” Assemblage 37.  Cambridge:  MIT Press, 1998.  Print.


Source: Readings on Program

2 Architects | 10 Questions on Program | Rem Koolhaas + Bernard Tschumi (Ana Miljacki, Amanda Reeser Lawrence, Ashley Schafer)


  • “any aspect of daily life could be imagined and enacted through the architect’s imagination”
  • agenda/program
  • selective participation
  • there’s no relationship between program and form
  • CCTV building collects many programs together in a single structure – no other political system today would do that
  • The city or its architecture didn’t just have program, but was a program (NYC)


  • invented program/”real” program, from pure mathematics to applied mathematics
  • concepts often begin as much with a strategy about content/program as with a strategy about contexts
  • 3 types of relationships between program and form:
    • reciprocity:  shape the program so it coincides w/ the form, or shape form so it reciprocates configuration you gave to the program
    • indifference:  a selected form can accommodate any program – results in a deterministic form with indeterminate program
    • conflict: let program and form purposefully clash (ex. pole vaulting in a chapel)
  • events are different from programs – program relies on repetition and habit
  • first Greek temples began with program, not form
  • postfunctionalism dismisses program/function as part of an old, pre-industrial humanist practice
  • programmatic ritual and spatial sequences evident in Lequeu’s architecture
  • point grid of La Villette – explode the park’s programmatic complexity and reorganize it around the points of intensity of the folies
  • Factory 798 project (Beijing):   proposed to keep art program below and put housing program above, hovering over existing art neighborhood – people saw it as a way to keep the old while moving forward with the new
  • most projects start with a program – you first have to understand the program’s intricacies and what you want to do with it
  • quick way is to diagram it – to conceptualize what you want to do with the program
  • sometimes your programmatic concept becomes your architectural form
  • often calls the program a material, much as concrete walls or glass enclosures are materials

Notes on the Adaptive Re-use of Program (John McMorrough)

  • for architecture, program is the “brief,” the designation of that to be designed, and tabulation of quantities constituting the project
  • defines, but also limits
  • alternates between an evocation of arrangement and a surplus of such arrangements
  • architecture not based on a figurative idea but a social one, therein established program as that which was truly distinct in the modern
  • program has ceased to be merely quantitative, now also qualitative
  • complexity is one of an increasing network of social, urban, and institutional configurations
  • program provides definition
  • program as primary instigator of the project of architecture
  • program labeled as “function” (in “form follows function”)
  • program/function influences organization of building
  • two opposing strategies:
    •  avoidance of programmatic expression within mute accommodation – program is contained, but not expressed
    • interest in intense expressions of program, but programmatic manifestations are scarce, so difficulty in finding enough functional correspondence to generate desired intensity of expression
  • time frame of obsolescence is brief such that initial use can’t be accommodated at all, this results in programmatic failure
  • architectural clarity in Bentham’s Panopticon (1787) – arrangement of peripheral cells around central watchtowers – implication of observation is of more significance than the act itself
  • malleable program – susceptible to architectural forms of manipulation, such that the overlap, the fold, and compression become programmatic fold, programmatic overlap, and programmatic compression
  • program as an instrument of social transformation
  • program as that which comes before (by programming) and after (post-occupancy evals) the architectural act
  • program connects possibility of control to impossibility of control
  • serves to operate as both an aspiration (an entity to be constructed) and its critical inversion

Program Primer v1.0:  A Manual for Architects (Dan Wood and Amale Andraos of WORK)

  • program encompasses “any number of combinations, juxtapositions, manipulations, and reinventions of the simple list of spaces and areas that heretofore bore its name.”
  • traditional definition:  “the formal, written instructions from the client to the architect, setting out the necessary requirements for a building”
  • should include the informal/unwritten as well as alternate sources of requirements (consultants, authors, users, etc.)
  • diagram – quantitative and qualitative means of expressing a set of spatial relations and describing experiential needs without any overt reference to form
  • programs outside the common field of architecture can/should be brought into project
  • embrace uncertainties
  • Program Exercises:
    • Twist:  take 2 programs whose co-dependency is unexpected, twist them together to create an entirely new sequential experience and form
    • The Better Mouse Trap: you must be able to imagine yourself in the shoes of the client, reimagine ways that spaces can accommodate activity
    • Swan:  take the most boring or ugly part of the program and reinvent it into something beautiful
    • Distribution of Wealth:  maximize the effects of the best programs
    • The Mermaid: juxtaposition of unlikely programs towards a surrealist experience – simply placing one program in the context of another can create extremely interesting conditions
    • Bondage:  use constraints as a departing point for design
    • The Blind Men and the Elephant:  exploit multiplicity of program while retaining harmony and identity
    • Fusion:  creating power by fusing disparate elements together – introducing many different ingredients to a project and fusing them together with a common thread

Source: Appliance House

Appliance House Notes

Appliance House Image 1

Intro:  Drawing Towards Building (John Whiteman)

  • “By initiating the gesture of collage and through repeated redrawing, Nicholson seeks a reworking of his first intuition” (Whiteman 7).
  • Initial impression of a thing is actually a transfiguration
  • “The revision of his first impression emerges from its contact with the prospect of a new thing
  • Moment comes from between the pieces of the collage and their mutual energy together (not from any specific element in the drawing itself)
  • “He has the idea that works of architecture, which he takes to include drawings and models as well as buildings, are unexpected spaces found by the act of collage in overlooked conjunctions.  When well worked, a collage possesses, Nicholson believes, an immense force and inevitability, and draws into itself all the ideas and energy available to it” (Whiteman 7).
  • No need for a determinate object
  • Nicholson can/does start with anything (bread tags, tires, crushed cars, can openers, shampoo bottles, etc.)
  • His work is precise – not capricious, ornamental, or interpretive
  • “His work has the precision of one who is trying to newly awaken the sense of a thing once seen so clearly in the space of the imagination” (Whiteman 8).

The Appliance House: What’s In a Name?

  • Project that shifts the mildly incredible into something that’s difficult to discount
  • Assembles frail traits of urban existence into firm gestures – Appliance House becomes a suburban home
  • Investigates conditions of everyday life
  • Used Sears Catalog and Sweets Catalog – wanted pictures of fridges, can openers, etc. – appliances that “nurture homeliness”
  • Cut up and reconstituted/united the images
  • Resulting collages had names of house parts
  • Naming makes an unfamiliar thing seem more familiar
  • Examines appliances for its self-worth and value
  • Sears Roebuck – products close to “immortality” and used “50,000,000 times a day”
  • Characteristics that promote/defy immortality:
    • Skin stretched around every device, hides inner workings
    • Failing appliance – we tap and jiggle it, expecting it to correct itself
    • Repairman sees mechanism without the veil
    • Owner doesn’t remove panel to inspect the innards
    • The “skin” of the appliance represents our current obsessions – wishing for a perpetually youthful look and eternally flawless complesion
  • Appliance House has undergone a “series of programmatic half-lives
  • Every time program changes, its life is split and reconfigured
  • Kleptoman Cell (a chamber of the Appliance House) – place to store orphaned objects possessing beauty that was discarded through senselessness – it’s half life suggests that it hold objects that refuse to reveal their contents (clock case, suitcase, garbage bag, etc.)
  • Workings of the house will be exposed, but designed
  • Appliance House extends itself beyond immediate confines of its structures and its 6 chambers that compose it
  • The half-lives that describes what the chambers enclose migrate towards the city
  • 1st period of half-lives – project exists in drawings and construction of suburban shelter
  • 2nd period – half-lives vacate the shelter, run for the city
  • Appliance House then confronts architectural uncertainty

Collage Making

  • Process of collage making – occupies a disruptive position by using trash and deadness to form beauty
  • Collage is part of everyone’s experience
  • Refers to a group of ephemeral things brought together that disturbs/negates status of individual elements
  • Millions of manufactured objects are encountered each day – threaten to outclass nature for diversity
  • Collage permits a silent rapport (relationship) between collagist and objects (purpose of objects often difficult to comprehend)
  • Allows anyone to hold a view on any subject
  • Orders of logic broken apart by collagist
  • Collage making as contemplative
  • Collage making to bring forward something within the soul
  • Pictures of things trigger trains of thought
  • Collagist cuts pictures out of anything from terrible magazines to scholarly books – no care for their context
  • Readjust the pictorial world to suit the viewer better
  • Splicing together of things
  • When the work is complete, a map of hunches exists
  • Collage can exist as a guide to what exists or can prompt a new set of thoughts suggested by interconnections
  • “The collage becomes a transcription that can accelerate the way one understands the everyday world and how it comes together, without necessarily being an expert of any particular field of knowledge” (pg. 17).
  • Ex. Piranesi – The Tomb of Nero, Grotteschi Series


  • Collage is described as:  “the placement of a fragment next to a similar fragment and then the two are spliced together in such a way that the net result is greater than the sum of its parts”
  • How is this different from any other artistic activity?
  • Conceptually, collage is “an aggregation of various pieces which create an irresistible spectacle in the eye of the maker” (pg. 18)
  • “It is necessary for an artists to use raw material that is directly associated with the age in which he lives.” (pg. 18).
  • Collage allows for extraordinary juxtapositions
  • Painting/drawing require every mark to be done by the artists
  • Collage making can’t fully control what occurs because it uses readymade components
  • Collagist is introduced to further sets of ideas – goes beyond traditional instruments of artistic expression
  • Collage can profoundly alter the way things/placed are viewed
  • If observer looks beyond appearance of collage, collage suggests a method of scrutinizing things
  • Ex. Max Ernst collages
  • Individual characteristics of each component are barely recognizable, only through conventional means
  • LC’s Villa Savoye – reveals how the painter’s eye (activated by Cubism) can make a piece of architecture in the same way that a painting is assembled
  • Viewed from outside – long window frames a bunch of odd, planar shapes
  • Viewed from inside – the space initially worked out thru painting is then projected onto flat frame of window and is realized in three dimensions inside the house
  • Collagist-architect can induce space in manner that is experienced through collage making
  • Collagist’s tools and methods similar to a surgeon’s (scalpel, tweezers, etc)
  • Collagist operates to reassemble a flat being – something is brought to life that did not live before
  • Procedure of collage making – a series of passes
  • Allows for a myriad of yes/no decisions to determine where the fragments go
  • Once fragments find their places, collage can appear to be so correct it becomes bland – loses its spirit when all tensions are pushing and pulling with equal forces
  • Pieces have to be off-center to recharge vitality of mutual conjunction
  • Paper has thickness – collage is a relief
  • Collage is a first hint at a condition of fullness that can exist after the substance of artistic intent has removed itself from flat canvas surface
  • If collage became an object in space, its structure would inform the way it’s to be built
  • Collage method of Appliance House – every junction is highly considered, each pass involved structural reassembly
  • Junctions between fragments take precedence over images on the paper
  • Desire to locate the unknown, creating something that eludes forewarning or prediction
  • By peeling off the paper surface, collage can be brought into relief, the round, the hollow, and into the construction of a building

appliance_house_face name collage

Bread Tags

  • Objects designed in a trance state
  • Mass production
  • Objects like these bread tags (produced in millions and discarded in exactly the same number) will be kept safe in the Appliance House

Configuration of the Appliance House

  • Composed of 3 pairs of small rooms, facing a hall whose doors to the street and garden are pierced at either end
  • Each room encloses normal everyday suburban living, but have all changed their ceramic nameplates
  • The study room with collections and trophies becomes the Kleptoman Cell – room given over to face-to-face confrontation of what it means to have in one’s possession any object gleaned by any means, fain or foul
  • Nook with fireplace becomes a furnace to suit pyromaniac within us all
  • The Kleptoman Cell – first room on the right in the Appliance House
  • Occupant engages in task of collecting (things of beauty collected from disinterested owners)
  • Found objects that are shed scales of ourselves – stored in Cell’s walls
  • Homeowner has many collections, but hides some and puts others on display for the visitor
  • Someone borrows a book, but keeps it – book becomes a talisman for purposes other than reading – Kleptoman Cell is perfect for an object like this
  • “The Cell can now project tryst space, providing an atmosphere of acute danger and blunt passion cradled within a triangulation of the marginally ridiculous” (pg. 38).
  • Room seen from outside – a hollow formed by walls an inch thick or a solid cube of concrete – the architectural intent lies between these two states
  • Kleptoman Cell perceived as a vacated room which has pilasterized its intent and intrigue – collector’s bricolage is pressed out from the center of the Cell and the artifacted are cajoled into the walls
  • Cell is a cube 22’ L x 13’ H x 11’ W

appliance_house_kleptoman cell

  • At entrance – Telamon Cupboard and Flank Walls
  • Telamon Cupboard receives/released items procured from kleptomaniac activity (kleptomania – the urge to steal, without regard for need or profit)
  • Stairs between Cupboard and Flank Walls lead visit into body of the room
  • Cell and its collection unfolds
  • Rear Window at the end of the room – set in tension with Cupboard at the entrance
  • Window as a frame to look into, not out of
  • 13’ needle pivoting from the Window gyrates above the head and points to the Cupboard
  • Telamon Cupboard:  began as a paper collage disguised as a mirrored bathroom cabinet – reinvented itself into a cabinet of immense roundness, stability, and gravitational force
  • Permits the appliance’s skin to be handled, but still protects its mechanical workings
  • Workings of an appliance are reconstituted in design of the Cupboard to expose the fallacy of the appliance – instead it accentuates those aspects of appliances’ lore that possess dignitas
  • Objects are stored in forty 9”x 9” x 20” D boxes, each with a sliding door
  • Rolling doors obscure the objects – when half the doors are lifted, Kleptoman can only see half of his collection
  • Every component of Cupboard is visible but structural elements are intertwined with non-structural elements
  • Full of contradictory tensions and compressions – it pulls and pushes itself into complete stasis (equilibrium)
  • Restores outward appearance each time doors are shut – no evidence or fullness/bareness inside Cupboard’s inner realm

appliance_house_telamon cupboardappliance_house_telamon cupboard 2

The Kleptoman Plans to Build

  • Collages are precisely constructed, but permit ambiguous interpretation
  • Drawings allow for changes to occur
  • Places the responsibility of interpretation on the maker – re-engages his sense of integrity in deciding how things are made
  • Architect’s drawings no longer dictate a method of making/thinking, permit decisions to be made that embrace the entirety of the maker
  • Kleptoman choses an object to put in the Wall, tale of the thing is known, and choses a place to insert the object – re-inspecting the collages help choose the right spot
  • Cell Walls would collapse if built as drawn – rigged so all the parts are fixed onto an armature made of 7 pylons forming each wall
  • Object-laden Walls are in constant flux
  • Pylons are 1’ apart, surfaces are polished hard to give semblance of a continuum – Walls begin encroachment and whittle away straightness of pylons
  • Walls would dissolve structure and replace with their own


Appliance House Image 2

The Rear Window Appliance House Image 3


Nicholson, Ben. Appliance House. Chicago, IL: Chicago Institute for Architecture and Urbanism, 1990. Print.

Source: “Collage City and the Reconquest of Time” from Collage City

Chapter:  “Collage City and the Reconquest of Time”

Collage City Cover

  • Human history vs. natural history: “The only radical difference between human history and ‘natural’ history is that the former can never begin again…the chimpanzee and the orangutan are distinguished from man not by what is known strictly speaking as intelligence, but because they have far less memory.  Every morning the poor beasts have to face almost total oblivion of what they lived the day before, and their intellect has to wrk with a minimum fund of experience.  Similarly, the tiger of today is identical with that of six thousand years ago, each one having to begin his life as a tiger from the beginning as if none had existed before him…Breaking the continuity with the past, is a lowering of man and a plagiarism of the orangutan.” (Jose Ortega y Gasset) ***Tie back to Nietzsche – Avantages and Disadvantages of History for Life
  • We must continue from what people have done before us, must carry on tradition (Karl Popper)
  • City of collisive intentions – signifies historical process and social change
  • Things are what they are or are never what they seem to be
  • No human gesture is free from symbolic content
  • Attempts to free the world from references is useless
  • History of 20th c. architecture: building & city were to advertise no more than a determined pattern of performance and efficiency; or, they could only be charged with an emblematic role (as the evidence of complete integration of subject and content)
  • City as didactic (intended to teach) instrument (pg. 121)
  • Both ideas dismissed – ‘let science build the town’ or ‘let people build the town’
  • Only 2 reservoirs of ethical content available:  tradition and utopia
  • Popper – value of tradition
  • “tradition is indispensable – communication rests upon tradition; tradition is related to a felt need for a structured social environment; traditional is the critical vehicle for the betterment of society; the ‘atmosphere’ of any given society is connected with tradition:  and tradition is somewhat akin to myth, or…specific traditions are somehow incipient theories which have the value, however imperfectly, of helping to explain society” (pg. 122).
  • Conception of science – “not so much the accumulation of facts but as the criticism, in terms of their non-performance, of hypotheses.  It is hypotheses which discover facts and not vice versa; and, seen in this way…the role of traditions in society is roughly equivalents to that of hypotheses in science.  That is:  just as the formulation of hypotheses or theories results from the criticism of myth, ‘similarly traditions have the important double function of not only creating a certain order or something like a social structure, but also of giving us something on which we can operate; something that we can criticize and change’” (pg. 122).
  • Condensed Argument (Popper):
    • Impossible to determine ends scientifically
    • Problem of constructing a utopian blue print can’t be solved by science alone
    • Ends of political actions will then have character of religious differences – the utopianist must win over or crush his competitors
    • Period of utopian construction is one of social change – ideas are liable to change also
    • The whole approach is in danger of breaking down
    • Only way to avoid changes is to use violence (propaganda, suppression of criticism, and annihilation of all opposition)
  • Napolean I – idea of Paris as a museum:  “the city was, to some degree, to become a sort of habitable exhibition, a collection of permanent reminders which were to edify both the resident and the visitor; and the substance of the instruction, one guesses right away, was to be some kind of historical panorama not only of the greatness and continuity of the French nation, but, also, of the comparable…contributions of a mostly subservient Europe” (pg. 126).
  • City as a museum
  • As a positive concert of culture and education
  • As a source of random but carefully selected information
  • City as museum is distinguishable from city of Neo-Classicism
  • “The ideal of a conglomerate of independent parts has again become replaced by the far more ‘total’ vision of absolute continuity” (pg. 128)
  • What about city as museum/city of precisely presented objects/episodes)
  • If city of modern arch. has displayed a lack of tolerance for any import foreign to itself (open field, closed mind) and this has resulted in a crisis of internal economy (increasing poverty, decline of invention), then presumptions of formerly questionable policy can’t provide framework for exlusion
  • City as museum embedded in Enlightenment culture
  • City as a neutral and comprehensive statement
  • As an ad hoc representation of cultural relativism
  • Museum as a public institution – came into existence to protect and display a plurality of physical manifestations representing a plurality of states of mind
  • One might postulate a possible solution for problems of contemporary city through concept of museum (above)
  • City as a scaffold for exhibition demonstration
  • Tradition of modern architecture professes a distate for art but conceived of society/the city in conventional artistic terms
  • Picasso on Bull’s Head:  “Out of the handlebars and the bicycle seat I made a bull’s head which everybody recognized as a bull’s head.  Thus a metamorphosis was completed; and now I would like to see another metamorphosis take place in the opposite direction.  Suppose my bull’s head is thrown on the scrap heap.  Perhaps some day a fellow will come along and say: ‘why there’s something that would come in very handy for the handlebars of my bicycle…’ and so a double metamorphosis would have been achieved” (pg. 138).
  • List of reactions to Picasso’s proposition:
    • Remembrance of former function and value
    • Shifting context
    • Attitude that encourages composite
    • An exploitation and recycling of meaning
    • Agglomeration of reference, memory, anticipation
    • Connectedness of memory and wit
    • Temporal and spatial collision
  • Problem of composite presence identified in terms of collage (as technique, state of mind)
  • “Collage has seemed to be lacking in sincerity, to represent a corruption of moral principles, an adulteration” (pg. 139)
  • Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning:  “the section of chair caning which is neither real nor painted but is actually a piece of oil cloth facsimile pasted on the canvas and then partly painted over…for what seems most real is most false and what seems most remote from everyday reality is perhaps the most real since it is least an imitation” (Alfred Barr pg. 139)
  • Collage both innocent and devious
  • “Collage, often a method of paying attention to the left-overs of the world, of preserving their integrity and equipping them with dignity, of compounding matter of factness and cerebrality, as a convention and a breach of convention, necessarily operates unexpectedly.  A rough method, ‘a kind of discordia concors; a combinationof dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike.’” (pg. 142)
  • Collage – a willfully interjected impediment to the strict route of evolution
  • Suggested that a collage approach (objects are conscripted/seduced from their context) is the only way of dealing with problems of utopia and/or tradition
  • Provenance of architectural objects introduced into the social collage not of great consequence
  • Examples of ambiguous and composite buildings (they all oscillate between a passive and an active behavior, quietly collaborate; capable of almost every local accommodation)


Rowe, Colin, and Fred Koetter. “Collage City and the Reconquest of Time” Collage City. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1978. 118-149. Print.

Source: Hoffman’s Collage: Critical Views (Chapter 19)

Chapter 19  | Video: Electronic Collage (Max Almy)

  • Video art involved with Neodada, formalism, conceptualism, feminism, performance, installation, documentary, experimental, and abstract work
  • Network anxious to define a position for video somewhere between art, television, and cinema
  • Video is a medium with inherent technical properties – electronic signal of video image can be manipulated, distorted, shaped, colorized, and collaged in different ways
  • Video artists have recomposed images and fragments within the video composition or frame
  • Gene Youngblood – “the collision of codes within the frame”
  • Youngblood – “the classical language of film in which the codes are constructed from the collision of frames’
  • Global Groove (Nam June Paik, 1971) – pioneered the use of video in avant-garde by altering TV sets with magnets

  • Scape-mates (Ed Emshwiller, 1972) – interest in movement, time, and tension between formal abstraction/representation imagery – combined live performance with abstract animation – surreal, futuristic look at man and technology


  • Analogue processing (type of image processing used in above films) – image is translated electronically into a video signal or voltage flow, can be controlled and altered by video switchers/synthesizers.
  • By 1974, could use specially programmed computer systems and software for editing
  • Sunstone (Emshwiller 1979) – one of the first works to create, move, transform, and combine images digitally

  • Hungers (Emshwiller 1988) – created with composer Morton Subotnick – involves layers of collaborative performance, dance, voice, acoustic and computer music, etc. – expresses the basic human hungers of food, love, sex, power, etc.
  • Woody and Steina Vasulka founded The Kitchen in 1971 ( – art center that continuously featured video screenings of new video work
  • Peter Weibel on “polytropic”: the ability of the frame to contain many planes of information, subject, image, and even concepts of time, such as present, past, future, and dream, within one space (pg. 362)
  • Weibel on “polychronic”:  the rate at which various images appear, their order, and speed
  • Woody Vasulka’s Art of Memory (1987) – digitally shaped historical images into 3D image-objects – an attempt to move from the illusionistic view of the frame as cinematic “window on the world”
  • John Sanborn – seven-part live opera collaboration with avant-garde composer Robert Ashley (Perfect Lives)  – “a post-modern version of the mythology of small town America.”  Visual themes and compositions designed as metaphors carefully moved in and out of conceptual focus

  • John Sanborn – Luminaire – dancers interact with a transforming digital environment – space and camera movement are articulated by computer animations and digitally moved video elements
  • The Whole Truth (Larry Kaufman) – studies and unpeels layers of lies

  • Perfect Leader (Max Almy) – manufacturing of a political candidate by having the computer create the perfect leader – leader is surrounded by a collage of visual info and icons that suggest the best ingredients for a successful candidate

  • Emshwiller:  “We live in a multi-layered world and in a world that is so self aware of various perspectives, ideologies and of the meaning of signs and images – it [collage] is something that enables one to reflect on the complexity of life and relish its mystery.”

Almy, Max. “Video: Electronic Collage.” Collage: Critical Views. Ed. Katherine Hoffman. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1989. 355-371. Print.

Source: Hoffman’s Collage: Critical Views (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3  | Collage:  Philosophy of Put-Togethers (Harold Rosenberg)

Picasso Man With a HatPicasso’s Man With a Hat

  • Collage is a way of making art, not a specific art form or style
  • Collage is done by kindergarteners and housewives making their own projects
  • No aesthetic of intellectual character
  • Has become more than a technique/genre for folk artists and amateurs – has entered the realm of painting and sculpture
  • Dadaist Tristan Tzara:  “the most poetic, the most revolutionary moment in the evolution of painting”
  • Components of collage add qualities that paint/plaster can’t achieve
  • Low-relief figure on a flat ground vs. three dimensional assemblages (like John Chamberlain’s crushed, rusted automobile parts) – seen as a translation into 3D from de Kooning and Kline
  • Introduction of an emotionally expressive physical component can enable a work to surmount its formal background/the inventive limitations of the artist
  • Tzara:  incorporating “a piece of everyday reality which enters into relationship with every other reality that the spirit has created.”
  • Collage opens art to common daily things of life – “poetic junk” of the city streets (Rimbaud)
  • Art no longer copies nature or seeks to
  • Metaphysics of mixing formal and material realities – concreteness of the paste-in
  • As art, collage lacks an independent history – relies on/retells other art movements
  • Economical aspect of collage – substitutes for expensive art supplies (in Albers’ class at Bauhaus)
  • Photos of collages often indistinguishable from photos of paintings/reliefs – the inserted elements blend in with the painted forms
  • Collage changed relation between painting and world outside painting
  • Collage is the form assumed by the ambiguities that have matured in our time concerning both art and the realities it has purported to represent
  • Wescher:  “into paintings with the techniques of American action he [Rauschenberg] inserts wildly disparate objects which he integrates by dashing paint over them.  Whatever he can lay his hands on is serviceable:  pieces of cloth, underclothing, frames and wood panels of earlier days, objects useful and useless” (pg. 64).
  • Mockery in collage – a put-together is like a painting but without the effort or know-how of painting
  • Since materials are picked by chance, it seems to say to the spectator “how easy it is to make a work of art”
  • Representing things and images in a universe of forces and energies
  • In collage, identity of an object is suspended between its practical reality and conceptual whole
  • Sometimes people only recognize the objects in a collage in terms of common sense (ex. money in collage pg. 65)
  • Exposure of duplicity of art is comparable to tradition of theatre (an actor in a play, steps out of character)

Rosenberg, Harold. “Collage: Philosophy of Put-Togethers.” Collage: Critical Views. Ed. Katherine Hoffman. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1989. 59-66. Print.


Source: Hoffman’s Collage: Critical Views (Chapters 1 and 11)

Reading on the work of Kurt Schwitters

Merzbau 1 tumblr_mj9r4uizIt1ql98k2o1_1280

Chapter 1  | Collage in the Twentieth Century: An Overview (Katherine Hoffman)

  • Schwitters says: “Every means is right when it serves its end…What the material signified before its use in the work of art is a matter of indifference so long as it is properly evaluated and given artistic meaning in the work of art.  And so I began to construct pictures out of materials I happened to have at hand, such as streetcar tickets, cloakroom checks, bits of wood, wire twine, bent wheels, tissue paper, tin cans, chips of glass, etc.  These things are inserted into the picture either as they are or else modified in accordance with what the picture requires.  They lose their individual character, their own special essence (Eigengift), by being dematerialized (entmaterialisiert) they become material for the picture.”
  • “I myself am now called MERZ”
  • “Schwitter’s Hanover apartment became a Merzbau, a cavern of old lumber, strangely molded plaster, and other materials that might be called an early ‘environment’” (Hoffman 14).

Hoffman, Katherine. “Collage in the Twentieth Century: An Overview.” Collage: Critical Views. Ed. Katherine Hoffman. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1989. 1-37. Print.


Chapter 11  | Rethinking Kurt Schwitters:  An Interpretation of Grünfleck (Annegreth Nill)

Merz 94 Grunfleck, 1920 (collage)  Grünfleck (1920)

  • Produced collages by collecting from sidewalks, dustbins, trash barrels, etc.
  • However, his work discussed in formal terms
  • Combines visual and verbal elements – multiple levels of meaning in his collages
  • Relationship between art and commerce
  • Collage elements – concrete and formal qualities
  • “their very concreteness, combined with Schwitters’s formal and verbal manipulation of them, creates possibilities for meanings of a very real kind”
  • “an autobiographical record, which bridged the gap between art and life” (pg. 225)
  • Didn’t fit into Dada or other contemporary art movements – called his trade MERZ from the word “Kommerz” in “Kommerz Und Privatbank” (commercial and private bank)
  • Art and commerce fused
  • Schwitters: “I pasted up pictures and drawings so that sentences should be read in them.”
  • Grünfleck – new compound words rich in compressed meaning – the name Grünfleck links verbal and visual content of the collage
  • Not randomly composed like previous collages
  • Based on cubo-futurist sources
  • Merz pictures – larger in size, characterized by centralized circular motifs, partially pierced by rayylike wedges coming from the edges
  • Scraps gain independence (compared to painted pieces) by retaining individuality, yet more relational
  • Grünfleck composition is centered around a circular core
  • Sense of a mounted jewel, central core held in position by its setting
  • Grünfleck is a compound word, takes its meaning from multiple sources/components
  • Grün:  green, spades, fresh, or new
  • Fleck:  spot, stain, blur, blemish, patch, etc.
  • These different meanings for the same words can be combined in different ways and are seen in his collage (except the color green)
  • Grünfleck is about making and viewing of collages/other works of art; the viewing of things in general; addresses economic situation of inflationary period after WWI
  • Uses collage as a formal device to associate “grünfleck” and “anlage” (beginning, foundation, plan; laying out, establishment; investment, stock/predisposition, etc.)
  • Schwitters’ collages are a way of preserving important fragments which have been discarded (pg. 233)
  • Anlage – artistic talent
  • Schwitters superimposed the idea of designing a garden and the idea of making a collage – both require anlage; city Schwitters grew up in  had a lot of public parks, or anlagen
  • All of his collages have connections to german words
  • Was officially an “abstract” artist by 1918 but painted landscapes for his whole life
  • Enjoyed “photographic painting”
  • Ticket stub to unspecified event – adds to the commercial dimension that ultimately dominates the content of the work – alludes to the idea of urban entertainment rather than a particular event
  • Sturm Gallery was very controversial at the time, so the activities there ranked with popular entertainment of the time, and it was customary to pay an entrance fee – Schwitters is implying that a ticket is required to see his “Anglage-Collage”
  • Ticket is both artistic and cultural
  • Für:  “for” (ticket to pay for the other things in the collage)
  • Streetcar tickets, cigarettes, chocolate, coffee (all the identifiable scraps in the collage) – the things to be paid for – all are either “goods” or “services”
  • Tickets refer to restlessness of the people – they wanted to move but were limited to poor state of the trains/surrounding area only
  • Why did he choose those particular goods?
  • Could be because all three are made of imported materials (pre WWI commodities)
  • Depiction of café tradition/urban entertainment is in the realm of Impressionists, Cubist still life, but he’s more aware of qualities of coffee (taste), etc.
  • Also very aware of strange economic situation (pg. 245)
  • The collage enters commercial arena, becomes a commodity to be bought (like the goods) – becomes an investment
  • Thought about his art in commercial terms – was fascinated by business
  • “Commerce = com mercurio.  Mercury is the messenger god and the god of commerce.  Mercantile art.”
  • Concerned with “marketing” his collages in 1919-1923
  • The created meaning of Grünfleck expresses Schwitters’s desires to market his collage

Nill, Annegreth. ” Rethinking Kurt Schwitters:  An Interpretation of Grünfleck.” Collage: Critical Views. Ed. Katherine Hoffman. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1989. 225-251. Print.

Source: Collage: Critical Views (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2  | Collage:  “The Organizing Principle of Art in the Age of the Relativity of Art” (Donald B. Kuspit)

  • Relativism and relativity
  • Donald Kuspit – examined concepts of relativity to collage
  • Collage may be seen as “the exemplification of the use and dominance of relativity in modern art.”
  • Kuspit:  “Collage is a demonstration of this process of the many becoming one, with the one never fully resolved because of the many that continue to impinge upon it.  Every entity is potentially relevant to every entitity’s existence.  This is the relativistic message of collage:  the keeping in play of the possibility of the entry of the many into one, the fusion of the many into the one.”
  • Conventional description of collage:  “an agglomeration of fragments such as matchboxes, bus tickets, playing cards, pasted together and transposed, often with relating lines or color dabs, into an artistic composition of incongruous effect. It is a type of abstraction.”
  • Does not cohere
  • Junk art” – no more than an accumulation of the detritus of daily life in a composition that can only loosely be called a “synthesis” (pg. 40)
  • Crossover from life to art
  • Decisions made – choice of material, “composing”
  • A “structure” of relationships between fragments of material, a demonstration of the reversible relationship between life and art
  • The artistic fragments refine the life fragments – gives a more contemplative level of consciousness than in everyday life
  • Life fragments raised from transient to eternal present (impermanent to permanent)
  • Process is “a mockery of conventional conceptions of art-making…it becomes hard to take collage seriously as art” (pg. 40).
  • Collage is only relatively (not absolutely) art
  • Becomes to obviously relative to life
  • In a limbo that isn’t life or art – lost the clarity of its intention as art
  • Relativity – isn’t reductionist, it signals an expanded sense of possibilities/effectiveness of art, of creativity and art’s worldy role
  • From cubist collage on, art can’t be understood as anything but relative in its nature
  • Kant:  “transcendental illusion” to assume art can be complete, that it can exist entirely in itself
  • Alfred North Whitehead on “principle of relativity” (pg. 42)
  • “Collage is a demonstration of this process of the many becoming the one, with the one never fully resolved because of the many that continue to impinge upon it” (Kuspit 42).
  • Every entity potentially relevant to every other entity’s existence
  • Concrescence
  • Always coming into being, never “been”
  • Insistent yet porous
  • Nothing in the collage is necessary
  • Metaphor of universal becoming
  • Process of assimilation
  • Makes uncertainty a method of creation (for the first time in art)
  • About absences and positive presences of the fragments
  • “eternal objects” – color, geometric form, line
  • Fragments of art are equal with fragments of life in the collage
  • Art is no longer either representational or abstract; a creative, subjective choice of elements emblematic of becoming in general
  • Fragments are experienced as profoundly meaningful, but the meaning can’t be spelled out completely – this is what leaves the artist to arrange fragments as he wishes (whimsically or willfully)
  • Freedom and chance, indeterminate sense of their relation makes the fragments stimulating
  • Collage as a scene of the struggle between an objective and subjective sense of worldliness (pg. 47)
  • Epitomizes the state of contrast between categorization of actuality and expectation of becoming
  • Sense of a restlessly shifting range of stimuli is the essence of collage – reflecting the individuality of the artist’s becoming (pg. 48)
  • “Collage makes poetry with the prosaic fragments of dailiness.”
  • Cubist collage – ironical contrast is a mannerism – pursued so it becomes visionary
  • Collage is an “existential experiment with particular order patterns”
  • Relativistic art (collage) – the labor by which the modern world gives birth to a tradition (focusing itself in a ‘transcendent’ order)
  • “Collage undermines our ideas about things by refusing to establish them in a systematic relationship, reducing them to the elements of artistic experience” (pg. 51)
  • Collage destroys idea that imitation of nature is the basis of art – that art’s highest achievement is not simply to create an illusion of life, but to function as a kind of representation of it
  • Untraditional collage preferred over traditional painting: greater romantic possibilities, greater freedom of expression, and greater ease when traditional ideas can be dismissed (pg. 55)
  • Collage evokes sense of indep. depth of consciousness (directed toward itself, clarify its own perspective) and evokes sense of consciousness dressing up “things as they are” with profundity of its own perspective
  • Collage is an amalgam of 3 unresolved elements:  worldly, artistic, mixed/impure elements (this quote seen in Cunningham reading)

Kuspit, Donald B. “The Organizing Principle of Art in the Age of the Relativity of Art.” Collage: Critical Views. Ed. Katherine Hoffman. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1989. 39-57. Print.

Source: Ambiguous Spaces

Ambiguous Spaces | NaJa & deOstos

Ambiguous Spaces

Notes | Introduction

  • Forces – relationship between individuals and institutions
  • Architectural interests reside in the spatial investigation of individual, state, corporate, or military relationships and how they can abruptly shift individual and communal life stories, seemingly without their consent
  • Architecture as a territory where the absurd and contradictory aspects of the situations themselves can be identified within the resulting projects
  • Explore architecture through literature – Kafka’s The Trial (reveals that what seems a strange depiction of reality is actually a much more sophisticated, darker excursion into the nuances of juxtaposed logics and worlds)
  • Book describes oppressive and alienating institutional forces and also depicts how these same forces manifest themselves:  elusive, absurd, violent
  • Blending of parallel realities
  • Investigating spatial design through opposing elements, cultural nuances presented in ideas and issues usually considered outside the scope of our profession
  • Ambiguous space – resulting architecture in which ambivalence presides and discordant logics are manifested
  • Architecture as an open language – can address issues considered unsuitable to its status quo
  • Exploration of strange elements – the common fissures that exist between oppressed individuals/communities and powerful political forces

Nuclear Breeding

  • Orford Ness – a former nuclear test facility in SE England, a military site used to launch reconnaissance sorties, experiment with aerial photography, develop a radar system, and test ballistics for the Blue Danube (first British atomic bomb in 1950s)
  • Now houses a nature reserve
  • Narrative as a generative tool
  • Generative – having the power to originate design investigations
  • Nuclear Breeding – explores the mechanisms of the nuclear bomb itself
  • Mapped the physical effects of nuclear detonation on land and water
  • Studied each resulting crater to understand extreme “landscape technique”
  • Main goal – to investigate generating a landscape design via fictional computer-simulated explosions
  • Three parts of form-finding method: creating formal 3D diagrams by computer, mapping and inserting design decisions in the process, and investigating spatial arrangements through hand drawing
  • Computer drawings as part of the process, never the final answer
  • Created fictional characters/users that could interact with the space to determine primary/secondary uses of the crater
  • Resulted in different programs to fit each user’s personality
  • Destructive power of atomic bombs to generate an alternative life model – contradictory to nature of military use of technology (creating farmland from the use of atomic power)
  • This project is not a product of science fiction but spatial and programmatic investigations into mysterious field of military nuclear technology
  • Binds a remembrance of past to necessity of progress

The Pregnant Island

  • In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, creates binary extremes in fictional town of Macondo – things that defy science are depicted as matter-of-fact happenings, but also has familiar human practices (exploitation, ruthless violence, brutality of modernity/progress)
  • Magical realism – storytelling mechanism, similarities with surrealism and science fiction
  • Commonplace treatment of the supernatural grounds the narrative in a strange but recognizable reality – foregrounds other issues like social exploitation and political dilemmas
  • Macondo represents historical struggle of South America against postcolonial forces/provincial corruption and ascension of traditions (storytelling, native myths) that help maintain supernatural/mystical in people’s lives
  • Istanbul Architecture Biennale project (look up)
  • Local’s narratives and strong bond to specific natural features (rivers, plants, sounds, etc.) – relationship between this project and magical realism
  • Reality of building a dam – factual/quantitative data (landownership, etc.) must be balanced with magical/qualitative factors (creationist myths, local gods, ritual grounds)
  • Focused on two examples – Three Gorges Dam (Sandouping, China) and Tucuri Dam (Brazil)
  • Large dams – generate power, supply water, control irrigation but also have damaging effects on local ecosystems and displace vast numbers of people
  • Ineffective displacement patterns caused a broken sense of community and loss of livelihood – results in alcohol abuse, domestic violence, etc.
  • The Pregnant Island:  designed landscape based on two facts that sound fictional
    • 1600 hilltops were transformed into islands by initial flooding of the Tucuri Dam reservoir
    • Water level can vary by 60’ between wet and dry seasons, mutating landscape from valley to lake
  • Inspirations for generating a kinetic island were native fertility tales – their belief that nature is a living entity, with deities impersonating landscape features
  • What if both universes (magical and scientific) could merge?
  • Meeting of 2 parallel worlds would mirror condition of the dam – a colossal piece of engineering placed in archaeological ground among Amazonian rituals
  • Conceptual island evolved with only one generation of characters (unlike Macondo’s 7 generations of family life)
  • Design process in three parts:  the island, a dwelling building, and area between them
  • Derived a series of parameters to define how the building envelope and island’s pregnancy (kinetic aspects) would interact
  • Pregnancy:  gestation of a female animal to the “carrying of” the anthropomorphic island – distended (swollen) parts, fatigue (slow transformations), weight gain, and center of gravity shift
  • Mapped and zoned the island according to areas where swellings might erupt and more stable geological areas would allow for a building footprint
  • Concept of pregnant island as a key design process tool – used amalgamation of rational (building structure) and irrational (island)
  • Maloca (building) – reinvented version of the native Amazonian communal house
  • Vegetation has disappeared, land is eroded due to massive tide changes
  • Building serves as dwelling and includes typical architectural elements arranged around a vertical axis
  • Sinuous curves of building envelope – reference local tribal masks and archaeological remains found in Amazon region
  • Structural fibers made from tree roots create thin suspended bridges that provide access to the island
  • Maloca typically arranged in a circle around a central ceremonial patio – but this dwelling organized vertically
  • Envelope of the pods are constantly under production – dripping latex circles spiral frames and thickens the skin
  • Function of the project based around hybrid logic of fact and fiction
  • Design exposes and works with contradiction and challenges faced by uprooted native communities (to live in an island environment with significant landscape changes from winter to summer due to tide changes)
  • Want to create an architectural counterpart to magical realism or literary irony and humor in order to engage architecture as a reactive discipline
  • Pregnant Island absorbs factual and mixes it with mythical native tales
  • Project merges existing ingredients within a spatial narrative – space that changes with time and is a multidimensional experiment depicting cultural and social ambiguities within context of native communities
  • Resulting island is an ambiguous space that discloses the fragility of human habitat and individual choice

Jackowski, Nannette, and Ricardo DeOstos. Ambiguous Spaces: NaJa & DeOstos. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2008. Print.

Source: Merzbau Videos

Reconstruction of Merzbau at the Berkeley Art Museum

“MERZBAU reconstruction at Berkeley Art Museum 7/2011. Video and timelapse by Mona Caron. Music: Béla Bartok, Six Rumanian Folk Dances – Roumanian Polka; and June De Toth, Gnossiennes n.4 by Erik Satie.

The legendary Hanover MERZbau was created by Dada/Constructivist artist Kurt Schwitters in his apartment in Hanover, Germany in 1931-33, and was destroyed in 1943 during an allied air raid.
 In 1981-83 Peter Bissegger reconstructed the MERZbau through extensive calculations and research, and with the help of Ernst Schwitters’ memories (Kurt Schwitters’ son.) 

Information about the long adventure of reconstructing this lost classic of modern art can be found at”

Caron, Mona. “MERZbau Reconstruction.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 July 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.

“Schwitters applied the term Merz throughout his career and to every aspect of his work. In the early 1920s he began building an abstract sculptural interior environment, which he later called the Merzbau. It came to occupy multiple rooms in the Schwitters’s Hannover home. “I am building an abstract (Cubist) sculpture into which people can go . . . I am building a composition without boundaries; each individual part is at the same time a frame for the neighboring parts, (and) all parts are mutually interdependent.” Under investigation by the Gestapo, Schwitters fled Germany in 1937, emigrating first to Norway and later to England; he worked on re-creations and new versions of Merzbau in both locations, aided by photographs of the original Hannover Merzbau. It is these photographs that have informed the reconstruction included in this exhibition.”


  • 3 photos from 1933
  • 10-year process, then commissioned a photographer to get professional photos
  • was afraid Nazis would destroy his work – had to abandon Merzbau but built others
  • “Merzbau is merzbau”
  • Walk-through installation
  • Was his bedroom, living space, working space
  • Made it a performance (compare to Cunningham)
  • Enjoyed leading people in confusing directions – every visit from someone was different from everyone else
  • “cathedral of neurotic misery”
  • Total work of art
  • Radical installation that became a refuge/metaphor for an artist who was forced to do certain things because of political situation

BAM/PFA. “Kurt Schwitters: Merzbau.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.