Performing architectures: Closed and open logics of mutable scenes

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3 Scopus citations


Inherent to contemporary discussions within the architectural discipline is an interest in architecture's performance, interpreted as program/use, efficiency, responsivity, and spectacularity. Bernard Tschumi's Manhattan Transcripts and event-spaces by Cedric Price, Archigram, and others are part of this legacy. Increasingly of interest is the formal expression of performance as well as the responsivity to inputs of an environmental, ecological or social nature. Common to these trajectories is an exploration of the mutability of space. In this essay, performing architectures specifically designed for a dance are explored in terms of the design logic's determining the spectrum of potential performances, from a limited range within a closed system, to an open ended yet still systematic realm of possible performances. Amongst the works discussed is Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's folding wall for Elisa Monte's The World Upside Down. In this performance, through the dancer's effort, this singular spatial element was continuously moved over the duration of the performance. If this wall offered a predetermined set of environments from a single element, at the opposite end of the spectrum was Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller's build-out for the Forsythe Company, at the Bockenheimer Depot. Their kit of parts, of a limited material and dimensional palette, offered an open and endless set of possibilities to create an ever-evolving environment for both the public space and the performance space housed in this large garage. Other works include Ai Weiwei's environment for Frédéric Flamand's The Truth 25 x/Second, and canopies for John Jasperse's California and by Aptum Architecture for Tere O'Connor's Cover Boy. Together these works elicit questions about dynamic and transformative systems, and the potential for choreographic and spatial invention to continue after the construction has concluded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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