In order for any work of architecture to appear in the world, the work (i.e. the labor) of design must be organized across colossal networked economies via distributed software clouds, design specifications, international legal obligations and the like. These ad hoc spatial networks are fabricated by the architectural act, but not necessarily authored in the ways in which we conventionally use that term. This means they remain largely unseen. These are what I refer to as architecture’s dark products, the spatial constructions that precede, and make possible, the specific architectural objects we’re much more comfortable talking about.
For example, Autodesk Revit, a popular networked drawing platform, makes incredibly complex »things« appear on a screen (and ultimately in the world) through the real-time coordination of geographically distributed sites of production, i.e.: a senior designer in Manhattan is working in the same screen-space as an architectural draftsperson in Ahmadabad. In order for these »things« to appear, a vast geographic construction must be simultaneously fabricated and massaged into invisibility through the smooth operating protocols of the software platform itself.
So the project I’ve been developing at Solitude revolves around the production of nine alternative digital instruments for producing architecture. Each instrument simply asks how we might consider making these spatialized transactions visible, and thus also political.
CH: You also focus on the role of an audience in your work. Before it was exhibited at Akademie Schloss Solitude, you showed your exhibition to a pool of anonymous online workers for three months. Who were they and what were the reactions and answers to your work?
»Entering the physical space of the exhibition is a bit like coming to a party too late and finding only Diet Coke, there’s certainly a lot of something there, and it may even require a close attention to various details in order to unravel, but it’s all a bit too uninteresting to derive any kind of conventional pleasure from.«
CR: Just yesterday I was accused of being a materialist, so in the most materialistic terms: we could say that the gallery is a site for a certain kind of economic exchange, one in which the creative labor of an exhibitor is recompensed by the attention paid to the work by an audience. For this exhibition, I was interested in thinking about how to treat this kind of exchange between labor and attention as an economy that might be outsourced.
I built an online model of the exhibition and hosted it on a micro-labor platform in which visitors’ attention was monetized into discrete tasks that they would perform in relation to my work. These tasks included writing analyses of the pieces, naming the pieces, or curating their placement in the gallery by ranking the pieces sequentially from more to less interesting. After this expenditure of attention and money, what’s left in the physical gallery are merely the leftovers that accompany any exhibition, such as the devices for hanging works on walls, the packaging used for shipping works, the materials used to protect works during their transport, and of course, various details that evidence the processes that transpired online over the preceding three months.
I was interested in trying to produce a situation in which it is not entirely clear who the audience ultimately is. Entering the physical space of the Hirschgang today is a bit like coming to a party too late and finding only Diet Coke, there’s certainly a lot of something there, and it may even require a close attention to various details in order to unravel, but it’s all a bit too uninteresting to derive any kind of conventional pleasure from. My hope was simply to leave the visitor uncertain as to whether they were looking at the show itself, or the aftermath of a show that has already transpired online.