CV: It seems like you have an interest in slowing down the process. What is the role of time in your work?
KF: I am not so much interested in slowing down the process or creating endurance. However, time plays a critical role within the Plopps. Again, I am going to back to Martin’s essay where he remarks on the notion of time within the works:
»The Plopps have a strange temporality, are subject to a time lag of some kind. It seems we could either think of them as immemorially old or very futuristic. On closer examination however, their futurism is also set in future perfect tense: even in a science-fiction scenario they would already be old, left-over traces of some dead civilization.«
I am interested in this temporal displacement of the work. If the Plopps simultaneously belong to the future and the past, then we might ask: how does our culture stand or operate on the axis between these two poles? Ultimately, this is why I hope work feels unstable, speculative, and immediate
CV: How does your background as an architect influence your work?
KF: Most of my training has been in architecture. I did my undergraduate education in architecture at RWTH Aachen and ETH Zurich. This certainly influenced the way I think and work and it continues to do so. Early in my studies, I developed a great interest in computer science. As an architect who was also a programmer, I became interested in generative and computational approaches in architectural design. I wrote software and algorithms that designed buildings. To set up a system in which design decisions are made relative rather than absolute was something I was fascinated by, because it facilitates an entirely new methodology and with that challenges notions of authorship, subjectivity, and objectivity. Additionally, this brings questions of emergence into the foreground. A Fulbright fellowship gave me the opportunity to continue this inquiry in the field of fine arts while I was enrolled in an MFA graduate program at RISD in 2009. I started to engage these questions on a more fundamental and metaphysical level with my work. But it was also a rupture in the sense that the discipline and discourse was entirely new and different. On a basic level, the work was not representational anymore, but was indeed the work as it stood in front of me. I sometimes jokingly say »that’s what messed it all up.« I just could no longer be the architect I was. Of course, that change came also with both maturity and experience. After my excursion to the fine arts, I went on to study architecture in the master’s program at Princeton University. It was the perfect place because I was able to digest this estrangement in a very focused and rich community of critical thinkers. The discipline of architecture was maybe less open to the artist inside of me, than to the architect, but nonetheless, I was able to continue my practice as an artist. It is therefore no coincidence that my work with Plopper, for instance, actually started as part of my thesis in Princeton. That said I am not very interested in the horizontal relationship of art and architecture. The questions I was interested at the time were more focused on concerns of architecture. The Plopper was a critique of the way we use technology in architecture, of the underlying methodologies and certainly of what we might call the »parametric project« in architecture. The disciplinary discourse in these fields is vastly different, and I think it is crucial to engage this discourse from a disciplinary perspective in order to push and advance the discipline. I passionately believe in post-medium specificity for this reason. Still today, I can discuss the Plopps in the realm of architecture or in the context of art. The conversation however would be utterly different.
Interview by Clement Valla, a Brooklyn-based artist whose work focuses on computer-based picture-producing apparatuses, and how they transform representation and ways of seeing.
From January 28, 2016 – March 5, 2016 Kai Franz will be showing his work in a solo exhibition at ROCKELMANN& in Berlin.
EXHIBITION: KAI FRANZ, »THE PARTICLES FELL SILENT«
GALLERY: ROCKELMANN&, Berlin
OPENING: January 28, 2016, 7-10 pm
Duration: January 29 – March 05, 2016
Artist Talk: March 10, 7 – 9 pm