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Image © 2005 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins; Courtesy Masataka Nakano

The Artist-Architects Who Believed Their Psychedelic Designs Would Promote "Death Resistance"


这篇文章最初发表于《Metropolis Magazine》,标题为“建筑师想要解决的终极人类设计缺陷——死亡”。

Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins是视觉艺术家、概念作家,同时也是自学成才的建筑师,他们相信通过对建筑环境的重新调整,人类可以解决最终的设计缺陷:死亡。(你的举动,诺曼•福斯特)

Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins在他们的有生之年完成了五个项目,其中三个在日本,两个在美国,他们认为自己的作品并非传统,例如公园中的一条隐晦的道路、一座令人眼花缭乱的彩色皮克斯公寓楼、没有门却有凹凸不平地板的阁楼。他们的理念虽称不上诡异,但也可称之为“逆向命运(Reversible Destiny)”,即通过刺激身体和精神而思考生命长寿的意义。

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "These Architects Sought to Solve the Ultimate Human Design Flaw—Death."
Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins—visual artists, conceptual writers, self-taught architects—believed that, through a radical recalibration of the built environment, humans could solve the ultimate design flaw: death. (Your move, Norman Foster.)
Arakawa and Gins completed five projects in their lifetimes—three in Japan, two in America—and to call them unconventional is a gross understatement. There’s an acid trip of a park; an eye-poppingly colorful, plucked-from-Pixar apartment building; and doorless lofts with bumpy, uneven flooring. Rather than whimsy or quirkiness, their ethos—dubbed Reversible Destiny—aimed to seriously promote longevity by activating and stimulating the body and mind.


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP

“他们认为死亡是一个过程,身体总是试图与之抗争。” Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins的纽约逆向命运基金会(Reversible Destiny Foundation)项目经理ST Luk说道,“我们的身体受到周围环境和建筑的限制,而且我们自然地去适应各种空间。一旦你进入了舒适区,你的身体便会开始恶化。而我们的建筑基本上就是在阻止你完全适应它。”

人们对Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins的认识不多,他们不是学院派,在建筑这行的从业时间只是漫长职业生涯的一小部分而已,他们的作品也称不上传统与经典。换句话说,甚至许多建筑学生都不了解。讽刺的是,哥伦比亚大学建筑学院、规划与保护学院(GSAPP)将重新引入其理论观点。

“Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins:永恒梯度”是紧凑、清新、刺激的展览,于6月16日在哥伦比亚的亚瑟罗斯建筑画廊(Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery)展出。展览范围跨越1983年至1991年,它可以追溯到Shusaku Arakawa和Madeline Gins从视觉艺术到建筑艺术的插图、大型绘画/设计平面和文字作品,而这些作品以往却从未展出。总之,它是高线艺术行为的有力记录。

“They thought about death as a process, which the body is constantly trying to fight against,” says ST Luk, project manager at Arakawa and Gins’s New York-based Reversible Destiny Foundation. “Our bodies are conditioned by our surrounding environments and our architecture, and we naturally adapt to whatever space we are given. Once you feel comfortable, your body begins to deteriorate. The architecture basically tries to keep you from fully adapting to it.”
Arakawa and Gins are decidedly not household names. They belong to no school, their time as builders is only one part of an unfairly neglected 50-year artistic career, and their work exists outside the traditional canon. In other words, architecture students rarely encounter them. There’s some irony, then, that the Columbia University Graduate School of School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) would provide a long overdue reintroduction.
Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient is a compact, refreshing, and stimulating show on view at Columbia’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery through June 16. Roughly spanning 1983 through 1991, it tracks Arakawa and Gins’s move from the visual arts to architecture through previously unseen illustrations, large-scale paintings/design plans, and text pieces. Taken together, it forms a potent record of a high-wire artistic act.


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP

“我觉得有趣的是,他们与另一个领域的对话,而通常不与建筑对话。”策展人Irene Sunwoo说,他也指导了GSAP的展览,“你最后一次听说一个诗人和一个画家在一起工作是什么时候?”

Shusaku Arakawa在日本已经是十分出名的概念艺术家,他在1961年离开纽约。两年后,他在布鲁克林博物馆艺术学校见到比他年长五岁的纽约人Madeline Gins。她当时的作品是实验性诗歌,后来的著作和研究都挑战了读者的语言形式的概念想法。后来他们结婚了,成为默契的合作者。

从一开始,他们的工作就是对物质和空间的探讨。他们的经典作品“The Mechanism of Meaning”于1963年开始经过几十年的反复,表达了概念、实践和哲学。该作品最初由80个面板组成,每个面板的尺寸为90 x 66英寸(2.2 x1.7米),通过文字和混合媒体艺术让观众体验不同的感受,强调与文字、物体和哲学的接触。

“I think it’s interesting to get architecture in dialogue with another field that it isn’t normally in dialogue with,” says curator Irene Sunwoo, who also directs exhibitions at GSAPP. “When was the last time you heard about a poet working in architecture with a painter?”
Arakawa was already an established conceptual artist in Japan when he decamped for New York in 1961. Two years later, he met Gins, a native New Yorker five years his junior, at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Her medium was text—experimental poetry and, later, books like WORD RAIN: Or, a Discursive Introduction to the Philosophical Investigation of G,R,E,T,A, G,A,R,B,O, It Says (1969) that challenged readers’ concepts and ideas of language and form. They soon married and became inseparable collaborators.
Almost from the start, their work was physical and spatial. Their seminal The Mechanism of Meaning, begun in 1963 and iterated upon numerous times over the decades, pointed toward the concepts, practices, and philosophies that would define their practice. Originally created with 80 panels, each measuring 90 x 66 inches, the piece moves viewers through different experiences via text and mixed-media art, forcing an intellectual and sensory encounter with words, objects, and philosophical questions.


Image © James Ewing

Arakawa和Gins二十年来,以建筑的形式来表达艺术理念,其作品有Sculpting II(1971),还有如渲染般的作品Waiting Voice(1976)。Arakawa还开始为画廊的装置搭建实体体验,例如观众的步行坡道、印刷在地板上的图像、移动的走道等等。

“作为一名艺术家,我们认为这些都是规模化的建筑。”可逆命运基金会收藏总监Stephen Hepworth说,“从某种意义上说,Arakawa的建造空间作品对人类多少有着推动作用。”

最终,这就直接形成了建筑。当Arakawa和Gins在威尼斯泻湖岛Madonna del Monte上开发项目时,“永恒梯度(Eternal Gradient)”成为1983年的年度重头戏。如果泻湖岛建造起来,Mind-Blank-Body容器将成为史诗般的多阶段体验,它将自动编织等技术与自然材料结合,促进自我反思和发现。然而,岛上人们的身体和心理体验也至关重要。

Arakawa and Gins followed that monumental piece with two decades of architecturally inflected art, from Sculpting II (1971), a “floor plan of speech,” to the spatial-textual rendering-like Waiting Voice(1976). Arakawa also began constructing physical experiences for gallery installations: ramps viewers had to walk or pull themselves onto to view paintings, images printed on floors, a moving walkway.
“As an artist, we’d say these were architectural in scale,” says Stephen Hepworth, director of collections at the Reversible Destiny Foundation. “In a sense, we can talk about Arakawa kind of always pushing towards the body within a built or experienced space.”
Eventually, that led to architecture directly. Eternal Gradient locates 1983 as the flashpoint, when Arakawa and Gins are tapped to develop a project on the Venetian lagoon island Madonna del Monte. If built, Container for Mind-Blank-Body would have been an epic, multi-stage experience that deployed fabricated material like wire meshing alongside natural formations to stimulate self-reflection and self-discovery. Nevertheless, conceptualizing the physical and psychological experiences for the island proved pivotal.


Image © 1997 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins; Courtesy the Site of Reversible Destiny Yoro Park

从1985年到1987年,Arakawa画了24个屏幕阀门(Screen-Valves),类似于密集网格吊舱(第一次在哥伦比亚展出)的垂直容器,用于探讨建筑空间。艺术家们认为,屏幕阀门的材质和空间潜力最终可以取代墙壁、地板、门、甚至是空间个体,这个概念直接引出了另一项工作,即“可逆命运的桥梁(Bridge of Reversible Destiny)”。 Sunwoo写道,该桥于1987年构思,跨越法国埃皮纳勒河和一系列景观,引发未知的感知和身体反应。1990年,一个42英尺(1.1米)长的模型在纽约展出,其中也包括“永恒梯度”的小尺度模型。但最后这座桥梁却未能建成。

尽管如此,这种体验还是导致了建筑的永久性转变。Gins在1994年出版了她的第三本书《Helen Keller or Arakawa》,但是Arakawa的注意力完全集中在创作上。“他葬送了艺术生涯,不再烦恼,这也是他并不出名的原因。”Hepworth说。


Arakawa和Gins终于在1994年实现了一个项目,“Ubiquitous Site * Nagi’s Ryoanji * Architectural Body”,项目位于日本冈山的Nagi当代艺术博物馆,这样的经历让Lewis Carroll感到自豪。从黑暗的楼梯进入现场后,游客会来到一个充满光线的弯曲倾斜管状空间内,其中地面长凳和跷跷板倒映在天花板上,而其中的墙壁则是日本龙宫寺中岩石花园的复制品。

From 1985 to 1987, Arakawa drew 24 Screen-Valves, vertical containers resembling dense mesh pods (displayed for the first time at Columbia) that interrogate architectural space. The artists believed the material and spatial potential of the screen-valve could eventually replace walls, floors, doors, even bodies—a concept that led directly to another work, The Process in Question/Bridge of Reversible Destiny. Conceived in 1987, the bridge was to span a river in Epinal, France, and include containers of unfamiliar landscapes “designed to trigger uncharted perceptual and bodily responses,” Sunwoo writes. A 42-foot-long model was exhibited in New York in 1990 and a far smaller model is included in Eternal Gradient. The full-scale bridge was never built.
Still, the experience led to a permanent shift to architecture. Gins published her third book, Helen Keller or Arakawa, in 1994, but Arakawa’s attention was fully on building things. “He buried a very substantial art career by just not bothering with it any longer, which is why we haven’t heard of him,” Hepworth says.
Luk adds, “I just think that because they were always moving forward they felt like they had moved ahead.”
Arakawa and Gins finally realized a project in 1994. Ubiquitous Site * Nagi’s Ryoanji * Architectural Body was completed at the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art in Okayama, Japan, and the experience would make Lewis Carroll proud. Upon entering the site from a dark staircase, visitors emerge inside a light-filled, physics-bending inclined tube where the grounded bench and seesaw are mirrored on the ceiling and the walls are replicas of Japan’s Temple of Ryoanji’s historic rock garden.


Image © 2005 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins; Courtesy Masataka Nakano

在后来,嬉戏、认知失调和身体失衡等状况在艺术家的项目中出现并逐渐成熟,其中有岐阜县公园“逆向命运的遗址——Yoro”(1995),在这里孩子们都配有头盔,另外还有东京的“逆向命运阁楼MITAKA——纪念海伦凯勒”(2005)、纽约东汉普顿的“Bioscleave House”(2008),和纽约高档多佛街市场(Dover Street Market)Rei Kawakubo's Comme desGarçons空间安装的“Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator”(2013)。



即使一些让人无法理解的细部,他们也照做不误,Arakawa和 Gins反复表示,这些建筑通过一些不寻常的设计来与“死亡”进行对抗,因此,通过设计,你必须认真思考如何与空间互动。

The playfulness, cognitive dissonance, and physical discomforts found at the Nagi appear and mature in the artists’ subsequent projects: the 195,000-square-foot park, “Site of Reversible Destiny—Yoro” (1995), in Gifu prefecture, which has such extreme grades kids are provided with helmets; Tokyo’s “Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA—In Memory of Helen Keller” (2005); “Bioscleave House” (2008), in East Hampton, NY; and the “Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator” (2013), installed in Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons space at New York’s upscale Dover Street Market.
“None of the projects came out the way they fully envisioned them,” Luk says. “But at least Madeline used to say that Nagi was 90 percent.”
Still, the residential projects are the fullest realization of their reversible destiny ethos. The uneven floors resemble a nubby, prairie-dog-infested plain; ceilings are low where they should be high; entrances are in strange places, like under the kitchen; and common amenities, like doors to the bathroom, are missing.
Even if the literal-minded snickered, and they did, Arakawa and Gins stated repeatedly that these architectural features promoted “death resistance” by demanding an unusual, uncomfortable interaction with the space. By design, you have to think—hard—about how you engage with the spaces.


Image © 2008 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins; Courtesy Dimitris Yeros


Arakawa于2010年去世,享年73岁, Gins于2014年去世,享年72岁,这对夫妇留下了许多宏伟的项目,其中有东京湾的 “逆向命运之岛”(Isle of Reversible Destiny)、“逆向命运治疗欢乐屋”等等。他们的生命虽已结束,但他们的作品却不朽,包括“永恒梯度”等作品在内的模型和草图都在各个展览中展出,其中有Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness、The Future Starts Here,后者将于本月在伦敦维多利亚与艾伯特博物馆(Victoria & Albert Museum)开幕。逆向命运基金会还将与Gagosian画廊合作,该画廊也是Gins的财产,本次合作将于明年春天举办。

所有这些都代表了Arakawa和 Gins的理念,是概念艺术家和非传统建筑师的里程碑,事实上,很难将他们笼统地划分到某一类之中。但在这个图像信息时代,无论是文字还是图纸,他们的视觉作品也许更加令人意想深刻。


the term ‘reversible destiny’ it’s equated with eternal life, which I don’t think is what they were getting at,” Sunwoo says. “To me, it’s more of a prompt to understand how to live to your fullest, to understand all of your body’s capacities, how it interacts with the world on every single level: through your senses, through your mind and how your mind can construct the world around you. And in doing so, one is able to experience life so much more exponentially than we can ever understand.”
The couple left numerous grandiose plans—“Isle of Reversible Destiny,” a city in Tokyo Bay; “The Reversible Destiny Healing Fun House”—when they died: Arakawa in 2010 at 73, Gins in 2014 at 72. But even if they couldn’t extend their lives, their work is proving resilient. Besides Eternal Gradient, models and drawings are included in the touring show Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness and The Future Starts Here, which opened this month at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The Reversible Destiny Foundation is also working with Gagosian gallery, which represents Gins’s estate, on an exhibition and publication due next spring.
All that represents a boom for Arakawa and Gins, conceptual artists, and untraditional architects who defy easy categorization. But in this Instagram era, the world might have finally caught up with their visually evocative work—be it a page of text, a drawing on drafting paper, or wild loft spaces.
“There’s this one phrase that one of their colleagues told me they would say over and over again, and it’s ‘Choose everything,’” Sunwoo says. “That’s amazing, just having that freedom not to be tied to your professional identity and just contaminate your thinking always.”


Image © James Ewing


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP


Image © James Ewing


Image © James Ewing


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP


Image © 1997 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins


Image Courtesy of Dimitris Yoros


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP


Image © Estate of Madeline Gins/ Nicholas Knight / Columbia GSAPP




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