Chicago, Illinois, USA
(while at takram design engineering)

Shenu on World Tour
takram design engineering is both the artistic collaborator that created Shenu: Hydrolemic System, on display, and the exhibition space designer. Developed by takram, Shenu: Hydrolemic System consists of an artificial organ system to conserve the water usage of human body. takram developed this set as part of group exhibition for dOCUMENTA(13) in 2012, themed under water bottle for the future, post-catastrophic world. Shenu: Hydrolemic System and News from Nowhere: Chicago Laboratory is on view from September 21–December 21, 2013 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries.

De-Cartesian Platform
Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho’s installation El Fin del Mundo projects the world following a cataclysm that has brought it to the brink of annihilation. Acts of man and nature’s responses have resulted in rising sea levels and the release of hazardous materials into the environment. Earth is a vast sphere of desolation: the highest peaks and tallest skyscrapers now rise as islands above the waters, bases for the construction of new platforms. 

In this post-apocalyptic world, the familiar power system, socio-economic fabric, art, and culture no longer exist. Museums and galleries are mausoleums, submerged or barely visible. In the new world, survival supersedes all else. A new plan must come into being for civilization to be reconstituted so that those remaining can join together and rebuild. This dire and seemingly hopeless condition might also be a new platform that provides an opportunity to reassess what constitutes art, design, culture, and the quality of life itself when preconceptions and prejudices have vanished. 

In forming a new world order, coordination becomes a preeminent task. Coordination is a fundamental construct of civilization because it affects and effects an understanding of the world as distinct and separate from one’s own corporeality; it frames how humanity inhabits the natural world.For centuries, the Western world in particular has been organized on the Cartesian system. René Descartes’ coordinates allowed everything to be located on a grid. However, when Descartes’ longitudinal-latitudinal grid is projected onto the globe, unequal geometrical and surface distributions emerge. These incommensurable irregularities no doubt were the impetus for Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map and geodesic incarnations, whereby icosahedron variants are deployed to equalize geometrical distribution and minimize projective distortion. By extension, this utopian mechanism suggested a destabilization of hierarchical forms of power embedded in up-down, top-bottom, and North-South dichotomies. Nonetheless, just like for Descartes, Fuller’s systemic geometrization of the world assumes various political motivations and imposes a universal order. 

In Moon and Jeon’s hypothetical future world, any attempts at uniform, universal order are not only impossible but unnecessary. Fragmented platforms, islands of fragile human collectives, are too concerned with their survival. Supplanting Cartesian absolutist, rational uniformity is a more geo-specific Einsteinian field of relativity.

The “canvas” here for the display of their collaborative project News from Nowhere is architect Louis Sullivan’s Modernist grid, the “Chicago frame.” Onto Sullivan’s grid is superimposed a fullerene pattern, suggesting the relational metamorphoses to come. Based on factors such as intensity, density, directionality of information, circulation, and artworks, the layout of the exhibition transforms the fullerene system into a physical manifestation of new coordination, informed and formed by multiple relationships. As the positivistic act of categorization or numeration is denied, the genius loci cannot be reduced to coordinates, but must be described in term of propinquity. Thus, the exhibition space is imbued with an otherworldly coordination that has been stripped of the coordinations of both Descartes and Fuller, and is instead a large pseudo-scientific “cabinet of curiosities” of the world inculcated in Moon and Jeon’s News from Nowhere.

21-step incremental and associative spatial transformation based on external and internal conditions

Kaz Yoneda, Project Leader and Architectural Designer
Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho, Artists

Special Thanks
Generous support for the artists has been provided by Hyundai Motor Company, LB Investment, and Nefs Co. Ltd., along with Asiana Airlines in cooperation with GALLERY HYUNDAI, Seoul. Special thanks is also extended to the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, for their support of the exhibition.
This was made possible thanks to the tireless effort by Mary Jane Jacobs, Executive Director, and the dedicated members of Sullivan Galleries, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, for their countless hours, making this exhibition space design possible and executing the design to its fullest extent.