The Eternal Parade

I had been trying to refine the project and its brief over the holidays. I came out with a new portfolio organisation for the materials that I had, meanwhile trying to incorporate new drawings and diagrams as much as possible from the comments. Work in progress below:

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These are the diagrams I am working on for sections of the portfolio (was thinking of the diagrams as blueprint evidence drawings of the earlier tests), and at the same time trying to collect more data on what happens to the parade elements over the calendar year. There are a lot of empty blanks for that one and it seems pretty hard to patch the information together. I was thinking of giving it some fictional parts, within reason of course, to cohesively weave the drawing. Still not so sure about it.

What I have been working on is mainly the premise of the project as the museum of the present. I’ve proposed calling it Macy’s Mausoleum last semester, which didn’t really suit the idea of timelessness that exists with the parade. I think the suggestion for The Eternal Parade is very suitable and I had been looking into it a little bit more. I had been reading a lot more on this ( The Open Studio by Susan Stewart | Contemporary Art and Memory by Joan Gibbons | The Funambulist Pamphlets by Arakawa + Madeline Gins) and they all had similar thoughts about time and collections. However, the one that is really thought provoking is Arakawa + Madeline Gins idea on Reversible Destinies. They came out with an architectural idea that is about making dying illegal. ( http://the-archipelago.net/2014/11/04/momoyo-homma-we-have-decided-not-to-die-the-work-of-arakawa-and-gins/ ). I like that their project opens with this statement ‘We Have Decided Not To Die”. I began to think about the parade in that manner, they have just decided not to die, hence surviving world wars and economy downturns. It goes on eternally and lives independent of time. Materials of the parade succumbs to death (collision of the material with external forces or natural decay) but is eventually able to reincarnate. Daniel Askill (a film director) also played with Arakawa + Madeline Gins’ work and made a film entitled after it (http://www.wehavedecidednottodie.com/interview.html ). In the film ( https://vimeo.com/12059273 ) he highlights the idea of rituals telling stories. I like how he breaks the film into three parts, explaining birth, the in between moment between birth and death, and then rebirth.

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I looked more into Ant Farm Inflatables and came across their Inflatocookbook, where they teach people how to set up their own inflatable structures (http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~bcroy/inflato-splitpages-small.pdf). Currently, I am thinking of the portfolio as a cheeky guidebook that tells the reader how not to die (hence the title as How To Be Immortal, but this might change later on). I would like to model the portfolio in that manner, it is playful and has very interesting drawings that explain the idea of the inflatables. I was thinking of the portfolio as a ‘cookbook’ that explains ‘recipes for immortality’ and the book of evidences for the project as ‘book of ingredients’ for this project to work. I had done some posters to illustrate this, but they are still work in progress for the project:

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As for volumetric occupancy of the project, I have been researching on interesting projects that could give me some ideas (I am still clueless on how I could articulate this). I’ve come across Project Loon by Google, which basically are balloons deployed to help rural areas in different countries access the Internet. This is really interesting in exploring the mobility aspect of the project and how this would work all year round. What sort of services that the balloons could cater as well, and from a technology point of view, the sustainability and structural mechanisms involved.

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I am not sure what we should present for the crit on our first week back, I am thinking of an updated portfolio and a more solid project brief. Would be great if you can clarify on this 🙂

Oh yes, on a side note, I’ve emailed and tried calling the Conservation Unit at the V&A to get in contact with Brenda Keneghan, the polymer scientist who is working there for more information on the plastic collection at the museum. Have yet to hear back from her. Hopefully she will be in touch soon.

Till my next update…!

One thought on “The Eternal Parade

  1. Lots of interesting questions and ideas at play – I like the new title and think it works better since it suggests continuity and not finality (like with the mausoleum). The blueprint portfolio diagrams are interesting – they give the objects a sense of being forensically analysed but I would make sure that they do analyse what you are investigating and then you also include photographs of the objects themselves so we see how the analysis is different from the documentation.
    You’ve done a lot of reading into similar precedents and concepts that could push the project further. Make sure you draw those up as case studies in terms of what aspect of that project is interesting to your project so all this research doesn’t get lost. It will also help set the scene for how your project will develop as one that exposes the constant presence of the macy’s parade for the other 364 days of the year through embedded traces of it left within the city.
    More than a guidebook that tells people how to be immortal, I think the portfolio could reveal how events that we perceive to be temporary and ephemeral are actually very permanent through how they embed themselves within the city and our collective consciousness. Your project has real potential to question the temporary, and advocate that it is more permanent than it at first seems. I like how a lot of your references challenge death as an architectural concept and perhaps through how you name the phases of your project: life, death, rebirth – death suddenly becomes a very productive, temporary state that facilitates a project to move from life to rebirth. With that in mind, I would look at the issue of Architect’s Journal edited by the firm FAT (Sam Jacob, Sean Griffiths and Charles Holland) after they decided to disband their office. I think we might have discussed this already but they talk about death as an opportunity for reinvention: http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/fat-back-from-the-dead-to-edit-the-architects-journal/8687119.fullarticle
    Project Loon is an interesting reference on how airships can be used as a form of lightweight infrastructure in developing countries but how would this apply to New York/ your site and project? Think about what you would like the balloons to provide when they’re in that latent period between death and rebirth…
    For the crit on the 2nd, think about how you present your idea for a museum, what it would be collecting/ revealing and how it should be experienced through the material investigations/ plastic tests you have done to date. It will just be a matter of bringing all the elements together through the portfolio to get feedback on how to develop it further. We will send everyone a full list of what to have at the presentation later this week.
    Also: I saw this project and thought of yours – it’s by Gia Wolff who won the 2013 Wheelwright Prize from Harvard GSD with this research proposal: http://giawolff.com/wheelwright/about/ – her project was called The Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats. She didn’t look at Macy’s but at primarily Carneval in Rio and other similar city-scale spectacles in India, France, Spain and Italy, but I thought the way she describes the floats as building-scale constructions, and the parade itself as a sort of city could help you in the way you describe, draw and design your project. Looking forward to seeing the portfolio and how this develops on Friday!

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