Olafur Eliasson and Peter Zumthor, In Conversation


I'm sure many of you knew about the dialogue between Peter Zumthor and Olafur Eliasson last Monday. And, given your hectic holiday party schedule, you knew about it and missed it anyway. Like us.

Fear not, Tropolism Special Correspondant Saharat Surattanont was there to capture the goods. His copious notes, after the jump. It promised to be a lively exchange, given Olafur's massive and gorgous reworking of Zumthor's Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2001. According to Sah, it was, except not in the synergetic way we all thought. Olafur apparently lumped Zumthor in to the category every other architect is in (including me, yo), that is, someone who mediates reality. And Olafur wants to undo that. Read on...

Zumtor (PZ) opening statement

Describes his buildings as

I. Buildings as Use – customized to its function

II. Sense of Place and Belonging

A. The building should feel like “I’ve always been here”

B. “Out of this, if they become beautiful, then it’s a gift”

Buildings have depth and atmosphere….

“Slow architecture” as a counterpoint to fast food

Buildings have a “Careful Realization”

Olafur’s (OE) opening statement

Image-after image

-how can the viewer become a projector---he had us stare at this big green dot on the screen for 30 seconds and then he projected blank field slide and the big green dot from the previous slide was transferred onto the screen in our eyes---the after image thing -- felt like looking at those 3d computer generated things where you have to stare at them in a certain way to see it in 3d

subjectivity – who decides on beauty and truth?

Museums commodify our senses.

--History of an object based on how a light hits it – seeing is objective, to some people, “Venice is flat” – distinguishing an object from its background…..

Olafur Eliasson (OE)

-Interaction between a person and its surroundings

-exploring the constitution and effect a person has on their surroundings

-Establishing a “new relativity”

-Realization that one’s act of viewing nature is based on a cultural construction. How, as an artist, does one operate in that moment?

-Museums are representations of the real and doesn’t pretend to be real; at a museum, a person can compare their relationship to the image….whereas shopping malls try to be real….

Zumtor’s buildings are a “mediated reality”

(PZ) What’s the point of your work Olafur

(OE) Exposing what people take for granted as being real….What tools do we have to offer to negotiate our experiences with reality? “Deconstructing Truthfulness”…constant renegotiation of what is real is the model..”experience is not a matter of truthfulness; it’s a cultural construction

Zumpthor didn’t say much in general…he just reiterated his first points from his opening statement…


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