chapter abstract

Architecture and Living Matter(s): From Art/Architectural Installations to Metabolic Aesthetics

The essay unfolds around art installations and speculative projects that embody processes of material transformation exploring a theory of the metabolic. The idea of metabolic architecture is analogous to life itself in its unfolding according to four fundamental states of development: birth and growth; digestion and nutrition; motion and action; and finally, decay and recycling. There are two primary goals in this essay, each of which is dependent on the other. First, the essay argues that the art of installation as a medium is a working tool of twenty-first-century metabolic architecture, with its capacity to focus on specific materialities such as form-in-process and kinesis. Second, and reciprocally, it argues that installation shapes metabolic architecture, setting in relief the following central themes: the feedback loop between objectification, the temporal, and ephemeral; the role of modular and infrastructural elements; the merging of experiment and experience, including the user’s participation; and the integration of the vernacular, which consists of historical artifacts, cultural habits, and rituals. From within these forces, objects and modular systems manifest metabolism, producing hybrid buildings/gardens, evolving edible structures, choreographic machines, and decaying artifacts. Metabolic architecture challenges human perception in order to reveal immaterial properties and flows, while mapping spatio-temporal changes.

Title and abstract for my chapter on metabolic architecture as part of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. The anthology is co-edited by Charissa Terranova and Meredith Tromble (forthcoming Fall 2016).



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