Research through making at Taubman College
Historically, research and creative practice have been constructed as “opposites.” This is not an unusual struggle in architecture schools, particularly in the context of a research university. This perceived tension between design and research is indicative of age-old anxieties within the architecture field to understand its nature as an “applied art.” Design can be a purely creative activity not unlike creative practices in music and art. In other cases, design can be a purely problem solving activity, not unlike research in engineering and industrial production.
In its seventh year, University of Michigan Taubman College’s Research Through Making (RTM) Program provides seed funding for faculty research, worked on by faculty, students and interdisciplinary experts. The exhibition presents tangible results of their collaborative work.
Research Through Making installations:
- “Tap” by Adam Fure: The image of a contemporary kitchen sink spouting forth flames has become synonymous with “Fracking,” a method of horizontal drilling into shale formations known as hydraulic fracturing. Across America, residents have experienced a slew of chronic health problems that can be traced back to the contamination of their air, water wells, or surface water resulting from nearby oil and gas fracking. Tap is comprised of a vintage kitchen sink sunk vertically into a gallery wall. Instead of water, yellow and blue flames pour from the faucet initiating color shifts in an encrusted frame made from fused bits of discarded ceramics. As the flames spill out a faint voice can be heard—it’s voice is actually a shifting collection of media coverage and individual stories relating to fracking. Read More >>>
- “Panots & Mosiacs: The Plasticity of Hydraulic Cement through Making” by Ana Morcillo Pallares and Jonathan Rule: Panots and Mosaics, apparently different, share a common material: Portland cement compacted by a hydraulic press. A resurgence in the use of these tiles has sparked interest in resuscitating this almost forgotten art form. This research focuses on the liminal condition of the material attributes found in these two method for making. The project appropriates the technique used to imprint geometric patterns in the finish layer of the Mosaics and instead of reproducing its fixed form, it explores alternatives to the embossment of the Panots through the plasticity of the Portland cement. Read More >>>
- “Dip and Dive in the D” by Claudia Wigger: Public amenities such as pools, playgrounds and recreational centers play a considerable role in building sustainable, healthy and inclusive communities. As these facilities come with high maintenance cost and liability issues they are often facing substantial budget cuts or even closing. In cities encountering financial crisis such as Detroit outdoor pools are disappearing and Detroit’s vital outdoor bathing culture has almost been forgotten. “Dip and Dive in the D” explores the potential of introducing natural pools as a low cost, healthy and sustainable alternative to conventional pools for Detroit’s neighborhoods and works on all necessary design aspects to construct a pilot-project in Detroit. Read More >>>
- “Infundibuliforms: Cable Robot Actuated Kinetic Environments” by Wes McGee, Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov: This project explores actuated environments: spaces which can be rapidly reconfigured in real-time, to suit changing programmatic and performative demands, integrated with interactive capacities. The work advances research in cable-based robots for architectural applications, research in computational design environments for kinetic architectures, and research in the production of extruded elastomeric tensile meshes. Read More >>>
- “Post Rock” by Meredith Miller and Thom Moran: The Geological Society of America recently published a report announcing a new class of stone: plastiglomerate. Formed when organic and inorganic materials such as stone, sand, and seashells fuse with polymer plastics, plastiglomerates are the result of plastics accumulating in ocean and beach ecosystems. Modeled after plastiglomerate’s hybrid composition and curious aesthetics, Post Rock is an authored material for a post-natural architecture. In the fabrication process, its component pieces do not fully meld into a homogenous whole. Making Post Rock, then, requires the consideration of its image and meaning in addition to its tectonic performance and possibilities. Read More >>>
Grant submissions were anonymously evaluated by a distinguished jury from outside the college:
- Benjamin Ball, Lead Artist and Principal, Ball-Nogues Studio
- Brooke Hodge, Deputy director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Mark Lamster, Architecture critic, The Dallas Morning News
This exhibition runs from March 10–April 15, 2016.
The Liberty Gallery is located at 305 W. Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Hours are Thursday to Sunday 3:00–7:00pm unless otherwise noted.