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by Guy Horton The Indicator

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The Indicator: A Rather Large Array

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The Rather Large Array in Art Centers Wind Tunnel Gallery. Photo by Joshua White

First, we have to get something straight. This is not the VERY Large Array. This is the RATHER Large Array, the Very Large Arrays much smaller, distantand inexpensive cousin and the agship piece for Art Center College of Designs 2011 exhibition, MADE UP: Designs Fictions (curated by Tim Durfee with Haelim Paek). The other thing is that while the Very Large Array still exists out in its Dune-like remote setting, spread across a giant Y conguration in the New Mexico desert, the Rather Large Array (RLA) has all but vaporized back into the production streams from whence its PVC tubing and hardware store components came from. When asked about the beginnings of The Array, Tim Durfee, Core Faculty in Art Centers Media Design Practices program, cites T.S. Eliots use of objective correlative, and the multi-perspective, disorientating photography of Barbara Probst. This led the project team to hone in on what he calls the splintered experience we have routinely now, as we live in one reality while tunneling through multiple other realities through our smart phones, various networks, etc. In the end, they realized they were talking less about architecture or an interior and more about an instrument. Though it has been thus disappeared, it lingersin part because of its rough, dirty, and improvisational off-the-shelf attitudeas one of the more thoughtful installations to emerge out of the strange and unique world of design academe. In 2012 it commanded an honor award from the Los Angeles chapter of the AIA. As one juror commented, We love the tension you feel of this piece hanging, its so ordinary, yet with an elaborate
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The Indicator: A Rather Large Array | ArchDaily

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The Rather Large Array. Photo by Joshua White

Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

system, and that in itself is really rich. While the jury situated it within a material-effects artsy paradigm it failed to catch its full signicance as an invocation or will-to-power for the imputation of performative/communicative space and the sinister or otherwise benevolent implications that ow from that. The RLA abruptly and rudely concentrated forces that are already coming down the road (literally in terms of toll lane scanners and intersection signal cams, for example). We are being watched and re-combined and this is changing how we behave in the world. It also speaks to our make-shift, economically-austere present. While there is the pressure to expedite such scanning and monitoring technology (security, special effects, novelty) it usually becomes an appendage, prosthesis, or supplement, rather than being

The Indicator: A Rather Large Array | ArchDaily

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by Guy Horton The Indicator

25 FEB
2013

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Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

designed into the space as discrete, hidden machines. The design of the RLA is the presentation of an obvious array of parts rather than its concealment. The recombination of pre-designed, banal components determines, in part, the larger design. In another sense, though, the machines, once arrayed, can disappear. Our perception, already predisposed to accept scanning, recording, and monitoring, glances over the instrumentation and functionality and leaps right to interface and interaction. Should it be disturbing that there is little or no suspicion or critique?

Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

Perhaps this is why the RLA seemed to so easily evade writing. It was mistaken for, as the juror remarked, something so ordinary. I would like to suggest that this was camouage, that its appearance was not its essence. The essence was necessarily materialized in the most expedient and urgent way and then artfully tweaked (the bends in the PVC tubing, for example) to soften it. Its reassuringly ugly and ordinary (the camouage) while impacting the space with a sublime gravity that people should possibly be anxious about. I imagine an opening night with patrons milling about, nervously drinking and chain smoking by the giant roll-up door. In my imagination, the RLA is somehow less like the extraordinary concentration of scientic infrastructure embodied by the National Radio Astronomy Observatorys Very

The Indicator: A Rather Large Array | ArchDaily

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by Guy Horton The Indicator

25 FEB
2013

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Suchov Radio Antenna, c. 1921. Via http://www.shukhov.ru/deutsch.html

Large Array and more like Vladimir Suchovs steel diagrid hyperboloid radio antennas outside Moscow, c. 1921. Coincidentally, a grainy black and white photograph of this is the only accompanying image for Gilles Deleuzes essay, Mediators. In this essay, rst appearing in the journal, October in 1985, Deleuze talks aboutthough he talks about a lot of thingswhat he calls relations of mutual resonance and exchange between philosophy, art and science. His discussion leads the reader to this point: Its a series: if you dont belong to a series, even a completely imaginary one, youre lost. In a sense, the RLA is such a mediator, placing and projecting peoplethemselves collections of series within seriesin new spatial and perceptual arrangements via sensing, recording, and the collective reordering of data. Thus, the RLA harkens things much older, as I suggest above, but, in similar fashion to Suchovs radio antennas, it is also suggestive of architectures futurea possible future at any ratethat has more to do with form following a specic sort of informational program. It also hints at the sort of infrastructural physicality Andrew Blum revels in in his recent book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, in which the structures housing the invisible force of the Web are coaxed out from their hiding placeshiding in plain sight. At a smaller scale, the RLA materializes invisible forces in the absence of the distinct odorlessness of corporate control. But it still gives off the sense of a place dened by unseen forces (182). Hanging from the ceiling in Art Centers rather large Wind Tunnel Gallery, it provoked and commanded attention the way some Cold War early-warning missile-sensing system might have. It hung there in a pleasing and somehow comforting mixture of 2001: A Space Odyssey attention to detail and renement along with a caffeinated overdose of weekend garage-geek expediency. It was tech wabi-sabi, to borrow the term from Japanese aesthetics. Even now, in the vacancy of the Wind Tunnel, the RLAs ghost remains and there is the lingering expectation that it, now disassembled and recycled, has recombined itself somewhere else and may continue doing so.

Cite:
Horton , Guy. "The Indicator: A Rather Large Array" 25 Feb 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 Feb 2013. <http://www.archdaily.com/335713>

The Indicator: A Rather Large Array | ArchDaily

http://www.archdaily.com/335713/the-indicator-a-rather-large-a...

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by Guy Horton The Indicator

25 FEB
2013

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Vladimir Suchovs precedent-setting steel diagrid hyperboloid radio antennas outside Moscow, c. 1921. Via http://www.shukhov.ru/deutsch.html

Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

The Indicator: A Rather Large Array | ArchDaily

http://www.archdaily.com/335713/the-indicator-a-rather-large-a...

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by Guy Horton The Indicator

25 FEB
2013

Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

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Courtesy, Tim Durfee.

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