quasar opens at the SCI-Arc Gallery in January

The SCI-Arc Gallery presents quasar, a new site-specific installation by the Los Angeles/New York-based design/media firm slap!, founded by architect Jean-Michel Crettaz, and produced in collaboration with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and Stanford’s Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

Taking place from January 25 to March 9, 2008, quasar is an immersive light and sound space made from prototype membranes and realized as an interactive light/sound object and comprised of a dense array of interlinked elements describing an intricate three-dimensional structure. The gallery is fitted with sensors that draw real-time data from the installation and the people within the exhibition, which is then synchronized with streamed real-time data of solar activity and nuclear processes provided by SLAC and NASA. This information is then fed back into the object through layers of LED strands, revisualizing the space in order to create an interactive spatial experience.

The word “quasar” is a contraction of the term quasi-stellar-radio-source, used historically by astronomers to describe entirely unknown cosmological objects. Today, it is believed that quasars are the most distant, and yet still detectable, objects in the universe. Giving off enormous amounts of energy produced from massive black holes in the center of their own galaxies, quasars are intensely bright; their emitted light drowning out all other stars in the same galaxy.

The exhibition draws on slap!’s continued interest in developing an awareness of the interconnectedness of space and material, with a goal of extending established notions of volume and scale. quasar is an artificial counterpart hovering in response to the currents and activities of the visitors, and in doing so, stretches and collapses the horizons of the known. The possibilities of interrelated synthetic and natural processes begin to define new emergent ecologies. quasar questions the boundaries of scale and the psyche, offering immersion into a vastly expanded space which renders perception permeable, and in the end, disperses identity.

slap! is intent on exploring conceptions of emergent synthetic ecologies. Founding member Jean-Michel Crettaz studied Visual Arts, Engineering and Architecture in Switzerland, the Cooper Union in New York and at the Architectural Association (AA) in London (Diploma Honours and1st Prize, 1988). In addition to being a SCI-Arc faculty memberand since 2004, the head of their Visual Studies ProgramCrettaz taught at the AA for over nine years and at several European and US institutes for art and architecture. His interests merge the documentation of civilizing environments with the study and work of new science. His projects incorporate strategies for speculative visions and cultural evolution.

A panel discussion takes place on Friday, February 15, 2008 at 7:00pm, in which Eric Owen Moss reviews Jean Michel Crettaz’s exhibition quasar and argues the success of the exhibition’s investigation into the relationship between the interconnectedness of space and material. Admission to this event is free.