Truth to visions: Reliving a utopian correspondence

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    In 1919 the Expressionist Gläserne Kette architects and artists exchanged visions of crystalline structures and advanced utopian societies, which have remained as paper architecture for almost a century. I have gathered an international group of practitioners (artists, architects, filmmakers) to echo their modus operandum of exchanging Photostat copies by post under adopted pseudonyms; this contemporary circle correspond entirely by digital means, and exploit the production technologies now available. By making digital renderings from archival sources; sculptures are produced that exploit the change of state from say, gestural pencil sketches into digital files, and evidence the chance marks created by the computer’s immutable logic. Another strategy from the group preserves and compounds the scaffold and swarf of 3D printing, then transmutes this back into glass, producing works by hybrid authorship.While the Gläserne Kette explicitly rejected veracity, Bruno Taut expressly intending his glass cathedrals and airborne cities in the Alps to be ‘unpractical and without utility’; and advances in materials and technology were imagined and eagerly anticipated throughout the correspondence. Current modes of dematerialised exchange would fulfil the wildest longings of the historic group, but as such generate new questions of veracity or re-enactment for our practice. By applying the credo of ‘truth to materials’ to the eerie perfection of vectored forms and stratified surfaces created by dispassionate machine heads, we can balance issues of homage or pastiche. Additionally, we find that our shared aim for pseudonymous creativity is belied by digital footprints accrued through our professional careers. Yet we must focus on Adorno’s truth content: given the vast differences between our situation and that of our visionary exemplars we must trust the artefacts we create to embody the spirit and context of this charged history. This article will assess our group practice as a negotiation between authenticity and context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-49
    Number of pages3
    JournalOAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


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