2014, Taubman College Liberty Gallery, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Initially, one might consider artifacts to be the consequence of some cultural process. Derived from the etymological roots of arte (by skill) and factum (to make) the term indicates something made by humans that reflects the time, place, and traditions of its origin. As an architectural prompt, artifacts are a curious choice. When architects make things they typically represent other things, such as models and drawings that depict a building. Artifacts, on the other hand, are what they are. Their mode of transmission—the way in which they convey things outside of themselves—is not through representation but rather embodiment, through strange auras that swirl around them echoing distant cultures. This is the ontology of the artifact.

But are there other ontologies? Can artifacts precede culture?

These objects follow these questions. As artifacts, they differ from traditional acts of speculative architecture, which enlist the full gamut of representation (models, drawings, and renderings) to produce totalizing images of alternative worlds. In contrast, the projective power of these artifacts stems solely from their physical traits: their idiosyncratic amalgamations of pockmarks, patinas, and profiles. This places great importance on aesthetics to affect culture, yielding a more modest political posture. These nine artifacts, born from material processes and bathed in iridescence, neither claim revolution nor confirm the status quo. Through a mix of conformity—cubic forms and colorful palettes—and exoticism—hazy figuration and arrested decay—they nudge culture, and its sensible dimension, from within.

Project Team: Adam Fure, Christina Kull, Nick Safley