︎THE LONDON INSTITUTE OF ‘PATAPHYSICS (2015-2016)
Simulations of reality are multiplying: in films, disaster planning, architectural practice, and job trainings. They are a chance to practice or make predictions, optimize reality or make it more exciting. Ultimately, the aim is for simulations to be so realistic that they are indistinguishable from the real world. This point, where reality and simulation converge, is termed the simulation singularity.
“The London Institute of ‘Pataphysics” is a speculative architecture project that explores the social consequences of this trajectory, and resulting knock-on effects on the built environment. It examines two ideological factions in parallel: the pursuit of reassuring predictability, afforded by simulated test-runs of reality, pitted against a growing desire for chaos and unpredictability.
Through the lens of ‘Pataphysics, the project explores a series of reactions and counter-reactions. ‘Pataphysics is the science of nonsense. Physical laws, which imply relationships of cause and effect and predictability, don’t exist. Instead, everything is exceptional, with some exceptions simply happening more often than others. The College de ‘Pataphysique was founded in 1948 in Paris, by the fictional Dr. Faustroll. Similar institutes and organizations exist around the world, which all celebrate uselessness as a positive antidote to an era of utility.
A surge in followers leaves the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics in need of physical headquarters, to not only house its various departments and associated functions, but also aesthetically undermine the architectural developments in its immediate surroundings. The institute’s departments include the Bureau for the Investigation of Subliminal Images, Committee for Hirsutism and Pogonotrophy, Department of Dogma and Theory, Department of Potassons, Department of Reconstructive Archaeology, and The Office of Patentry. The institute also houses a museum which uses simulation, rather inconveniently, as a curation tool. Its contents feature a peanut enlarger and a giant peanut, as well as an extensive wand collection—including the Golden Dawn Fire wand, tickling sticks, and a Toast wand.
Through the mis-use and re-appropriation of simulation tools, the project sets out to develop a ‘pataphysical approach to architecture. It grapples with questions of chaos and order, chance and predictability. The unhinged aesthetic that emerges at once encapsulates the unsettling beliefs and value systems of its followers and hints at the untapped creative potentials of digital technologies. The London Institute of ‘Pataphysics absolves simulation of its responsibility as test-bed for reality, in turn allowing it—in its unworldliness—to stake its own claim to reality.
“THE LONDON INSTITUTE OF ‘PATAPHYSICS (DEPARTMENT OF SUBLIMINAL IMAGES, DEPARTMENT OF DOGMA & THEORY, COMMITTEE FOR HIRSUTISM & POGONOTROPHY, DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTIVE ARCHAEOLOGY, OFFICE OF PATENTRY, DEPARTMENT OF POTASSONS)”
“EXHIBITION SPACE (’PATAPHYSICAL WANDS AND A PEANUT ENLARGER)”
“GREENWICH PENINSULA BALCONIES”
(Painted 3D print on Jesmonite base, 8x9x14”).
(Work in progress screenshots).
“(’PATA)PHYSICAL FEASIBILITY STUDY”
(Animation and video footage, plaster cast, welded steel plate and wires).
Shortlisted for the West London RIBA Prize.
Exhibited at the Royal College of Art (2016).
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