In what is also known as ‘the Inflatable Era’, inflatable architecture was manufactured as a prerequisite for a new, nomadic way of life. Space travel served as the inspiration for these capsules. However, are these high-tech hide-outs post-human or not?
“A little world in which the big one holds its tryouts”, is how guest curator and professor Bart Lootsma describes the development of Austrian avant-garde movements in the 20th century. In this lecture series, Lootsma places the so-called ‘Radical Austria’ of the 1960s in the context of the long Austrian tradition of art and design.
Posthuman; once your eyes are opened to it you see it everywhere. But what is it? In this recurring series, curator Fredric Baas explains. In the first column, Baas focuses on the changing human body, something Austrian designers were already investigating in the 1960s.
The need for radical change manifested itself in post-war Austria in a series of megalomanic urban designs. These projects share an obsession with technology and infrastructure and a drive to create completely new ways of living together.
Actionism is the unique Austrian brand of performance art. By means of choreographies with naked bodies, paint and blood, combined with loud music, they intoxicate the participants and the audience.
The designers and artists in the Austrian avant-garde were obsessed with theories of social change. Despite their manifestos often being very radical, they realised an impressive number of their projects.
With his manifesto Alles ist Architektur Hans Hollein does away with the traditional definition of architecture: “Our efforts are focused on the environment as a whole and on all media that determine it. Both television, the artificial climate, transport, clothing, the telephone and the home.”
The performances of the Actionists increasingly sparked scandals attracting attention of both police and media. This culminated in 1968 in the happening Kunst und Revolution, arranged by the artist Peter Weibel as part of student protests and taking place in a prominent lecture hall of Vienna University.
Schöner Wohnen, or ‘the destruction of the habitable coffin’ is a film made by the architecture collective Salz der Erde in 1971, in which the ideal of the tasteful-bourgeois housing magazine of the same name is mercilessly undermined.
In the 1960s, the body became the starting point for a radical rethinking of architecture, design, fashion and art. The boundaries between those disciplines increasingly disappeared.
In the 1960s and 1970s, new media such as radio, telephone and TV changed the relationship between people and the environment. The impact on the human experience of the environment makes perception an important theme for many artists and designers during this period.
That cybernetics would radically influence the functioning of design, architecture and urban planning was understood in Austria at an early stage. Its consequences are speculated on in numerous projects.
Walter Pichler’s prototypes of furniture and appliances are perfectly executed and functional. By emphasizing certain effects of the use of everyday objects, these prototypes show their cold and disorientating impact.
A series of experiments by Coop Himmelb(l)au investigates how human test subjects respond to intensive media experiences and how these reactions can be fed back to those media.
Haus-Rucker-Co works on the Mind Expanding Program from 1967 to 1971. The program aims to expand human consciousness and man-made environments on different levels.
The oil crisis and environmental issues have led to an international reconsideration of the technological fascinations of the avant-gardes of the 1960s. Haus-Rucker-Co, in particular, reflects in very large installations on the consequences of environmental pollution.