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The Builders Association and dbox, SUPER VISION: NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE

SUPER VISION tells three stories

1. As he crosses successive borders, a solitary traveller gradually is forced to reveal all of his personal information, until his identity becomes transparent, with no part of his life left outside the boundaries of datasurveillance.

2. A young woman (Jen), addicted to the white noise of constant connection, maintains a long-distance relationship with her Grandmother. As she makes efforts to digitally archive her Grandmother's past, the Grandmother slips into senility.

3. A father covertly exploits his young son's personal data to meet the demands of the family's lifestyle. This ploy escalates beyond the father's control, until he is compelled to disappear. His wife and son are left with a starkly diminished data portrait, and his escape is shadowed by the long reach of the datasphere.

James Gibbs

Nick Kaye: dbox is grounded in many ways in your architectural training, yet you have emphasized the importance of your interest in representation over resolving your work into built forms. Why this emphasis?

James Gibbs: I would say that we– Matthew Bannister, Charles D’Autremont and I - were all interested in narrative, which is a kind of a funny thing to be interested in if you are studying architecture. We got excited about the possibilities of trying to maintain narrative using architecture, or using architectural language and that pushed us more towards representation and drawing - and ultimately towards making drawings with computers – rather than to sticks and bricks. In the long run, that is probably something that led us into this kind of collaboration.

Nick Kaye: So you developed an interest in narrative but held within some kind of representational architectural form.

James Gibbs: We experimented a lot on our projects - as well back in the old days as students - with trying to maintain a narrative or let a narrative be suggested by architectural drawings. There is a tradition of paper architecture that goes way back – Boullée Étienne-Louis Boullée, 1728-1799 comes to mind, his great monographs of projects which are, if not exactly narrative, are not really about building per se. Also Ledoux Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, 1736-1806 who has plenty of built work - and his built work has some elements of narrative suggestion - but his un-built work can be read in that way. Ledoux built the tax gates around Paris, about four of which are still standing and in use. In a weird way it was a fascinating misuse or abuse of classical language - and I think it is a little easier to read manipulations when somebody is working within a language. So we experimented with different techniques in plans for projects, although they were not executed. It’s kind of a third path. It is something that joined us together at that time – and, well, we wanted to work together and live in New York. We didn’t want to work for large corporate architecture companies.

Nick Kaye: Maintaining a narrative might also imply an engagement with time -

James Gibbs: Time is not necessarily unusual for dbox, because we do time-based work – animation and movies. But working live - and working with a time that therefore has to be flexible - was fascinating for us. And the other thing was going back to working to scale – because we have been working outside of concepts of scale for so long. Here we are not building buildings, but we are dealing with one-to-one relationships with human bodies. That was that was another really exciting part of the experience.


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