E.A.T. It Up: The Pepsi Pavilion

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I’m a Diet Coke guy. The very fact that The Pepsi Generation existed in 1970 should blow a hole in their brand’s supposed youthy credibility big enough to drive a 90-foot mirrored dome though. Oh, and what do we have here?
pepsi_pavilion_mist.jpg
Holy freakin’ crap, why has no one told me The Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka was an origami rendition of a geodesic dome; obscured in a giant mist cloud produced by an all-encompassing capillary net; surrounded by Robert Breer’s motorized, minimalist pod sculptures; entered through an audio-responsive, 4-color laser show–yes, using actual, frickin’ lasers– and culminating in a 90-foot mirrored mylar dome, which hosted concerts, happenings, and some 2 million slightly disoriented Japanese visitors?
pepsi_pavilion_inside.jpg
And that large chunks of it were conceived, developed, and programmed by E.A.T., Experiments in Art and Technology, the pioneering art/engineering collaborate founded by [among others] Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Labs’ Billy Kluver? And that the four artists working with Kluver–Breer, Frosty Myers, Robert Whitman, and David Tudor–had planned months of even freakier happenings for the Pavilion, but the Pepsi gave them the boot for being too freaky–and for going significantly over budget? Still.
pepsi_pavilion_test.jpg
The least you could’ve done is tell me that Raven Industries made a full-size replica of the Pavilion out of Mylar and test-inflated it in a disused blimp hangar in Santa Ana, CA? Apparently, all it took was a 1/1,000th of an atmosphere difference in air pressure to keep the mirror inflated within the outer structure.
Because, of course, you know that Kluver was the guy at Bell Labs who helped Warhol with his seminal “Silver Flotations” exhibit in 1966 [seen here in Willard Maas’s film poem on Ubu]. And Bell Labs was involved in Project Echo, which launched and tracked two gigantic mylar spheres, satelloons, a couple of years earlier. Which makes the Pavilion’s similarities to the satellite below purely non-coincidental.
Which means that after recreating these two, earliest NASA missions as art projects, I’ll have to recreate the Pepsi Pavilion, too.
I’ve ordered by copy of Kluver et al’s dense-sounding 1972 catalogue, Pavilion and expect to be revisiting this topic in some depth within 5-7 business days. Meanwhile, if there are any other giant, mylar spheres of tremendous-yet-overlooked artistic and historical importance lurking out there, now’s your chance to come clean.
E.A.T. – Experiments in Art and Technology «Pepsi Pavilion for the Expo ’70» [mediaartnet.org]
Previously: Must. Find. The Satelloons Of Project Echo
D’oh, or else I must make the satelloons of Project Echo, which would mean I’m an artist, freak, or both
echo_satelloon_color.JPG

Autoprogettazione: The Making Of An Enzo Mari Dining Room Table

mari_effe_table.jpg
The economic and ecological and aesthetic far-sightedness of Enzo Mari’s 1974 Autoprogettazione still blows my mind. Translated variously as “self-projects,” and “self-design, self-made,” Mari’s collection of designs for furniture you could build yourself with just a hammer using cheap, off-the-shelf lumber anticipated several key design principles that resonate right now: DIY; sustainability; small-scale, local production and consumption; simplicity; handmade; hacking commercial products; and the open-source/creative commons movements [the furniture could be built by anyone except a factory or a dealer.]
Mari intended his Autoprogettazione to be made of #2 medium-grade, knotty pine, some of the humblest material on the market. He arranged for a company to pre-cut the lumber and sell it in packs as Metamobile. Naturally, one of these vintage 1974 kit tables sold for $14,400 at auction last fall.
Naturally, a gallery in Chelsea, Demisch Danant, just closed an exhibition of Metamobile furniture which they had made, and which they arranged for Mari himself to sign. Which seems to defeat several purposes of the entire Autoprogettazione concept, but that’s life.

mari_dining_table.jpg

I’m looking for photos of the first Metamobile furniture I saw, which is still my favorite: In 2004, Rirkrit Tiravanija produced Mari’s square dining table [above] and some chairs in chrome-plated stainless steel. The pieces weighed a ton, but they were truly spectacular, like Koons picnic furniture.
Anyway, we’re just in the middle of moving our place in DC, which gives me the occasion to need a bigger, nicer dining room table. Mid-century modernism is too relentlessly tasteful; recent prices of “good” furniture make me laugh out loud. Though I’m an unrepentant Ikea fan, it only goes so far [i.e., no serious furniture]. Mari’s furniture feels like the perfect counterpoint to the homogeneous mega-catalogue stores: C&B, Pottery Barn, CB2, West Elm, etc. etc. etc.
So I’m thinking of getting the Truss Table [top] known as the EFFE Table. As a city dweller, I’d have to have it made, or at least have the lumber cut and finished and delivered for my own assembly.
An ex-pat design firm in Japan used sugi, Japanese cedar, to make their EFFE table. For me, I think it’s key to use Mari’s intended pine. So far, I’ve sourced two wildly disparate, but potentially interesting woods:

  • Though it sounds like an oxymoron, I tried to find the most unique, most refined pine around. In the US, at least, that’s longleaf pine harvested from sunken logs. Known as sinker pine or river-reclaimed pine, these logs were up to 500 years old when they were felled 150-200 years ago. A few specialist mills salvage and process the wood, mostly into flooring. So producing the 1×2 “run of the mill” lumber needed would require custom milling. Which has an amusing irony to it. And a comfortingly expensive price tag.
  • The other option is even more ironic, though: get the wood from Ikea. It’d be the ultimate Ikea hack to turn a mass-produced bookcase and bunkbed into a handmade, Italian designer dining table. Ikea could supplant Home Depot as the go-to source for Everything. So far, though bunkbeds might work, the only Ikea products with promising dimensions and wood supply are bed slats. They’re essentially a bundle of 1×2 boards stapled to a canvas tape. At $9.99, they’re cheaper per board-food than actual lumber at Home Depot. Once I get my calculator warmed up, and then my tape measure, I’ll know if an original Enzo Mari dining table can be had for $19.98, $998, or, $14,998.
    update: Those Demisch Danant pieces appear related to a series of 18 pieces put up at auction last June in Paris. Artcurial has a making of video, though they don’t actually show what they made. An EFFE Table went for EUR2,231.

  • outline for Wed. Seminar

    Ignore me. I’m making notes for a seminar at CCNY that Paul Myoda invited me to speak at and screen some of the films. I should probably make a Venn Diagram for this…
    Production diary of my own films
    Ideas behind my own films (including development of some scripts, why the hell I’m doing a musical)
    Influences and inspiration, whether filmmakers, artists, writers
    Subject matter, themes, background and continuing dialogue/unfolding events (death, grief, 9/11, memorials, architecture)
    Art & architecture I like, because it impacts me and my worldview
    Other peoples’ filmmaking news, experiences
    Filmmaking trends I find relevant (DV, Machinima, Animation, DVD, documentary-style, video game-film dialogue)
    Topics that develop a life of their own (shipping container architecture, powerpoint, Liza Minnelli for a frightening minute there-blame Gawker– Sforzian backgrounds and the entertainment techniques of politics, putting this war in context, religiosity, WTC Memorial Competition)
    Insights and interviews with filmmakers I think are worth paying attention to/learning something from
    Self-admittedly brilliant ideas I’m confident everyone in the world will benefit from reading (note: heavy overlap with other categories)

    Shoot sequentially, post asynchronously

    Gerry, still, Gus van Sant

    Don’t know how I missed this; in Feb., Gus Van Sant talked to The Onion A.V. Club about making his films. The sequential filming mode from Gerry was used again on Elephant; with a small, light crew, Van Sant was practically flying along, shooting whatever he wanted. It was an approach he’d missed since his first feature, Mala Noche.
    One review of Gerry deadpanned that Los Angeles is enough of a desert itself, why go to Death Valley; since reading it, I’ve wanted to do a shot-for-shot remake of Gerry, set in teeming east LA. After all, for a west-side anglo, being stuck on foot in East LA could be as alienating and threatening as an empty desert.
    [Update: I finally found it; It was a Voice interview with Van Sant, who said: “In the West, as soon as you get out of town, depending on which direction you go, you can hit desert, especially in L.A. I mean, L.A. is really a desert anyway.”
    Unfortunately, there’s something screwy going on with the DVD release of Gerry. Criterion is apparently handling it, but there’s no mention of it at all on their site.

    On how I always think I have two more days than I do, sort of a staggered Groundhog Day

    Sent off entries to festivals in Rotterdam and San Jose, even though Rotterdam’s short film deadline was last week (I got as close to special dispensation as they’re willing to do in these circumstances, pleading and dropping the heavy name of the festival that accepted the film for December.)
    The memefeeder online film project doesn’t have a upload deadline Monday, it goes live on Monday, so I’m scrambling to shoot, edit, digitize and upload that by Friday night. Net net: the storyline I posted a couple of days ago may only be released on the DVD…
    There are a lot of thanks to give out. First, Evan of Blogger, who kindly annointed this site and brought it to the attention of some people besides those Googling “Albert Maysles and Glitter“; travelersdiagram, Ftrain, Camworld and boing boing, where I’ve tapped some rich info veins lately; fellow filmmakers Ryan Deussing, Stefan DeVries, and Roosa, who’ve said very nice things; folks at themixture.com, who were also very kind; Tyler at MAN, whose site is a great read despite all the comments I post on it; Eric Banks and Nico Israel at Artforum for alighting (from the heights of print) on the net for a good exchange.
    If all these thank you’s sound elegiac, don’t worry; I’m only going to the gym.

    Memefeeder scene preparations

    from to

    Currently prepping to shoot a 1-minute scene for an online collaborative film at Memefeeder.com. I’m doing Scene Three, “Commute,” for which the first and last shot of the scene has been provided; what actually happens in the scene is up to me.
    The story: previous instances of missing his ride flash through the mind of a commuter worried about being late once again.
    shot 1: a failed attempt to hitchhike in Greenwich, CT
    shot 2: missing the bus
    shot 3: searching unsucessfully for a cab
    shot 4: missing a flight at JFK
    shot 5: running for the closing subway doors
    Web links I’m using: Planespotting.com’s JFK runway guide, Cached maps of JFK. Apparently, original map images have been removed from the web. No telling yet if the planespotting roads are still accessible. The Pan Am (now Delta) terminal’s rooftop parking most certainly is not

    MemeFeeder online film project

    And speaking of composite films by collections of directors, MemeFeeder is a collaborative online movie I am participating in. Based somewhere in the aether (the use of the phrase “first in best dressed” makes me think at least one Australian is involved), MemeFeeder has invited ten directors (and other contributors) to each create a one-minute silent film based on a scene from the storyboard they’ve provided. The ten completed minutes will be runtogethertomake a ten-minute short, which will screen online in mid-October.