23 September 2018


Susanne Isa

TRADE…The Course of Empire
UNITSIXTEEN continues its restless exploration into the myths of the near future. Reflecting again on the complex physical and immaterial boundaries of Wealth and Power at the centre of state in the age of the Anthropocene.

Trade in its simplest form is a transactional arrangement or exchange, between peoples or countries, for the buying and selling of goods and services. Trade is a fundamental mechanical unit of labour and commerce. Trade is both noun and verb. 

Free Trade, by definition, is a laissez-faire practicewith little or minimal interference. This requires the strategic policy of governmental to not discriminate against Importsor interfere with exportsby the application of tariffs. That said, even an established free trade policy, does not necessarily imply governments relinquish or abandon allcontrol and taxation of imports and exports. All activity, allwork, has an economic cost, allof which needs to be balanced. Trade has consequences, economic, social and political. Unitsixteen will explore the mechanisms, apparatus, and infrastructure of trade. 

Central to trade is the protective ownership of ideas, allowing their commercial exploitation. Copyright, Patent, Trademarks and Trade-Secrets which until the mid 20thCentury were considered as analogous but stilldistinct. Boundaries have become blurred, now collectively seen as Intellectual Property, managing the slippery complexities and distinctions between the material and immaterial nature of matter. 

We will focus our studies at the heart of Empire, Trafalgar Square, the epicentre of wealth and power, surrounded by the institutions of state, a bridge to capital. A static scene, curiously out of step in both time and space.

 “…I am convinced that the future is lost somewhere in the dumps of the non-historical past; it is in yesterday’s newspapers, in the jejune advertisements of science fiction movies, in the false mirror of our rejected dreams. Time turns metaphors into things.” 
Robert Smithson

Simon Herron + Jonathan Walker

09 April 2014

Reconstruction of Giraffedae Camelopardalis Tippelskirchi [Masai Giraffe] Museum of Natural     History, Rome, Susanne Isa 2013

Cabinets of Wonder in the Age of Abundance

Imagine a collection, bridging a period of great uncertainty, at the intersection of postmodernity and a new era of Anthropocenic super-modernity…

This paper will reflect on the origins and driving passions behind great collections of historical Arcana and Natural Curiosa, originating in the private collections of 16th and 17th Century Europe, through to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in California today. We will consider the resistive boundaries between conventions of science and art practice through the unconscious wanderings of true amateurs, unburdened by the corrupting pressures of profit or professionalism. We will examine an unorthodox landscape of curatorialism, a practice presented in a stilted silence with meticulous facts, scientific footnotes, exhibit cards with careful catalogue listings, sources, citations, provenance and a copious use of Latin, all supported by the reassuringly confident tone of a taped narrator.

In an age of on-demand content, encyclopaedic inventories and self-authorship, everyone can operate as their own curator. Holding a mirror up to the role of the exclusive curatorial practice, we will explore complex strands of interwoven narrative and seemingly inexplicable facts, finely balanced on the edge of reason and deliriously bathed in doubt.

Pictured here are some clues: Nature relocated at a zoomorphic juncture of pure metaphor; a curious collection of Presidential vitrines; Rocket Man as ultimate hero, reconstructed with forensic certitude; the self-taught amateur physicist Jim Carter’s alternative theory for the creation of matter - the Other Theory of Physics and the Living Universe.

Simon Herron
Abstract Future Cities 3 - Conference University of Greenwich April 10th 2014

06 April 2014

Thursday 10th April 2014
9.45am – 6.00pm
  • Howe Lecture Theatre [QA080]
  • Greenwich Maritime Campus
  • Old Royal Naval College
  • London SE10 9LS
Much of our current urban view is characterised by a swingeing human fall-back position that values sophism, tardiness and economic stringency. This view is predicated on a concern, and a commercialisation of this concern, that we have finite resources and runs hand in hand with a distrust of exuberance, creativity, for its own sake and “out of the box” thinking. This Future Cities 3 conference is themed “Abundance”. It will posit new ways to find abundance in the city, whether through synthetic technology, augmented reality, Utopian thinking or the digitally fabricated Baroque.
The conference will be an antidote to architectural urban Methodist-ism and worthy nothingness. It will be a tsunami of ideas, images and speculations facilitated by a timely optimism – an optimism founded on new materials, new ways of thinking, new tactics and protocols of space, and finally the syncretic opportunities of architecture in the 21st Century.
Keynote speaker:
Evan Douglis Studio
University of Greenwich
Cornell University
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich / The Bartlett UCL
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich / Louisiana State University
University of Greenwich
An accompanying exhibition is open from Monday 7th April – Friday 11th April in the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Queen Anne Building, Greenwich Maritime Campus.
Exhibition Private View – Thursday 10th April 6pm (following the conference).
To reserve a place at the conference, please contact: as71@gre.ac.uk.
Admission is free.

15 April 2013

IMAGINE: Fictional Architecture And The 
Liberation of Ideas
07th April - 30th June 2013, Bin Matar House, Bahrain

As part of the annual spring festival of culture in Bahrain, the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre presents “IMAGINE: Fictional Architecture And The Liberation of Ideas” an exhibition of experimental architectural drawings. With this show the centre continues its series of exhibitions focusing on the world of architecture and design which started with the 2010 exhibition of Zaha Hadid’s design objects and paintings in Bin Matar House - the first in the Gulf region.

Unit Sixteen and former DS 14 has a considerable presence in this year’s exhibition, focusing for the first time on architectural drawings. 

"In these projects of final year graduate students at some of Europe’s leading architectural schools, these drawings and three dimensional objects find there greatest sense of personal expression and liberty to explore fictional domains. Prior to entering the world of real architecture, where illustrative and technical drawings dominate, architecture students are free to create utopian and imaginary projects." Melissa Enders-Bhatia Head of Art and Exhibitions at the Shikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research, Bahrain

Those exhibited include . . .

Meor Haris Bahrin , Luke Chandresinghe, Michael Dean, Adis Dobardzic
Mark Hatter, Sun Hwang, Jinhyuk  Ko, Gill Lambert, Christopher Leung
Jorg Majer, Tania Okpa, Pernilla Ohrstedt, Yumi Saito, Matthew Wilkinson
Nick Szczepaniak

The exhibition was designed and curated by Elke Frotscher and Florian Frotscher work exhibited was from The Bartlett, University of Greenwich, Oxford Brookes and University of Westminster graduates.

Extract from the Catalogue essay by Simon Herron & Susanne Isa . . . 

On Drawing:
Drawing is a skill traditionally that all architects have to acquire to communicate with a client, engineer and builder. Drawings made for a client are to enable them to appreciate and understand how the architect intends to manifest in built form their needs and aspirations, in response to a particular brief and budget on a given site. Drawings produced for the builder enable them to understand in technical terms how the built form is to be achieved and to what technical standard and finish. There is a long history to the making of these kinds of marks on paper for conveying this type of information through to the whole building information modelling of BIM.

The drawings presented within this exhibition have a different reader in mind. Less understood these drawings are essentially private. The imagined reader is the author along with other architects and critics alike. Raw, incredibly personal, these works are not pictured or imagined illustrations of fully formed ideas or projects. They are the first speculative glimpses, driven by a complex machine code of cyphers, a private haptic language of invention, raw fundamental data sets, laying bare, the scripted genetic code of the author.

Drawings are considered simultaneously as both tools of practice and as sites of construction. Tactile, independent surfaces to be assembled with consideration to their particular processes of manufacture, their spatial geometries and syntax, a combination of actual and implied scales, the playful interplay of unexpected material relationships.

Drawings imagined within this active real-time speculative space, work as filters, collating and testing unexpected relationships. Considers possibilities of dynamic motion, part hard conditioned facts, framed against half-truths and myths. The building site is part paper, part transferred references, an elaborate interwoven fluid field shifting through time and space.

Drawings should contain a combination of architectural and non-architectural scales. Drawings are framed as hybrids, x% fact, x% fiction, with the precise alchemical ratio to be determined by the author. These constructions are physical entities, with a corresponding mass with measurable densities. They are transformative, evolving surfaces in flux, containing the traces and histories of their manufacturer.

Marcel Duchamp in 1917, proposed that by simply choosing an Ordinary
Article Of Life [Urinal], Displacing its Context [hardware store to art gallery] so that its usual significance and meaning disappears, then by creating a New Title [Fountain] and Point Of View [Art], created New Thoughts and New Meaning, a powerful transformative tool. The application too architecture

Subject + Object  + Space:
Through this critical re- examination, re-appraisal, New Thoughts are created for both architectural objects and spaces. Displacement further removes an object from its familiar context, destabilizing its meaning and function. With this, there needs to be an adjustment of the prospective positions of both reader and narrator.

Transformations may be imperceptible or dramatic.
Transformations may be merely implied, suggested or imagined.
Something impermanent could be in a constant state of flux.
Discarded discredited or simply retired technologies or ideologies.
To be out of date is to be dislocated in time and space

Whilst reading these drawings consider these thoughts: Something local, as seen on TV, something at a junction, popular, transient , expendable, cheap, mass produced, audacious, witty, gimmicky, romantic, leftovers, loose ends, the invisible, customised, luxury, plastic, abandoned, incomplete, unmade, misunderstood, inefficient, broken, forgotten, misplaced, bespoke, out of place, matter of fact . . . . .

Consider the structure the composition, cropped and close up, the stylization of image. You may choose to physically cut and edit them. Or you may choose to manipulate the images digitally. Consider trying a combination of physical cutting and digital manipulation. 

We have traversed the unfolding backlands of America, reframed against the unfolding landscapes of post-industrial England, in the shadow of Empire. This is not a Gateway [2010-11] explored the consequences of the failure of an over dominant industry on its host city. Detroit Michigan, motor city USA was taken as a model, a city with a self inflicted dependency culture running deep into the zeitgeist of its past and future. London's own dependency on an over extended service sector was pictured against imagined banking failures, mass civil unrest, leading to unprecedented urban flight, abandoned London falls into protracted decline. Nostalgia for the future [2011-12] explored the emerging territories of Stratford City and the Westfield center, proposing alternative Olympic legacies, a fresh new world of dreams.

Returning to the heart of the metropolis this year, to focus on the boundaries between wealth and power at the center of the Common-Wealth. Trafalgar Square the centre of study. Conceived originally as a public space by John Nash, Sir Charles Barry, most recently re-modeled by Sir Norman Foster. A complex paradoxical landscape, surrounded by the symbols of lost tribes, failed ideologies and faded power. Restoration [2012-13] - is a collective call to challenge, to re see the utility and function of the institutions of state, rejecting traditions, proposing new futures.