Venetian Bric(k)olage: An Ecology of Found Practices
Exploration of alternative forms of ‘computing’ to design ‘living brick’ prototypes
Living Brick series workshop for the Swiss Artistic Research Network (SARN) at the Uni-Arts Research Pavilion, Venice Biennale August 2017.
The Experimental Architecture Group (Rachel Armstrong, Simone Ferracina and Rolf Hughes) will conduct an ‘open’ experiment in designing a ‘living brick’ prototype for Venice. Over the course of the day we will explore the characteristics of a unit of design that is relevant to the challenges that Venice faces in the 21st century. Continuing a long tradition in Venice of ‘upcycling’ matter, where objects are re-appropriated and re-valued rather than discarded, we will draw together a range of new possibilities for creative material synthesis. Waste materials will be collected from the city and used to begin to negotiate a set of relationships through which an alternative way of working with matter is possible. Potential connections are negotiated through conversation, speculation, trial and error. Specifically, we will examine the ‘living’ stones of Venice’s waterways, which are encrusted with ‘biofouling’ where mussels, barnacles, oysters, algae and bacteria generate bioconcrete in the tidal zones. The synthesis of waste in the city will also be explored, especially with respect to the 13 million plastic bottles per year that find their way into the lagoon (Coates, 2015), the algae that feed on the agricultural run-off from the Po delta and the domestic waste released into the city’s waterways. We will develop a poetics of receptivity in relation to our ‘found’ materials, which may at any point challenge our initial proposal. Bric(k)olage and an “ecology of found practices” will be used to gather, order and sort our themes and materials, develop a range of prototypes, further interrogate our reading of our findings, and generate new transferrable knowledge that aims to identify a positive role for artistic research within the built environment, embodying an ethics of life while embracing humanity’s respectful stewardship of the living world.