Thursday, August 30, 2012

TROLLCASINO and the proposal for a Cottage Economy Future, close-up

For our participation in MADEINATHENS at the Greek Pavilion in the 13th Venice Biennial, We decided to study two iconic modernist buildings in Athens. Each of those buildings represents a side of the current two-fold crisis engulfing the city: The Civic side of the crisis is represented by the housing block Chara, and the Economic side by the luxury resort and casino of Mont Parnes.

The housing block, startlingly different from it's surrounding cheap and profit driven pseudo-modernist polykatoikies decides the city is no longer a friendly environment, and decides one day to leave, perhaps mirroring the immigrants who now leave Greece for their countries and the Greeks taking off in search of better fortunes elsewere. (Athens took it's current shape during a mass internal migration from the 1950s and onwards, when Greeks from every corner of the WWII and Greek Civil War ravaged country moved to Athens for jobs and modern comforts. This was followed by a wave of financial immigrants from Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia that began in the 1990s.)
The video and installation narrates the story of the building, while going off in the theoretical future scenario of it's transformation into an inhabitable mountain.

The casino was built in the late 1950s with Marshall Plan funding, commisioned by the Karamanlis government. It was to be, like many Marshall Plan constructions, a perfect billboard for the future promised to all the NATO participating countries, a hi-tech modernist emblem positioned on top of mount Parnitha, visible from the entire city of Athens, and who knows maybe even from Moscow? The building was also heavily used to promote the Greek Economy and Tourism forces to consider in the European landscape, and perhaps part of Karamanlis plan of Greece as a valid European partner.

Things did not exactly turn out like this, and the luxury resort proved to be a shaky gamble, criticized by many as a mediocre, poorly planned building. The rooms were too small for a mountain resort, the pool reminded one of a beach side fancy but was too windy and cold for anybody to use, the public spaces of the hotel were hard to navigate and offered none of the spectacular views that the location promised. The hotel went quickly bankrupt, and began a steady decline of alternating bankruptcies, renovations and unsuccessful conversions into a school of tourism, a state casino, a privately owned hotel and recently a half demolished ruin about to be re-built as a copy of it's previous self. Between these failed attempts to revive the building came earthquakes, fires and structural failures just adding to the list problems for this unlucky building. More than a capitalist gamble gone wrong, it seems as if the mountain itself was rejecting it's modernist occupant, as if constructing this building on top of this nature reserve was a perfect example of hybris.
At the same time, the counties economy underwent a similar series of failed renovations, seemingly unable to follow the course of capitalism, as it evolved from a cold-war political game of domination to the casino capitalism of financial markets, and to today's crisis capitalism.
In the end, the building that was meant as a billboard for the strength of the economy became an emblem of it's failures, inhabiting the peak of the current economic warzone.
The project researches this history, but takes a sharp turn into a future where the development of a cottage economy follows the fantasy solution of a midnight explosion. The broken pieces of the exploded casino scatter on the slopes of Mount Parnitha and slowly grow into small shelters, the modernist fragments helped into completion by the tree trunks of Parnitha, hybrid cottages that escape into a future of locally grown independed economies.

Andreas Angelidakis 2010-2012

3D and Animation: Sotiris Vasiliou

additional work for TROLL: Dimitris Silaidos, Nana Stathi, Georgios Eftaxiopoulos, Eirini Anthouli.
addtional 3D for CASINO: Diamadis Tegelidis
photediting Alexandra Syriou

video editing AA
installation: Sotiris Vasiliou, Alexandra Syriou, AA

Friday, August 24, 2012

TROLLCASINO at the 13th Venice Biennial

TROLLCASINO is the joined story of two modernist buildings in Athens, that is part of MADE in ATHENS, curated by Panos Dragonas and Anna Skiada, the Greek Pavilion at the 13th Venice Biennial of Architecture.
the stories of the two are presented as installations, each a collage of plywood frames, containing prints and videos and objects and facts and a lot of fiction too

each story is a short film too, presented in fragments, inside small screens

Troll or the Voluntary Ruin is the story of a rare example of high quality modernism in a low income area of Athens
in the video, the building reaches a point where it can no longer tolerate it's surroundings. The typical Athenian polykatoikia (apartment building) was a cheap version of Corbusier's 5 points of architecture, all shifted and tweaked to provide the contractor and the owner maximum profit and floor area at minimum cost. 

Our heroine Chara (Joy) as the building was nicknamed, decides one day to become a mountain instead of a building

she collects energy from plants, cars, protests and people

and heads off for the countryside

the video is an opportunity to take a look at the current situation in Athens, a city that today seems the perfect performer of it's deep civic and financial crisis. Chara wants to leave all this behind.

Greediness on both the individual and government level has been perhaps the key factor in shaping the city of Athens. Political circumstance might come a close second. The project attempts a close look at the reality of the city through a fictional scenario that hints at possible architecture without actually proposing a built structure. 
Chara voluntarily becomes a ruin in order to position herself in a field of questions, leaving for the mountains to collect her thoughts about the city and its architectures.

On top of a mountain we find another modernist icon, the luxury resort and casino of Mont Parnes
the resort offers magnificent views of a city sinking in crisis, where the only thing ever advertised is online casinos

the resort had been built in the 1960s with Marshall Plan funding, 

the idea was that it would advertise the country as a successful proponent of all things U.S.A., a basic technique of the era's cold war politics 
modernist hi-tech architecture and strong, booming economy.
it did not turn out exactly like that. The resort was unlucky, a failed investment that seems to go bankrupt every 5 years.

it got endlessly renovated and rebranded as a casino, a school for tourism, a resort, a casino again
meanwhile casino capitalism was becoming the norm in financial markets
Could it be that the mountain was rejecting the luxury resort?
fact becomes fiction and one night the inevitable explosion takes place 

Bad luck continued, bankruptcies were followed by earthquakes and fires, structural problems and a major financial crisis.

Suddenly the modernist building has accidentally fulfilled it's original purpose, to represent the economy. Only it is a story of continuing failure, misjudged attempts at renovation and constant gambling.

the project attempts to look at the building for another perspective, that of the billboard building, the roadside duck that has no content apart from what its there to advertise. A mountain of questions about the nature of modernism, and what we might call post-modern,

an attempt to piece together an architecture that understands the complexity of casino capitalism, knows how to navigate the jungle of spreads, jump over the ravines of expired bonds and other market abstractions.

could there be such an architecture, 

and would it know how to survive on a mountain?

after the explosion the mountain calms down, and we find the fragments of the casino have become shelters

could a collage between a mountain shelter (a traditional Hütte ) and the modernist shards, provide some closure to the story? Buildings unplugged from the power grid, off the financial network, buildings that decides to leave everything behind.

Andreas Angelidakis 2010-2012

3D and Animation: Sotiris Vasiliou

additional work for TROLL: Dimitris Silaidos, Nana Stathi, Georgios Eftaxiopoulos, Eirini Anthouli.
addtional 3D for CASINO: Diamadis Tegelidis
photediting Alexandra Syriou

video editing AA
installation: Sotiris Vasiliou, Alexandra Syriou, AA

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SpaceCraft Anafi

Once again I found myself on the island of Anafi, this time to research the temporary architecture of the beach for South magazine, and to be part of the Angelo Foundations' Eternal Internet Brotherhood.

My contribution to #ETINTERBRO was a beach screening of Piotr Kamlers' 1983 Chronopolis.

A reading of the island as an alien, deserted, and inexplicable landscape, an ancient ecosystem of machines and nature.

The sea as a mechanism of energy, the concrete as a denial of existence, animals as alien visitors and plant life as the true citizen of the atemporal eternal civilization of Anafi. In Chronopolis, the sole occupation of the hiereatic inhabitants was to create time, solely for their pleasure.
There is not enough evidence against the existence of Chronopolis.

Despite the monotony of immortality, they lived in expectation, of the chance meeting of a particular moment in time and a human being.

The film is overlayed on the island of Anafi. Leaving behind it's southern typology, the overlay reaches deep into a mystical, uninhabited and perhaps ancient side of the rock long rumored to be, together with the rock of Gibraltar, the result of an alien invasion. The film searches the rock for signs of previous inhabitants, looking for fragments of a civilization they might have left behind.
(according to the opening credits, Chronopolis is a story of Eternity and Desire)

Scanning the landscape for clues, the meticulous elders of Chronopolis locate pieces of an infrastructural puzzle.

Could these be part of the intricate interface with which one navigated the island through time and space?
Are these giant circular plugs that we see, an advanced type of Superconductor cable connection, for unimaginable amounts of data transfer?

The research seems to suggest that ancient Anafians were a brotherhood of expert telecommunicators, using the nearby indigenous population of Santorini as their hardware, simple workers whose the island became Anafi's dock connector and potential launchpad.

It was a failed attempt to relaunch Anafi back to the stars that ruined the primitive and simplistic neighborhood settlements of Thira and Knossos. According to legend the ignition malfunctioned, spreading the energy sideways and creating a giant tsunami wave that engulfed the human settlements of the cyclades.

Meanwhile back to the overlayed present time, a large abandoned infrastuctural constellation is located on the center of the islands south facade.

A narrow, perfectly formed road leads into a central chamber, and ends in a large orthogonal data-port.
The small road ends abruptly there, clearly suggesting that this was the main, ceremonial teleport of the Anafian fleet.
The elders of Chronopolis are awed by this discovery, and decide to use their time machine to simulate a past visit to this ancient teleport, which could offer more clues as to the methods of t
The landscape around us fades and we are suddenly a few years back, or perhaps a few years forward. For the Elders, time is like sand on a beach, it does not necessarily move forward or backward, drifting instead eternally.
The moment in time to which we are transported, the main teleportation chamber is half filled with a soft green liquid, and we are greeted by 3 Cloud Oracles, swimming in the cooling agent of the still dormant teleport. Was the liquid not cold enough for the teleport to function? Was it too much? Had the island run out of energy, and could not power up?

Or was it in the middle of a charging process, and would soon be ready for take-off to another voyage through the stars?
On the way back to the beach, we encountered yet more pieces of this infrastructural puzzle, but still not enough to complete the picture. Everybody was sleeping calmly, deeply, even if it was the middle of the so-called day. Suddenly we wondered where all this sleepenergy was going, where was it stored? And why did humans spend so many hours charging up on energy, since they seemed to hardly move, hardly spending any of the energy they were collecting?

Were these visitors just part of an operating system of energy collection, that the island had devised to charge up its energy reserve? Did the island invite the humans to sleep enough hours for it to collect the energy it required? Was the current OS of the island a way for it to recuperate it's past operational status as a traveling spacecraft? And would it be taking off once the humans slept enough hours to power it up?

Chronopolis ends with a chance encounter between a human and a sphere.

Love at first site, this is the moment that the elders have been waiting for, something they could never orchestrate, but always prayed for in their monotonous immortality.
This was the reason they created time in the first place, this was the destination of spacecraft Travelstar Anafi.