act @ 32nd bienal de são paulo continues

images provided by Urbonas Studios
ACT at MIT

The Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies

Urbonas Studios

The Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies at 32nd Bienal de São Paulo continues the architectural tradition of the pavilion—a temporary, in-between space for recreation, entertainment and display—and merges it with that of the laboratory—a space dedicated to knowledge production. Functioning as a display venue and test-site for prototypes and models, as a pedagogical and experimental environment, and as an archival resource center, the installation provides an immersive environment in which visitors are invited to imagine future ecologies and future knowledge production.

In his 1971 collection of short stories Vermilion Sands, J.G. Ballard invented a rich array of living technologies that respond to and communicate with human inhabitants. The Zooetics Pavilion takes inspiration from Ballard’s propositions: flowers that sing opera, a house that senses its inhabitants’ psychological states and changes its form to reflect those states, clothing that reflects the wearer’s social situation.

The geographic location of the short stories in Vermilion Sands remains unspecified, apart from the general indication that it is “somewhere between Miami Beach and Pernambuco”; it is in other words a tropical fantasy between North and South America. In 2001, Ballard remarked that, “…Vermilion Sands isn’t set in the future at all, but in a kind of visionary present…”

Under the title Incerteza Viva / Live Uncertainty the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo sets out to trace cosmological thinking, ambient and collective intelligence, and systemic and natural ecologies.

These themes are perfectly attuned to The Zooetics Pavilion, which shows how the relations between life and non-life, human and non-human may be unknowable and unmapped by existing cartographies of knowledge, yet at the same time how their existence is mutually inextricable and therefore calls for new forms of aesthetic and scientific imagination.