The Wind Tunnel Model

The 'Wind Tunnel Bulletin' is produced by the Research Focus in Transdisciplinarity of the Zurich University of the Arts.

Talk Begins at 6pm.

Florian Dombois and Haseeb Ahmed (SMACT’10) present their individual and collaborative artistic practices and research on wind tunnels.

Together with the Research Focus in Transdisciplinarity Zurich, led by Dombois, they edited the “Wind Tunnel Bulletin.”

Dombois will present last year’s project Galleria del Vento, while Ahmed presents excerpts from The Wind Egg, a film shot during an intervention at the von Karman Institute outside of Brussels, screened continually in the Keller Gallery from March 6 – 29.

The artists’ wind research and projects subvert the language and methods of scientific experiment and reportage, using modern wind tunnel technology to engender new narratives and new, fluid speculations about the relationships among science, art and, engineering. In 2017, the first edition of The Wind Tunnel Model – Transdisciplinary Encounters, edited by Dombois, was published.

In a 2016 interview with The Word Magazine, Ahmed described the core of his work:

I believe that some art should be state of the art and made with the tools and techniques that actually shape our everyday realities; going beyond traditional artistic techniques that merely depict it. For this reason I have chosen to work with the wind and wind tunnels as an ongoing part of my practice.

Wind tunnels are infrastructural technologies and not merely novel. All things that move through the air must pass through the threshold of a wind tunnel before entering our industrially produced world. The wind carries many things and I try to articulate this by combining different facts, often from radically different positions, to create new narratives. For instance Lamassu, Babylonian sphinx figures, stand at the entrance of “A New Home” a pavilion in the exhibition “Wird” currently on show at Harlan Levey Projects. Within the pavilion we can meet the face of the wind. It is created with turbulence patterns formed by a delta wing model. The face constantly changes expressions.

The resulting new and unexpected narratives shake loose the overly deterministic narratives that are expected of, and characterise, the role of science in society while reconnecting art to a techno-social firmament.

My work mobilises many diverse historical, social, and technical meanings. It has been important to work with institutions to develop collaborations through which artworks are born and evolve. These artworks can be seen as a record of negotiation between different bodies of knowledge, disciplines, and personal relationships. My first attempt to work in wind tunnels came in 2009 while completing my Masters of Science in the Program for Art Culture, and Technology at MIT. I placed a replica of a Persian Shamshir sword in the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel, the oldest functioning lab of its kind, to infinitely cut through the wind.

For the past three years, I have continued this work and research as a member of the Size Matters research group at the Zurich University of the Arts (led by Florian Dombois), and simultaneously at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) where I work with Olivier Chazot, Director of the Aerospace Program.

My work is art though it draws heavily from other disciplines. Lately, the support of Harlan Levey Projects has been instrumental in developing this practice and its diverse narratives into artworks of different types and different dissemination vehicles.

About the Galleria del Vento:

For the past five years, artist Florian Dombois has been operating a wind-tunnel lab, which brings together various disciplines, on the roof of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). The tunnel functions as a picture puzzle: For researchers accustomed to starting with a problem, it provides a tangible surface and a stringent experimental arrangement; for those, however, who move outside the logic of a scientific problem, its interior and its walls provide an empty space, an invisible sculpture. To see the wind, one must first visualize it and introduce smoke, feathers, or soap bubbles; to explore the wind, one must propose a model, a shape, or a kite. And thus reveal oneself.

This presentation was made possible with the support of swissnex Boston and by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

The Wind Tunnel Model | Haseeb Ahmed and Florian Dombois (April 3, 2018) from ACTMIT on Vimeo.