Mark Wasiuta, “The Making of ‘Environmental Communications: Contact High'”
Environmental Communications: Contact High, an exhibition originated at Columbia GSAPP and shown at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, is the first major show of the prolific west coast media collective, Environmental Communications. Formed by a group of young architects, photographers, and psychologists in the Venice Beach of the late 1960s, Environmental Communications honed an image practice that aimed to constitute a new visual syntax for the late twentieth-century city. The group speculated that their “environmental photography” would alter architecture and transform the consciousness of architecture students via the university slide library. Both serial and psychedelic—with debts to LA’s conceptual photography and its electronically mediated counterculture—their practice was attuned to the spatial and social forces they documented in Tokyo, the American Southwest, and Los Angeles—their primary object of analysis. Through their media experiments, events, and slide catalogs, they positioned themselves as interpreters and purveyors of new trends, assembling a mass design imagery to resist the buildings and monuments that dominated architecture and its institutions. Wasiuta will discuss the development of this exhibition, which he curated with Adam Bandler and Marcos Sánchez.
Mark Wasiuta teaches at GSAPP Columbia University where he is director of exhibitions, director of Collecting Architecture Territories, and co-director of the MS degree program Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture. He is the recipient of grants from the Graham Foundation, NYSCA and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Recent exhibitions curated and produced with various collaborators include, “La Fine Del Mondo,” at the 14th Architectural Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, “Invention,” at the 31st São Paulo Art Biennial, “Deste Fashion Collection 1 to 8,” at the Benaki Museum, Athens, “Environmental Communications: Contact High,” at the Chicago Architecture Biennial as well as “Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller’s World Game,” and “Les Levine: Bio-Tech Rehearsals 1967-1973” at the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery. He is co-editor and co-author of “Dan Graham’s New Jersey.” Forthcoming projects include the exhibitions,“Every Building in Bagdhad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation,” and the publications, “Environments and Counter Environments. Experimental Media in Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” “Documentary Remains,” and “Collecting Architecture Territories.” He is partner in the design and research office the International House of Architecture.