AS PART OF THE ANNUAL Silver Lake Film Festival being held this month in Los Angeles, architects and filmmakers are invited to revel in the influences they've shared since the invention of the motion picture a century and a half ago. Blogger Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG and Jenna Didier of the L.A. gallery Materials and Applications are curating the special two-day event, taking place May 8–9 inside a former wind tunnel at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.
Day one will feature the symposium “Science Fiction and the City” and will consider the connections between radical architecture and cinema. Speakers will include set designers Ryan Church, James Clyne, Mark Goerner, and Ben Procter, whose credits collectively include Star Wars I and III, The Terminal, The Matrix, and Minority Report. Day two will include screenings of up to 10 excerpts or short films, some made by architects, ranging from fly-through animations to experimental art films and documentaries. According to the call for submissions, “The obvious caveat is that the film has to be about architecture, landscape, or the built environment.”
Manaugh hopes, as many do, that architects will be inspired to exploit the representational and imaginative tools that film offers, as Archigram and Superstudio did in the 1960s. After all, movers and shakers in architecture and film have long seen eye to eye. Both engage, in some sense, in a plastic art that is collaboratively crafted; both produce lasting cultural artifacts; and both have had profound effects on the public.
In fact, German-American architect-turned-film critic Siegfried Kracauer once wrote, in Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, “It must always be kept in mind that even the most creative filmmaker is much less independent of nature in the raw than the painter or poet; that his creativity manifests itself in letting nature in and penetrating it.” The same can be said of the architect, and the festival's producers believe there is more to be discovered in the connection between film and architecture.
“Even if you look at comic books, horror stories, novels, and sci-fi films, you'll find some very interesting spaces. There aren't as many inhibitions in these other fields,” Manaugh says. “But interesting architectural ideas are all around us.”
WHAT'S SHOWING A selection of work by students at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Called Unit 15 and organized by professor Nic Clear, the class explored new ways of employing motion graphics to convey architectural theories.
A 3½-minute super-short titled K.I.L.L. by videographer and musician Thorsten Fleisch, who is known for hyperkinetic editing of obscure subjects such as physical phenomena, generative processes, and microscopic structures.
A film by Cleveland-based designer Bradford Watson titled 2×4×96. It consists of 96 still shots of the ends of two 2×4s, just after being sawed. The rapid sequencing reveals variations in the wood grain that appear to be animated.
A 30-minute documentary by Emmanuelle Bernard and André Blas, Declarations of Love considers—through stories told by residents—how an Oscar Niemeyer–designed high-rise in Sao Paulo, Brazil, went from vertical slum to beloved housing community.