Dec. 12 will or will not see the launch of ASAP, an organization that stands for Archive of Spatial Aesthetics and Praxis. In one sense, the project is already live: it’s a Web-oriented archive of objects, texts, media, and virtual projects related to architecture but not restricted to buildings. Its first programming efforts, which will be announced on Monday at a fundraiser at the Standard in New York, will be “nomadic,” according to founder Tina Di Carlo.
Teasing out the answer to that question—what is it or isn’t it?—is the heart of ASAP’s mission. Launched by Di Carlo, former curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, with curator Danielle Rago, ASAP’s site bills itself as an “archive of practices,” a collection of ideas.
“It has a long and a short history,” Di Carlo says. “Like any traditional collection, there’s a starting point.” For ASAP, that origin is roughly somewhere between 2002 and 2004. Di Carlo identifies this period with a number of shifts in architecture, design, and technology. Architecture first came to be discussed as a spatial apparatus during this time, she says. And the arrival of Web 2.0 coincided with what Architecture in the Age of Printing (MIT Press, 2011) author Mario Carpo described as the “digital style” in architecture, she adds. Crucially, Di Carlo worked during this period on “The Changing of the Avant-Garde,” her first project with the Museum of Modern Art.
ASAP’s website, where the collection currently exists, is a visually arresting curatorial presentation of books, prints, and art objects, but also websites, lectures, and interventions. Some parts of the collection can only be experienced in person—or IRL, to consider these objects from the perspective of an online participant following a hyperlink to an architectural intervention.
“There are institutions that collect architecture through the means by which it was produced: plan, section, model,” Di Carlo says. ASAP is looking at architecture “through a larger context.”
Di Carlo and Rago do plan to open a physical space in New York in 2012, though the location has yet to be determined. Presently, the pair is building the ASAP collection, which includes objects (and ideas) donated by “protagonists,” whom they pursue in a spirit of partnership.
“Instead of opening a space and stuffing it full of objects, we decided to go with the collection first,” Di Carlo says.
Like any traditional collection, ASAP will (and does) feature objects and exhibits. There’s BIG’s monograph Yes Is More
(Evergreen, 2009) and An Te Liu’s sculptural Title Deed (2009), which call for physical experience in distinct ways. ASAP’s collection features Patricia Reed’s Pan-National Flag (2009), a digital print that thematically considers nation-state space and symbolism. Another object is a blog by Andreas Angelidakis, which ASAP describes as “the first blog to be collected as architecture.”
“At the moment, we don’t have any purchasing power, so all the works have been generously donated by the artists or architects themselves,” Rago says. “In terms of the people we’re interested in collecting, it definitely ranges from architects, designers, writers, performers, scientists, choreographers.”
One of ASAP’s first programs, which it will announce at the launch party and fundraiser on Monday, is an exhibition at Los Angeles’s Case Study Houses. For that exhibit, ASAP will display Alison Moffett’s drawings of case-study houses on the moon.
“If you collect architecture as one thing among painting, sculpture, and photography—as an expanded discourse—it doesn’t sideline architecture anymore,” Di Carlo says.