A KIT Map of Disaster by Berengere Marin Dubuard



A KIT Map of Disaster by Berengere Marin Dubuard
Artichoke Magazine, March issue, 2000, Canada

ADIEU offers the escape unit as a form of inherent technological rapture, leading the subject to a profane form of salvation (and perhaps even transcendence, however fleeting). Ignoring the homespun logic of 'what goes up,' ADIEU stages a collision between the dusty discourse of dissemination, with the immortalist desire to fleetfly.
-- Dominic Pettman

Trying to pin down the elements that constitute the art collective called KIT isn't a simple task. KIT construct, fall apart, and reconstruct for each project. The core members of the purposely anonymous and genderless collective reside in separate countries and discuss the theoretical and practical aspects of all their projects via the worldwide web, ICQ, and e-mail. A number of architects, writers, artists and programmers from around the world are involved for intermittent periods, depending on the nature and the location of the project work.

In May 1999, the working archives of the ADIEU: Architectural developments In Escape Units project were presented at the Artcite Gallery in Windsor, Ontario. This first public presentation of the ADIEU collective of engineers and architects proposed designs for an escape pod that would launch away from the rooftop of a skyscraper when the building's integrity was compromised. At Arcite, the display consisted of five groups of four digital prints and a single isolated image. Each group was composed to two central 3S-rendered prints of possible trajectories for the escape pod as it propelled itself away from the building rooftop. Flanking the prints were photographs of rooftops; the escape unit's probable location in the concrete world in which the surroundings had been masked by a neutral gray. The isolated 3D image was a rendering of the escape pod. Able to contain a single individual, it is a cross between virtual reality, an arcade game, and a Sci-Fi movie prop. Currently under construction with the assistance of Aerospace Design at RMIT in Australia and a robotics company called Applied Automation, the pod is designed to be functional; to survive impact after reaching terminal velocity by sophisticated airbag technology.

In addition to the prints and photographs, one-minute soundscapes at Artcite alluded to the idea of promotional trailers fro science fiction/catastrophe movie, contrasting the drama of future(istic) action with the exhibition's clinically-rendered images.

There was a definite sense of mockery in the various possible trajectories of escape. One design proposed a pod that jumps like a flea from skyscraper to skyscraper. Others were spirally propelled through a roller coaster-like tunnel on the side of a 'host' building.

One can only smile with apprehension at the thought of the 'chosen ones' surrendering themselves to the pre-programmed pod, letting it propel itself (with them inside) from some 50-storey building. Nevertheless, one of the ADIEU collaborative explained during the lecture that preceded the closure of the show that a number of people have already volunteered for test runs -- possibly following the main ADIEU event scheduled for November 2000 in Melbourne in conjunction with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

The major focus in Canada for KIT is a joint project with the Ottawa collaborative Artengine, a curating/commissioning group that seeks to develop art projects that include web and robotic components. Together KIT and Artengine envisioned 'Borderline Developments' on LeBreton Flats in Ottawa.

While ADIEU proposes a physical displacement from an unsafe environment, 'Borderline Developments' suggest an alternative solution. Via website, the audience draws blueprints for a fictitious housing estate called Greylands located on the polluted land of the LeBreton Flats. Greylands refers to a name used by urban planners to designate post-industrial land that is in the process of being rehabilitated. In designing their buildings, the website participants must turn the land's toxic substances to functional use -- a black-humoured yet critical strategy for post-industrial areas where the only product left is pollution. As the cyber-participant draws onto the web page, an automated robot hooked up to the page via GPS (Global Positioning System) marks his or her design onto the actual landscape in real-size dimension using pitch marking fluids.

The Greylands project is scheduled to travel to Mexico City in 2000, to a playground that was recently discovered to have been built on a toxic waste dump. During the same period, the ADIEU working archive travels to Melbourne, Tokyo, and London. Spreading their blurred identity through the cities they inhabit and the hyperspaces they mark up, KIT proposes alternative approaches to urban (re)construction.