Articles In Magazines


Art and the Man by Mike Schmidli  

KIT by Numbers by Kandis Weiner  

Mediated Intoxication: How to Navigate with Double Vision by DX Raiden and Scott Weir

The Transcendence of Transarchitecture by Dominic Pettman



Art and the Man by Mike Schmidli
Whittier Express Newspaper, February, 2001, USA

At the dawn of the 21st Century, life seems hopeless. Corporations stalk the earth like pre-fabricated dinosaurs, bits of fast food dribbling down their chins and their hides shrouded in the finest threads the maquiladoras have to offer. Sedated with over-the-counter opiates from Old Navy and K-Mart the masses stand in awe of these behemoths, unable to move and made only slightly tingly by thoughts of their banal existence.

Those fundamental rights which Thomas Jefferson and his hot-blooded colonial cronies scratched onto parchment paper with such fury, the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” business, definitely have their back to the wall.

But the Jefferson gang didn’t anticipate the Internet, which, in less than a decade, has made it possible for individuals to organize serious inroads against the corporate threat.

Two art groups, KIT and Battery Operated, are leading this attack through varied multi-media projects focusing on diverse topics ranging from the meaning of vacant urban space to the definitions of high and low art. A member of the two groups – who asked to remain nameless since KIT for not emphasize gender, race or age – spoke to a large audience in the Lautrup-Ball-Cinema on Tuesday, Feb 20.

“People who go to galleries look at them as a sort of reverential home-you don’t touch the artwork, it’s a kind of high culture and a whole bunch of modernist bullshit at the end of the day,” the artist said emphatically.

“There are a lot of Modernist ideals about what art should be, about what high culture should be, about what intellectualism should be. We’re very involved with the idea that intellectualism is involved in videogames, it’s involved in smoking marijuana on the street, it’s involved in spaceflight…intellectualism is everywhere.”

Fuzzy round head and donning baggy overalls with one strap undone, the artist’s appearance underlined KIT’s resistance to the norms of high art. But this opposition was not merely an ill-informed dislike of museums and academic art. Before working with KIT, the artist attended the University of Reading in England and, then, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

“When he got out of school he realized that he knew all these things. He was informed of the theory, the ideas and the practice (of art), but he really didn’t know how to implement it beyond what the University structure provided him (concerning) the art world,” Professor of Art Endi Poskovic said. “It occurred to him at some point that he could be an artist and be socially, politically, environmentally…active.”

The importance of the Internet and computer technology as a means of facilitating positive change on the individual level is a main focus of both KIT and Battery Operated. In response to the rise of “architectures of fear and control,” such as high-security airports, bus and train stations, Battery Operated placed hidden cameras in luggage and ran through the buildings being chased. They later edited the footage and created a three-video performance piece. “The constant search to subvert is something we’re always doing,” the artist said.

“Cities are becoming places of mass transit,” the artist said, noting how people’s mobility has fundamentally changed urban life. Vacancy KIT, a KIT installation piece, consisted of five concrete blocks taken from vacant lots in Montreal and placed in a circle, with a low pile of broken bits of concrete in the middle. By placing the work in a gallery, KIT was working against the “power as political and social constructs (that) galleries have.” Vacancy KIT also problematized the definition of art and the relationship between people and vacant space.

Another KIT project was the creation of a fictional cult celebrating crashes. “The crash is always going to happen…It’s a part of being human. We can never produce perfect systems,” the artist said, showing a slide of an installation piece consisting of a heavily damaged airplane.

“There’s always been a notion of sacrifice in every culture, and human sacrifice used to be a very popular way of releasing tensions within a group…they hoped this controlled violence would change their fortune. We’re looking at crashes as a Western version of sacrifice.”

The focus on individual action was well received by member of the Whittier College community. “Seldom, if ever, do they (artists) talk about how their work is involved in more interactive ways where just about anybody can participate,” Poskovic said.

Assistant Professor of Art David Sloan agreed: “It’s one of the functions that art legitimately holds: to move perspectives, or more importantly to promote thought on the subject presented so we don’t function as lazy people going through the motions of life, but instead contemplate important issues that the art world puts forth.”



KIT by Numbers by Kandis Weiner
Mix Magazine, February, 2000, Canada

Kit is a creative entity that taps communication networks to be simultaneously present in locations around the world. The skills and perspective of designers, programmers, architects and others are dis/assembled, as projects require. In Kit’s recent and upcoming Canadian work, themes of escape and deliverance (from/through technology) are playfully explored in the morphing interstices of time, space and identity.

The Future

A.D.I.E.U (Architectural Developments In Escape Units) is a multi-phased project that includes an off-site installation, with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, of a prototype escape unit built on the rooftop of a high rise building. The theoretical and practical ramp-up to the Australian show, the Artcite exhibition (May 1999) featured ten architectural prints of buildings, with escape routes for pill shaped containers mapped out rooftops and through basements, interspersed with ten prints of rooftops, minus all earthly and organic relics. Ten one-minute soundscapes played for each grouped artwork/escape plan. The soundscapes were formed from sci-fi movies, extracted from the sounds of escape pods about to lift off, and real sounds from rooftops recorded around the city.

Escape pods are propelled from the present into the future as the techno-fiend ejaculates with joy over the progress of machines. Without organic referent, these escape plans are an impractical techno-fetish. That technology can fast-forward us through continued awkward growing pains ignores human intervention in the future. Technology cannot save us from ourselves - the re/solutions we seek are not with some otherworldly techno-savior. Kit reminds us that we engineer the future.

The Past

The tents and wood-chips of Joyriding in the Land Time Forgot rose up through the floor of the YYZ Gallery (May 1999). Imposed on the tents was the denuded background from the Jurassic Park video game. A deformed video game soundtrack played throughout the space. From each tent issued voices with such lines as "kill the guards to find the door to the next level", lines taken from video games, but whispered as if conspiring to battle some unseen forces.

The tents suggest temporary lodging and refer to a pristine time, when nature dominated the planet - a time of technological innocence. Joyriding asks about our conceptions of the natural world, pointing out that our ideas of what is natural are influenced by technology, be it plows, airplanes or genetics. Joyriding embodies both the organic and the contrived, straddling boundaries and opening discussion. As Donna Haraway notes in A Cyborg Manifesto: "Late-twentieth century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines."

As technological anxiety inspires escape urges, the obvious route is to the natural world. But can the natural world promise bug-free living? Joyriding presents nature in its ubiquitously rendered form. But what these tents disguise is a temporary, transitory, liminal space that offer more opportunities than mere escape. Joyriding seems a purposeful, ironic play on Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ). "The TAZ is like an uprising… a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, or imagination), and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere/elsewhen..." (1991). Perhaps it is in campsites such as these that the guerilla ontologists Bey speaks of camp out, disguised so as to be safe from manipulation, destabilizing mechanisms of control and containment, to liberate discourse (about technology, about the state, about identity, about freedom, about the future).

The Present

The next Canadian project for Kit, Greylands, is scheduled for Fall 1999. The installation, produced in coordination with Artengine/Carleton & Salford University, investigates technology’s roles in constructing social and architectural space in digital and concrete worlds. The audience interacts with a site in Ottawa, Lebretton Flats, through a web page. KIT will request, from the audience, suggested architectural intervention for the site. A robot, controlled by Global Position System technology, will draw out the designs in real time/space. An aircraft will photograph the site each day of the project.

The Lebretton Flats was recently declared safe for development, despite its industrial/toxic past. In Greylands, technology enables people to exist in an environment once toxified by mad manipulations and shortsightedness. In Greylands, , organic life animates the machine, in a relationship that is not scary or awesome, but points to the practical applications of technology. The ominous reference to military technology does not go unnoticed. As with many nifty gadgets, it was the US military who developed GPS technology, and continues to control its use today, which enforces the need for careful consideration of the implications and applications of technology.

From the future, to the past, and back to the present, Kit sketches popular mythologies about technology, and, despite the sci-fi conventions, ground nostalgic hankerings with the practical realities of now. Through their work, un/pleasant promises for technology are exaggerated so the audience can discover the folly of promises for joyous salvation and painful damnation. "In the fraying of identities and in the reflexive strategies for constructing them, the possibility opens up for weaving something other than a shroud for the day after the apocalypse that so prophetically ends salvation history," (Haraway, 'A Cyborg Manifesto', 1991).



Mediated Intoxication : How to Navigate with Double Vision by DX Raiden and Scott Weir
Sandbox Magazine, Issue: 7, 1999, USA

Context of Project

KIT are a collaboration of media artists who are based in UK, Canada and Australia. They have shown at DEAF Dutch Electrionic Art Festival in Rotterdam recently and will be showing at YYZ gallery in Toronto and 200 Gertrude St in Melbourne over the next couple of months. KIT are a group whose projects often require audience imput - we are interested in investigating notions of interactivity, participation, passivity in the face of 'Art'.

They are currently working with a media collaboration called'Artengine' from Ottawa, Canada who are a group of programmers, Architects and Artists. The project is called 'Attached Flats' and the name of the joint collaborations for this work is Borderline Developments. It takes place in August 99 in Ottawa, Canada before travelling to Mexico City and later Melbourne before hopefully appearing in England (although no definate decisions have been taken as who to develop the project through).

The project is the construction of a robot which is linked to a web page. On the web page will be a faux housing developers page which users will be asked to draw out architectural blueprints on. Whilst drawing on the web page, the robot will draw the same lines on the ground in Ottawa real size using a GPS system (a second local transmitter is to be used to give within 10cm accuracy).

The actual land been drawn upon is too polluted to build upon so the civic council in Ottawa have 'abandoned' it, even though it is prime real estate in the centre of the city. This project aims to construct a fictional community on the toxic ground using the robot to mark out the blueprints ...(parodying the idea that humans cannot inhabit the area).

The following article is divided into four sections, two by each writer - each a response to the last text. It was done over e-mail and is a product of a writing project initiated at the end of last year by the Canadian Culutral development Trust which is a part of 'CHIN'.


The last piece of Earth unclaimed by any nation state was bought under state ownership in the year 1899. “Ours is the first century 'terra incognita' or without a frontier” notes would be rogue intellectual Hakim Bey.

A seemingly contrite statement for an author who proposes the occupation of urban spaces via the employment of Guerrilla tactics (here read 'for a short amount of time'), can if not shake then reveal the foundations of social spatial dynamics and the will to occupy territory. In 1999 popular notions of 'frontier' are far removed from the 'staking out' of the American mid west, but the act of colonizing space remains a strong Occidental pursuit. The question is, what kind of space are we talking about? With the utopian writing (often within the sci-fi genre) of the late C20th reflecting the major advances in travel and communications’ technologies ... the projected destination....and thus the space and www programs, it is not surprising that these discourses are fuelled by dreams of escape. Eschatological trajectories which seeks vistas beyond the earth (the space program) and senses beyond the body (virtual reality).

More interestingly maybe is the question of what and who defines these abstract notions of space to relevant economies of social aspiration. Where are these spaces and how does it benefit one to occupy that space for any given time? For the general population space travel is not a going concern, so the space in which the notion of travel is extended and where the parameters of 'frontier' are reformatted is within digital space.

Technological development has always defined the location of frontiers. Simon Penny sites the mediaeval principalities of troop deployment, the coast of Europe being the edge of the world until navigation and the American west being 'won' by bullets, steam locomotive and the telegraph as examples of this. He then goes onto posit the question “If the colonization of space is becoming less viable is the only space left to colonize, the space of technology?”

Attached.Flats is a project which attempts to relocate functional notions of property, space and colonization in both concrete and digital landscapes. A merger between several collaborations saw the induction of 'Borderline Developments', who present the project Attached.Flats as a vehicle to mark out the transferral of existent notions of property from 'terra incognita' to the digital realm.

If the space which Lefebvre talked about in his book “The production of space” was one which was defined by Capitalism's pulverization into available parcels of private property, how Borderline Developments asks, does www culture challenge this ideology? In an age where information has become a social lubricant and David Harvey’s notion of flexible accumulation is stretched to mean more in more places in less time all the time, where, when and how can the www be used to construct alternative models of socially spatialized dynamics; not a communal system which merely reflects the systematic metaphors of concrete property and capital (in Harvey's terms a process which drives "the urbanization of consciousness") but one which treats the www as a place to dislocate the lessons of urban analogy.

Attached.Flats is a project which exists literally both on the ground and under it. The communication networks which constitute the www have their roots beneath our feet as we gaze into the monitor apparently feeling free from gravity in 'hypercyberfibre' space. And thus Attached.Flats resides as a web site and as a faux housing developers site in Ottawa's Lebreton Flats, the latter site unbuilt on
for 20 years due to the toxic by products of previous industry that exist in the same strata as the sprawling wires of communication networks.

This project asks the audience to inhabit the abstract spaces of both these sites. Rendering the required social interaction as a concrete example of the 'non place urban field', the web site as property development site will ask the audience to draw out a building onto the drawing applet which would not only exist in a toxic landscape, but which would also fully utilize the toxins, feeding off a previous generation's by-products. As it is drawn onto the web it is also drawn onto the actual toxic landscape in Ottawa via a GPS system which is linked up to a fully automated robot. The robot marks out buildings with pitch marking fluids alluding to the language of outdoor games and their well muscled discourses of territorial advancement via tactical strategies of offence/defence.


From ‘Pong’ to ‘Playstation’, the object of a videogame players’ desire has been to conquer the next level, to gain the holy grail of completing the quest, tactically outwitting the machine whose very oppositional strength is a fleshly creation. Once attained, a space becomes dreary, merely an obstacle toward attainment of one further step. Similarly, Bey’s net of ‘gothic horror’ holds its uncharted pockets of forgotten gloom, depressingly feeble home(page)s lurking abandoned within extinct languages complete with messages from executed or neglected cyber-entities (Bey 1997). Easily distracted by shiny objects the net diving public craves acceleration, the rush of controlling a diminished paddle which must return a blip of ever increasing speed. Abandoned in the dusty corners are the entry levels, incapable of quickening the senses and banished to dwell unlinked. This project lures that sensibility into the concrete, structuring an inhabitation in which the new might be erased almost upon conception.

The site is ideal; historically the Flats have been a nexus for great erasures. Two centuries ago the Europeans clear cut an Algonquin hunting ground; their tidy efforts went up in flames one century later; its belching industrial replacement demolished in disgust by the planners of the ‘60s. Indecision currently scribes the landscape with vast tracts of unpleasantly inoffensive lawns. A sterile moonscape envisioned for sanitary recreations denies the urban fecundity described beneath.

In deputizing the robot as both builder and inhabitant, Attached.Flats predicts the eventual doom of this century’s suburban project, killed by the very cult of hurtling consumption that created it. This project toys with an already dying myth, Levitt’s sham of bliss through home ownership, emptied of its debt and aching responsibilities, and exposed instead as a game of competition and domestic warfare. Instead of continued participation in the bourgeois quest to become ‘landed’, users are invited to abandon their physical presence and inhabit their cyber entities. From within digital space ‘geekgirl’ can borrow a plot upon which to unfurl her secret split level desires, an echo of Ledoux’ phallic bordello channelling this acquisitional lust into digital vectors plotted upon a jaded soil unconcerned about this latest strata of damage. At her disposal is a contented robot slave able to create a fleeting image of that faintly remembered dream, to interpret the clicks of technologised appetites and chart these pixels onto the dirt, itself the star of its own webcam enacting the banal rituals of robotic life. In an inversion of le Corbusier the electronic space of the machine becomes a house for living in. If Stelarc is correct in stating that “the body is obsolete” then the built spatial needs of that body are only vacuous signs for outdated ways of being - the downloaded minds of these inhabitants find their imagined physical requirements expressed through the actions of the robot. Their choice of form or method in designing these spaces is irrelevant. The plans are fleeting signs for inhabitation, signifiers of ownership and prestige as irrelevant to bodily needs as the indulged Kanata monster home’s curving oak staircases, cathedral ceilings and 4000 sq./ft of cheaply constructed formal living space. The conqueror within is sated without the burden of tangible work or environmental intervention, leaving an elusive mark within the vista and experiencing that mark only through the bandwidth available.

Like those trapped within the ennui of Fordism, each homesite is an island, hoarding questionable resources behind the armour of the picket fence. The crushing isolation of the suburban dweller, intensified through their attached garages, their solitary commute, their planned prevention from casual contact is a wellspring of pride and evidence of success; through the technologized looking glass the varying toxins inherent in past uses of this soil become those treasures to be guarded and employed, the source of a Flat dwellers’ caché. The Flats are an abundance of potentials; the fallout memories of two hundred years of industry lies fallow amongst the underground tangles of sewage, cable and layered debris. Cyborg bodies enhanced with silicon and porcelain caps flaunt their treasured toxic appendages and hoarding the noxious chemicals within their breasts delineate a dwelling formed out of their century’s errors. Unlike Gerald Ford’s two car utopia, this project proposes no fulfilment from particleboard, rather the lots are plotted as a post Y2K landscape of desire, a panopticon of shifted powers; Attached.Flats markets vapourware for the body, a sign of ‘social space’ plotted for a dimension that has become irrelevant.


The notion of an irrelevant dimension or space is to say that a measured social geography has become culturally obsolete, unused, vacated of any presence that bestows a social signification of 'worth' within that culture, whether it be economic, symbolic or historical. These spaces are the areas that Borderline Developments wish audiences to enter, to re-construct fictional and functional social systems in the most conceptually fertile spaces in the city, the vacant spaces. Terrain-Vague is the French term used to describe the disregarded edge between locations (Grathwol, 1992), and is where Attached.Flats invests its conceptual currency. The vacant space is the wound in the narrative of the built urban myth, what Corbusier proposed as "the fight against nature which is in the ascendancy".

All spaces and social dynamics can be questioned by this architectural rupture in the city. As an analogous temporal/spatial vortex it sucks the system of urban signs into its ambiguous yet verbose rendering of place and by association signals a disruptive understanding of time (spatial and temporal axis' have always intersected to locate events within geographical and historical perspectives).

In the confines of the city where time’s worth is measured by transferral and download rates, time’s value and meaning are dissembled by the vacant space. The social re-structuring of meaning within this space awaits an investment from the public body, whether that be economic, artistic or symbolic. The city requires the transformation of space/location into place. Thus it needs its inhabitants to construct emotional and mental maps to reinforce the social structuring of behaviour within the land locked norms of metropolitan dwelling. The use of architecture to suppress what was anti state and what is now anti institutional/corporate behaviour is still most clearly stated by the rebuilding of Paris in the 1920's by Haussman, the open space of the boulevards proposing the negation of hidden spaces where revolutionary forces could conspire.

Attached.Flats invites a conspiring audience to several 'open' spaces with the intent of transforming digital and concrete co-ordinates into the paradigm of place - the home. Heidegger in his book 'Question of being. An Ontological consideration of place' stated that place was the unique dwelling of being. Here the self as a place is named identity when constructed and reified through rituals of habitation before subscribing to shared external understandings of the individual. Borderline Developments questions these seemingly smooth vectors of identity and spatial politics by providing a number of sites in which to fabricate the notion of habitation. The landscapes offered here however are not founded in the utopian trajectories of the 'innocent boundless space' often attributed to the world of the homepage. Rather, they are the underbelly of Eden.

In the realm of Attached.Flats, the polluted and toxic land mass is conceived of as being a desirable location on which to build, where the pollution seeps, and where the final product (pollution) is the ultimate currency (the entropy of product based capitalism to its theoretical abstracted end game in the form of the by product, which in turn refutes the notion of energy loss in a system as it proposes a perpetual residual economy).

Thus the web site offers the audience an inverted conception of desirable residency and asks them to help construct an architecture and social system that effectively embraces the inverted utopia. This is not to suggest that Attached.Flats is a dystopic space, instead it extends Foucault's revised idea of the heterotopia into its premise. Utopia etymologically means "non place" and does not encompass the developed critical parameters that the notion of heterotopia offers to Borderline Developments as a spatial metaphor on which to build their narratives.

Originally in his book 'The order of things' the term heterotopia was used by Foucault in conjunction with Utopia as a pair of discursive modalities that questioned every day experience; utopia as a projected non place in space, Heterotopia as a projected non place in language. This placement within language was however to change over time and find its critical axis within the discourse of spatial analysis, more precisely in charting urban sites that contested the social ordering of the city. The architect Teyssot defines the heterotopia as a "counter site....in which the real sites, all the other real sites in culture are simultaneously represented, contested and inverted."

By reflecting the site in Ottawa with the site on the web so that inscriptions in or on one effectively reorients the other, it collapses the notion of the 'real' site whilst inviting the audience to construct residual places between the digital and concrete. Following Foucault's assertion that power can be rendered explicit through space, from "the great strategies of geopolitics to the little tactics of the habitat", Attached.Flats renders the audience as citizens of a revised geopolitic, Where the inscription of the fabricated self - the habitat - exists between technology and the polluted, a place like home where the view is fed to us via a robot and the neighbours are intoxicated with a double vision.


Inscription of a self requires a conception of that self. Within a tribally capitalist society where identity is expected to be constructed through consumption, this delineation must occur through the acquisition (or rejection) of readable items. Instruction and encouragement in this process of self construction and interpretation of the signs acquired forms a primary spine of western economy. Plugging into this perceived need, a raft of lifestyle magazines reflecting the nineteenth century rantings of Pugin, yearn for and proscribe the path to creating a shallow image of one’s participation in an undamaged environment, a denial of inherited industrially informed imbalances. Attached flats rejects an enforced denial of the toxic environment created through unconscious human abuse; it chooses to accept the fact that the globe has become a fully polluted space with heightened foci for this pollution, and attempts to address potential directions for establishing a coexistence. The flats provide a site within which to escape Martha Stewart's myth of a global preindustrial cranberry wreathed Connecticut. Borderline Developments proposes an unabashedly post industrial development, created with a polluted consumer in mind, situated on 'previously enjoyed' soil and accessed via a media whose ancestral technology spawned those marks.

Perhaps this is appropriate for a project appropriating ‘telepresence’, marketed to a population with escapist aspirations; participants never need involve their own physicality with the pollutants of the site. Gazing into their computer screens, users may consider and enjoy use of a site which they will never touch. These leftover spaces, abandoned by the concrete realm because of inherent pollutants, uninhabitable climate or corporate speculative indecision, may be safely accessed by vision through the medium of the screen. The entire process of territorial colonization may occur in the space between the monitor and the eye; discovery, exploration, purchase, design, construction and (visual) inhabitation of the 'built' product, involving only minimal physical exertion of the finger tendons at the instigation of a downloaded consciousness.

Similarly appropriate is the submerging of this consciousness to erect a spatial marker upon the flats from within the carnival that is the web. With its technological innovation driven by the needs of paid access pornographic sites and their demand for faster downloads, the very foundation of inhabited electronic space is touched by a morality based in roguish entertainments and commercial pleasures. Borderline Developments situates this particular phase of territorialization upon a concrete site marred through generations of fallout (serving the demands of consumers), accessed via the impurities of the one sphere whose structures transfer cleanly to reconstruct themselves amongst the toxins of the other. Bakhtin’s spaces of transgression emerge in the gaps between strong cultural programs of cities; here his carnival is extended beyond its electronic borders to scribe a toxic land mass, its emergence direct and immediate. The neighbourhood that borderline developments proposes unites the ultimate in secure place/myths (the home) with a feared twentieth century product (toxic pollution), effectively re-orienting both into a newly reworked (and perhaps more accurate) American dream.

Ultimately the result of this production is a thin line of white powder laid by a remotely powered machine on an empty field. Like the ghostmarks of arcaeological remains thinly veiled by upper layers of soil, the lines will have no spatial volume or tangible substance, being merely referential to a possible but currently non-existent reality. In this case the site rewards the researcher with a record of layered uses; from industrialists’ mansions to lowly iron foundries, the dirt of the Lebreton Flats has served consumers to exhaustion and records in its depths the emergence of western technology. Beneath the tidy lawns a record of industrial colonization lies disguised and fallow, its tangled origins unappreciated, all visible remnants carefully erased to please a touristic gaze. Borderline Developments asks the surfer to consider the indelicate inhabitation of these spaces; having chewed up and ejaculated this dimension, consumers have turned to technological territory for distraction. The flats project reverses this vector back into the space of the concrete, re-entering the dimension of memory from that of speed. Under a conspiratorial disguise of technological advancement, Attached.Flats questions its audience as to what direction we are moving so quickly and demands consideration of the media through which these trajectories occur.

Bibliography for DX (DX Raiden)

Bey, Hakim. - 1991. The Temporary Autonomous Zone. Autonomedia
Penny, Simon. - 1994.'Virtual reality as the completion of the enlightenment project'. Culture on the brink. Bay Books
Harvey, David. - 1991. The condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Grathwol, G. - 1992. Terrain-Vague. Borgen
Heidegger, Martin. - 1959. Question of being. An ontological consideration of places. Vision Press Ltd.
Foucault, Michel. - 1966. Les Mots et Les choses. Une archeologie des sciences humaines. Gallimard.
Teyssot, G. - 1980. Eterotopia e storia degli spazi. Il dispositivo Foucault. Architecture and urbanism 121

Bibliography for SW (Scott Weir)
Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1984) "Rabelais and His World", Bloomington; Indiana University Press.
Bey, Hakim. (1997) "The Seduction of the Cyber Zombies", Zero News Datapool, www.tO.or.at/hakimbey/seduct.html
Jenkins, Phil. (1996) "An Acre of Time", Toronto; Macfarlane Walter and Ross.
Pugin, A. W. N. (1969) "Contrasts", Leicester; Leicester University Press.
Shields, Rob (ed) (1992) "Lifestyle Shopping: The Subject of Consumption", London: Routledge.


The Transcendence of Transarchitecture by Dominic Pettman
Parachute Magazine, Issue 96, 1999, Canada

Over the last few years, KIT has taken something of an interventionist approach to a constellation of concerns, including architecture, urban space, technology and eschatology. They not only reflect on the ways in which these discursive sites are produced and policed, but actively trace the political vectors through which these phenomena are both validated and contested. Based in Canada, England and Australia, this revolving collective have built up a solid reputation based on conceptual installations which challenge, unsettle and inspire. Guardedly influenced by such maverick figures as Tesla, Fuller, Archigram and TeamX, KIT take critical theory firmly under their wing, without being seduced by its more common mantras.

1.1 New Toxic Homes

What the map cuts up, the story cuts across. -- Michel de Certeaa (1)

There is a scene in John Woo's film, Face Off (1997), in which the villian Castor Troy (played at this point by John Travolta) comments on his new-found suburban situation, forced upon him in the interests of laying low incognito. Staring out at the generic picket-fenced lawns from his car, he makes the personal prophecy: "I'll never get a boner again." Such an observation captures a significant millennial shift in perception -- where the suburbs were once seen as an idealistic compromise between rural and urban life, they now represent the topography of a creeping malaise: a kind of scrap-heap for the spirit (along with the libidinal economy through which it usually circulates). Indeed, novelist J.G. Ballard has gone so far as to locate the apocalypse itself within the double-lockup-garages and sparkling kitchens of the suburban neighborhood:

I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen againÖ the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soulÖ [The suburbs are] dangerous places -- you're not going to get mugged walking sown the street, but somebody might steal your soul. I mean that literally -- your will to live. (2)

KIT, however, sees an end to this horror, stating that their new project -- New Toxic Homes -- "predicts the eventual doom of this century's suburban project, killed by the very cult of hurtling consumption that created it." (3) KIT attempts to counter the "crushing isolation of the suburban dweller" through a two-pronged interrogation of the sociopolitical foundations of rational space. "Unlike Gerald Ford's two-car utopia," they assure us, "this project proposes no fulfilment from particleboard, rather the lots are plotted as a post-Y2K landscape of desire, a panopticon of shifted powers."

The "lots" referred to here are in fact a faux housing development in Ottawa's LeBreton Flats, an area so polluted by the legacy of local industry that it is now unfit for human habitation. KIT's project links a website with the real life site of LeBreton Flats, tracing a virtual connection between these two coordinates in order to emphasize the highly mediated subtext of globalizing technologies; that being, to continually colonize and delineate new frontiers.

This project asks the audience to inhabit the abstract spaces of both these sites. Rendering the required social interaction as a concrete example of the "non-place urban field," the website as property development site will ask the audience to draw out a building onto the drawing applet which would not only exist in a toxic landscape, but which would also fully utilize the toxins, feeding off a previous generation's by-products. As it is drawn onto the web it is also drawn onto the actual toxic landscape in Ottawa via a GPS system which is linked up to a fully automated robot.

Thus, with the click-and-drag of a mouse, the web-surfer can design a virtual dwelling for themselves inside a meta-virtual space (at least in the sense that actual habitation would mean certain death). In doing so, KIT carves out a zone which is equal parts Thomas Pynchon and Hakim Bay: a liminal and temporarily autonomous space open to various ironic inscriptions. In this sense KIT endeavor to fold colonial logic back onto itself through the "little tactics of the habitat" (Foucault). In an uncanny echo of Cerne Abbas and the Nazca Desert, New Toxic Homes traces the outline of displaced desire in a world now defined by the transarchitecture of technology and the "dislocating localizations"(4) of its attendant para-spaces. Such are the lines of flight, rooted firmly to the toxic earth.

1.2 Crossing the Line

A boundary is not that which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is from which something begins its essential unfolding. -- Martin Heidegger (5)

Borderline Developments -- KIT's corporate persona for this project, in association with Artengine -- navigate a theoryscape as disorienting, overwhelming and flexible as the metropolis itself. Taking a cue from Michel de Certeau, KIT seeks to create a tactical response to the urban environment by indulging in the "art of manipulating and enjoying it." The premise for such an endeavor questions de Certeau's suggestion that "futurology provides no theory of space," (6) indeed that space itself is largely forgotten in the capitalist reification of time. By tracing the parallel exponential growth of human populations and industrial waste, New Toxic Homes counters the entrenched logic of Taylorism with the start fact that large sections of the planet are becoming uninhabitable. (A point which is becoming particularly pertinent in Australia due to the Pangea Corporation's proposal to use the outback as one of the world's major plutonium dumps.)

The symbolic leverage afforded by Borderline Developments creates a conceptual switch-board between Benjamin's "empty homogenous time" and the real-estate agent's "empty homogenous space" (and the timely deconstruction -- or should that be demolition? -- of both). The digi-mechanical manipulation of an environment now classed as off-limits enables a sense of vicarious enpowerment and access. The blueprints of our imaginary domiciles are simultaneously etched onto the polluted ground, and the "mattering maps" (Grossberg) of the everyday.

This project stems directly from KIT Homes, a 1997 installation which empowered council-estate kids who found their school threatened by real-estate tycoons. After inviting the kids to design their won ideal living spaces, these fantasy blueprints were etched onto the demolition site itself. By taking aerial photographs and displaying them in mock housing-sales offices, KIT exposed not only the ruthlessness of urban "development," but also the utopian possibilities which sprout in the interstices of voracious capital.

Such a metaphoric cartography skirts along side the fringes of terrain vague -- the French term used to describe the disregarded edge between locations. In an age where liminality is the norm, the hyper-hybridity of KIT Homes and New Toxic Homes blurs any residual distinction between virtual and actual. As a consequence, architecture is left to reinvent itself in the ruins of its own rapturous rupture:

As unrecognized producers, poets of their own acts, silent discoverers of their own paths in the jungle of functionalist rationality, consumers produce through their own signifying practices something that might be considered similar to the "wandering lines"… drawn by the autistic children studied by F.Deligny. (7)

While appreciating the counter-hegemonic logic of de Certeau's capillaries, KIT sidesteps the romantic resonance of his conclusions. To play in the polluted spaces of the landscape via the Internet is to already be (at least partially) complicit with the power-grids which only cut deeper into the next millennium. Borderline Developments thereby insist that:

These leftover spaces, abandoned by the concrete realm because of inherent pollutants, uninhabitable climate or corporate speculative indecision, may be safely accessed by vision through the medium of the screen. The entire process of territorial colonization may occur in the space between the monitor and the eye; discovery, exploration, purchase, design, construction and (visual) inhabitation of the "built" product, involving only minimal physical exertion of the finger tendons at the instigation of a downloaded consciousness.

By thus extending Benjamin's flaneur into a zone prohibited to fragile mortals, New Toxic Homes initiates an intriguing dialogue with modernist modes of appropriation and resistance. Dwelling within "the blind spot in a scientific and political technology," Borderline Developments' idiosyncratic detournement uses the tools of alienation -- the Internet, robot, indeed the logic of architecture itself -- in order to clear a space for rethinking out habitus without becoming hostages to our own nostalgia. (Hence their insistence that their project provides a chance to escape "Martha Stewart's myth of a global preindustrial cranberry-wreathed Connecticut.")

Indeed, KIT's next project traces the movement from this habitus, to a more general hubris.

2.1 Architectural Developments In Escape Units

Ironically, the very scientific worldview and runaway technological acceleration some say have produced the spiritual vacuum and societal fragmentation that are fertile ground for millenarian beliefs are spawning a technoeschatology of their won -- a theology of the ejector seat. -- Mark Dery (8)

When standing on a rooftop in Manhattan it becomes very difficult not to be struck by an epiphany of verticality so powerful as to confound Baudrillard's basically sound observation that we live in an era of "horizontal immortality." Suddenly a form of transcendence seems possible, through the traditional route of skyward rapture. De Certeau similarly plugs into this impluse when he writes:

To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city's grasp. One's body is no longer clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to anonymous law. . . . It transforms the bewitching world by which one was "possessed" into a text that lies before one's eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god. The exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive: the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more. (9)

KIT funnels the millennial urge for rapture (a.k.a. "escape") through another pseudocorporate venture known as ADIEU (Architectural Developments in Escape Units). Starting with Ballard's premise that "we are all looking for some kind of vertical route out of this particular concrete jungle," ADIEU harnesses the cathexis that transforms Manhattan's ubiquitous water-towers into a fleet of dormant escape pods waiting for the signal. By setting up post-ironic salesrooms in order to "sell" spaces in the Escape Units, KIT greases the psychic hinge which links suburban entropy to metropolitan panic. A planned set of infomercials pitching the benefits of these escape pods -- combined with the ambiguity of their trajectory (i.e., no information as to their destination after the moment of ejection) -- plays on the Titanic mentality which has seeped into architectural discourse through the twentieth century mandate of engineered salvation.

2.2 Blueprints for the Future

At the extreme limit of pain, nothing remains but the conditions of time and space. – Holderlin (10)

The meltdown of modernism has resulted in a Chernobyl-like pollution of our perception, so that art and architecture are now practically indistinguishable. Such a crucial historical juncture should alert us to the importance of re-inscribing "space" within the necessary delusion of agency. When entire populations are being driven from their homes because of wars fought on the very concept of territorial ownership, we would do well to remember the apocalyptic logic of an increasingly atavistic form of capital. It is perhaps a distant hope -- but one we would do well to encourage -- that the makeshift utopia of Gibson's Golden Gate Bridge lies dormant within the horrific squalor of the refugee camp. (11)

Perhaps architecture, like anthropology and various other anachronistic guilds, should take this opportunity to acknowledge its impending obsolescence, and then return to the drafting board. Indeed architecture has been more effective than a hydrogen bomb in eliminating people so that structure are unburdened by constant human adaptation. Only when the sculptors of our environment value habitus over hubris will KIT's robot be able to escape the pathos of Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running (1971), in which a lone droid -- watercan in hand -- tends the Amazon rainforest inside a giant glass bubble floating in space, long after the Earth itself has died.

1. Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988: 129.
2. J.G. Ballard quoted in Andrea Juno and V. Vale, eds., J.G. Ballard, San Francisco: Research, 1984, pp. 8, 14.
3. Borderline Developments, Mediated Intoxication: How to Navigate with Double-Vision, Mexico City: Virtualia, 1999, n.p. Uncited quotes by KIT below are from this source
4. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998, p. 175
5. Martin Heidegger, "Building, Dwelling, Thinking." in Basic Writings,ed. David Farrell Krell, London: Routledge, 1993, p. 356
6. De Certeau, op cit., p. xxiii.
7. Ibid., p.xviii.
8. Mark Dery, Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century,New York: Grove Press, 1996, p. 8
9. De Certeau, op cit., p.92
10. Holderlin quoted in Agamben, op cit., p.185
11. William Gibson, Virtual Light, London: Penguin, 1994