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Inhalable Spaces


Notes: Article presented during the first Neuro-Aesthetics conference organized at Goldsmiths University, London UK, May 2005. Architecture and Architectonics Section

The question of the notion of Neuroaesthetics—I think in our work there is a kind of relationship with this idea because there are a lot of different dimensions and different things that change, and so the meaning of the space today is not the same as before, because we have more media to understand in the spaces we are living in.

So the first project I want to present is Nanometric spatialization. It is a project we first proposed in Switzerland for the National Swiss Exhibition called Expo 02. We were preselected but we lost the competition. After that we tried to do it again for an exhibition in Paris.  The topic is about travel, but not  into space but into the wavelengths. The idea was that we live in the 3-D dimension, in the metric dimensions but maybe we could live also in the nanometric dimensions, in the wavelengths. And we tried to create a kind of travel into the wavelengths. This travel goes from the big to the small, from the visible to the invisible, from 800 nanometers to 200 nanometers in the spectrum of the light. For doing this we began with a big room full of all the wavelengths from white light, from in other words  the visible spectrum. In a succession of rooms we erased, progressively in each room one part of spectrum of the light. At the beginning it is with all the colors, so it was white, then we erase the red and the yellow in the second room, so it was a kind of mix of the green and the purple, and after we went to a smaller room that was this monochromatic room purple room, at 300 nanometers, with only one wavelength, just before leaving the visible and going into the invisible. And after we left and we went inside the invisible. So we changed the reception of the space because in the beginning one has to understand with the eye and after we go into the invisible, we had the perception of the space by the skin because it was with the ultra violet light that affects the understanding of the space. After this space there is the smaller room with the shortest wavelengths but we could no more going inside. It is very short wavenlenght light in black there, ultraviolet C, in fact, this light destroys all the cells of the skin; it destroys life. It was interesting, the travel from the invisible to the visible, but it was also travel into the space where we could live to where we could no more live.

rahm_hormonorium

NANO – 60, rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 75010 Paris Exhibition “Nano”, curator: Laurence Dreyfus From May 22 – September 20. 2003

Hormonorium 
Swiss Pavilion, 8th Biennale of Architecture, Venice 
/ Décosterd & Rahm, associés Collaboration : Jérôme Jacqmin, Catherine Rossier with Prof. Urs Scherrer, Lausanne, and Dr. Anna Wirz-Justice, Basel. Executive Architect : Elena Solari, Mestre-Venise / Submusic composed by AIR ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ), mastered by Hervé Dutournier at Studios Translab-Paris, June 2002 1 – Monochromaticomouss ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) 03:48 2 – Polyvibratorwaves ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) 07:49

In 2000 we did an exhibition in the San Francisco MoMA and it was a kind of research about the perception of color, perception of the space. We were interested in the architecture, because in the beginning we played, we dealt with light and it was very simple, the role of the light. So we asked if there was a new relationship between the light and the body. We found these scientific results, it showed that there was a relationship between the intensity of the light and the melatonin, a hormone that the body secreted. In this result, we understood that the melatonin inside the brain is a factor in the production of its  circadian rhythm. It changes the rhythms of day and night, and it gives information, like a biological clock, information for sleeping or being awake.  This result showed that if you experience the  light of a very bright light, you give this light to the retina, it blocked the secretion of the melatonin in the blood and inside the brain.  So it shows maybe that there is a relationship between the inside and outside space of the body. We were very interested in this, because it changed the perception of the space and the space is no longer blocked by the skin but it goes inside the body and maybe we have a deeper relationship between the body and the space. Also, in 1998, some scientific researchers show that it is in the brain, if we light with this blue light,  with these wavelengths at 500 nanometers, we give these wavelengths to the retina, it blocks the melatonin. We did a prototype or potential space, asked the the question of the qualification of space in architecture. This slide shows that in this space, it was lit with a very green bright light, so it was a potential living room because as it turns out  maybe melatonin is related to sex.  At the opposite end of the spectrum if we lit the room with  purple light we could get more information about sleep. My opinion about this project is that it was not about creating a space but to understand that today there is a relationship to the body inside the space: inorganic and organic, invible and visible blur their boundaries.

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Melatonin room Installations – D! Club, Lausanne, Switzerland, March 16, 2000 – Fondation Claude Verdan, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 3 to September 30, 2000 – SF-Moma, San Francisco, USA, March 3 to July 12, 2001 / Décosterd & Rahm, associés

I-weather.org is a project for a kind of climate for the internet, it was also a kind of critique of the electronic architecture of the time, because in electronic architecture we had this feeling that there is no more biology, or there is no more relationship with the body, and also with the internet, during the whole day we have the same light of the screen of the computer, it is like a new window in the apartment, without climate or without the weather. So we did this project, it was a kind of climate for the Internet, and it changed during the day and night,  and it will give some information about the melatonin, in the real, astronomic world. In this project, the time was not 24 hours, because 24 hours is the astronomy rhythm of the earth, but 25 hours because maybe the hormonal rhythm of the body is not the same as the astronomical rhythm, maybe it is a little longer, and so it is very abstract.

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i-weather.org Software – Purple Institute, Paris, France, December 10-12, 1999 – Museum für Gestaltung [Museum of Design], Zurich, Switzerland, October 27, 2001, to January 27, 2002 – Whitney-Biennial.com, New York, USA, March 2002 – Sixth Leonardo / OLATS / IAA Space Art Workshop, Paris, France, March 17, 2002 – Flash Festival, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France, May 25, 2002 / 
Décosterd & Rahm, associés 
with fabric | ch 
Patrick Keller, Christophe Guignard, Christian Babski, Stéphane Carion

Last year we did a project in the CCA Kitakyushu in Japan. “Ghost flat”, and we presented a kind of a prototype of a flat. The idea was to work in different dimensions of the space, maybe to create different rooms in one apartment, but not with the different spaces but with the different wavelengths. We put all the different rooms, the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, together in the same place, but we separated them by lighting them with different wavelengths. So, when you turn the blue light on, the bedroom appears, and when you turn the red light on, the living room appears, and then the ultraviolet was the bathroom and the other room is black.

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Ghost Flat, CCA Kitakyushu, Japan 
March 22 – April 30, 2004

Quickly, a project concerning the question of  heat. It is so important in architecture to understand that, for a exemple in Japan, there is lot of meaning to warm one space with radiation, directly with infrared on the body, or directly with convection. So in this project we created something like a reversed cinema. It was a very simple situation to inverse the process of the  cinema, for example you have the light, that comes to the white screen, this white light, it gives information to you. So we inversed this process, we want the human to be like a beamer and the screen to be like a receptor. For this, the human body has a radiation, in infrared, so we created a cold black screen, and that sucks all the information, so it was a reverse sense of the media.

rahm_reverse2

Reverse 
 24 June – 19 August 2004 
Exhibition « Intrusiones » 
Curated by Jose Lebrero 
Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo 
Sevilla, Spain

Another project about heat. We need, in architecture, different heat, different temperatures for different activities, if you are in a chair you need 21°C or if you are walking you need maybe only 16°C because  you produce you own energy. So maybe we  can add to  space not only one temperature for the entire space, but break up the space into different spaces with different temperatures—create a kind of meteorology temperature inside the space.

In 2001 we presented an exhibition at the Musee d’art Moderne in Paris. It was Placebo Paint. It was with a French scientist, a specialist on the notion of the placebo. It was also a question to work with industrial paint, we put one drop of ginseng in one paint, and in the other paint we put a drop of orange flower. It was like a homeopathic remedy. So the idea was to create 2 spaces, one with ginseng and the other with the blossom from the orange flower, and it was also to understand that maybe the quality of the space could not be only perceived in the outside world but maybe also inside the brain or inside the body.  The notion of the of placebo was important because we know that we have some systems inside the body, and that maybe when you are afraid or excited you could activate some of these substances inside the brain and it could generate a perception.  We also know  that if you know that there is some ginseng inside a room maybe it  could have a  placebo effect and excite some substances inside the brain. So different substances have different effects and in this example we produced a neurotic room and  more a cool room. What was interesting was nothing in fact, but for a scientist it could really work.

rahm_placeboginger

Peinture placebo© 
Installation, Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, France, October 25, 2001, to January 6, 2002 
/ 
Décosterd & Rahm, associés 
Collaboration : Eva Jospin 
/ 
with Dr. Patrick Lemoine, 
/ Graphic Design: Optimo / Dr. K7 / Placebo music at 1 / 1030 dB ( 0.000000000000000000000000000001 dB ) composed by AIR ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) : 1 / 1 MP© orange blossom 16 :39 ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) 2 / 1-MP© ginger 06 :69 ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) / Placebo paint© 15 CH ginger placebo paint© 15 CH orange blossom placebo paint©

In 2002 in the Venice Biennale, we changed all the interior of the pavilion and we worked on the light but also on the air. We reduced the level of oxygen inside the space from 21% to 14%, so it was like a climate of high altitude, a high mountain, of 3,000 meters. We also reproduced the light, created a variation of the light, and so we created a very bright space, where we could go inside. The first step was to  produce  this kind of shift to another climate. The other step was to work with nothing because it was just light and air, but it transformed very deeply the understanding of the architecture, because the air is invisible, but it goes through the skin, through the body and there is no limit between the organic body and the inorganic architecture. For example with the diminishing of the level of oxygen from 21% to 14%, it causes an hormonal reaction inside the body , and so in a few minutes you can have some changes inside the blood. So there was also the bright light that was very strong and it was also affecting the  melatonin. As a result, it became  an exciting space or it became like a space that maybe you don’t understand.  If you just see it in a photograph it appears as nothing, but in fact all the parameters and information  of the space was shifted directly inside the body and transformed inside the body . We chose also to put the light on the floor, you received white, ultraviolet light directly on the retina, so you have no more protection of your eyes when the light comes from the bottom, and also we chose Plexiglas because it lets the light UV light go through.

rahm_hormonorium

Hormonorium 
Swiss Pavilion, 8th Biennale of Architecture, Venice 
/ Décosterd & Rahm, associés Collaboration : Jérôme Jacqmin, Catherine Rossier with Prof. Urs Scherrer, Lausanne, and Dr. Anna Wirz-Justice, Basel. Executive Architect : Elena Solari, Mestre-Venise / Submusic composed by AIR ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ), mastered by Hervé Dutournier at Studios Translab-Paris, June 2002 1 – Monochromaticomouss ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) 03:48 2 – Polyvibratorwaves ( J-B Dunckel – N. Godin ) 07:49

One year later, we were presenting in the museum in Zurich a project call ND cult about creating a radicalization. It was creating an environment of only 6% oxygen, like on a very high mountain, 8,000 m,  and we could see at this level, the perception inside the brain created a lot of reactions. You can see [indicating slide] first is a writing of the letter c; it is very normal, but when you go on the mountain, you change altitude, and it begins to distort your ability to write the letters,  and at the end you begin to have hallucinations, dreams, and to have a very big reaction of the body. In fact it is the same when you die, you lose oxygen, the cells have no more oxygen, and when you die it is like if you go from sea level into this altitude, like a quick ascension to the sky. In fact when you read the description of someone’s near-death experience, its very close to the alpinistic experiences, like you are in an artificial black tunnel, you have no more oxygen inside the eyes. We produced the kind of project that you could maybe go inside but you have the risk to die. But maybe you could also have a meeting with God or something.

rahm_ndcult

ND Cult
Décosterd & Rahm, associés 
expert: Urs Boutellier, Professor at the Exercise Physiology, ETH Zurich, Associate Professor at the University of Zurich.  / MIGROS MUSEUM für gegenwartskunst, Zürich 
Exhibition “Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – Spatial emotion in contemporary art and architecture” 
Curators: Heike Munder, Adam Budak 
from March 22 – May 26. 2003 / BATHHAUS Centre for Contemporary Art 
Gdansk, Poland 
From 11th July to 7th September 2003

Another project was about the quality of the air. It was the first time we were invited in the Centre Culturel Suisse, in Paris. Absinth’air was a kind of joke. We were thinking about the relation between Paris and Switzerland during the 19 century. In fact the relation was less cultural than agricultural in relation with the drink “absinthe”, produced in Switzerland and drunk in Paris, giving poetry and craziness to the French 19e century poets and painters. So we produced a vapor of absinthe inside Paris.

rahm_absint

Absinth’ Air® Centre culturel suisse, Paris 
from 18 january to 30 mars 2003

And the last project it is about the question of time. I am trying also to understand  globalization, displacement, and maybe we begin to create a kind of perpetual climate, a perpetual spring at 21 degree in all the parts of the world. Wherever you go is 21 degrees. It will be like the golden age. Maybe  this last project cold be a critique on the normalization of climate and create some rupture inside the space. We were invited to a very bad exhibition to be screened on Christmas. I think the best is that Philippe Parreno remembers us that Jean Luc Godard says that Christmas trees become art when there are showing when it’s not for Christmas. For this project, the best was to transform the physiology of the plant. We created a different project about heat, a different season, like perpetual spring, so in the Centre Culturel Suisse, we created a climate, the intensity of light was just like for the 15th of May, but the exhibition opened the 15th of March. So when there was a natural sunset, the light would go up and create a new sunset. Also the plants had a hormonal reaction to the heat. This space was like time travel into the future.  We realized we created a kind of second summer inside of Iceland like perpetual spring, the 21st of June, the longest day of the year, so we created a strange summer day and in the winter and affected the hormones of the body.

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“Invisible architecture/Philippe Rahm”, Continuous spring, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, 12 March – 15 April 2005

Rahm studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Schools in Zürich and Lausanne, where he obtained his diploma in 1993. From 1995-2004, he was associated with Jean-Gilles Décosterd (Décosterd & Rahm assocés). He currently works in Lausanne and Paris. He has participated in a number of international exhibitions, such as: Archilab 2000, SFMoMA (2001), CCA Kitakyushu (2004), Mori Museum Tokyo (2005), and Frac Centre (2005), as well as for the biennales of Lisbon, Valencia, Tirana, Prague, and Graz. In 2002, Décosterd & Rahm assocés were chosen to represent Switzerland at the 8th Biennale of Architecture in Venice. Rahm is currently working on several private and public projects, such as a house for artist Fabrice Hybert, a park in Austria, an urban design for the area of Vassiviere in France. He had a residency at the Villa Medici in Rome (2000), and participated in the MAK-Schindler Program (Los Angeles, 2002). He currently teachers at the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, and is visiting professor at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio.
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