PROPS: What is the role of images in your research?
Lydia Kallipoliti: Images have undeniably features, form and character, yet from the moment they are experienced, they are transformed and redesigned as in our minds. They always carry a composite story, half extracted from actual events and half recounted in the mind through a reconstructive impromptu narrative.
In our perturbed new world of “post-truth,” images can be powerful tools of battle. We are possibly in dire need of a new kind of imagery to announce events, to tell stories and to shape our reality. If every bit of fact is now designed, the role of design of images has, albeit unwittingly, expanded to more than shaping the aesthetic and experiential aptitudes of our daily existence. In many ways, the design of images as a form of resistance has acquired civilizational value. It needs to narrate the silent unspoken curvature and shape of space itself, unearth the bedrock of the post-truth era, rendering visible an invisible battle of human displacement and disembowelment of livelihood.
Drawing by Tope Olujobi and Lydia Kallipoliti for the exhibition Closed Worlds curated by Kallipoliti at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2016. The drawing is based on General Dynamics Diagram for a Life Support System published in 1966.
Feedback man visualizes the management of human physiology as a life support system and the problem-solving obsession of monitoring, capturing, and recycling human subsystems, illustrating the body as a closed ecology. Ingestion and excretion cycles are strategically edited through the use of external apparatuses which are assigned the mission to recycle all corporal flows. Although prepared originally for the space program, Feedback man was not illustrating an escape to otherworldly fantasies; it was a catalyst for re-thinking transformed social and technical relationships as architectural problems.
Guinea Pigs was an installation by Lydia Kallipoliti and Andreas Theodoridis for the Istanbul Design Biennial in 2016 in response to the curators’ question “Are We Human.”
GUINEA PIGS presented five species of engineered bodies: AMPHIBIAN MAN, EXOSKELETAL MAN, EXCREMENT MAN, FEEDBACK MAN and WEIGHTLESS MAN. A three-dimensional immersive projection narrated the stories of these figures, as fictional characters offset from the texture of reality; like the living ghosts of archival research. In parallel, each Guinea Pig, was presented in narrative texts, archival material, and patent drawings suspended from the ceiling and observed from a designated station on the floor, enabling the visitor to lie down and assume a horizontal position in the exhibition space. The change of posture from vertical to horizontal turns the viewer him/herself into a guinea pig, into an object that is observed, monitored and documented by the curators.
Lydia Kallipoliti is an architect, engineer and scholar, currently an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is the author of the forthcoming book Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit?