Body Project One

Body Project One (Nat Chard)

One of the central questions in most of my architectural projects is how to nurture an indeterminate condition. In the body projects (also mentioned in post 2) the question is inverted – how is it possible to take possession of the city as it is given?  How can we take the city with all its prescriptions and certainties and open it up as a fresh and available territory? As touched on in the previous post, there are a number of sites where architecture and the city make great claims about their precise relationship with the body. By adjusting the organs in the body that touch those programmatic sites, if architecture and the city’s claims were true, you would therefore be able to adjust the city. By adjusting the performance of the new synthetic body parts in one way, you could change the city in one way while I could change it differently. This offers questions about the collective consciousness of the city that will be touched on in a later post.

I will explain the workings of the body architecture further when talking about the second body project. At the stage of these preliminary studies I imagined that they would be made possible by the range of bio and nano technologies emerging at the time. As these provided no practical resistance, almost anything was possible and as a consequence the poetic possibilities felt limited. The subsequent projects were much more practical.

Study for Body Project One (Nat Chard)

The drawings are stereoscopic (the first image in the post has a stereoscopic pair to the left showing the new organs opened up and then in normal position in a single image to the right). They are made by taking Polaroid photographs (Type 59 film) and peeling the film apart ten seconds after pulling it through the rollers. The negative is then rolled on a pre prepared piece of paper with a sort rubber roller. All the marks and distortions around the image come from the negative and its chemicals. The process is unreliable, providing a level of thrill when working with it. Unfortunately the film stock is no longer available. When the images are dry they are drawn over, each side adjusted relative to the other for parallax to provide a three dimensional view. If you have the image quite small on the screen and go cross eyed, you should be able to resolve a stereoscopic image (or you can use stereo lorgnettes).

The figure to make these drawings was cast in a mould for an écorchémodel that i adapted with an abdominal and chest void and added organs from a plastic model. For the next generation body project I borrowed an anatomical torso from University College Hospital (I was teaching at the Bartlett, UCL, at the time) and for for the third project I bought my own anatomical torso. When I took this headless, legless, armless body through Stanstead Airport the human torso appeared on the X-ray screen at large luggage security but the guard did not flinch, presumably looking for certain colours rather than the figure.

Body Project One -detail (Nat Chard)

This image is the stereoscopic pair of drawings from the picture at the top of this post.

When viewing the stereoscopic drawings, go cross-eyed so that the most distinct features sit over each other (for instance the head in these drawings). Try to hold it and relax as much as possible, and the two images will resolve into one, appearing as a strange construction between two and three dimensions.

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