Storrs Gallery to Host Technoecologies

January 23, 2018

The School of Architecture presents Technoecologies, a solo exhibition by Zenovia Toloudi/Studio Z, on view in Storrs Gallery February 2 through March 2, with an opening reception on February 2 at 5:30 pm.

Technoecologies reconceives the relationship between humans and their environment in architecture through prototypes and models that explore emerging forms of bioarchitecture, living systems, and evolving environments. The exhibition critiques the performance-driven corporate architecture of “sealed” envelopes and controlled environments, which disconnect users from natural air, light, and exposure to public activity while contributing to spatial homogeneity and dullness, possibly triggering psychobiological disorders.

By contrast, Technoecologies proposes a metabolic architecture as a provocative alternative approach, being manifested in speculative yet tangible ways. In architecture, metabolism is connected to the neo-avant-garde design strategies of the Asian postwar movement of the 1960’s known as Japanese Metabolism, a movement grounded in the idea that, rather than being fixed machines, buildings and cities should be organic and constantly grow, change, and renew. Technoecologies shares that vision and aligns, too, with that of architect and artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who also deployed the concept of metabolism in his work, using the medium of the art installation as a means of tangible experimentation and real-time intervention in existing buildings.

Metabolic architecture is contemplated here both literally and metaphorically. Literally, it deals with material transformations caused by either the growth or decay of organic matter. Metaphorically, it relates to immaterial transformations of light or sound caused by environmental or artificial stimuli. Through these processes, metabolism within architecture becomes an apparatus that produces constant changes in form, space, and user perception.

Technoecologies bridges the gap between technophilia and technophobia. While acknowledging the rapid technological changes of the present and future, Technoecologies also projects roots into tradition and society to reinterpret in contemporary terms past history, culture, and traditional habits. With examples ranging from artificial sonic gardens and living wall prototypes to interactive models of seed banks, the projects in Technoecologies examine processes of material transformation, eventually generating a series of themes for architecture to consider, such as laboratory experimentation, objectification of nature, temporality and theatricality, the vernacular and cultural, modular and infrastructural elements, vulnerability and voyeurism, autonomy and complexity, and user participation. This exploration forms both a theory and a design approach, which subsequently advocate how art, technology, and architecture might progressively transform the environment, society, and culture.

Zenovia Toloudi is an architect, artist, and assistant professor of architecture at Studio Art, Dartmouth College. Her work critiques the contemporary alienation of humans from nature and sociability in architecture and in public space, and investigates spatial typologies to reestablish cohabitation, inclusion, and participation through digital, physical, and organic media. The founder of Studio Z, a creative research practice on art, architecture, and urbanism, Zenovia has exhibited internationally, including at the Biennale in Venice, the Center for Architecture, the Athens Byzantine Museum, the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, and the Onassis Cultural Center.

Zenovia has won commissions from Illuminus Boston, The Lab at Harvard, and the Leslie Center for Humanities at Dartmouth, and her work belongs to permanent collections at Aristotle University (AUTh) and the Thracian Pinacotheca. Her essays have been published in Routledge, Technoetic Arts, and MAS Context. Zenovia is the recipient of The Class of 1962 Fellowship. She was a Public Voices Fellow; a Research Fellow at Art, Culture, and Technology Program at MIT; and a Fulbright Fellow.

Zenovia received her Doctor of Design degree from Harvard's GSD (2011), a Master of Architecture degree as a Fulbright Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology (2006), and in 2003, she graduated from the AUTh in Architectural Engineering.