THE DARWIN PROJECT Through the Darwin project, Atelier Van

Through the Darwin project, Atelier Van Lieshout , NOCC and Greenshoots reference
evolution as the thematic impulse of their form. From the well known foundations of concepts
such as habitat and the Darwinian theories of natural selection and evolution – the artists
extrapolate and give voice to the media of design, sculpture, experiment and performance.
The voice that speaks through this visual tableau could be about evolution, natural selection,
and genetic manipulation. Another voice could be one of survival of the fittest, and alpha
sexuality; or maybe that voice is a wasted impetus floating down the seine.
There's nothing like a giant sperm in the heart of your city to spice things up.
The effect of this project causes, fertile-minded onlookers to be intrigued by a 25m fibreglass
sculpture, purple, on the edge of the river known as Darwin, created by Dutch artist Joep van
Lieshout. The encounter with such a juxtaposition of setting, purpose, form, and theme, results
in a bewilderment - at first - of the public.
Curator Natalie Kovacs, animates this whole scenario. She invites the public to experiment with
these different intercourses of Darwin: habitat, survival, and juxtaposition of dominant sexuality.
By day, the NOCC beds can be slept in and adapted to one’s own use, a testament to Darwin’s
power as a product for the survival of the species. By night, guests are welcome to sleep in
Darwin, enacting the intercourse of propagation - and survival itself. Thusly, the intercourse of
Darwin as a theme arises; the textual, the verbal, and intellectual, all give way to instinct, desire,
and the will to survive; hence, Darwin is the thing of itself. It consumes itself as a theme; and
reproduces itself as an entity. In other words, the project becomes a symbol for copulation –
an experiment, a field test for future Darwinian projects and studies, and a reproductive
experiment ensures.
Atelier Van Lieshout - Darwin 2008 A purple sperm is enlarged to an epic scale.
The head of the sperm offers shelter, a habitat equipped with bed and desk is both a place of
rest and/or reproduction. Darwin implies power, status, expansion and reproduction - it reflects
social Darwinism; its ideas and the need for survival in all aspects of life, whether biological or
corporate. Darwin challenges architectural form in an age of slick architectural pavilions, CGI
design, and computer assisted arcs and extremes of techno-building. Joep van Lieshout, spurts
out a litany of critiques of this sort of a strategy for building. Darwin is slow architecture in
response. It is as old as life is – or at least when life became sexually reproductive. And like so
many of Joep van Lieshout’s projects expressed is: a need to integrate architecture and art, with
the social experience and narrative metaphor within the context of binarisms and paradoxes.
Does Darwin tell us that we should not be so confident of how things have turned out for us?
Or does Darwin symbolize that things will only continue to evolve to be better? Or is Darwin a
psychodrama playing out as artist asserting radical primacy, a survival of the fittest of the artist;
and a survival scenario emblematic of Joep van Lieshout and his atelier rehashing fascism in
mock style, and leading us to see his domination and assertion as a demonstration of his
testosterone (or lack thereof)
Leaf bed:
LeafBed from Leaf Supply is a modular cardboard furniture solution for humanitarian emergencies.
The innovation behind this object not only comes from the form of the object itself but also from the logistics
behind it's distribution to catastrophe areas. The LeafBed is a versatile form of furniture, in that is a bed, a seat, and
a formal-symbolic representation of the shade and protection that leaves give us all; it is a unit nature – one that
when multiplied represents an inter-connected ecosystem. In this case the ecosystem is social.
The bed is assembled from 4 identical modules that have a very simple inner-structure and outer-shell
configuration that can have alternative uses if beds are already available on site. The module then becomes a
seating solution, a small table, or trestles to build bigger tables. The implications of the project are that an
interconnected meshwork of social utilitarian uses arises.
Thanks to a partnership with the leading cardboard manufacturer Smurfit Kappa, LeafBed can be produced in
factories closest to a catastrophe zone, hence minimizing response time, allowing larger amounts of beds to be
produce and contributing to the local economy at the same time. This is an innovation in humanitarian
emergencies logistics that puts Leaf Supply in a spot unfilled by any other company. Once again the formal aspects
of the project have social and economic implications, one where architecture and design has purpose in
community care, and represents a holistic perspective on how structure should inform our ideas of the politicality
of use-value.
The original impulse of LeafBed is the culmination of NOCC design studio’s reflection on evolution of objects. The
studio has been working on the theory that objects evolve in the human environment in a Darwinian way as
species do in nature. The object that better adapts to the requirements of a specific environment has the most
chances of being successful. LeafBed’s ability to "reproduce" itself quickly and in almost unlimited amounts is also
an aspect of successful adaptation. In this sense, LeafBed formulates a model that looks at the utopian possibilities
of a social design as an economically and politically motivated social science, where nature produces outcomes that
are positivistic, and that it does so through the disciplines of architecture and art.
Juan Pablo Naranjo (born 1981) and Jean-Christophe Orthlieb(born 1982) established NOCC in 2008. Their
collaboration is a permanent dialogue guided by a shared scientific mind and conceptual vision. NOCC try not to
take an object for granted and focus on adding different layers of understanding by playing with archetypal codes in
a poetic yet useful way. This impetus is the art of their practice.
In 2008 they presented Statif at the Stockholm furniture fair and Help Me Darwin at the European Talent exhibition
in Eindhoven and Observeur du design 10 in Paris bringing them their first media attention. In 2009 NOCC
developed Object Of Sound for Self studio which consists of a collection of objects whose forms are generated by
the shape of the soundwaves recorded when the names of each object is pronounced. For Talent à la carte during
Maison&Objet January 2010 they introduced the Radiation Collection which is now produced in limited editions of 8
pieces each by the Parisian
Galery S. Bensimon. NOCC has been awarded Humanitech’s 2010 first prize for a cardboard bed intended for
humanitarian emergencies, developed for the company Leaf supply. Other projects include participation in an
installation for Quicksilver’s 40th year anniversary at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2009. NOCC’s actual industrial
design projects consist of objects developed for companies such as Swarovsky, Case Scenario and Guzzini. They
will also be participating in INTERIEURS design biennale in October 2010 in Kortrijk, Belgium, as well as being
invited to exhibit their work in Milan
during the design fair of 2011.
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