Environmental Communications: Contact High, an exhibition originated at Columbia GSAPP and shown at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, is the first major show of the prolific west coast media collective, Environmental Communications. Formed by a group of young architects, photographers, and psychologists in the Venice Beach of the late 1960s, Environmental Communications honed an image practice that aimed to constitute a new visual syntax for the late twentieth-century city. The group speculated that their "environmental photography" would alter architecture and transform the consciousness of architecture students via the university slide library. Both serial and psychedelic—with debts to LA's conceptual photography and its electronically mediated counterculture—their practice was attuned to the spatial and social forces they documented in Tokyo, the American Southwest, and Los Angeles—their primary object of analysis. Through their media experiments, events, and slide catalogs, they positioned themselves as interpreters and purveyors of new trends, assembling a mass design imagery to resist the buildings and monuments that dominated architecture and its institutions. Wasiuta will discuss the development of this exhibition, which he curated with Adam Bandler and Marcos Sánchez.
Mark Wasiuta teaches at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University where he is the director of exhibitions and co-director of the Masters of Science in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP). He studied at the University of British Columbia, Princeton University, and Harvard University. His research focuses on postwar environmental design, an area of shared interest at the base of his collaborative office, the International House of Architecture. He is the recipient of recent grants from the Graham Foundation, the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Banff New Media Institute.