David Macaulay is good at showing how things work (Cathedral, Ship, Mosque, Mill). For his newest book, The Way We Work, he wanted to show how our bodies were constructed, so it was natural for him to think of the human body as a gigantic "machine." So the body is presented like a series of rides at Six Flags. No joke! It's a universe of bodily landscapes and blueprints for life where a duodenum is two stories tall. Protein chains are stacked like Campbell soup cans. Cells are assembled like a social network diagram. Tissue making is organized into a dirty laundry room. Oxygen enters red blood cells on an assembly-line roller coaster, organs get trucked in on semis, and liquids course through the body as irrigation ditches then whitewater rafting courses.
My personal favorite is a bolus (remember that word?) of broccoli being photographed by tourists from a walkway as it plunges down the thorax. And of course it all ends with a "fantastic rectum" (Macaulay's words, not mine) where waste management trucks ship it all away. "We don't usually have the time to look at the smallest details," he says. "We get so caught up in scale we just think we can't understand something so big." But that's not true, he says. "By dismantling it we can observe why it works."
From her studio in the Netherlands, ultra-classy Petra Blaisse lures in a diverse and eclectic group of collaborators from opera singers to writers. Their philosophy is a perpetual search for new answers and solutions to potentially complex issues of interiors, landscape and architecture, and those answers and solutions almost always include a curtain or a garden. In fact, she's completely revolutionized both of those things into nearly unrecognizable forms. Inside/Outside has worked with a staggering group of collaborators like Irma Boom, Rem Koolhaas, Michael Maltzan, and OMG BRAD PITT! In every photo of her team at work, Blaisse is looking as gorgeous and together as one of her curtains, which, by the way, are a-mazing. Defined by experimentation with elements, Blaisse has emancipated the curtain from its primitive uses. So their curtains look like strips of sauerkraut, breathe in the breeze and snare rooms like nets. They're more nubby shawls and ladies' skirts for rooms.
And they do a lot of it by hand: A sound sock in the New York Prada store was made of voile that was shipped in one piece to New York, which Blaisse and her team ripped into strips and knitted by hand at the Gramercy Park Hotel, then tossed out the window into a cab. But her work is also about texture between inside and out, and the interaction between them, but unfortunately because she runs out of time, we don't get to see the OUT. Looks like you'll have to get the book to see for yourself.
>>Read all Serious Play 2008 posts