"10 Years of Dumb" Retrospective

BAM's "10 Years of Dumb" retrospective exhibition... ALL OF IT!

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BAM’s immersive installation at the exhibition entrance, entitled “Qingdao Garden,” entices visitors with little more than a green AstroTurf room garnished with a 100% green tree (green fortune cookie ‘leaves’ dangling) and a fish tank full of live gold fish. The significance of this installation and its placement at the gateway foreshadows a cryptic subtlety in the show which would, in different terms, feel more like a baseball bat to the face.

Originally this installation design was for a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts named Qingdao Garden. It would be BAM’s first, never realized, project. The ultimate realization of this unbuilt work reveals BAM ‘to-be’... which, at the time “Qingdao Garden” was originally conceived, was not yet known to the three founders.

No more clearly represented in any BAM work than in this rendition of “Qingdao Garden” is the interdependence between ‘real’ and ‘artificial’ nature— central to BAM’s understanding of ‘Nature Is an Idea.’ Interestingly, the idea was conceived far before BAM’s founders considered relocating to China. That the installation was originally intended for a Chinese restaurant represents a fortuitous twist of fate.

Apart from being a physical threshold between the outside world and the all-encompassing Planet BAM, the “Qingdao Garden” installation represents BAM’s naive beginnings.

When BAM presented to the owner of Qingdao Garden the idea of a fortune cookie tree at the restaurant entrance, the owner told BAM that a fish tank would be better. In the actualized version of this proposal, BAM decides to follow the restaurateur’s suggestion and adds a fish tank full of ‘good luck’ gold fish.

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The evolution of projects displayed in The Landscape Room culminates in the largest and most successful BAM Landscape projects to date, most of which are in Beijing.

The Landscape Room showcases a selection of BAM’s landscape and urban design projects. BAM does not follow one style or specific method of working. BAM’s process constantly changes and refines. Seen panoramically together, BAM’s landscape projects appear very active and random. A holistic evolutionary process becomes evident: projects side by side grow in size, complexity, completeness. Delving deeper into individual projects, narratives emerge through text, sketches, drawings, photos, video, physical models... Projects seem to contain an implausible universe of ideas and possibilities, of which the constructed result seems to represent only a fraction.

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The process by which BAM creates so called ‘art’ is highly iterative and non-linear. BAM’s Installation Room is a maze of objects and images, a cacophony of physical tests, videos, drawings, photography. Models of all shapes and sizes hang from shelves suspended from the ceiling; more models sit on AstroTurf floor displays. BAM has always had a hard time calling these works ‘art’ and prefers the term ‘installation’ for the work is more a realm for design exploration than the creation of art, although they are marketed as such.

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BI-POLAR ASPECTS OF CREATING BAM: Skitzophrenic: Video Trilogy

The Video Room is a mix of propaganda and storytelling. Three walls with projection tell their own story line. One story is a propaganda video, polished and clean. Another story is a slow-paced documentary, a history about BAM’s past. What is fictional and what is truthful? The third story is a heated, impassioned design argument with a client. These three story lines are spliced together and flicker between walls.

The storytelling schizophrenia, fused into an all-encompassing visual experience, creates a visceral understanding of the chaos and bi-polar aspects of creating the BAM office. From emotionless to tears, professional to childish, composed to erratic, prepared to reactionary—a constant back and forth, manic and exhausting.

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The Library at BAM’s “10-Years of Dumb” Retrospective contains printed matter. Featured prominently is Tabula Casa, a publication about underground collegiate design and art culture created by the founders of BAM while in architecture school at Cornell University. In addition to original prints of the incendiary Tabula Casa publications, BAM’s marketing booklets are displayed. These marketing materials show BAM’s evolution through the many different ways in which BAM has represented itself over the past ten years. At the center of the Library, a low table presents BAM’s academic endeavors: design studios and classes taught at universities, including a landscape architecture studio at University of Toronto. “Save Chaotianmen” focused on Chongqing’s environmentally-endangered, hyper-cultural site, and how to redesign the dense urban habitat from the point of view of a landscape architect. In the Library, BAM’s first book “Landscape Vision,” debuts to much fanfare—the design manual for a student audience interested in landscape ventures.

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"30 YEARS OF DUMB" LECTURE By Renowned Landscape Architect, Martha Schwartz

In keeping with the theme, “10 Years of Dumb,” Martha described projects created in her office during her initial years. No lecture of Martha is complete without mention of the Bagel Garden, Martha’s rocket ship to early fame—a garden that shook the field of Landscape Architecture to its core.

Martha’s talk was reminiscent of her lecture at Cornell University’s Architecture Department in 2004, for which BAM installed a temporary environment that would become a first work—in conjunction with the Tabula Casa publication—by the original founding members of BAM.

Martha’s honest, borderline self-deprecating style, is not only fun but informative. Martha congratulated BAM for having made it to 10 years, then discussed a diagram mapping her life’s work, which she entitled, “30 Years of Dumb.”

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PARTY HARDY—All Hands on Deck!

BAM’s party for "10 Years of Dumb" was a collaboration between dART Festival and BAM, hosted by one of Beijing’s most popular night clubs, Migas. BAM and dART Festival have a long history. Wong Miao is the founder of dART and co-founder of China’s first (no-longer-existing) electronic music record label, Acupuncture. During a dART debut event in 2015, Miao collaborated with BAM to create a projection stage and DJ booth for guest performer Aril Brikha. Collaborating again with BAM, Miao was able to capture a special guest DJ from Berlin, DJ Doubting Thomas, and use 3d mapping visuals by local VJ, NOIZOME. Needless to say, the party was a BLAST!

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展览的入口是一个置入式的名为“青岛花园” 的装置,吸引了参观者进入,这里不仅是一间铺满人造草坪的房间,中央还有一棵涂成荧光绿的树,天花板上悬挂着幸运饼干的叶子,还有一个装满活金鱼的鱼缸。装置的重要性和其入口的位置在这个展览中预示着一个神秘的微妙之处,否则,就会像当迎头一棒,让人摸不到头脑。最初这个名为“青岛花园” 的装置是为马萨诸塞州剑桥市的一家中餐馆所设计的,是BAM的第一个项目,却从未被实现。对这个曾经作品的实现揭示了BAM的许多未来的特征,这是三位创始人在最初的构想中都没能想到的。“真实”和“人造”自然之间的相互依存关系,是BAM本次展览主题“自然是一个概念”的核心,在迄今为止的任何其他作品中都可能没有更好的体现。有趣的是,这个构思是远在考虑来到中国前发生的,事实上,这个最初为一家中国餐馆设计的装置,展现了偶然的命运转折,它除了是一个实体界限,分隔外界世界和BAM的包罗万象的世界之外,“青岛花园装置”也代表BAM稚嫩的开端。

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创造BAM的双相性倾向( 视频装置)


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展览的图书室展出了各种印刷品,特别突出的是Tabula CASA,这是由三位创始人在康奈尔大学读书期间创立的刊物。除了最初出版的刊物之外,这里还展出了BAM营销宣传册的发展历程。这些营销材料展现了BAM在过去10年中的蜕变,也体现出了BAM展现自我的不同的形式。在图书室中心的矮桌上展示着BAM学术方面的成果,在大学中的综合性设计研讨及教授的课程,如在多伦多大学的课题“拯救朝天门”,专注于研究重庆最重要的却濒危的城市场地。除了之前教授的课程,BAM的第一本面向学生观众的著作 “景观视界”,也在展览中首次亮相。

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玛莎在BAM十年展上的演讲让人联想到2004年在康奈尔大学建筑系举办的讲座,这次讲座是在一个由BAM和Tabula Casa刊物的创始人们创作的艺术装置中举行。


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派对— 全员集合!

BAM的十年展狂欢派对是由dART电音节和BAM在北京最具盛名的夜店Migas内联合主办的。BAM和dART电音节有着悠久的历史。王淼是dART其中一位创始人,也是中国第一家,已经不再现存的电子音乐唱片公司的创始人。在2015年的dART首次活动中,她曾与BAM合作,为特邀表演嘉宾Aril Brikaha创建了一个投影舞台及DJ台,这位DJ是王淼从柏林特邀而来的Doubting Thomas,与当地VJ,NOIZOME一起打造了一场3d的视觉盛宴。毋庸置疑,整场派对是绝对的劲爆!

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