Jimenez Lai, Chicago

Jimenez Lai

Cartoonish Worlds

Public Lecture
Wednesday, 23  October 2013

The fourth lecture in the Autumn Public lecture series 2013-2014 Staging the Message. The Architecture of Communication, will be addressed by Chicago based architect, educator, cartoonist and researcher  Jimenez Lai.

The livestream of the lecture by Jimenez Lai:

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Instead of digital computation Jimenez Lai uses the graphic technique of the cartoon, its frivolity and low resolution as an alternative to both - what Bob Somol calls - "the high definition of parameticism and high-lack-of-definition social fundamentalism". The work of Jimenez Lai is full of humor in opposition to any kind of fundamentalism.

In the architectural graphic novel " Citizens of No Place" (2012) Jimenez Lai shows us - in a highly refined, robust blend of design criticism, cutting-edge theory, and masterful representation, full of comical humor - that architecture is about story telling; that content and form are always intertwined; how architecture stages and enacts messages through both its representational and experiential qualities of form and spatial organization in front and in dialogue with an audience. 

This year, in 2013, Jimenez Lai won the Lisbon Triennale Millennium BCP Debut Award.

The lecture by Jimenez Lai - organized in collaboration with Daniel Norell and Frida Rozenberg of the KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm - showcases both cartoons about architecture, and cartoonish architecture. Swerving between the mediums of drawing and architectural installations, the work asks disciplinary questions on representation, proportion, part-to-whole relationships, and politics.

"In my recent work, I have been working through the concept pareidolia as a frame of formal analysis. Pareidolia, a human psychological trait that allows us to not only make out faces from inanimate objects, we even are able to decipher intentions behind the facial expressions. As an advantageous evolutionary trait, humans are a species with a highly advanced ability to read facial expressions. In other words, this innate ability suggests we share highly nuanced formal understanding of the composition of parts on the faces and bodies. Working with not just the faces we make of inanimate object, but also expressions of bodily postures - this analysis can be synthesized with the four-grid and the nine-square." 

"I am particularly interested in the results of lopsidedness in pareidolia - a general proportion that becomes more specific once we apply concepts of bodily frontality (slouching), laterality (contrapposto), torque (sassiness), or on the face (skepticism, or winks)."

Biography of Jimenez Lai

Jimenez Lai is an Assistant Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and Leader of Bureau Spectacular. Previously, Jimenez Lai has lived and worked in a desert shelter at Taliesin and resided in a shipping container at Atelier Van Lieshout on the piers of Rotterdam. Before founding Bureau Spectacular, Lai worked for MOS, AVL, REX, and OMA/Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam and New York. In the past years, Lai has built numerous installations as well as being widely exhibited and published around the world, including the MoMA-collected White Elephant.

His first manifesto, Citizens of No Place, was published by Princeton Architectural Press with a grant from the Graham Foundation. Draft II of this book has been archived at the New Museum as a part of the show Younger Than Jesus. In 2012, Jimenez Lai has been named a winner to the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects.

Link to the office of Jimenez Lai: