What happens when you take two artists, poets and architects and mix them in with the fields of experimental biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, experimental phenomenology and medicine?
You get some seriously abstract architecture that claims to reverse the destiny of death and keep us hopping about on uneven surfaces forever and ever. Arakawa and Madeline Gins, the duo behind these structures called "bioscleave", believe that when we mere mortal humans engage in a tentative relationship with our surroundings it will keep us young forever. According to the architects, comfort is a precursor to death.
Take the uneven floors for instance - the ones that personally give me a nasty case of vertigo just by looking at the photo from the safety of my sofa. These floors are designed with the intention of making you unsure of your footing, therefore forcing you to engage your body in a way that is slightly abnormal to maintaining equilibrium which in turn stimulates the immune system. Then, as if that's not disorientating enough, the walls are a myriad of bright, sunburst colors, some 40 in total, which combined with the varying levels of surfaces, is meant to make you feel as though you are in two spaces at once, thus keeping your perceptions and senses on high alert and and the grim reaper at bay.
Clearly smoking a joint in these surroundings would lead to immediate death, but let's just say for a moment that you followed the rules - could a house really prolong our lives or reverse our destiny all together?
While a fascinating concept to investigate and explore, one in which Arakawa and Gins have done exceptionally well, I am afraid the answer is still, unfortunately, a resounding no. In 2010, Arakawa passed away at the age of 73 to which his wife said, "This mortality thing is bad news."
Intriguing artists, intriguing lives
This couple also wrote the book Making Dying Illegal: Architecture Against Death: Original to the 21st Century
Madeline Gins and Arakawa's book opens with this "Reversible Destiny Statute": "Not making an all-out effort to go on living and the act of dying are from this date on classed first-order felonies. Citizens will need to strive to define the heartiness of their existences and be responsible for astute and timely assessment of negative patterns of events and failed or failing conditions. Choosing to live within a tactically posed surround/tutelary abode will be counted as an all-out effort to go on living." "Equal parts poetry, philosophy, legislation, blueprint, remedy, and demand, this book throws down the gauntlet and calls Dying what it really is--treason against the body"--Joshua Edwards. "Arakawa and Gins' latest book is not just a utopian statement but a ground-breaking quest for new radical thinking which revives the optimistic stance of modernism"--Francoise Kral.