June 11, 2005

Hans Ulrich Obrist

I first caught trace of Hans Ulrich Obrist via Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth". I'm not much of a fan for manifestos and Mau's was as bland, obvious and self serving as most of his work (and please note that's not entirely a criticism). One item glared out though, number 39 "Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms".

Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

It was one of those things that just gets lodged in the periphery, an idea that never quite escaped my mind, but never quite got put into focus either. A few times a year I'd reference it in a conversation, think about it in a plan, make sure it never quite disappeared from thought. A month or so back it surfaced in text, in a paper, I did a bit more research.

There is very little documentation at all on the "green room" conference, at least that I could find. It was entitled something like "Art and Brain" and Obrist claims it was successful.

No matter though, the import bit was stumbling on Obrist's massive book of interviews. Weighing in at nearly 1000 pages, but in terms of content it's far denser then even that implies. Since 1993 Obrist has been interviewing as many interesting people as he can come across. And as a young hustling art curator its a fuck of a lot of people. It reads like an encyclopedia of the contemporary art world, high concept division. Artists and architects, philosophers and scientists. Its a joyous little tome and it might just be the best guidebook to the state of aesthetic thought, circa the new millenium. Highly recommended.

Posted by Abe at June 11, 2005 12:18 AM


I'd be tempted to say Andrew Otwell and Design Engaged (www.designengaged.com) have a patron saint. :)