Architecture, Art, gas, PDF, Photography

Gas Tanks (Bernd and Hilla Becher)

“Typological, repetitive, at times oddly humorous,  photographs of industrial structures are, in their cumulative effect, profoundly moving. The Bechers’ serenely cool, disarmingly objective, and notoriously obsessive images of water towers, gas tanks, grain elevators, blast furnaces, and mineheads have been taken over several decades, under overcast skies, with a view camera that captures each detail and tonality of wood, concrete, brick and steel.
In this work, the Bechers’ present four principally different forms of gas holders or gas tanks in 140 photographs taken during the years 1963-1992 in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States. The subjects are photographed under overcast skies that eliminate expressive variations in lighting; the Bechers make no attempt to analyze or explain them. Captions contain only the barest of information: time and place. On the subject of gas holders, the Bechers limit their remarks to a minimal functional description, leaving the aesthetic dimension of their subject to the photographs themselves: much of the fascination of these photographs lies in the fact that these unadorned metallic structures, presumably built with little concern for their visual impact, are almost invariably striking in appearance.”


Architecture, Art, Astrology, Automata, Economy, Light, Society, Sound

Nicolas Schöffer and Luminodynamism

“Echoing El Lissistsky’s ‘prouns’ defined as the midway point between architecture and painting, Schöffer would extend the scale of his sculptures to monumental proportions. His 52m high Cybernetic Tower in Liège, created in 1961, senses its immediate environment using microphones, hygrometers and anemometers (wind measurement). The information collected from these sensors is used orchestrate the movement of mirrors and lights on the towers, and also to generate environmental sounds to be played back to the city. Viewed at night time the mirrors act more as colour switches giving an overall impression of network interactions and connections inferred via pulsing colours. With nodes of interconnected light existing in a lattice perhaps Schöffer was attempting to mimic the invisible communication infrastructures that were developed during the 50′s and 60′s and who’s influence had grown to create the science of Cybernetics.”


Algorithm, Architecture, Astrology, Automata, Commons, Economy, Farming, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Society, Water

Crypto Water Computers from 1936

“In the front right corner, in a structure that resembles a large cupboard with a transparent front, stands a Rube Goldberg collection of tubes, tanks, valves, pumps and sluices. You could think of it as a hydraulic computer. Water flows through a series of clear pipes, mimicking the way that money flows through the economy. It lets you see (literally) what would happen if you lower tax rates or increase the money supply or whatever; just open a valve here or pull a lever there and the machine sloshes away, showing in real time how the water levels rise and fall in various tanks representing the growth in personal savings, tax revenue, and so on.”