that a floor
can't also be
MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Romeare you really sure that a floor can\'t also be a ceiling?
ENEL 2010 award, 2010
Increasing globalization not only forces economies to become more and more dependent from each other; also the global ecological system is influenced by the continuous increase of all human activities. The complexity of this impact on the environment can be compared with the butterfly effect, a term used to describe the sensitive (inter)dependence of different actions on initial conditions, showing how tiny variations can affect giant and complex systems. The flapping wings of a butterfly - just a small change in the initial condition of the system - can cause a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system may have been vastly different. True or not, small actions can certainly affect change in complex systems in unexpected ways. Mankind is only slowly starting to become aware of their role. Changing direction not easy, when economic growth is the magic word. If we as a species want to survive, radical steps are needed to bridge the gap between growth and sustainability.
Butterflies are indicator species for climate change, as they are particularly sensitive to environmental degradation. Their decline therefor serves as an early warning on environmental conditions. Also Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth house (built in 1951, and considered one of the most radically minimalist houses ever designed, conceived as an indoor-outdoor
architectural shelter fully intertwined with the domain of nature) can be seen as an indicator of man's impact on the environment. It can also be perceived as the transformation of the museum vitrine to the scale of a large glass bos-like-house, as something that renders something else visible.
The actual house, located near Fox river, was built on poles and designed in such a way that high water would not reach the house. But, as a result of urbanization and climate change, the river began to rise dramatically in the 1950s, and since the past ten years, the river regularly floods the house. Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling? brings these elements together in an architectural model loosely based on the Farnsworth house. But here the model-vitrine functions as the temporary home for butterflies - ultimate agents of transformation, change and recycling. Radical change is in their life cycle. Transforming from one state to another, they never are what they appear to be.
Visitors can enter the house. The glass walls allow full view on the man-made greenhouse and its visitors inside, as actors on a stage-set. Also they are on view. The transparent walls protect the climate inside and create a membrane between interior - and museum space. Both nature and audience become a spectacle inside the confinements of the museum wall. Flickr
With thanks to Enzo Moretto, ethymologist Butterflyarc, Padua (IT)