48 Characters

Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Year: 2013
Status: Complete

Forty-Eight Characters is an installation at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture. Four carved pedestals are arranged in the gallery, each encrusted with a group of “balloon animals” made by casting plaster inside latex balloons. The project is a thought experiment: what if architecture were made of characters instead of self-similar repetitive units like bricks?

Consider, as a possible answer to this provocation, a litter of piglets suckling at the teats of a plump sow. The language of formal analysis is not readily equipped to describe this situation. The disposition of one pig against another does not appear to be regulated by clear systems of repetition and adjacency—i.e., geometry. The pig bodies themselves resist decomposition as assemblages of skin and structure; they are too fat—all fat, in fact. What formal analysis struggles to rationalize, the languages of character and posture easily accommodate: the piglets nestle and suckle; the sow sprawls; obese bodies squeeze and abut one another. Bodies hug, snuggle, and copulate their way toward the production of space.

Project Team: James Chesnut, Stella Dwifaradewi, Nico Guida, Troy Hillman, Yilip Kang, Courtney Kraus, Dan Marty, Nick Safely