BRUTAL: Views from Brazil's Concrete Utopia
For her project, Graphic Design student from ArtCenter College of Design, Tais Ghelli aimed to explore the boundaries of transmedia deign by designing an exhibition on Brazilian Brutalist Architecture. Using the Cannibalist Manifesto — which guided much of the Brazilian modernist movement — as a starting point, Ghelli sought to create a language (and ultimately a space) that translated the tensions, vitality, and the boldness of the works produced during this period.
The Cannibalist Manifesto, written by poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928, was a call for visual artists, poets, writers, architects, and designers, to seek the real meaning of the Brazilian identity in their works. It revives Cannibalism as a metaphor, encouraging Brazilians to "eat" their European influences only to create works that are exclusively Brazilian. It urged artists to come up with meaningful ways to express the realities inherent in Brazilian culture, while also attempting to define Brazilian identity itself. In Architecture, this movement gave birth to works that aimed at emphasizing the social importance of the architectural space, and reconciling historically marginalized groups. The use of humble materials was also a characteristic of this period, and designers sought to rethink the impact of form in urban spaces.
The design of modular custom typography speaks to the boldness of the architectural forms in the works of Brutalist architects from Brazil, while the richness of the colors serves to establish a second layer of visual tension. This language travels across media and can be seen used in print, on screens, and ultimately merging back into space through an interactive installation.
Processing.js and a kinect sensor were used to transform the exaggerated typographic forms of the analog installation into a platform where one is able to appreciate the works of architects such as Lina Bo Bardi, Oscar Niemeyer, and Joao Villanova Artigas. A reactive response is prompted as the user walks towards or away from the installation, and Brutalist buildings reveal themselves or hide in-between the exaggerated typographic forms.The encounter of essentially divergent mediums (analog and digital) serves to accentuate the tensions that are so commonplace in Brazil's complex past, and the large typography not only miniaturizes the architectural works, flipping general expectations, but also becomes the architectural structure, which engulfs the viewer, the content, and imposes itself on the very space it inhabits.
Special thanks to: Brad Bartlett, Ivan Cruz, Miles Mazzie