Join WUHO Gallery for the opening of CLOSED WORLDS, an exhibition curated by Lydia Kallipoliti. Closed Worlds exhibits an archive of 41 historical living prototypes from 1941 to the present that put forth an unexplored genealogy of closed resource regeneration systems.

CLOSED WORLDS Opening & Panel Discussion
Thursday, March 7th at 6:30pm
6518 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

What do outer space capsules, submarines, and office buildings have in common? Each was conceived as a closed system: a self-sustaining physical environment demarcated from its surroundings by a boundary that does not allow for the transfer of matter or energy.

The history of twentieth century architecture, design, and engineering has been strongly linked to the conceptualization and production of closed systems. As partial reconstructions of the world in time and in space, closed systems identify and secure the cycling of materials necessary for the sustenance of life. Contemporary discussions about global warming, recycling, and sustainability have emerged as direct conceptual constructs related to the study and analysis of closed systems.

From the space program to countercultural architectural groups experimenting with autonomous living, Closed Worlds documents a disciplinary transformation and the rise of a new environmental consensus in the form of a synthetic naturalism, where the laws of nature and metabolism are displaced from the domain of wilderness to the domain of cities and buildings. While these ideas derive from a deeply rooted fantasy of architecture producing nature, Closed Worlds displays their integration into the very fabric of reality in our contemporary cities and buildings.

Closed Worlds, curated by Lydia Kallipoliti, exhibits an archive of 41 historical living prototypes from 1941 to the present that put forth an unexplored genealogy of closed resource regeneration systems. Prototypes are presented through unique discursive narratives with historical images, and each includes new analysis in the form of a feedback drawing that problematizes the language of environmental representation by illustrating loss, derailment, and the production of new substances and atmospheres. Each drawing displays a feedback loop, wherein man’s physiology of ingestion and excretion becomes the combustion device of an organizational system envisioned for humans, animals, and other live species. The moments of failure portrayed when closed worlds escape the designed loop cycles raise a series of questions about the ontology of autonomous enclosures.

The exhibition archive, designed by Pentagram, showcases a timeline of the 41 prototypes that illuminates the ways in which they have contributed to the idea of “net-zero” in our contemporary culture of sustainability. The timeline highlights the evolution of total circular resource regeneration from military research and the experiments of NASA’s space program, to more contemporary manifestations such as the benefits of the housing industry, countercultural practice for autonomous living in the city, nostalgia of the homesteading movement, and ecological tourism and environmental capitalism.

An adjacent display of speculative projects reflects upon a parallel historical narrative of enclosed spaces, figures of man, and legislation related to closed systems. An expanded lexicon on environmental history derived from the study of the 41 prototypes is available online at www.closedworlds.net


This exhibition was originally commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York in February 2016 and supported by the Graham Foundation, the New York State Council for the Arts, Syracuse University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Its current iteration is supported by Woodbury University School of Architecture.


Closed Worlds Exhibition:

Curator and Principal Researcher: Lydia Kallipoliti
Graphic Design and Exhibition Design: Pentagram / Natasha Jen with Melodie Yashar, JangHyun Han
Installation Construction and Fabrication: Andreas Theodoridis
Virtual Reality Experience: Amber Bartosh
Feedback Drawings: Tope Olujobi
Biospheres Video: Daniel Ruan & Ashley Dotson

Special Thanks:  Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, Anthony Fontenot, Natasha Jen and Eva Franch i Gilabert


Closed Worlds Book:

Lydia Kallipoliti, The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit (Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers in collaboration with the Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2018).

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