4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
This project explores Merce Cunningham's use of drawings, text, and numbers to articulate the body's movement through space and time. Cunningham's dance diagrams generate possibilities for movement, interceding before a work's elaboration rather than acting as notational records following its creation. Cunningham's diagrams are considered as spatial texts and read against contemporary understandings of the diagram in architecture. Through this juxtaposition, the project analyzes how the processes embodied in the diagrams—Cunningham's engagement with chance procedures; the morcellation of time, space, and the body; and the notion of collaborative autonomy—can inform ways of working in architecture. The project includes both research in the Merce Cunningham archives and interviews with collaborators from the company, including dancers, musicians and artists. Through both a written and drawn analysis of this material, the project proposes a reading of Cunningham's choreographic notes that situates them within a larger diagram-based narrative and argues for their relevance to architecture itself.
Sony Devabhaktuni is an architect, teacher, and writer. He studied English literature at Stanford University and architecture at the Cooper Union where he received the AIA Gold Prize Medal and a Fulbright Fellowship to France. His writing —including, most recently, 'merceinspace' an essay on the collaborative practice of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company — has appeared regularly in the AA Files of the Architectural Association. He is the editor and founder of Le Journal Spéciale'Z, a biannual publication on urbanism, art, and architecture published by the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris. In 2012, at the École d'Architecture Paris Malaquais, he taught an intensive studio on movement and spatial notation and a seminar on a theory of the diagram. He currently teaches at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, where he is a studio director in the first year program. Devabhaktuni 's architectural work was recognized with an honorable mention in the 2010 Washington University Steedman Prize Fellowship for Mississippi Three Times, an urban redevelopment project for the St.Louis riverfront.
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