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World famous architect Toyo Ito travelling to NZ

World famous architect Toyo Ito travelling to NZ / Exhibiting Auckland & Wellington

12.7.01 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Revolutionary Japanese architect TOYO ITO visits New Zealand in August. Exhibitions at Artspace, Auckland (Aug-Sept) & City Gallery Wellington (Sept-Dec).

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Revolutionary Japanese architect TOYO ITO visits New Zealand in August to give lectures in Auckland and Wellington, and to present his exhibition BLURRING ARCHITECTURE at Artspace, Auckland. The show will then travel on to City Gallery Wellington.

One of the world's top architects, Ito is known for creating extreme concept buildings informed by new technologies. His new MEDIATHEQUE in Sendai, Northern Japan, has been hailed as the building of the year. The visit is a joint project by Artspace, City Gallery and New Zealand Institute of Architects; with major support from James Hardie, and support from Creative New Zealand, Asia 2000 and Montana Wines.

LECTURES: Auckland 8 August, 7pm at Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland Wellington 9 August, 7pm, Park Royal, Wellington

BLURRING ARCHITECTURE EXHIBITION: Auckland 8 August - 8 September, Artspace, 300 K Road Wellington 21 September - 2 December, City Gallery, Civic Square

MEDIA INFORMATION, PHOTOS, DIGITAL IMAGES, INTERVIEWS: For further information, for photographic material, or to book interviews or photo opportunities with Toyo Ito or Andrew Barrie, contact: Artspace - Sonya Korohina or Robert Leonard at Artspace; ph (9) 303 4965 or email HYPERLINK "mailto:artspace@artspace.org.nz" artspace@artspace.org.nz .City Gallery, Wellington - Anne Irving; ph (4) 8013959 or email HYPERLINK "mailto:Irving2A@wcc.govt.nz" Irving2A@wcc.govt.nz

1. THE EXHIBITION

Throughout his career Japanese architect Toyo Ito has created sleek, abstract, ephemeral concept-buildings characterised by flowing spaces, the satiny sheen of aluminium, the cloudy translucence and crystalline reflectivity of glass, and the dematerialising qualities of light. He has developed an architecture for our electronic, image-oriented culture. For Ito, the human body now exists on two levels: our primitive, physical body seeks the beautiful light and fresh breeze found in nature, while our new virtual body responds to the electronic environment seeking information. And it is through these dual bodies that we connect to architecture and the city.

Ito's new MEDIATHEQUE is a public arts and culture facility housing a multimedia library and archive, galleries, studios and information centre is one of the defining buildings of our era. It is composed of three elements. FLOOR PLATES set at irregular heights hang from a transparent latticework of structural seaweed-like TUBES which snake up through them while a translucent vertical SKIN hangs from the floor plates. There are few internal walls; the open plan is not intended to create homogeneity but differentiation. Within the continuous space, subtle variations effected by the tubes (some places are light, others dark; some busy, others still) stimulate a variety of activity. The building's unpredictable physical structure generates chance encounters, connections and gatherings. Through this the building moves beyond being a metaphor for architecture's connection to the city and the virtual world, and becomes an active agent in that exchange.

In 1999, midway through construction, Ito worked with computer graphics firm 000/Studio to create the video installation BLURRING ARCHITECTURE, examining and extending his thinking about the MEDIATHEQUE. Its animated sequences, generated from the building's plan, elevation and section drawings, create hallucinogenic spaces. A slow fade from elevation into section suggests x-ray vision, while tiled section drawings, reflected horizontally and vertically, scroll up in a vertiginous extension, suggesting the building is a small piece, cut from an sublime infinite structure. Making innovative use of electronic media, the exhibition offers a fascinating perspective on the Mediatheque and on Ito's conception of architecture. A large-scale video installation powerfully evokes both the spaces of, and the abstract concepts behind, the building and is in itself an extraordinary spatial experience. Videotaped interviews with various people related to the project - who explain its underlying concepts, development process and significance and images of the innovative construction process, make the show not only of interest to architects but easily accessible to non-architecturally literate audiences.

This exhibition will offer New Zealand's arts and architecture audiences a rare and timely opportunity to view the work of a profoundly important and forward looking architectural designer. Already attracting intense interest worldwide, the Mediatheque opened in early 2001, making the exhibition's presentation in New Zealand very timely. The exhibition opens to the public at Artspace in Auckland on August 8 and runs until September 8. It will then open at the City Gallery, Wellington on September 21 and close on December 2.

2. LECTURES

The New Zealand Institute of Architects is arranging a visit of Toyo Ito from August 7 until August 10. Mr Ito will open the exhibition in Auckland and deliver a public lecture there before flying to Wellington to deliver another public lecture in the capital. Andrew Barrie will also be coming form Japan for the opening at Auckland. Shohei Matsukawa, partner of 000/Studio will attend the Auckland opening to install the exhibition. Masayuki Kuramochi, the other partner in 000/Studio will install the exhibition in Wellington.

Ticket prices are: general entry $20, student entry / unwaged $15. Tickets for the lectures can be obtained through sending cheque or credit card details (visa or mastercard) to: Toyo Ito Ticketing / New Zealand Institute of Architects, PO Box 2516, Auckland Or phone 09 623 6080

3. ARCHITECT'S STATEMENT

Two operations are proceeding simultaneously at opposite extremes, one on the construction site and the other on the computer screen. The site is filled with steel. Countless slabs and pipes suddenly introduced into the middle of the urban space. Gradually they are being fastened together and assembled to become one massive sculpture in steel. The sound of dozens of welders hammering on the slabs echoes from morning until night as sparks fly from their torches. And the steel dust dyes the air like smoke belched from a chimney. It is work that seems somehow too primitive for a construction site in the computer age, work that brings "things" into evidence like a violent act within the space of consumption. Meanwhile, innumerable drawings flow across an enormous screen. Ground plans, side plans, cross-sectional views, exploded views, facilities plans, detail plans... plans abandoned when designs changed, plans being studied; a panoply of two-dimensional architectural signs rendered on the screen and printed out on paper. Superimposed on one another they appear and vanish by turns, flowing ceaselessly across the screen's surface. They seem almost to follow the trail of the designing process in the office. This space has nothing to do with "things" and is constituted only by the manipulation of signs, signs folding over and into each other without end. "Blurring Architecture" is architecture that unsettles. By pursuing two kinds of architecture at once I am now attempting to "blur" the field of architecture. In one instance by making "things" visible to the extreme - and in the other by purely spatializing the flow of "signs". ó Toyo Ito (Translated by Keith Vincent) 4. TOYO ITO: ARCHITECT

Born in Japan in 1949, Toyo Ito is one of the world's most innovative and influential architects. After studying at the University of Tokyo he worked for Kiyonori Kikutake, then one of Japan's most important architects, before establishing his own practice in Tokyo in 1971. With domestic projects such as 'White U' (1976) and 'Silver Hut'(1984), he created new concepts for life in modern cities. His 'Tower of Winds'(1986) and 'Egg of Winds'(1991) are interactive landmarks in the public domain, their designs resulting from his desire to represent the invisible electronic world which parallels our physical environment. Engaged in an ongoing search for an architecture appropriate to our electronic, highly image-oriented consumer society, Ito describes his recent project, the 'Mediatheque' in Sendai, as his most important work. It is the culmination if his quest to fuse the physical and virtual worlds.

Ito has won a number of major design competitions, (including the international competition of the Mediatheque project) and has received many awards. His contributions have been recognised not only in architectural circles but also in the broader cultural domain, his recent honours including the Minister of Education's Prize for Art and the Japan Art Academy Award. His work has been exhibited in the UK, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the United States and throughout Japan. 5. ANDREW BARRIE: CURATOR Born in 1968, Andrew Barrie studied at the Auckland University's Department of Architecture and taught design there from 1992 until 1997. He played a key conceptual and production role in the Department of Architecture's 1991 Venice Biennale and New Zealand's 1996 Milan Triennale installations. Barrie's design work exploits the relationship between the perception of space and its representation in abstract architectural media such as drawings and models. He has won a number of design awards both in new Zealand and Japan, including being selected for the SD Review in both 1998 and 1999 - one of Japan's most prestigious accolades for young architects. His work has been the subject of exhibitions at New Work Studio (Wellington) and Artspace (Auckland). He is currently working on a PhD as a Monbusho Scholar at the University of Tokyo's Department of Architecture.


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