A little disruption went a long way toward bringing Rice architecture and music students together during a weekend in April. To launch the latest issue of PLAT, the student-run architectural journal now in its third year, members of the Rice School of Architecture (RSA) put together a “disruptive installation.” An ethereal film created by Shepherd School of Music student Kenya Gillespie as a master’s thesis and music by Shepherd School graduate student Mark Hirsch were combined in what RSA Dean Sarah Whiting called “a spatialization by our students of the work of music students.”
Whiting said the work underscored the importance of collaboration across schools, especially when instigated and carried out by students, and would like to see more such projects, “no matter how disruptive.”
“We were particularly interested in disruptions of little things that add up over time to become a larger change,” said Sam Biroscak, an RSA graduate student and managing editor of the journal. “The installation breaks down space to produce new ideas of collectivity.
“The idea behind the launch extends the theme of our recent printed issue — entitled ‘Collective Disruption’ — to three dimensions, disrupting the Anderson Hall arcade to offer new perspectives of that common space,” he said. The 3.0 issue, edited by graduate students Mary Casper and Chimaobi Izeogu, features content from students and practitioners of architecture all over the world and collects articles and projects that use disruptive events or strategies to produce positive shifts in architectural and urban paradigms, he said.
To realize the installation for the April 19 launch party, an RSA crew led by Biroscak and graduate student Amanda Li Chang built a temporary steel framework for 16-foot-high projection screens in the arcade between Anderson Hall and the Fondren Library. They projected Gillespie’s movie out of sync from both sides of the hanging screens.
The film, Biroscak said, is “about a personal crisis of identity, one personality that has fractured into many different types of personalities. We then further distorted this image of the individual by dividing the projection across five screens.”
The film was spread across the screens at varying depths, “so we had the image traveling back and forth in space,” he said. Viewers could even walk between the images.
The disruption went a level further: The film’s soundtrack was replaced by not one but three overlapping pieces of music by Hirsch. “The film was further disrupted through the application of someone else’s music,” Biroscak said.
The first showing late Friday night was so successful that the PLAT crew scheduled an encore for the next night that was attended by RSA and Shepherd students and faculty – and anyone else who wandered through.