RO/LU continues to explore “art history as a material” by starting with very literal information from existing works and reinventing through intuitive connections to others. A collage of the past and the present—Superstudio’s Quaderna line, environmental installations by Ettore Sottsass, Scott Burton and James Lee Byars’ utilization of man as a symbol object—along with intangible new ideas that emerge through action, then evolved. The objects, made from welded wire mesh, seem to change when one moves in their presence, in some way becoming different with each step taken around them.
Extending ideas embraced and explored by the Mono-ha movement in late sixties Japan, as well as current philosophers like Bruno Latour, RO/LU and Various, explore the “life of things”—the belief that objects, images, and ideas included—have their own agency and won’t simply sit still under someone’s watch, on someone else’s terms. In fact, what makes them compelling is precisely what animates them, what they want, and how they behave when they are set loose into the world. In other words, objects, images, and ideas have lives to live. Suddenly we are interested in getting closer to these objects, establishing a poetic proximity that will allow these things to teach us in ways no person could.
Various Projects’ four square dresses, track suits, bangles, scarves and turbans—produced in the same grid pattern as RO/LU’s objects—act as a playful “meta-mirror” and encourage a sort of performative approach to our everyday interactions with the living world around us.
“When I sit down I do not sit the way my flesh would want to be seated, but as my intellect or spirit would want to be seated, as if woven together.” (Inscription on the bottom of a Rietveld chair)
“I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between an organism and its environment. The environment is in you. It’s passing through you. You’re breathing it in and out.” (Wendell Berry)