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Lai, Jimenez

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1932 S. Halsted St. #504
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Website: Bureau Spectacular

Jimenez Lai is currently an assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and the Leader of Bureau Spectacular. He graduated with a Master of Architecture from University of Toronto. Previously, Lai has lived and worked in a desert shelter at Taliesin, and resided in a shipping container at Atelier Van Lieshout on the piers of Rotterdam. Lai's drawings and installations have been exhibited in New York, Boston, Athens, Los Angeles, Columbus, Lexington, Louisville, Chicago and Toronto. His short stories have been published in various magazines and journals around the world, including 306090, Conditions, Beyond, Pidgin, Candide, PLOT and Log. His forthcoming book, Citizens of No Place, will be published in 2012 with Princeton Architectural Press through the support of Graham Foundation. The second draft of this book was exhibited at the New Museum with the show Younger Than Jesus.

The Spectacular Distortions

Jimenez Lai imagines other worlds and engages the design of architecture through telling stories. Beautiful stories about character development, relationships, curiosities and attitudes; absurd stories about fake realities that invite enticing possibilities. The stories conflate design, representation, theory, criticism, history and taste into cartoon pages. These cartoon narratives swerve into the physical world through architectural installations, models and small buildings.

Fiction, in my practice, is deployed as a generative strategy to unpack thoughts on architecture and the distortion of facts. The manga-style graphic delivery compacts criticism with layers of conversations within the discipline into singular yet legible images. The short stories offer a fresh point of view and reveal many architectural problems; and some are tested out as physical installations. The translation between the fake to the real presents a fluid transition from a non-measurable idea and a tangible object.

Specifically, the spaceship storyline within my work concentrates ideas about scale, projection, perception, preferences and uniqueness. Phalanstery Module, for example, was an early built project that tested the lack of gravity and renders all orthographic drawings a single-projection. Point Clouds is another story that studies the limits of parametricism and its relationship with the limits of human body. The ability to isolate issues in a vacuum is the greatest power in fiction. It expands the rules we accept, and distorts familiarity in exchange for formal evolution.
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