15 November 2010

Back in September we held an unusual event called Treats on Elasticity which was produced by Hester Aardse and Astrid van Baalen from the PARS Foundation in Amsterdam. They brought together an apparently disparate group of speakers and performers to explore the idea of elasticity within their own fields, and the results were surprising.

They ranged from the more literal interpretations of Nick White (quality director at Durex and condom expert) or artists Yoko Seyama and Lyndsey Housden who performed within their temporary structure of elastic and light, to interpretations of elasticity from within poetry, architecture, music and neuroscience. Composer Mayke Nas challenged ideas about the relationship between composer/conductor and the audience, and the latter performed her piece “Anyone can do it” – a title to be taken literally. The Wellcome Trust’s own Dan Glaser, an imaging neuroscientist by background, explored concepts of elasticity and plasticity in the brain. He described the way that researchers imaging the brain must “blow it up” when modelling it as if it were made of rubber, to smooth out the wrinkles and better interpret the images. He also described the elastic tension between our more primal selves and our modern sophistication, which can ping back at moments of stress to reveal our inner ape.

Jolyon Brewis, of Grimshaw-Architects, discussed the idea of the Elastic City. He spoke about elasticity in building structures, demonstrating with some alarming computer models of movement in structures such as the Eden Project, which he worked on. More flexible than it looks, apparently. He then touched on buildings designed to change in form and purpose, and elasticity in planning. We were also treated to some poetry from Fiona Sampson’s new collection, Rough Music.

I grabbed interviews with many of the speakers before and after the event, and tried to convey someone of the evening in the video, above. For more in this vein, take a look at the Findings on Elasticity book produced by PARS.