Designers: Jonathan Lott, Dominic Leong, Brian Price
PARA-Project, founded by Jon Lott and Brian Price, competed as a finalist in YAP 2009 with Stimulator, an installation that questions the culture of relentless consumption. Their project focused on a structure composed of common lumber, conditioned and branded to both activate the summer's temporary program and serve as a deployable post-event resource.
Q&A with PARA-Project
MoMA PS1: The fact that you were finalists in the tenth anniversary year of YAP must have put some pressure on your proposal. How did this affect your mode of thinking?
Jon Lott and Brian Price, PARA-Project: Our project was a direct response to the current economic situation as well as the history of YAP. We felt that many of the past proposals exemplified our "culture of excess" through indulgent formal expressions of complexity. As a response we sought to invert the negative association of excess—we imagined excess as resource. In another sense, the previous proposals, in their struggle to be materially efficient while covering the greatest surface area, shared a trait of "thinness." However, we sought to maximize thickness and mass. Thus the greatest excess of a resource would equate to the greatest public benefit when the project was dismantled. It was essential to our approach that the project continue, rather than end, with the closing of the WarmUp series.
MoMA PS1: WarmUp, by nature, is a gigantic party of excess. It's now ten years of a party that's theoretically getting bigger.
PARA-Project: Yes, exactly...and with respect to excess and stimulus, we were very interested in this notion of "more." To call it a party is maybe a little uncritical. The party has changed. We felt that the institution could expand beyond just a summer island of culture to address a broader public culture and in this case, our preoccupation with economic crisis. We knew that our project had to be the backdrop of the program but we thought the program could be doing something more. Events have the ability to free us from representation and we wanted the "party" to literally affect a broader urban situation. We wanted it to extend beyond both the physical limits of the courtyard and the three-month installation.
MoMA PS1: You seem to have addressed two messages in your pitch to the jury—MoMA PS1 as an event space and as a critique of a socially engaged agenda.
PARA-Project: We framed our project as a stimulus package that met three different conditions: the material itself as an economic stimulator, by literally using the lumber as a potential stimulus for new projects with need in the city, a creative stimulus, by creating an area dedicated to the public's ideas about possible use for lumber, and a sensorial stimulus that directly addressed WarmUp and the courtyard as a social/event space.
MoMA PS1: That's fascinating. This idea of expanding the notion of stimulus...
PARA-Project: The nature of the project has to change from just dancing and drinking at WarmUp into a more communal project—WORKac's project was very smart in this sense—but it doesn't have to be so sobering as to preclude the party. We presented to the jury right after Obama had been inaugurated and there was still this universal spirit of hope. We wanted to make the most of people's desire to do more. That being said, part of it was the user's participation in the construction of something new. We would give them the raw material but they would bring something new to it. It's interesting that four of the five proposals this year addressed the economy.
MoMA PS1: Are you going to use some of these ideas in future projects?
PARA-Project: The idea of an ambiguous form that can react and provide for different programming needs but can also be used in ways that we can't totally predict is continually developing in the office. We worked on the presentation for a month but the idea is something we are heavily invested in. It will definitely be a catalyst for future work.