The city's art institutions take a turn toward the durable—and dazzling—with technology-driven exhibits.
An ensemble from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2012 ready-to-wear runway show.
A mix of analog and electric sound filled the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s preview for the Costume Institute’s upcoming fashion exhibit “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” The soundtrack, Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, was a nod to New Age ambience, but also a push for the exhibit’s sponsor—it was one of the first albums featured on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio. Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator, spoke to how the show’s title was inspired by the 1927 sci-fi cult classic Metropolis (and not last year’s Ex Machina, as many have asked).
While the relationship between man and machine, or in this case, haute couture and prêt-à-porter, has generally been posed as a dichotomous one, with this exhibit, Bolton seeks to “suggest a spectrum of practices whereby the hand and the machine are mutual protagonists in solving design problems.” A computer-manipulated, machine-sewn, hand-finished synthetic scuba-knit haute couture wedding dress by Chanel is just one of the highlights. It stands alongside more than 100 pieces that explore the métiers of haute couture (lacework, leather work, embroidery), as well as traditional tailoring and dressmaking.
While creations from the Met’s exhibit, which opens May 5—and which will be shown at the Met Gala on May 3—are sure to flood social media feeds, it’s a rare occurrence when architecture goes viral. A video showing architect Toyo Ito’s Mediatheque library in Sendai, Japan, during the 2011 earthquake did just that. The footage, taken from inside the building, shows the structure shaking and swaying, but intact. It was one of the few buildings that survived the magnitude-9.0 quake. Mediatheque and its legacy grounds MoMA’s latest exhibit, “A Japanese Constellation,” and highlights Ito’s influence on a network of Japanese architects inspired by his non-hierarchical sense of space, use of transparency, and innovative, tech-based construction techniques.
Unlike the iconic designs of the late Zaha Hadid or Richard Meier, which are marked with a recognizable signature, there’s an elusiveness to this group’s output. “These architects are very experimental and refuse to take on a single recipe in responding to commissions,” explains the show’s curator Pedro Gadanho. “They work together and share a common language.” “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” runs May 5–August 14 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org. “A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond” runs March 13– July 4 at MoMA