Public Program

  • The Experimental History Project: Platforms
    California College of the Arts, San Francisco
    Jan 25, 2016 to Jan 30, 2016
    California College of the Arts

View of Platforms, part of The Experimental History Program, on view at California College of Art, 2016, San Francisco.

The Experimental History Project is an interdisciplinary platform for exhibitions, research, and events exploring experimental practices of architectural and urban history. Launched by CCA professors Irene Cheng and David Gissen, the Experimental History Project is an initiative of CCA’s MAAD HTX (History, Theory, Experiments) degree program. The Graham Foundation supported the execution of Platforms, a symposium and exhibition that took place at CCA’s San Francisco campus in January 2016. Platforms explored an array of new digital tools for uncovering the history of buildings and cities. The event convened experts from the worlds of academia, technology, art, and historic preservation to ask: How might historians employ mobile, locative, and pervasive technologies to present research in more immersive and engaged formats? What can scholars learn from transmedia artists and technologists exploring the boundaries of experimental film, documentary, and mobile media?

Irene Cheng is assistant professor of architecture at California College of the Arts. She is an architectural historian, critic, and designer whose work explores the intersections of architectural history, politics, and new media. Her current project The Shape of Utopia: Architectures of Radical Reform in Nineteenth-Century America, investigates the geometry of architectural projects affiliated with anarchist, socialist, abolitionist, free love, and other radical antebellum movements. In 2009, Cheng collaborated with Brett Snyder to create Museum of the Phantom City, an iPhone app that allows users to view past utopian proposals for the city of New York while walking in the city. The project was included in the United States Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Cheng's writing has appeared in Frieze, Cabinet, 32BNY, and Surface, and she is coeditor (with Bernard Tschumi) of The State of Architecture at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century (Monacelli Press, 2004).

David Gissen is a historian, theorist, critic, and curator of architecture and urbanism. He is associate professor of architecture and visual studies at the California College of the Arts. In the summer of 2014, the Canadian Centre for Architecture staged an exhibition of Gissen's experimental history project The Mound of Vendome—the reconstruction of a radical landscape created by the Commune de Paris in 1871. Gissen is the author of Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, The Interior Environment, and Urban Crisis (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Subnature: Architecture's Other Environments (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009).

The California College of the Arts (CCA) was founded in 1907 to provide an education for artists and designers that would integrate both theory and practice in the arts. Today, CCA educates students to shape culture through the practice and critical study of the arts. The college prepares its students for lifelong creative work and service to their communities through a curriculum in fine art, architecture, design, and writing.