Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

7 – 9 pm

97 Kenmare Street, New York, NY


#storefrontseries     #ReadingImages     #metabolism     #1972     @storefrontnyc


With Noritaka Minami, Jesse Reiser, Julian Rose, and Nanako Umemoto


Metabolism’s legacy is a complex one, fueled by vast utopian visions that imagined a radically extended reach for architects while defying traditional notions of scale and methods of city planning. When it originated in Japan in the 1960s, Metabolism became a form of simultaneous master-planning and micro-planning. 
The Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo, completed in 1972, embodies the multiple and often conflicting legacies of the Metabolist avant-garde. The building stands as a precedent for contemporary conversations about housing crises and architectural strategies to address them, such as micro apartments and other such interventions in cities like New York and Barcelona. Yet the tower also raises troubling questions about the formal, social, and economic consequences of these visions.
Reading Images: Metabolism, From Micro to Macro will discuss the divergent threads of the complex legacy of Metabolism with Noritaka Minami (author of 1972) and Jesse Reiser, Julian Rose, and Nanako Umemoto. Copies of 1972 will be available for purchase at the event.


About the Book


1972 (2015) by Noritaka Minami, Published by Kehrer Verlag

In the city of Tokyo, a building stands as an anachronism in relation to the surrounding urban landscape.  The building in question is the Nakagin Capsule Tower designed by Kisho Kurokawa (1934 – 2007), one of the founders of an influential architectural movement in the 1960s called Metabolism.  The movement’s aim was to formulate flexible designs that facilitate continual growth and renewal of architecture.  As the first capsule apartment in history constructed for everyday use, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is considered the most ambitious attempt in implementing the principles of Metabolism.  Kurokawa attached the building with 140 removable capsules to promote modifications to the structure over time, theoretically improving its capacity to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions of the post-industrial society.  When the building first opened in March of 1972, it was advertised in the media to signal “the dawn of the capsule age.”  At the time, Kurokawa had additional capsule projects planned in the coming years and predicted the mass production of these living units.


This prototype for a new lifestyle for the 21st Century ultimately proved to be an exception rather than the rule.  The Nakagin Capsule Tower in fact became the last of its kind completed in the world.  Furthermore, the building has never undergone the process of regeneration during the 40 years of existence.  None of the original capsules have ever been replaced, even though Kurokawa intended them to sustain a lifespan of only 25 years.  As the capsules accumulate patina on their shells through the passage of time, they exist as a reminder of a future imagined to be possible at that moment in Japan as well as a future that never came.


Now considered an obsolete model of living, the Nakagin Capsule Tower faces the threat of demolition to make way for a conventional apartment complex on the site.  This photographic series investigates the building as it faces an uncertain fate.  It is a response to the building’s potential disappearance as a tangible piece of cultural memory in the landscape of Tokyo.  The camera engages this singular presence in the city in order to explore the history of the capsules since 1972 and the current condition of this vision of the future from the past.  Furthermore, this project attempts to relate this impulse to document what is about to pass to the very origins of the photographic apparatus as a modern invention that developed out of the desire to fix an image in permanence as a form of evidence.  This investigation on the Nakagin Capsule Tower is also a reflection on the photographic medium employed in capturing the space and its distinct ability to address temporality in the world.



About the Participants


Noritaka Minami

Noritaka Minami is an artist based in Chicago. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004 where he studied Art Practice and Asian American Studies.  In 2011, he completed a M.F.A. in Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine with an emphasis in the Visual Studies Program.  Minami is interested in using the medium of photography as a means of investigating history and memory of sites.


Minami has taught photography at Harvard University, Wellesley College, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine.  He currently works as an Assistant Professor of Photography at Loyola University Chicago.


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto

Reiser + Umemoto, RUR Architecture PC, is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary architectural firm that has built projects at a wide range of scales: from furniture design, to residential and commer cial structures, up to the scale of landscape, urban design, and infrastructure. With the support of the Graham Foundation, Reiser + Umemoto published the Atlas of Novel Tectonics in 2006, and released the Japanese edition in 2008. They have recently won two international competitions: the Taipei Pop Music Center and the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, both currently under construction. The Kaohsiung Port Terminal recently received the PA Award (2014). O-14, a 22-story exoskeletal office tower, has been completed in Dubai and has received numerous international honors, including an AIA Design Award, the Concrete Industry Board’s Award of Merit (2009), and the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Diamond Award (2009). A comprehensive monograph of the project, O-14: Projection and Reception, was published by AA Publications in 2012.


Julian Rose

Julian Rose grew up in Colorado and New York City. He received his Masters of Architecture from Princeton University where he was awarded the School of Architecture History and Theory Prize. Prior to attending Princeton he earned his BA from Harvard University in Art and Architectural History. He has worked for AMO on Rem Koolhaas’s proposal for the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and for the American firm LTL Architects on various buildings, installations, and exhibition designs, including projects sited at Lincoln Center and the Architectural League of New York. Rose’s writing on both art and architecture has been published internationally in such publications as Domus, Log, and Artforum.



Storefront’s programming is made possible through general support from Arup; DS+R; F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.; Gaggenau; KPF; MADWORKSHOP; ODA; Roger Ferris + Partners; the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; The Greenwich Collection Ltd.; the Lily Auchincloss Foundation; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Peter T. Joseph Foundation; and by Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.