“If one wants to dance on a tightrope, one has to first tension the wire.”

Siegfried Ebeling, 1926, Space as Membrane


JB1.0: Jamming Bodies is an immersive installation that transforms Storefront’s gallery space into a laboratory. The installation, a collaboration between science fiction artist Lucy McRae and architect and computational designer Skylar Tibbits with MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, explores the relationship between human bodies and the matter that surrounds them.


JB1.0: Jamming Bodies collapses architecture, technology, and art into a single object. While skin usually demarcates the transition between exterior and interior, this experimental installation transforms skin into a membrane that operates as both. A threshold toward a space of total interiority or total exteriority, JB1.0 is an animate continuum that simultaneously embraces and modifies human bodies and space. Combining the plasticity of mutable organisms with the rigidity of architectural forms, JB1.0 brings architecture and its subject into a single space. A breathing, morphable wall, JB1.0 animates the building enclosure by absorbing and expulsing the atmosphere around it while compressing the bodies with which it interacts.


With this project, McRae and Tibbits, along with MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, explore pneumatic architectural skins and their potential applications to the future of health, fitness, fashion, furniture, and zero gravity. JB1.0 is both an installation and performance piece, and serves to investigate the implications of material transformation and self-reconfiguring membranes on the feeling, behavior, and physiology of the body.


JB1.0 takes the form of Storefront’s gallery wall as a point of departure, providing through its various iterations and forms a series of works on display as bodies (visitors to the gallery) interact with the installation.


JB1.0 is the first iteration of a research project on the scalability of granular jamming for spatial applications. “Jamming” entails a process by which disordered materials can reversibly switch between liquid, solid, and semi-solid states by increasing density. The installation requires reciprocal action by human bodies for the total fulfillment and observation of variables such as tunable stiffness, reconfiguration, morphability, and dynamic internal/external forms.


Through this exhibition, Storefront for Art and Architecture is transformed into a lab space to test questions of scale, geometry, and temporality in relationship to the shape, size, intensity, and quantity of particles that comprise physical structures.


JB1.0 is the first collaboration between McRae and Tibbits, who bring together their expertise to produce a pioneering large-scale jammable furniture and a body-focused space. This prototype, a mix between a playground and a laboratory test room, explodes inherited ideas within many industries and disciplines, putting morphable space and the body at the center of conversations about the future of science, technology, health, and fitness, as well as in the conceptual and material definitions of our everyday spaces of inhabitation.




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This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Program.

Jamming Bodies is the third in a series of projects commissioned by Storefront with the support of the Rauschenberg Foundation. The grant supports collaborations that produce innovative work between individuals across disciplinary fields. Previous exhibitions presented at Storefront as part of the program include Situation NY by Marc Fornes and Jana Winderen in 2014 and Speechbuster by Jimenez Lai and Grayson Cox in 2013.