Greek architect artist Andreas Angelidakis creates imaginary buildings or environments that references the narcissistic contemporary condition, the ubiquitousness of the internet and globalization, juxtaposed with something from ‘history’, either modern history or antiquitous ruins, and projects a future conclusion based on these.Hand House (2011) is an imaginary house in the hills over looking the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles that is a reflection of the state of the city; a place of broken dreams (for the ‘starry eyed’) and where those that do make it, end up running daily from polar opposites of hiding in a cave for maximum privacy and exposing oneself in an elevated glass box for maximum publicity.
The hand itself, however comical it may seem, actually references the hand of the statue of liberty; where one was holding up the torch of freedom for the masses, here her hand is holding up a tray to serve the entertainment industry’s ‘anointed one’. Its out-of-proportion whimsicality and kitschiness also alludes to the roadside architecture of whacky signs and icons distinctive to southern California. Seen collectively this reveals another controversy; they maybe tasteless and out of scale, but they also contain within them a certain creative spirit, and so it is unclear whether they should be seen as a nuisance or something to be respected. The pool which connects the hand and the ‘cave’ part of the house, is in fact intended to be seen as a reservoir (even though there is a beach) which becomes a pool upon closer inspection. This is another ‘marker’ pointing towards the origins of the city which was planned according infrastructural needs with the reservoir system being a major consideration. The cave, the beach, the hand and the glass box with the view of the Hollywood sign beyond is in fact a vague sculptural ‘portrait’ of Los Angeles itself, invoking the frenzied celebrity gaze, kitschy billboards and a sunny day at the beach, although forest fires and earthquakes are absent. There are also subliminal references to Le Corbusier’s projects, namely the chapel at Ronchamp, with the rectangular turrets sticking out of the reservoir’s exterior walls, and the Open Hand Monument in Chandigarh, a symbol of open political dialogue ‘away from officials and politicians’. Here at the Hand House, it is not free and open but carefully scripted dialogue, not to enlighten, but to persuade. Troll or The Voluntary Ruin (2011) is a film of a fictional story of an old modernist building that oversaw the mass migration of people from the countryside into Athens in the 1950s, and who wasn’t ‘profit driven’ like other buildings but had concern for the welfare of its residents. While other buildings had ‘unprofitable spaces’ (which I take to mean unprofitable for the residents, but profitable for the owners), this building, called Chara (meaning joy), had a big garden, playground and play pool in the middle for the residents. Over time the city spent more than she made, and started borrowing money to pay for all the ‘toys’ people wanted and the city became ‘ugly’, when people started to realize how poor they actually were. The city was in a crisis when people started leaving and shops started closing; Athens was becoming a ruin. The residents of Chara placed plants around their homes in an effort to please her, fearing that in time she would become a ruin as well. But she still became despondent to what the city had become. Neither was she content to just be another ‘green building’ and so one day she decided to gather herself up, leave the city behind with all its cars and people and become a mountainous ‘ruin’. Ruins, in Andreas Angelidakis’ view, are buildings on their way to becoming part of nature and as nature is inherently alive, so too does a ruin become alive when they become ‘naturalized’, and are thus ‘free’. Domesticated Mountain (2014) is a film of the story of the phenomenon of American suburbia and its effects on architecture. With no city centre or structure, this is a place driven by desire, where ‘civic life’ or urban human interaction, occurs only as a by-product of shopping which is made possible by ‘infrastructure’; the roads, telephones, internet communications and credit cards. It is also a place that doesn’t change much over the years; passing by is like a slow drive down memory lane. This desire to possess certain things creates an alternate reality, a reality unseen from the outside, which is full of images and icons to fulfill this desire. Over time these images and icons, driven by this desire, engulfs the home and becomes a new home (and shopping mall) that people ‘live’ in. Soon they became saturated, as the images and icons became delivery boxes, and the delivery boxes started to look like icons, the virtual had crossed over to become reality. But the ‘logic of logistics’ doesn’t really take into account the design of an environment; indeed it is only concerned with function and efficiency, leading to ‘just an accumulation of stuff’. The history of the radically new idea of the suburban home and the glorious ideals espoused by Le Corbusier, are now fading into oblivion. In the end, the film questions whether we would still need buildings if we continued in this trajectory, and the implications for architecture, with a hollowed out Villa Savoye crumbling under the weight of a mass of delivery boxes. The films and environmental designs of Andreas Angelidakis addresses the changes to contemporary society brought on by the proliferation of celebrity (gaze) culture, Greek debt crisis which is a phenomenon of globalization and ubiquitous e-commerce and projects a future response, however outrageous, based on these. Imagining buildings as characters, he dreams up tales of buildings being fed up with the status quo and walking away and houses crumbling under the weight of its occupants’ online binge-buying habits. It is a lament of someone living in a sunglasses wearing, whimsical, narcissistic contemporary culture that couldn’t care less about the more esoteric meanings of life and what might happen to high visual-culture with the proliferation of this narcissistic whimsicality.