Black Contemporary serves as an experiential laboratory for ongoing investigations intended to expand our knowledge specific to the study of atmospheric logics. The field station is located at 26107 530th Avenuee – two miles south of Ames, Iowa. Using experiential perceptions as spatial conditioners, current studio projects focus on the act of making and curating a series of research assemblies within a dormant seed-drying facility constructed in 1979. This work might best be understood as a peculiar deposit of site-adjusted material stagings that indicates the presence of, and makes clearly recognizable, its context as referent rather than source or sitting.
Centered on theories of affect and new materialism, this course of study focuses not on what (material) things are, but what they can do. The subsequent works should provoke a temporal-spatial encounter fueled by a desire to understand the simultaneous and complex nature of cerebral and corporeal experience. Each staging is to be driven by the nascent possibility of a persistent desire to intercourse with existing material surrounds pursuant a philosophical position that leverages perceptual notions of chiaroscuro. A logic first used in the 1680s by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio that had to do with the disposition of light and dark in a picture, or literally "bright-dark," from Italian chiaro "clear, bright” (clarus ~ clear) + ascuro (obscurus ~ obscure). By extension of this etymological dichotomy, the conscious and unconscious, the seen and the unseen, focus and open awareness and the made re-made are factors in the realm of understanding and producing space.
Over the course of the a year, through diverse platforms of exhibitions, inquiries, conversations, dinners, debates, publications, interfaces and atmospheres, Black Contemporary will re-consider the space of the family farm and the way it is framed, expressed and understood. Rural Route 3 (RR3) is an annual spring exhibition that will transform the field station into a public art site – this exhibition and project series serves to initiate a holistic reconsideration of the nature of spatial adjustments as it relates to local and global forms of land use practices. Throughout its spring semester run the exhibition will remain in a state of constant change – between the gallery and its exterior, between design process and fabrication, between sensorial gauges and installation of site-specific works. Black Contemporary will host a series of dialogues throughout the exhibition that will convene key participants Peter P. Goché (Artist/Architect) and Austin M. Stewart (Artist) along with Elizabeth Zimmerman (Musician), Brenna Dixon (author) and students (Sultan AlSamhan, Anthony Gonzalez, Jasmine Gunn, Ben Kruse, Erin McDonald, Jonathan Melendez, Aniket Nagdive, Eric Neuhaus, Branden Pentico, Caleb Spiegel, Dandi Zhang and Zhaoyu Zhu) from interdisciplinary perspectives to consider land use futures and speculate on specific possibilities for the reoccupation of the ‘farm’ site. It is our assertion that artist, architects and farmers can play a critical role in the production of the seen and unseen – spaces made and re-made. Our team of participants will present art, architecture and agriculture as an embodiment of the principles and methods of inquiry whereby the general public is allowed to insert itself as participant. We will seek to demonstrate that such performative platforms of production can play a crucial role in the re-occupation and re-configuration of our landscape.
The premise of this program is not to provide answers, but rather position questions about latent desires within contemporary art and architecture practices as it relates to agriculture on a global scale from an intensely local point of view. These practices – fertile with consciously performative agendas – serve as provocations as much as they do calls to action. They resonate on a public stage beyond traditional musings and find themselves implicated in the reconfiguration of space and time.
RR3 has been commissioned and procured in the midst of a global food crisis whereby the local producers are experiencing significant challenges on social, economic and environmental levels that accentuate the tension between the modern cycles of production and the sustainability of the social and natural environment. Unique to this crisis in Iowa and, therefore, latent set of places is the emergence of the ‘urban farmer’ based in sustainable organic agricultural practices; a grass roots occupancy that embodies the values held by the nineteenth century family farm unit – spatial and economic independence in addition to a land stewardship ethic. This emergence of CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), organic food, the slow food movement, the ‘knowing your farmer’ initiative and popularity of farmers’ markets has brought about a system of networking whereby the community is uniquely close to its food source and hence connected via local rural routes. As artist and architects, we see this route as being a two-way street in that we, reciprocally, desire to re-occupy spaces of food production (vacant farm sites) with experimental cultural works in an effort to engage in the discourse as participants rather than as visitors.
Disparate agents and collaborators will author the holdings of RR3 – defining space for unfettered, experimental practice and performance. Collaboratively, we will assist each other and the public at large in expanding our domain of knowledge and thereby collective realm of experience through sincere engagement in our local culture. By leveraging our individual works as provocations within the traditional stead of the family farm unit, we hope to cultivate a discourse that deals head-on with the complex phenomenon of atmospheric and human intersections.
The site also serves as laboratory for students who wish to conduct independent studies under my advisement. On a practical level, I want to provide students with a framework for making full-scale inquiries, for getting beyond representation as a method of design and develop an awareness of the knowledge of how to understand space as a continuum of experience. On a deeper level, however, we want to gain exposure to an intimate scale of production, and to confront the dichotomy between experiential and abstract notions of space. Students understand making as an investigative and a navigational situation, and reconcile the often-considerable gap between the representation of ideas and the construction of experiential things. Our efforts here are to build on the role spatial practices have always had in design thinking and to assist the resurgence of experimental productions in design education and practice. As the process of design delivery has become almost completely reliant on digital (symbolic) means, spatial experiments in actual time with actual people and actual medium at actual size are a crucial counterpoint.
The result is to be a culturally consequent body of work. The labor of its creative investment is to be an expression of self and a detour from prescribed, representational based, course offerings in architectural pedagogy. This work is the embodiment of a multi-disciplinary dialogue in architecture, landscape architecture, art and anthropology by students completing their degrees in design studies. Amidst their aggregate accumulation we will confront the autonomy of individuality, a spirit of originality, and, the authority of ‘being.’
Peter P. Goché is a practicing architect, artist and educator. Goche works with the nature of perception and spatial phenomenon in developing his material practice. His works provoke a temporal-spatial encounter that understand the simultaneous and complex nature of cerebral and corporeal experience. He is founder and executive curator of Black Contemporary, a rural field station dedicated to the study of spatial phenomena and perception. He is co-investigator/author of Guidelines for Spatial Regeneration in Iowa funded by the 2007 AIA Board of Knowledge Committee. Goché has exhibited and lectured on his creative practice and scholarship at many conferences and cultural institutions throughout North America and Western Europe. As educator in the Department of Architecture and foundational design at Iowa State University, Goché holds both B. Arch and M. Arch degrees in architectural studies from Iowa State University. He taught in the Department of Art at Drake University before joining the faculty at the Iowa State University, where he coordinates and teaches design studios. His understanding and sensibilities regarding spatial experience and ethno-specific design stem from an agrarian upbringing and ongoing research in art, architecture and anthropology at Iowa State University. Equally, his travel throughout North America, Europe and the Czech Republic has nurtured his interest in human beings, their practices and the ways they occupy and perceive space.