Where are you from ? (country, influences, background…)
I was born in Greece, but I’m 1/2 Norwegian, so I grew up in a strange mix of two very different cultures, spending half the time in Greece and 1/2 in Norway. I studied architecture at SCI-ARC in Los Angeles, and through my friend Jim Isermann, I got to know the contemporary art scene at a great moment. Later on I met Adelina von Furstenberg, and through her I learned a lot more about contemporary art. At more or less the same time I did my masters at Columbia University which had just introduced the digital department.
How did you meet M Manetas ?
I met Miltos through the gallerist Emily Tsingou, when he was in Greece participating in an exhibition by Adelina. At the time neither of us had a computer, it was 1994, and I was just leaving for New York to study at Columbia. We met again a few months later and we both had our first Macs, and where totally addicted.
What kind of collaboration do you have with him and with the orphans?
I dont know if collaboration is the right term. I would say we are part of the same landscape, a landscape in the sense of intelectual topography. So of course we collaborate on many things, discuss ideas, judge each others’ work and quite often we do projects together.
You are the EO frontstore architect ? What were the main ideas at the origin of this project what were your constraints ?
At the time, Manetas was doing the famous “cables on the floor” paintings, and all his visual landscape was cables and hardware, everywhere, which is almost unavoidable when you have many computers in a space. My first reaction for EO was no cables, no hardware, no floor and to definetly avoid the classic “computers on tables” view. So I decided to take everything off the floor, and have it hanging from the ceiling. Then the main concept was to have the space function as a drop-down navigation menu, a space designed as a website. You can close the menu and see just a screen, or open it to work. Basically EO is a screen, so when the menu-workstations are closed, all you see is an empty space and a screen floating in the back. I made the basic equivalence that a storefront is a screen. The only constraint was the budget, but I decided to design the space as it should be in an ideal world, and then build a demo-version instead.
Do you work differently to build spaces for internet or for the physical space ?
Not really. What I usually try to achieve is a very abstact quality, a moment when you dont know if what you see is a space or a screen, a building or a computer rendering. So in the built projects, I try to create this moment with materials that are native to the built world, I try to achive virtuality not with technology but with regular building materials. This moment could be described as NEEN, which is an abstract term in itself, something that we recognize but cannot describe. I guess i understood that you will create the Neen architecture for the villette numerique’s performance.
How do you imagine Neen’s world ? and then how will you create it with the help of the others ?
At this stage the NEEN world will be on the Active Worlds platform, which I’m familiar with since many years. I dont know yet what it will be like, I am just starting to design it. The main idea is to have a plateu for discussion and a home for every Neenster. These will be separated by an empty space. As a schematic starting point it will like the entrance to World++, but of course there will be one crucial element that makes it Neen.
Do you feel like a virtual scenographer ?
No. Architecture includes scenography anyway, its just more.
What do you think about the concept of ” event ” in architecture ?
I prefer buildings without people.
Have you ever worked before on stage or performances?
Yes, a long time a go I used to do the sets for the art-techno band called Stereo Nova, and recently I did Pause space in Stockholms’ Fargfabriken, where the photographer Jean-Pierre Khazem staged performances with models.
What is your next project ?
Right now I’m working on developing + updating the brand identity + new space / shop of Forever Laser Institut in Geneva, designing a travelling museum retrospective of a well known artist, a renovation of a house in Long Island city and a playground- landscape in a school in Armenia.
Andreas Angelidakis interviewed by Isabelle Arvers