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Telematic Ulysses: The New Office Landscape

Tuesday, June 10, 1986–Friday, June 13, 1986

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Telematic Ulysses: The New Office Landscape is an international design research project by Maurizio Morgantini, designer and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Claudia Dona, journalist and design historian. Made possible by the support of EIMU (Esposizione Internazionale Mobile Ufficio), Milan, Italy, and COSMIT (Comitato Organizzatore Salo del Mobile Italiano), Milan, Italy, Telematic Ulysses was an exhibition by a group of advanced design students of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design. The research, which involved the participation of universities in the United States, Italy and Japan, investigated the relationship between man and advanced technologies, and the new qualities of telecommunication and information technologies in tomorrow’s new office environment.

In their essay on the exhibition, “Technology and Myth,” Morgantini and Dona explain, “After a rather stable historical development which has always seen the artificial presented as an imitation or as something in opposition to the natural, we are now entering a new era in which the highly artificial overlaps the natural, no longer imitating its results but rather its processes. A very long cycle seems to have come to an end; the recent objects of technology look like the fruits of a return journey to the staring point: our intelligence.”

“…We are beings now endowed with exceptional qualities like speed, omniscience, and ubiquity; we are Telematic Nomads that more and more have come to look like the gods of the ancient mythology, but we are still unable fully to appreciate our new condition. Like the ancients, we need a dream, a Myth in the form of a tale that explains a complexity which otherwise escapes us. The fact that we can fly today we owe to the dream of Icarus. And when a dream becomes collective, and thus a Myth, it has the power to direct the growth of technology through historical time.”

The exhibition accompanied a panel discussion, sponsored by MODO design magazine, on the “New Office Landscape” at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

Daniel Baltudis

Telecopying Feather

Paul Eifert and Raj Louisnathan

Office Furniture Megatrends ABC

Anton Kobrinetz

The Keyboard of Apollo

Roland Krugler and Brian Kujawski

Trident Antenna

Peter Langmar, Bill Maes, James Siddal and Koledin Toplica

Work Station

Joe Naponiello, Bernard Schroeder and Tom Tuten

Computer Shell

David Reichman

Telecommunication Comb

Jum Siddall

Laser Finger

Brian Treacy

Identity Sensitive Mirror

Video production by Edward Bonfield, Pamela Giese and Richard Wolksi

Additional collaboration:
Morad Ghassemian
Ruby Harris
Timothy Koeppen
Martin O’Connor
Raul Paredes
Peter Rydig

Music by Xavier Callobre

Maurizio Morgantini Head ShotMaurizio Morgantini is an architect and designer with experiences in fashion, photography, painting and music. Since 1980, his interests have been focused on Industrial Design with clients like SIP, RAI, Olivetti, Sony, Credito Italiano, BPM, Cariplo, as well as public universities and institutions. Morgantini has taken on monumental projects such as the reconfiguration of the Great Hall of the State University of Milan, with the first integrated multimedia conferencing system, and the Model of Investment Center for F & F Group Deutsche Bank.
As a tenured Professor of Design and Technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1985, Morgantini works to promote international research on development trends that have environmentally conscious qualities. Morgantini also created technological spaces and objects for Siemens, Chubb Group, IBM, Motorola-UIC, Apple, General Electric Plastics. The Chicago Atheneum gave him his first anthological exhibition this year.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

Telematic Ulysses: The New Office Landscape is sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design’s College of Architecture, Art and Urban Planning.

This exhibition is also made possible by the support of EIMU(Esposizione Internazionale Mobile Ufficio, Milan, Italy) and COSMIT(Comitato Organizzatore Salone del Mobile Italiano, Milan, Italy).

PRINT COLLATERAL

Postcard: Telematic Ulysses: The New Office Landscape

ARTISTS’ STATEMENT

Technology and Myth

Maurizio Morgantini and Claudia Dona

After a rather stable historical development which has always seen the artificial presented as an imitation or as something in opposition to the natural, we are now entering a new era in which the highly artificial overlaps the natural, no longer imitating its results but rather its processes. A very long cycle seems to have come to an end; the recent objects of technology look like the fruits of a return journey to the staring point: our intelligence.

Miniaturized, powerful and slender, the new objects are returning to our body and bear witness to the close resemblance between the artificial and the natural. The low voltage current that flows in a printed circuit reproduces the functioning of ourselves; the traces of an electronic circuit are beginning to assume organic forms; artificial memories now tend to abandon their mechanical supports and to become solid condensations of information closely resembling the cells of our brain; and the very relationship with processors is becoming ‘natural,’ thanks to the gradual elimination of the interface. Alongside the new computers, which simple shells enclosing an imitation of our intelligence, we should perhaps put ‘living’ work stations, single organisms capable of reliving, rather than blocking, the discontinuity and unpredictability of the new technology and rhythms of work. The new work stations are expected to grow like branches on the information tree, pure structures able to accommodate and to relate different objects, and behavioral requirements on the one hand primitive and ritualistic, on the other as sophisticated as the operational instruments of the new condition of Telematic Nomadism. This hyperartificiality, which the new design tends to bring closer to the natural, is at once supertechnological and a poetic condition of which we are still not fully aware. We are beings now endowed with exceptional qualities like speed, omniscience, and ubiquity; we are Telematic Nomads that more and more have come to look like the gods of the ancient mythology, but we are still unable fully to appreciate our new condition. Like the ancients, we need a dream, a Myth in the form of a tale that explains a complexity which otherwise escapes us. The fact that we can fly today we owe to the dream of Icarus. And when a dream becomes collective, and thus a Myth, it has the power to direct the growth of technology through historical time.

This statement was distributed in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.