Domestic Solaris’ DoppelGanger [Appliances from a Distant Ocean]

Mnemonic DoppelGanger from The Spyfrost Project

David Trautrimas is a 30-year-old Canadian artist, who uses old kitchen mixers, waffle irons, staplers, vacuum cleaners and coffee machines among many other objects as the basis of his suggestive work. After that, he “reassembles” the images digitally, into what he calls “Habitat Machines” or “Spyfrost Project“. As described in an article published by The New York Times, “With their industrial steampunk aesthetic and looming, animated postures, his machines would fit nicely into the sets of Terry Gilliam’s clanking dystopia “Brazil.” Or perhaps post-crash Dubai.”

Trautrimas work transcends the givens of graphic manipulations and talks about dystopian post-industrial landscapes through an impressive architectural imagination. We can see behind his work reminiscences of Hans Hollein’s Transformations. We can remember that Hollein once said that “everything is architecture” when he was describing the common thoughts of the architectural movements from the 1960s and 1970s; and now in the 21th Century, Trautrimas is working, just as Hollein once did, integrating different kind of objects and transforming them into architectural elements in cityscapes and landscapes. Hollein wrote in 1960:

Within the void of the threedimensionality I define space, a matter of the forth dimension.

The means?
Painting, Sculpture, Architecture.
Mass, color, light.
Textures, lines, focuses.

The means: Spaceradiation.

Trautrimas art-work also brings to our minds that word:”Spaceradiation”. His projects, hybrids of both machinery and architecture, stand as colossal weaponized ancestors to common objects such as refrigerators, lawnmowers and washing machines, creating a diffuse-oniric landscape.

Stand Mixer Mews from Habitat Machines

Micro Re-Instigator from The Spyfrost Project

The Onirism as a literary movement became really popular during the 1960s, same years of Hollein’s Transformations, but we can go back in time and also recognize the surrealism of Yves Tanguy or the machines described by the Comte de Lautréamont on his book Les Chants de Maldoror. When we look at Trautrimas’ Habitat Macines or Spyfrost Project, we can almost hear Lautréamont saying “Il est beau […] comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d’une machine à coudre et d’un parapluie!”.

But going back to the architectural spirit of Trautrimas work, there is a quote on Rober McCarter’s pamphlet Building Machines that can be used to describe his buildings, born of everyday objects but which finally ends creating a dystopic landscape:

Places allow experience, and as Adorno has noted, the power of experience destroys the illusion of progress and gathers the past and future into the present. Collectively, these architectural characteristics also stands against the ultimate “end” of technological progress –nuclear destruction of the human race. In the building of something permanent, the possibility of such annihilation is rejected, and more original human values are given form, represented in the world.

The meticulous process of reverse engineering used to create the obsolete aesthetics of this future ruins, drives us to think in architecture as an archeological piece.

Waffle Iron Heights from Habitat Machines

“Today for the first time in the history of mankind, at this moment when immensely developed science and perfected technology offer the means, we are building what we want, making an architecture that is not determined by technique, but that uses technique – pure, absolute architecture. Today, man is master over infinite space”.
Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler [1963]

The reflection behind these constructions, radical dystopias creating new landscapes, can be a criticism on our current technofetichism. Opposed to Hollein and Pichler ideas, Trautrimas pointed that this kind of buildings are an evidence that both the manufacturer and the manufactured are eminently disposable. Using art as the perfect language to communicate the obsolescence of architecture, the three series [Industrial Parkland, Habitat Machines and The Spyfrost Project] of digital prints talks about the paradox between architecture and technology.

If architecture has always operated as a mediator between humans and the built environment, within an anthropocentric ideological framework with a deterministic approach, as Françoise Roche points, now ist’s time to rethink this relationship aiming to avoid the experience of the ‘tragic’, described by Tafuri, which is the experience of the metropolis.

The Brilliant Device from The Spyfrost Project

As we quoted Hollein above, we can not separate architecture from art, literature and sculpture. That’s why it’s not so difficult to find references while looking at Trautrimas’ work. The whole fiction that conforms his architectural narratives can also be related with Stanislav Lem’s imagery, when he describes some of the Solaris structures with this words:

The interior of a symetriad is dedicated to build what some call “monumental machines”, although no resemblance to the man-built machines, but as this is an activity for limited purposes, it can be considered a “mechanical” activity.


“Then the body mass stabilizes slowly – the shaft straightens- and the symetriad, partially submerged, is finally immobilized. Then you can safely explore it, introducing by one of the many traps that go through the roof, near the top. The complete symetriad seems to be the three dimensional model of a transcendental equation”.

This “monumental machines” that are the main core of Trautrimas’ architectural visions are a reflection of the world we want to. Do we want to keep building empty and obsolete cities?

“To see the other side of the moon I have to move.
To experience the spaces beyond my eyesight I have to move.
To experience regions, continents, the world I have to move.
To experience all orders of spaces, spaceobserver and space move.
Space is constantly in motion.”

– Hans Hollein. Plastic Space [1960]

Or are we going to be able to create a new kind of space again… more human, less technical?

Related readings and links:
[1] David Trautrimas web-site
[2] Building machines. Robert McCarter. Pamphlet Architecture
[3] Hans Hollein. Plastic Space [1960]


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