[ISEA2000] Curator Statement: Sven Sterken – Iannis Xénakis, Architect. The Polytopes as an Architectural Laboratory

Curator Statement

The aim of this presentation is to present the series of ‘Polytopes’, developed by the famous Greek composer Iannis Xenakis after his collaboration with Le Corbusier and Edgar Varèse on the famous Philips Pavilion, at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. In these large-scale multimedia installations, independent layers of light, sound and space are brought together in an abstract and highly sophisticated cybernetic synthesis. Xenakis extrapolates here the constructivist search for parametric form into a totally dynamic and immersive environment. Examining the artistic potential of the latest technologies in light and sound, they can be considered as an architectural laboratory. The Polytopes, a landmark in multimedia history, illustrate notably the transformation the concept of ‘space’ has undergone from the industrial epoch to the information society, and offer an intelligent interpretation of the at present too often banalized notion of interactivity.

  • Iannis Xenakis, [1922-2001] Romania/Greece/France. Composer  britannica.com/biography/Iannis-Xenakis  iannis-xenakis.org/xen/news/info.html
  • Sven Sterken  is engineer-architect and research assistant at the Architecture department of the University of Ghent (Belgium). He studied architecture and musicology at the universities of Ghent, Pretoria (South Africa) and Paris. In 1999 he obtained a grant from the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research to work on a PhD on the architectural work of the composer Iannis Xenakis. At present, he is also affiliated with the architectural theory and history depart­ment of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.