NERI OXMAN: MATERIAL ECOLOGY
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Opened February 22, 2020
The Museum of Modern Art presents Neri Oxman: Material Ecology, an exhibition featuring the work of architect, designer, and inventor Neri Oxman, on view from February 22. The exhibition includes seven major projects that Oxman has created in the course of her 20-year career.
Through her work, Oxman has pioneered not only new ideas for materials, objects, buildings, and construction processes, but also frameworks for interdisciplinary – and interspecies – collaborations. Neri Oxman is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, and Director, Research & Development; and Anna Burckhardt, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.
Oxman is a professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded and directs The Mediated Matter Group. She has coined the term “material ecology” to explain her process of bringing together materials science, digital fabrication technologies, and organic design to produce techniques and objects informed by the structural, systemic, and aesthetic wisdom of nature. Integrating computational form-generation with in-depth research of natural phenomena and behaviors, material ecology operates at the intersection of biology, engineering, and materials- and computer science.
By means of this methodology and approach, the observation of, for instance, the configuration of the bark of birch trees, the characteristics of crustaceans’ shells, the behavior of silkworms, the expressions of melanin, or the flow of human breath have generated new design and production processes. While each research project is individually groundbreaking, taken as a group, they constitute a new philosophy of designing and making – and even unmaking – the world around us.
The projects selected for the exhibition are demos for a library of originally conceived materials and processes that will in the future be available to all architects and designers. Each project will be displayed alongside videos that highlight the science behind it and its production process. The objects and structures are all designed as if grown – no assembly required. Together, these projects celebrate a new age in which biology, architecture, and design join forces to build the future.