“A (VERY SHORT) HISTORY OF AMERICAN GRAPHIC HUMOUR”

A house, maybe L.A. Palm trees surround the picturesque scene in the background of the setting. The spot: “classical modernist” white. What’s left is a photo, maybe two. What can be seen: basically an “inflatable”, a sculpture- like, self-tailored figure, a balloon. Burning House, 2010 appears as an abstract shadow of what could be a colourful, rasterised pop-sign. Size: gigantic, overdosed, with architectural dimensions. A sign, evoking black smoke, like a comic or cartoon drawing, a decoration to the “shed” by Rudolph M. Schindler, the Austrian architect who built the “white cubes” where now a black balloon creeps out towards the blue L.A. sky. The variety of aspects astonishes; a sign pops out of the shed that in itself will be buried by the massive, expanding shape of the inflated form. Buried under the mass of something, more or less without mass, the “shaped” helium covers the inside of the building and fills the sculpture’s inside likewise, as well as it transforms the outer lineature of the buildings structure. The question, whether it transforms the Mackey Apartments into a “decorated shed” * or if the blow-up is in itself a defunctionalised, somehow ridiculous dark quote on the “Long Island Duckling” that Venturi, Scott-Brown and Izenour set up as an icon of the Las Vegas outskirts seems to be immediately at hand * *, not only because it is explicitly raised by the artist. But the question remains more or less unanswered. Neither duck nor decorated shed, the duckling rather offers pork rinds than duck meals. No house is burning, no fire trucks or even fireworks to be seen. But, nevertheless not a simple visual joke. The “smoky” shape in fact does not even contain smoke. The stylised outline evokes the idea of a burning house as a spatial graphic; as a large scale advertisement for burning down houses, what kind of product would it sell? In fact, the invisible (gas) gets visualised as a rough drawn caricature in itself, and could also function as a hidden joke for physicians (whenever using Helium always having the Hindenburg in mind- burning because of the non-use of it). A plastic drawing, a self-referential sign that contains the same, but different, physical notion as its represented content. An irritation, sculpture (non)parlante; what you see and expect is not what you would and could see. The idea of a designed atmosphere creeps out exactly like the “bulbs” do. The uncanny image of burning a building, represented through the image of black smoke is literally “breathtaking”.”Terrorism, product design and the idea of environment” * * *; Peter Sloterdijk peeps out of a street cruisers rear window.

* Ventury, Scott-Brown, Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas. MIT Press, 1978
* * Ibid.
* * * Peter Sloterdijk, Luftbeben. An den Quellen des Terrors. Suhrkamp, 2002 English Translation: Terror from the Air. Semiotexte, 2009

Text by Robert Müller