THE GENIUS HOST
YAC SPACE TO CULTURE COMPETITION (2014)
Collaboration with Bethany Edgoose
The Genius Host inhabits both physical and digital space. More than a structure, the Genius Host is defined through a system of interactions between the physical and the virtual world, between the people of Bologna and online, often international users. Drawing people, space, and information together in symbiotic relationships, the Genius Host facilitates creative expression, serving as a production centre for; performance, fine arts, music, film, photography, motion capture, rapid prototyping, and scientific experimentation. Highly technological, and based around digital information, the Genius Host democratises innovation and experimentation by providing access to cutting edge equipment and opportunities to document and share projects online. Highly social, the Genius Host fosters interdisciplinary collaboration by encouraging online users to interact with projects remotely, and by maintaining a physical environment where local users from different backgrounds constantly cross paths and are engaged in each other's activities.
The physical components of the Genius Host are found within the shell of a disused textiles factory. Open plazas, patches of garden, enclosed workshops, studios, laboratories and rehearsal rooms; they al latch onto the existing edifice through a series of membranes stretched across a complex steel skeleton. Known collectively as the 'Genius Factory', these physical spaces house the main programmes of the Genius Host.
Divided between artistic production, and prototyping and design, the programmes of the Genius Host come together in the Mixing Chamber; a theatre and exhibition space that also serves as the main circulatory route through the Genius Factory and the physical heart of the digitalised Genius Archive. A supercomputer sunken beneath the stage of the Mixing Chamber, the Genius Archive stores user-generated records of actual and potential projects. Projected onto membranes that weave throughout the Genius Factory, this information flows constantly between the spaces, connecting programmes and offering inspiration to physical users. The information also flows throughout the Genius Network, which links with existing Internet clouds, connecting online users to the Genius Factory through personalised pieces of computer code known as Genii. Genii gather information from the Genius Archive according to the instructions and behaviours of online users, and serve as an avatar for online users to connect with others across the Genii network, collaborate on projects, and submit project ideas to the Genius Archive.
The Genius Host embraces a global culture of digital communication, of mass information production and rapid technological advancement. By fostering learning and experimentation outside of formal education, the Genius Host taps into global trends of individualised discovery. By supporting the production of art and entertainment, and by encouraging technological research and development, the Genius Host supports an economic transition away from mass manufacture of products to the mass manufacture of knowledge.
The multifaceted nature of the Genius Host is well suited to the intellectual culture of Bologna, shaped as it is by the international and interdisciplinary research agendas of local institutions. Additionally, the 90,000 students who expand the population of Bologna during the academic year are perfectly positioned to become local and online users of the Genius Host: to pursue projects as part of their studies, to launch careers as artists or entrepreneurs, or simply to enjoy the ideas and company of others in a vibrant and constantly changing environment. The Genius Host also offers convenient opportunities for creative exploration and production to the residents of Navile and San Donato; the neighbourhoods that border the habitat of the Genius Factory. Former working class areas with a high concentration of youth, immigrants, and artists, the eclectic demographic profile of these areas matches the core purpose of the Genius host to collect and mix ideas.
The Genius Host naturally compliments the economic context of Bologna. With internationally renowned festivals for art and industry, Bologna provides opportunities for global exposure to established and emerging artists and entrepreneurs. The technological capabilities of the Genius Host would provide special support to artists and designers pioneering new styles or products. Additionally, the residential studios within the Genius Factory offer a unique opportunity for exceptional emerging artists and designers to work in a convenient and low-cost environment, with the space, resources and peer support required for concentrated creative production.