"Cosmic Thing," Damian Ortega, 2002
The highlight of the Damian Ortega exhibition at the ICA (Boston, through January 18, 2010) is a dissembled Volkswagen Beetle suspended on thin wires from the ceiling. Ortega’s installation is a walk-through example of the “figure-figure” logic of both modernist industrial design and the classical language of architecture. In both design traditions, the singular figure (a temple, a gun) is conceived by “putting together” discrete components (a column capital, a trigger) that have their own figurative logic based on tradition, visual logic, functional demands, and fabrication limitations. Contrast this with the smoothed over and/or fused together design tradition of Mediterranean architecture (Alvaro Siza, Greek villages) and contemporary twisted-taffy architecture generated by parametric modeling software.