CCA Community Melds Art and Technology at ZERO1 Biennial


Here's a sampling of the innovative and dynamic contributions made by CCA faculty and students featured in ZERO1 Biennial, opening September 12, 2012, in San Jose: an architectural social stage; whispering walls; a suspended streetscape installation.

In addition to Curatorial Practice alum Jaime Austin serving as the lead curator for the biennial, contributors include Architecture faculty members Mona El-Khafif, Jason Kelly Johnson, Nataly Gattegno, and Christopher Haas, alumnus Mark Campos (BArch 2010), and student David Gastaneta (BArch 2013).

About the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial

ZERO1 is where art meets technology. The nonprofit organization behind the biennial works with some of the world’s most creative minds in art, science, design, architecture, and technology to produce it. The 2012 edition will feature work by a diverse group of contemporary artists working under the theme Seeking Silicon Valley.

Intentionally reflecting the networked nature of that region, the venue this year, known as the ZERO1 Garage (located in San Jose’s SoFA District), will have numerous interconnected nodes, networks, and access points.

Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno, each part of CCA's Architecture faculty, are cofounders of the firm Future Cities Lab. Johnson says of the Datagrove project, commissioned by ZERO1 and the San Jose Public Art Program: “It aggregates local trending Twitter feeds from San Jose and then whispers them back through its own speakers and LCD displays. It functions as a social media ‘whispering wall,’ harnessing data that is normally nested and hidden in smart phones. It amplifies this discourse into the public realm.

“Datagrove blurs the distinctions between architecture, art, and digital technologies. It was produced in a highly synthetic manner that involves many disciplines. The Architecture Program at CCA teaches students to think, communicate, and make in a similar manner. The value of this type of synthetic craft, at this place and time, cannot be underestimated and is one of the things that makes CCA truly unique.”

The ZERO1 Garage & Discovery

The ZERO1 Garage is a new exhibition and event facility opening in downtown San Jose’s SoFA arts district in conjunction with ZERO1. Thereafter it will continue to serve as a hub for the biennial exhibitions.

For the design of the visionary exhibition space, titled Discovery, ZERO1 turned to Christopher Haas, San Francisco architect part of the CCA Architecture faculty. In keeping with the theme of Seeking Silicon Valley, Discovery plays off of the idea of a technological network, featuring, Haas says, “meandering walls and nonclassical exhibition spaces that provide visitors with a sense of wonder, play and discovery.”


As viewers approach the ZERO1 Garage, their eyes are drawn upward to Sky-Fi, a suspended streetscape installation enveloping the core of downtown San Jose’s SoFA district. Sky-Fi is a collaborative project between Haas and the San Francisco-based collective Rebar, an interdisciplinary studio working at the intersection of art, design, and ecology.

This site-specific work references the information superhighway, and Silicon Valley specifically as a hub of global connectivity. It weaves together, both literally and metaphorically, its creators’ expertise in place making, design, and aesthetics. The ethereal installation will activate the ZERO1 Garage by day and night.

iLounge & URBANlab

Another project featured at ZERO1 is iLounge, which is part of the CCA URBANlab City 1:1 series. ZERO1 was codesigned by CCA Architecture faculty member Mona El-Khafif and Marcella Del Signore of Tulane University.

iLounge is a temporary social stage intended to create a community for a minute, an hour, or an evening. El-Khafif and Signore want iLounge to be a social catalyst for whatever the audience wants it to be; the user is an active agent in the spatial production. “iLounge articulates how social space is produced via digital media and social networking,” says El-Khafif.

This past June, the iLounge project was featured at the 24-hour Northern Sparks festival in Minneapolis. The San Jose installation will use the “playground” aggregation, as opposed to the “plaza” aggregation of its earlier incarnation. And El-Khafif expects it to once again draw a good crowd.

“The design of the modular system to be a bench, table, or mini stage is very engaging. Occupants like to discover the piece. They don’t know exactly what it is, but they know that it is animating. In Minnesota they were dancing in it the whole night!”

Student Involvement

CCA served as a production stage for iLounge. “The fabrication and all the design specifics were done here at CCA,” explains El-Khafif. “Marcella came over from New Orleans for a month and we worked every day together. Many of our architecture students got involved as well.”

URBANlab projects are meant to get CCA students engaged and involved, and iLounge was a perfect opportunity for them to participate in a biennial. “It is expected of faculty, but I am so glad when students can take over a component of something like this, and step up and show responsibility,” says El-Khafif, noting that Cesar Lopez, Kevin Taylor, Zacharias Moore, and Anesta Iwan all did substantial work on the project. “It is crucial for them to see this as something accessible -- that we can produce and design both short- and long-term projects, in and out of their formal coursework.”

Students Exhibiting

The iLounge installation at ZERO1 also includes two media art and design projects produced by CCA Architecture alumnus Mark Campos (BArch 2010) and student David Gastaneta (BArch 2013). (Each did significant work on the iLounge project as well.)

El-Khafif says, “Mark and David are really doing cutting-edge work. They responded to my open call to students to design an interactive event for iLounge. And the call is still open, so I am excited to see what other projects will be submitted.”

For more information, visit the iLounge website.