Lossy/Lossless is a temporary environment for a neighborhood on the cusp of change. The project was designed as the first installation for the new home of Materials & Applications (M&A), a Los Angeles-based non-profit cultural organization dedicated to expanding the role of architecture and art in the public sphere through exhibitions and critical programs. M&A’s new space on Sunset Boulevard is located in a rapidly-gentrifying part of Los Angeles’s Echo Park. This context poses a unique challenge for an organization dedicated to community engagement through public programming. Who constitutes the public in such a rapidly changing neighborhood? Can newcomer and longtime residents coexist? How are the politics of development impacting the existing community? And how can an arts organization address its role in such development? This project seeks to provide a forum for discussion on these questions and more – conceiving of M&A’s storefront on Sunset as an extension of the street that gathers markers of the Boulevard’s past and future amidst a mutably occupiable floorscape to host a range of programming across the duration of the installation.
Designed for ease of assembly, Lossy/Lossless is composed of a handful of principal elements. First, a custom-made tableau wraps the walls of the entire gallery. The tableau features asynchronous elements of Sunset Boulevard’s past and future – markers of the Boulevard’s history and signifiers of nascent gentrification. Piles of tires from a bygone flat-fix co-mingle with newly installed bike racks; payphones abutt boutique placards. Some elements appear ghostly and translucent – in the act of disappearance. Elsewhere, pieces of the tableau are willfully pixelated – affected by digital loss. Assembled at multiple scales to collide time and space, the tableau elements are digitally printed on a reflective wall covering. As one looks through the storefront, the streetlife is reflected amidst the tableau elements, blurring the inside and outside and figuring the present public into a condensed image of the Boulevard. A mutably occupiable floorscape fills the remainder of the storefront space, assembled from an off-the-shelf data-center floor system and covered with custom-made high density foam padding. By using a floor system composed of clearly defined tectonic elements, the object-quality of the floor elements begin to merge with the objects depicted in the tableau. The system can accommodate a range of programming activities, from a meeting of the Echo Park Cribbage Club, to an assembly of the local Historical Society, to an after-school activity for the neighborhood youth, to pop-up retail for local artists – all gathered on the floor and reflected on the walls.