Neil M. Denari Architects


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Chess & Go


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Cor-Tex   1982-98
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Site Design: INNER IDEAL
©2024 NMDA_LA

Year of the Dragon

Chess & Go / 2000
Avignon, France

Site:                     Abandonded Power Plant, Avignon, France
Program:            Exhibition Structure on the theme Chess VS. Go
Size:                    50 Square Meters
Curator:              Jean de Loisy
Research:          Caroline Naphegyi
Status:                Unbuilt

Original 2000 Text:  Europe’s largest millenium exhibition, La Beaute’ in Avignon, was the site for this entrance pavilion. NMDA was one of four offices invited to participate in this sprawling festival of work whose theme was that of beauty. The subject matter for our project was a comparative look at the aesthetics and strategies of the games of Chess and Go.

For almost two centuries, Chess has been a measure, a kind of litmus test, of both human and machine intelligence. As early as 1833, when Charles Babbage concieved his Analytical Engine, he thought if it could be built, that it would be able to play Chess. And again in 1949, Claude Shannon, the great information theorist, analyzed Chess as a diagram of the complexity of life. Clearly, the issue of thinking machines, from automatons, to HAL in Kubrick’s 2001, to Kasparov’s matches with Deep(er) Blue in 1996 and 1997 has sponsored a new arrangement of knowledge between technology and media. While Go, the most ancient of strategic games, played for thousands of years in Asia, has not been used to determine levels of intelligence in the West, its own sense of logic as strategy and as aesthetic can be easily compared to Chess. Indeed, they apprear to be both similar and diametrically opposed at the same time. Both are played out on gridded boards, each an indication of a neutralized, original ground - yet Chess is vertical, arborescent, and hierarchical while Go is horizontal, rhizomatic, and non-hierachical. The two games, in fact, summarize the formal conditions of many phenomena in the world, including cities, where monuments and clearly defined programs (DRY or point to point) have given way to vague and exceedingly repetitious fields (WET or fluid).   
As part of a larger assembly of projects and installations that comprise the La Beaute’ Exhibition in Avignon, France, the Chess / Go project is a response to these comparative conditions between the two games. Through the research of strategies of movement, logic systems, and Artificial Intelligence, in both its cinematic and technological representation, as well as the emotions of madness, passion, and confrontation, the project is an attempt at spatializing the aesthetics and logic of Chess and Go.

Chess                       Go
Western                     Eastern
Hierarchical                Non-heirarchical
Arborescent                 Rhizomatic
Militaristic                Passive
Take opponent               Surround opponent
Vertical                    Horizontal
Strategic                   Intuitive
B+W grid board              Neutral board w B+W stones

2000 Project Team: Neil Denari, Angus Schoenberger / Images: Matt Trimble, Wael Batal