Orgone Reef

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN - 2003

Orgone Reef is a speculation of what the skin of a building could be like in the future. The project is an interlinking matrix manufactured by a computer-controlled laser cutter. The project probes the possibilities of combining artificial and natural processes to form a hybrid ecology.

Orgone Reef is a technical exercise in construction and fabrication. The project relates to geotextiles, a new class of materials used for reinforcing landscapes and buildings. A minimal amount of raw material is expanded to form a network forming a porous volume. A Penrose tessellation, a non-repeating geometrical system, is used to create the hybrid fabric. This structure acts like an artificial reef that could support a living skin.

At the same time, the project invites questioning our own relationship with the world. The structure in the gallery has reflexive qualities that respond to the viewer, pushing back. The large-scale field structures offer bodily immersion and create a wide-flung dispersal of perception. The details of this structure are designed to catch and hold the things they contact, collecting and digesting material and building themselves. The result is an altered psychology that changes our relationship with the things we build.

Sources for this work include nineteenth and twentieth-century spiritualist texts that dwell on uncanny mixtures of anxiety and hope. The project title Orgone Reef is derived from this tradition. The term ‘Orgone’ was coined by Wilhelm Reich, a student of Freud, to suggest a subtle life force encircling the world. Reich, tinged by obsession, saw the world as an intelligent, evolving entity. His visions offer a poignant alternative to Modern progress.