ART reviews

Metacity/Data Town

Glasgow: The Lighthouse, Sat 5 Feb—Sun 23 Apr.

Imagine the scene, if you dare: a city the size of the United States. Obviously, if the urban conurbation gets you down, this is not the sort of place you would want to find yourself. But it could happen. It is perhaps more feasible to start by imagining Edinburgh and Glasgow extending to their respective coasts then joining forces midway along the M8.

One architectural practice is, however, already on the case. The Dutch firm of MVRDV have conceived what they have dubbed the Metacity/Data Town. Spearheaded by architect Winny Maas, they have created an 'in-the- round' virtual reality projection of a MetaCity, home to 241 million inhabitants. As Trevor Crombie, The Lighthouse exhibition’s director, succinctly says: 'It could be a dream come true or your worst nightmare - either way this could be the city of the future.’ But, as Crombie wisely adds, he would prefer to find himself living in a high-level penthouse in the midst of Metacity's urban jungle.

To help us 'small town folk’ imagine this vast city, the exhibition will offer a few helping hands. On one wall will be projected a street map of Glasgow and its various vital statistics; currently the population for the city stands at 690,000. Using a computer mouse it will be possible to take a virtual helicopter ride through the city and investigate some of the interiors of Glasgow’s public buildings. Moving up the scale, there will also be a virtual reality guide to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which make up one of Europe's most densely populated regions. Next comes video footage of Mexico's San Paolo, one of the world’s largest cities.

This should warm up those with a timid imagination to Metacity. christened, somewhat euphemistically, 'Data

High rise heaven or hell: city Iiing for the 21st century

Town'. Constructed within the gallery will be a four- walled room, and here the virtual reality Data Town comes alive. As Crombie points out, the projection will 'allow the imagination free reign. Data Town is shaped by reality, but created by virtual techniques.’

This is a densely populated place, and it would clearly be difficult to take a city break come the weekend. However, it has not shunned the time-honoured way of defining a city's boundaries, which is taken as one hour of travelling by the fastest and most commonly available means of transport. In the Middle Ages, walking for an hour took you 4 km; by the 19205, it was 20 km of cycling. In the 805, the car saw the boundaries extend to 80 km traffic jams aside - and, with the coming of the bullet train, 400 km will be travelled in a 60 minute period. So let's hope that Data Town has a well-funded transport system. (Susanna Beaumont)

Dom Hans Van Der

Natural Forms, 1982

on philosophy, science, nature, architecture and art. But wandering through this exhibition of his architectural models, it's difficult to get a sense of his importance or originality. There doesn't seem much here that hadn’t been anticipated by Adolf Loos or Le Corbusier.

That said, the ascetic minimalism of Van Der Laan’s spatial experiments function well enough in the context of conceptual art. His obsession With the square and rectangle bring to mind the work of Donald Judd. Assembled as teaching aids, his models are made of blocks of painted wood and resemble miniature cities or archaeological sites seen from the air. Arranged in groupings related by what he called his 'plastic number' a relational system of sorting by size they function as illustrations of his theory. Also on view are a few architectural elevations and ground-plans. There is even a scale model of Stonehenge, which he regarded as the starting point of architecture.

Perhaps one should not be surprised at such rigorous structuralism from a man of the cloth. It's only in the sensuous ovoids of the piece Natural


Edinburgh: Inverleith House until Sun 29 Mar M

With only four buildings to his credit, the Belgian monk Dom Hans Van Der

08 THE UST 3-17 Feb 2000

Laan could hardly be called the world's most prolific architect. Yet he's been recognised as an increasingly influential theorist in the minimalist aesthetic since his death in 1991. In books such as Architectonic Space, he has taken

Forms that any joie de vivre shines through. An added frustration is the absence of any photographs of his buildings. Were they innovative masterpieces or merely dull? One suspects the latter. (Marc Lambert)

Bruce McLean

Edinburgh: Talbot Rice Gallery, until Sat 26 Feb * ~k at x

He's certainly got energy and is well supplied with a sense of humour. Bruce McLean, who has been going strong in the art world since the 605, is clearly a turbo-driven sort of guy. For starters, he established the first ever pose band. A poster from 1980 states that the group, called Nice Style, presented their new ’pose' high up on a baroque palazzo in Amsterdam. A giggle is likewise encouraged by McLean's 'designer traffic jam'. Here, below a street map of London’s Hammersmith, McLean states that it will offer 'orchestrated bumper to bumper road rage', together with 'no entry aggressive cobbling'. There is also the equivalent of road bumps for the let century: a sleeping policeman enforcement camera.

This exhibition is appropriately wide in its range. There’s Gucci Girls (a painting of tongue-sticking-out fashion victims), photographs of his collaborations with Dirk Buwalda and details of McLean’s current project for a new school in Ayrshire. There’s also a model of McLean's proposals for Glasgow's Argyle Street, which he has fitted out with a multi-coloured light installation. Undoubtedly it would give a lift to late night shopping trawls.

(Susanna Beaumont)

Neil Bickerton and Lorna Maclntyre/Knut Asdam

Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Sat 5 Feb it fir'fi' Transmissron has gone quietly dysfunctional, presenting two graphic and detailed installations that produce a sense of awkward emotional distance. Neil Bickerton and Lorna Maclntyre's collaborative piece is a network of coloured lines criss-crossing the space. Fine and taught, they mesh the gallery, creating a feeling of self-conscious Withdrawal. Both harmony and disorder come to mind, but what is interesting about this work is that it implies juncture, encounter and tangents. At the same time, it serves as a forceful reminder of tenSion and potential collapse. Downstairs, the New York-based Norwegian artist Knut Asdam shows a video and sound work which plays with sexuality, perception and personality. The video shows Asdam urinating: all gloriously unhygienic and sexualised. The sound piece meanwhile is a series of phrases, broadcasts and documentary- speak within which there is a growing sense of anxiety. (Alex Hetherington)