Lost Tablets by MvS Architects
Jury citation: Lego has come a long way since its early days of rigid gender boundaries and “idealized” settings (the hospital set now includes female doctors). It retains its kit-of-parts formula but has crossed over from child’s play alone. Its Technic imaginaries, sci-fi worlds and major works of architecture are ever-evolving and increasingly complex. MvS Architects’ poetic architectural tablets are serious Lego. Each sculptural objet d’art, reminiscent of deconstructivism and other “isms,” is intriguing and delightful. The imposed constraints on form and material deliberately create symbiosis and dichotomy between the sheer and undulating faces of each tablet. Exemplified in Ryou-Un Maru (pictured), the method of obscuring the Lego studs is in itself artful. The Lost Tablets remind us of the cuneiform clay tablets of the Nabonidus Chronicle. The type, according to MvS Architects, references Parthenon ruins, but the tablets are too composed to be allegories of destruction. These idealized montages are intense, punctuated by architectural forms and devices. They are inventive, utilizing the constraints of Lego’s predetermined kit-of-parts. The mostly monotone pieces take Lego into the speculative architectural realm. They are too solemn and delicate to be truly playful, but still offer wonderment.
Architect’s description: Lost Tablets is a series of 36 architectural studies which express a tension between a universally recognizable children’s toy and the grammar of architectural semiotics.
Visiting the Parthenon: clearly discernible in its base are remnants of the great monument’s former iterations, scarred by the battles that violently transformed them from architecture to rubble.
So too, the blocks of these found Lego pieces bear the marks left on them by their former owners before they put them up for sale on the second-hand market. Discolouration, writing, dirt, glue and even teeth marks are evident on the blocks and expressed in the new object.
Each of the works in the series has the same overall dimensions (19 cm wide, 24.5 cm high and 5 cm deep, with slight variability), a dynamic face and a sheer face. The architecture of the sheer face is bound by the tension between the new profile of the tablet and the varying surface qualities of the found blocks. The architecture of the dynamic face is bound together by the tension between the expectation of what a Lego composition would usually prescribe and the language of an imagined collective architectural unconscious.
The strange resonant familiarity of the tablets oscillates between the platonic, almost primal, recognizability of Lego, and the architectural grammar of the city caves of Matera, the churches of Borromini, the arches of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, the buttresses of Gothic cathedrals and the blue ceilings of the Shah Mosque of Isfahan. The Lost Tablets’ names are borrowed from the names of ships found crewless and adrift at sea.