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Lost in Transaction: Title Deed & Pattern Language

juLY 6, 2011 - JANUARY 6, 2012

In Lost in Trans­action, An Te Liu brings togeth­er ele­ments from two projects that take the suburbs as their starting point. Rather than present-day suburbs, Title Deed and Pat­tern Language look at examples from North America's earli­est post-war wave of suburban devel­op­ment. Although their modular, mass-produced designs resulted in the cheap­est pos­sible construction for the high­est pos­sible prof­it, they now seem quaint and somehow idyllic when com­pared to the monster homes and acres of tree­less streets that now extend the lim­its of our cities. But beginning in the imme­diate post-war period, this model of devel­op­ment lit­erally paved the way for our current high­way-based infras­truc­ture, sev­ering hous­ing from the social end eco­nom­ic ben­efits of mixed-use communities, and ensur­ing con­tinued reliance on the automobile.


Title Deed (West Wall)
Shown here are artifacts from Liu’s con­tri­bution to The Leona Drive Project, a temporary, public exhi­bi­tion where artists transformed six bunga­lows slated for demo­lition in Wil­lowdale, one of the Toronto area’s old­est planned communities. By stripping down the house and paint­ing it a partic­ular shade of green, Liu transformed 19 Leona Drive into a giant Monopoly piece, instantly imbu­ing it with eco­nom­ic implications and making it symbol­ic of the real estate mar­ket in general. By foregrounding the eco­nom­ic factors at work in the devel­op­ment and redevel­op­ment of land, Liu ref­er­ences the recent hous­ing mar­ket crash, which stemmed from corporate greed and individual desire for the Dream Home.

Pat­tern Language (East Wall)
As the United States’ first mass-produced suburb, Long Island, New York’s now-icon­ic Lev­ittown functions in par­al­lel with Wil­lowdale and Leona Drive. Here, Liu has tak­en Lev­ittown’s aerial plan, shrink­ing and manip­u­lating it into a dizzying wallpaper pat­tern, bring­ing the orga­ni­zational logic of an entire town to a domes­tic, inte­rior scale. The reflecting and repeating streets and houses emphasise Lev­ittown’s relent­less sameness, coun­tering the individuality sought by the houses’ owners and, as in Title Deed, turning it into a symbol of a serial system. Once seen as utopian and ide­al, this way of neighbour­hood-building has evolved into new ver­sions of the suburbs, which, in turn, may be ready to be replaced by a more sustainable way of planning where and how we live.