A new kind of interpretive research platform has been constructed at the Buffalo Bayou field station in Houston. Built over the last year by the group Simparch in association with Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), with the support of the UH Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and CLUI’s Inland Waterways Initiative.
The vessel is an audio/visual public address system, as well as a floating workstation, designed to support the production and presentation of creative interpretive projects on the nation’s inland waterways. It is used as a live-aboard structure, developing and refining self-contained and energy efficient living systems, including solar power and water treatment technologies, and addressing the challenges unique to locations such as urban drainage channels. Researchers also use the platform to produce and display audio/visual programs related to their research and environment, including Buffalo Bayou, where the vessel is based.
Built on an aluminum pontoon base, the boat is named Tex Hex due to its Texas origins and the hexagonal shape that recurs in its form and concept, referencing such things as Fullerian polygons, coastal fortifications and petrochemical molecules. The boat connects to a modular hexagonal floating raft structure that can be moved and reconfigured, like a small floating island, and transition between ship and shore.
CLUI and SIMPARCH started on the design of the boat in 2008, while CLUI was in residence with the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Simparch is a build-design group that works in the margins between art and architecture.
On May 21, 2011 The University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and Buffalo Bayou Partnership presented TEX HEX: Pop Up Cinema: PAST FORWARD.
Filmmaker and Artist in Residence Deborah Stratman curated the evening’s program, Visionary Transport. This 70 minute film program features artistic takes on car culture, with works by Kenneth Anger, Buckminster Fuller, Buster Keaton and Amanda Pope, amongst others.
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