Dennis Crompton: Roots: It’s All the Same

Blackpool England.

Blackpool England. Provided

Department of Architecture Fall 2013 Lecture Series

Dennis Crompton was born in Blackpool, England in 1935. He was a member of the architectural collaborative group Archigram, which was established in London in 1961 and worked together until 1975. The group operated as an experimental think tank, producing a magazine, projects, models, exhibitions, and proposals that represented a shift in how architectural practice was considered, prioritizing processes and structures for living over the notion of architecture as commodity. Influenced by pop culture, the proliferation of technological advances, and increasing social and political discontents, Archigram's production emphasized mobility and flexibility in ways that continue to have currency today.

Crompton kept the group's records from their earliest days and established the Archigram Archive in 1975. He also manages the exhibition Archigram: Experimental Architecture 1961–74, which has been touring internationally since 1994. Crompton has had a strong involvement with the Architectural Association School since 1965, and until 1996 he was responsible for its communications and publishing. Recently he has taught master's courses in architecture and urban design at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies. He is also the curator/archivist for the Magic Lantern Society, and over the last 30 years he has been involved in a number of books on the history of precinema. Crompton's lecture will touch on the Archigram Opera, which was created in 1972. The Opera was the group's attempt to create a "roadshow" for members to use as they visited architectural societies and schools. Crompton was the leading force behind the creation of this one-hour show. The presentation was originally a four-screen projection using four Kodak Carousel slide projectors with eight trays and a total of 644 slides and a quarter-inch sound tape.

A major exhibition of work — ARCHIGRAM : Experimental Architecture 1961–1974 — was commissioned by the Kunsthalle, Vienna and the Centre George Pompidou, Paris in 1994. This presentation incorporated the multi-screen audio-visual Archigram Arena a center piece of which is the Archigram Opera. This exhibition continues to tour internationally. By 2012 the Carousel projectors were reaching the end of their life and the Opera had to be digitized. The current show is presented on two HD digital projectors onto a 32:9 screen but incorporates most of the original images from the 1972 original.

This lecture is part of the Edgar A. Tafel Lecture Series.