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Relevance of Place: Ronald Rael

Shannon Jackson interviews designer, artist, and architect Ronald Rael on how an indigenous understanding of land and materials inspires his contemporary innovations in art, design, and new technology. In this episode, Rael considers the productive tension between principles of art and the principles of design, and how that tension influences his own site-specific practice. Watch as he describes a “truthful” approach to materials and to historic landscapes and to hear his responses to the interventions of Ensamble Studio (Inverted Portal) and Patrick Dougherty (Daydreams and Cursive Takes a Holiday) on site at Tippet Rise.

Filmed in October 2022.


Ronald Rael

Ronald Rael is a designer, activist, trained architect, author, and Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture at the University of California Berkeley. His research interests connect indigenous and traditional material practices to contemporary technologies and issues, and he is a design activist, author, and thought leader within the topics of additive manufacturing, borderwall studies, and earthen architecture. The London Design Museum awarded his practice, Rael San Fratello, with architect Virginia San Fratello, the Beazley Award in 2021 for the design of the year. Rael is the author of Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (University of California Press 2017) and Earth Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008). He also co-founded Emerging Objects, an independent, creatively driven, 3D Printing MAKE-tank specializing in innovations in 3D printing architecture, building components, environments, and products.

Shannon Jackson

Shannon Jackson holds the Hadidi Professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, where she currently serves as Chair of the History of Art Department. Jackson is a scholar and educator of cross-media art practice and of socially-engaged art. A Guggenheim fellow and award-winning author, she has published several books and online platforms, including Back Stages (2022), Public Servants (2016), The Builders Association (2015), Social Works (2011) as well as In Terms of Performance and Media Art 21. Jackson serves on the boards of several arts organizations, including Oakland Museum of the Arts, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Kramlich Art Foundation. As a guest program advisor to Tippet Rise, Jackson helped create the Relevance of Place series of site-specific dialogues.

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