In his exquisitely detailed exploration of world architecture British artist Mark Lascelles Thornton has created something to both admire and to stir up conversation about the state of society. Titled, not a little bit sarcastically, “The Happiness Machine”, his yet to be completed masterpiece is a collection of world skyscrapers from London, Chicago, New York, Shanghai, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and more.
The massive piece – created with technical pens, a ruler and a lot of patient commitment – covers eight, 8 by 5 ft. panels; the top four of which are currently complete. When finished the lower panels will include a busy city of people working in The Happiness Machine. In this, Thornton’s work seeks to raise questions about the forms our cities take and the powers behind those forms. Do we simply build these places because they are cool? Is it because we love competition? What do we gain or hope to gain from such lofty striving?
“The demystifying of the machine proceeds,” says Thornton. “Machine vs nature, civilized vs primitive, the ruler vs the ruled, truth vs untruth, male vs female and black vs white. This deadly reductionist trap should not discourage architectural critics from pursuing more refined investigations into how economic and political power help shape how buildings are made – and not simply how they came to be.”
You can see more of the ongoing work, scheduled for completion in March 2013, at marklascellesthornton.blogspot.co.uk. Be sure to catch the stunning time-lapse video of Thornton creating a portion of this large work below.