Drop City – Colonizing Consciousness with Truncated Dodecahedra
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Truncated Icosorhombic Dodecahedra – Drop City
The historical connection between late 1960’s counter-culture communes and the sublime geometry of polyhedral tessellations and geodesic domes is not one that is commonly referenced. In 1969 Drop City, the most celebrated of frontier mystic and counter-culture art communes, won the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Award for contribution to geodesic culture. The Drop City domes were essentially mutations of geodesic form due to being hand-built by trial and error. Perhaps their construction was guided by telepathic communiques from the tessellating lysergic master builders. The Drop City architects saw Fuller as a guru, espousing his humanist attitude, embracing his idiosyncratic syntax, and incorporating his axiomatic doctrines as mantras for a way of synergetic expression. According to Fuller ‘a designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist’.
Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College – Nancy Newhall circa 1948
The faded photographs of the iconic dome settlement are often conspicuous by their absence of people creating a sense of anachronism – there’s a feeling of space-aged utopianism blended with drop-out anarchism. Sawn-off car roof-tops were used as triangular panels to build the polyhedral dwellings which included ‘Triacontahedral’ and ‘Zonohedral’ structures. One of the most ambitious and largest buildings constructed was a Truncated Icosorhombic Dodecahedra complex. This was a ‘structure made of three 40-foot fused Rhombicosidodecahedra, which housed a community kitchen, a large meeting and entertainment area, a film workshop, a television loft, 2 bathrooms and shower, a laundry room, and a visitor’s area.’
Buckminster Fuller – Starting with the Universe
The complex also had its own Theatre Dome, also made of car roof tops, and designed to accommodate a 360° multi-media projection system most likely inspired by the Moviedrome theatres of Stan Vanderbeek of around the same time.
Drop City takes it name from Drop Art (also knows as “art droppings”) – performance artworks informed by the ‘happenings’ instigated by Allan Kaprow in the late 50’s and early 60’s and also inspired by the performances of John Cage at Black Mountain College around the same time.
Geodesic Dome – Buckminster Fuller 
The commune was recently celebrated in ‘West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver – a Flickr set of photographs documenting the show can be found here. The companion book to the show includes numerous essays ‘elaboratating on the historical and artistic significance of the counterculture projects of the period within the broader narrative of postwar American art’