Originally published in Domus 522/May 1973
The San Francisco and Houston-based Ant Farm is a group of philosophers, film-makers, politicians, and architects who live a nomadic and collectively organized Iife scattered throughout Texas and California. Every member of the community is an active participant in the realization of social actions that range from building buildings, to making objects, records, video tapes and demonstrations. Their sense of cohesion is extraordinary. The operations performed on one coast are nearly identical to the operations that other members of the group may excogitate on the other. The underground spirit of the group has sent out an army of termites into the subsoil of American officialdom.
Fundamentally, Ant Farm are artists hell-bent on the destruction of America's myths and public values, through performances and through the political transmissions of the underground TVTV station—Top Value Television. A policy of guerilla video offers information radically different from what is available on ordinary American television.
No single communication form, however, is of more interest to Ant Farm than another. They thrive on all forms of media and have made interventions into many fields, from architecture to community planning to the general environment. These interests come more or less to a head in a series of videotapes such as "Truckstop Network" tapes that deal with the idea of the techniques of counter culture and counter information within the context of a social condition of continuous and continuously chosen vagabondage. "Inflatables Iliustrated" and "Instant City" are other tapes that deal with instant architecture and instant city-planning. "Instant City" deals with the establishment of a temporary colony at Ibiza.
But Ant Farm has also done some work in more stable fields: for instance "The House of the Century 1972–2072," designed and constructed in Angleton, Texas, by Richard Jost, Charles Lord, Jr., and Doug Michels for Marilyn and Alvin Lubetkin. The idea for the house comes out of a "trip" and marks the meeting of the images of an alligator and a 1930 Ford—all on the edge of a lake.
The contrast between the inside and the outside of the house is extraordinarily violent. It stands out against the sylvan background in which it is placed like some enormous and extraneous Lunar Module landed there by accident after having missed the nearby NASA base. And all while managing to look a little art deco. Inside the house, one is immediately struck by the reminiscence of something animal and organic. The inner shell is twisted and shaped in such a way as to form all of the furniture, and all of the service facilities are centralized in the tower. The two large and eye-ish bulbs that flank the tower contain tables, television, chairs. All of the necessary apparatus for work and relaxation.
Everything is done either in wood or in plastic, but within the framework of the construction it seems almost to assume the aspect of a flow of lava. Everything is articulated around an extremely simple staircase that is also, however, extremely difficult to use. All of the objects that make up the interior decoration of the house are violently colored and they assume the shapes of natural, animal and vegetable forms. The floor of the building, moreover, is edged by a small ditch filled with water and algae, baby alligators and crocodiles.