Neil Spiller

“Inspiration for the project was taken from Zodiac Mindwarp, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. After a quick passive insult to architects the world of “Communicating Vessels” was unleashed. Neil Spiller has created an island world full or bazar artefacts that serve stranger purposes. This island is not physically real, but exists inside Neil’s head.” Dan

25 January – (31 January) | Lecture 2 | Neil Spiller

Neil Spiller is an architect, artist and writer most recently publishing ‘Digital Architecture Now’ and ‘Visionary Architecture: Blueprints of the Modern Imagination’ (Thames & Hudson). He is the Dean of the School of Architecture, Design and Construction at The University of Greenwich. He is also Director of the Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research Group (AVATAR). He is author of several books on architecture and digital culture, including Digital Dreams: Architecture and the New Alchemic Technologies and Cyberreader: Critical Writings for the Digital Era.



Links >>>

Deformography: the poetics of cybridised architecture 

AVATAR – Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research 


Professor Neil Spiller Surealist Lecture 25.01.2012


  1. edi1990 said:

    My overall experience of this lecture was, that to me it was confusing on what he was actualy creating however it got me more interested into surrealism because his work might mean something to him but it could symbolise or mean something else to another person.

  2. danbrowne08 said:

    Surrealism was the topic for todays lecture from Neil Spiller Dean of the School of Architecture, Design and Construction. I cannot speak for anyone else in the room but I was expecting a talk about Surrealism, however what Neil Spiller had in store for us was not so straight forward. He started off by informing us that a lecture on surrealism that was not about himself would be dull, so he would tell us about his project “Communicating Vessels”, none of us were prepared for what happened next.

    Inspiration for the project was taken from Zodiac Mindwarp, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. After a quick passive insult to architects the world of “Communicating Vessels” was unleashed. Neil Spiller has created an island world full or bazar artefacts that serve stranger purposes. This island is not physically real, but exists inside Neil’s head.

    The island is protected by a gate made from a bush that grows at different times of the year, and an objects called “little soft machinery” which is effectively a testicle attached to a bladder which fills up and every once in a while secretes ‘holy gasoline’. Behind the gate lie the Valasquez machine, measuring stick, vistas, temple of repose, genetic gazebo, the professors study and the baroness. There are also Dee Stools dotted around the edge of the island which are boxes with bicycle seats on which when sat on cause objects in the river to ejaculate grease into the water.

    I did not understand the lecture on any level, I couldn’t quite grasp the purpose of the imaginary island or what that had to do with the world. It is possible I have misunderstood the whole concept, and was not quite prepared for a surrealist lecture as opposed to a lecture on surrealism. None the less it was an interesting hour and a quarter.

  3. lecture 3: From

    Communicating vessels


    Surrealist lecture so will make illusions, naked body, sexual acts, and will also mention the bible

    He has always intended to make a book. He worked in the late 90s with Vaughan oliver and wanted to make a book on communicating vessels.

    Angel with the Brazilian Bush

    Salvador dali made a sculpture called lillith, wrote books about locus pocus + impressions of Africa.

    Lillith – homage to the witch like woman. + another name of the white witch in the movie the lion witch and the wardrobe.

    She is allegedly adams first wife in the bible, had a domestic about sex, because she wanted to ride him on top where as he wanted her on the bottom.

    Painting – angel with the Brazilian bush – the bush grows, it’s a reflective architecture. Piazza barborinni found collects leaves during the winter,hence the bush getting thicker.

    The bee was a major logo for the barborinni.

    Dean and Vaughn said learn to use technology badly. When you invent technology u invent a disaster alongside it.

    1622 –banini-Sculpture – Apollo is chasing daphne to give him his love, but the bitch don’t want this love so she turns in to a tree.

    Another banini –called truth unveiled by time- the lady in the sculpture has 3 nipples.

    Little soft machinery is about the ethics of bio-technology. It talks about the perrels about big-technology.

    In bosch the owl is signal of the devil so the drawing had a bad vibe to it.

    It is based on the child book called little machinery, it leaves the world of Edwardian fairies and enters the world of technology the toy is a self assembling robot that lives in a junk yard. It then befriends an own to help it sharpen its claws.

    Also on the island is ‘dee stools’ named after stools.

    ‘Pataphysics (French: ‘pataphysique) is a philosophy or pseudophilosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. The term was coined and the concept created by French writer Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), who defined ‘pataphysics as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.” Jarry considered Hippocrates of Chios and Sophrotatos the Armenian as the fathers of this “science”. A practitioner of ‘pataphysics is a ‘pataphysician or ‘pataphysicist.

    He died at 31 because he was addicted to absinthe; he invented the word ‘shite’. He wrote a book from dr.fascro.

    Vistas – which are 99% out of nothing, SUPPOSEDLY!


  4. Article 3 by

    Neil spiller who is the dean of the school of architecture, design and construction at Greenwich University gave us a lecture on surrealism. Neil spiller is an architect himself and has also written several books such as “Digital Architecture Now”.

    In the lecture he focused on his project named communicating vessels he named his project this as the name sums up the reflexive nature of architecture space. Neil Spiller has been working on the same project for 12 years; this work includes 250 drawings and thousands of words of texts and poetry. The reason why he has been doing the same project for many years is because he is interested in long architectural projects like his heroes Mike Web and Ben Nicolson.

    Spiller has always intended to write a book about his project communicating Vessels. Vaugne Oliver and he have worked together before during the late 90’s and they also want to work together in this. Vaugne Oliver has created a subtitle page which he showed to us. A summary of what communicating vessels is about is an exploration of how architecture might shape what he calls post-digital state. Neil spiller has invented an imaginary island which consisted of artefacts.

    The project situated on an island in a place named faun which. At the front of the island there was a gate. The gate is made from a Brazilian bush; he showed us a sketch of his drawing which showed this. The name of the drawing is ‘angel of the Brazilian bush’ in this drawing there is a bush in the centre which grows, the more it grows the hairier it becomes. It is connected to a fountain in Rome, this fountain collects leaves during autumn and winter, the more leaves in the fountain, the thicker the bush becomes. This makes a point about reflexive architecture and embroiling space together.

    We were shown an image a sculpture which I thought was very nicely created, neil spiller thought that this sculpture was one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. The sculpture was situated in Rome and it was about Apollo and daffy. The sculpture was made to show an interptation of something that goes through mythology. The sculpture is off Apollo chasing daffny to giver her his love that she does not want so she changes into a tree. The sculpture captures the point where she starts to turn into a tree.

    I found his project quite strange however it got even weirder when he started to talk about an object named “Little soft machinery” which is a tessticle attached to a bladder which fills up and often secretes ‘holy gasoline’. The object is about the ethics of bio technology.

    We watched an illustration from a very long time ago by Ernest bosh who talks about the perils of bio technology. What Ernest was trying to show is a contemporary piece that talks about ethical issues because as time goes on there will be more and more ethical issues that we have to deal with.

    I found this lecture quite confusing as it was difficult to understand the purpose of the island. However I found his drawings very interesting as they were very detailed and were all done in black ink. When he was talking about his project you can tell he is very imaginative which is why he is a surrealist. At first I thought the lecture was all about architecture however when he is describing his project and drawings I then understood why this lecture was about surrealism. Neil spiller gave us advice which is “learn to use technology badly”, I agree with this as sometimes something good can come from a mistake but this does not happen often.

  5. Neil Spiller – Surrealism by

    Our second guest lecturer was the dean of the school, Neil Spiller. When I saw that his topic was surrealism I immediately assumed that it would be about Dali and his paintings and other typical surrealist work. Although the lecture itself made me question as to whether or not I had slipped out of reality into a distorted dream like state I’m very glad that it offered an (extreme) alternative to what I had expected. One that, although I didn’t think it would at first, actually made some sense. Kind of.

    Neil was an incredibly interesting man to listen to. He spoke with such great passion about what he does and you could tell from his drawings that he has a lot of talent for it as well. We were given an insight into Niels world through his project titled “Culminating Vessels”. His project consisted of a series of highly detailed intricate drawings of different aspects, areas and functionalities of an “island” that Neil had created in his mind. A difficult idea to comprehend at half 9 in the morning. How ever, through out the lecture I became more and more engrossed in what was happening. The incredibly precise mechanisms of the island, although senseless, became convincing. Neil spoke so convincingly and in such great depth that at times I began to question whether it was indeed “fake” or whether these things were real and I just hadn’t heard of them before and that’s why they weren’t making any sense.

    You could see that Neil drew his influence from the great surrealist artists but in such a unique way, to me at least. I didn’t write this the same day as the lecture, and I’m quite glad I didn’t. The more and more I think about it I begin to understand a little bit more about Neil’s work. It was a piece of art, but not in a conventional sense. I imagine it to be something like, someone taking Dali’s “The Persistance of Memory” and explained just how those clocks would function in the state they are in.

  6. LECTURE 3

    Neil Spiller

    Today we have had a fascinating lecture on surrealism by Neil Spiller who is the dean of the school of Architecture, at Greenwich University.

    He started the lecture by talking about what he wanted to do with his work and how technology can impact on architecture. He has worked with Vaughan Oliver in the late 90′s on producing a Neil Spiller monograph and then also trying to produce a book on communicating vessels, he managed to secure funding for a BLAD (book layout and design).

    The title communicating vessels was nicked from Andre Breton who he described as the pope of surrealism who co wrote it with Paul Eluard and is a reflective book about architectural space and technological space on the cusp of the 21st century.

    His favourite philosopher is Zodiac Mind Warp (Mark Manning), he is not a fan of the music but believes he says wonderful he quoted “I believe there’s poetry in the soul of every man, in f1-11 fighters and Roberto Duran”
    He started to talk about his work and mentioned Salvador Dali and a sculpture called Lilith which was created in 1966 in homage to Raymond Roussel who in the 1910 – 1920 was a novelist and wrote books like Locus Solus which is about a mad professor on an island inventing things, also another book called Impressions of Africa which was one of Salvador Dali favourite books.

    He showed us one of his sketches called the “The Angle of the Brazilian Bush” it has aspirations from Bernini and Leda and the Swan and in the middle there is this bush this bush grows and is a reflective architecture and is linked to a fountain called the Fontana delle Api in the Piazza Barberini in Rome and the fountain is designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When the fountain has collected leaves in winter the bush will get thicker but in the summer when there is no leaves in the fountain the bush will get smaller this is an example of reflective architecture.

  7. Art and design in context 2: lecture 3 by

    Today we met with Professor Neil Spiller who is a Surrealist. We looked at his different works and also looked at different surrealist images from other Artists such as Zodiac Mind warp.

    In the late 90s Vaughan Oliver and Neil spiller worked together to make a Neil Spiller monograph about the communicating vessels. The project was made in an island where Neil Spiller was born and bought up. He showed us images of the island and his work.

    He also spoke about Salvador Dali who made a Lilith sculpture in 1966. Lilith is a bad witch like woman. Lilith is known in religious beliefs Adams first wife. It is believed that she ran off and mated with the devil to create the Lilith.

    He also spoke about Gian Lorenzo Bernini from Rome who is a painter, sculpture and architect and is famous for making The Rape of Proserpina and Ecstasy of St Theresa. He was born in 1598 and died at 1680. We also looked at his sculpture which was one of his last Truth Unveiled by Time. It’s like a women turning into a tree which was a belief from a long time ago.

    He also spoke about little soft machinery in his work, where symbolism is used in order to make something work. For example an owl is used to symbolise the devil. He showed us one of his works where he does a little soft machinery. This is made with one testicle and a bladder then the outline for the foot of tree. Little soft machinery is based on a thing in 1926 from little machinery. A lady called Mary riddle wrote a book about the little machinery.

    Lastly we talked about the Barones her real name Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. She is a different type of lady. She used to do things that were upsetting people like doing the dada poetry. She never wore a bra. She shaved her hair and dyed it purple. Neil used her ideas and poetry In his project in the Island.

  8. How does the angel with the Brazilian bush grow? And what does this symbolize?

    Neil showed his drawing board, it is the same drawing board he used for all 250 drawings, sketches and structures of his communicating vessels. It was the same board he used as a student. He suggests this contains his genetics, genetics of his architecture through space and time factors.

    The drawing board showed two structures these he described as sniffer dogs

    “They sniff out the vectors and translate them as they move across the drawing board”

    The bush grows with those geometrics!

    Written up to 12mins 55secs. To be completed.


    There is choreography of chance in Neil’s work and also the factor that we are all different whatever the background. Against the old architectural theory, we are all the same. Neil goes against this theory he believes every one of us are different and he feels the celebration of that difference is important.

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