Home > Madeline GINS (1941-2014)


Madeline GINS (1941-2014)


The future of philosophy lies in architecture ?

We alone among philosophers and architects have seen fit to declare this.

- Madeline Gins


Madeline Gins (born 1941) is an American artist, architect, and poet.

Her writings have been described by Arthur Danto as “like Einstein as adapted for Wittgenstein by Gertrude Stein.”

Gins studied physics and Oriental philosophy at Barnard College and wrote her senior thesis on the concept of Sunyata (Emptiness), graduating in 1962.


Her first published work, the experimental novel Word Rain or a Discursive Introduction to the Intimate Philosophical Investigations of G,R,E,T,A, G,A,R,B,O, It Says, (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1969), was heralded by many as extending and transcending the boundaries of writing and thought.

This was followed by What The President Will Say and Do!! (New York: Station Hill, 1984), an excursion into identity, language and free speech using the devices of political rhetoric. John Cage has said of the book that “any man, woman, or child who intends to lead itself into presidency should get a copy, reading it before taking any further steps.”

Gins went on to spend eight years staring directly into the East-West sun-moon to produce Helen Keller or Arakawa (Santa Fe: Burning Books with East/West Cultural Studies, 1994), an art-historical novel that ushered in a new form of speculative fiction.


In 1963, Gins began collaborating with Arakawa on the research project The Mechanism of Meaning. This research project and the architectural projects that stem from it, formed the basis of the 1997 Arakawa + Gins: Reversible Destiny exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo. The panels appear as a constellation of views concerning the nature of meaning.


In 1987, they founded the Architectural Body Research Foundation (formerly Containers of Mind Foundation), now called the Reversible Destiny Foundation. They have co-authored several exhibition volumes and books, including Architectural Body (University of Alabama Press, 2002) and Making Dying Illegal (New York: Roof Books, 2006).They also applied their theory towards the construction of works of procedural architecture- capable of engaging and transforming the cognitive affect of its users.

The Reversible Destiny Foundation actively collaborates with a wide-range of disciplines including, experimental biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, experimental phenomenology, and medicine.


They have built the Ubiquitous Site*Nagi’s Ryoanji* Architectural Body (1992-4; Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan),expansive landscapes such as Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro Park (1993-5; Gifu Prefecture, Japan), individual residences such as Bioscleave House (2007; East Hampton, NY USA), and multifamily residences such as Reversible Destiny Lofts – Mitaka (In Memory of Helen Keller) (2005; Mitaka Japan). Reversible Destiny is currently working on plans for housing complexes and neighborhoods (Reversible Destiny Fun House, BOOM – LGBT Community, Reversible Destiny Module, and Hotel Reversible Destiny.)




Born November 7 in New York



Graduated from Barnard College,



Began collaborating with Arakawa on the research project The Mechanism of Meaning



Founded with Arakawa Reversible Destiny Foundation (formerly Containers of Mind Foundation) 



Died in NY on January 8




College Art Association’s Artist Award for Exhibition of the Year/Distinguished Body of Work, Presentation or Performance Award



The highest award in the Rainbow Town Urban Design Competition goes to the Arakawa/Gins Chinju no Mori/Sensorium City (Tokyo Bay)



Nihon Gendai Geijutsu Shinko Sho – Award for innovation in Japanese contemporary art from Japan Arts Foundation




“Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy,” University of Paris X-Nanterre



“Reversible Destiny Declaration of the Right Not to Die: Second International Arakawa +Gins Architecture + Philosophy Conference/Congress,” University of Pennsylvania, Slought Foundation



AG3: The Third International Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy Conference, Griffith University, Australia




Ubiquitous Site * Nagi’s Ryoanji *, Architectural Body, [Permanent Installation], Nagi MOCA, Nagi



Site of Reversible Destiny, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture [a seven acre site in central Japan]



Reversible Destiny Office, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture



External Genome Housing Project, Shidami, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. (Completion Date, 2005)



Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka – In Memory of Helen Keller -, Tokyo, Japan



Bioscleave House, East Hampton, Long Island (Completion Date: April 2008)



Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator (Dover Street Market New York, COMME des GARCONS), New York, NY


Exhibitions Arakawa/Gins:


Traveling Exhibition: The Mechanism of Meaning

Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt

Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg

Kunsthalle Bern, Bern

Nationalgalerie Berlin, Berlin

Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich



Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York



Guggenheim Museum Soho: Reversible Destiny



NTT Intercommunication Center: The City as the Art Form of the Next Millennium



Helen Keller or Arakawa.(Japanese) Tokyo: Shinshokan, 2010.


Making Dying Illegal, Architecture Against Death: Original to the 21st Century. (in collaboration with Arakawa). Tokyo: Shunjusha, 2007


Making Dying Illegal, Architecture Against Death: Original to the 21st Century. (in collaboration with Arakawa). New York: Roof Books. (November, 2006).


Le Corps Architectural (in collaboration with Arakawa). Paris: Editions Manucius, 2005.


Architectural Body (in collaboration with Arakawa). Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002.


Reversible Destiny: We Have Decided Not to Die (Guggenheim Catalog) (in collaboration with Arakawa). New York: Abrams, Inc., 1997.


ARCHITECTURE: Sites of Reversible Destiny (Architectural Experiments after Auschwitz-Hiroshima) (in collaboration with Arakawa). London: Academy Editions, 1994.


Helen Keller or Arakawa. Santa Fe: Burning Books with East/West Cultural Studies, 1994.


To Not To Die (in collaboration with Arakawa). Paris: Editions de la Difference, 1987.


What the President Will Say and Do!! New York: Station Hill Press, 1984.


The Mechanism of Meaning (in collaboration with Arakawa) (introduction by Lawrence Alloway). Munich: Bruckmann, 1971. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1979 (2nd edition). New York: Abbeville Press, 1989 (3rd edition).


For Example (A Critique of Never) (in collaboration with Arakawa). Milan: Alessandra Castelli Press, 1974.


Intend. Bologna: Tau/ma, 1973.


Word Rain (or A Discursive Introduction to the Philosophical Investigation of G,R,E,T,A, G,A,R,B,O, It Says). New York: Grossman/Viking,



“Biotopological Report #10, First Draft, 2006,” (in collaboration with Arakawa). The Canary 6, 2007 Kerb, 2007/2008


“(untitled),”“(untitled),”“(Poem Precedes Title),” “The The Eyelid,” Outing,” “Localization and Transference.” Seance, 2006, (in collaboration with Arakawa). pp. 169 – 171. 2006, p. 171.


“The Architectural Body – Landing Sites,” (in collaboration with Arakawa). Space in America: Theory History Culture, (editors) Klaus Benesch and Kerstein Schmidt, Fall 2005.


“LIVING BODY Museumeum,” Cities Without Citizens. 2003, pp. 243 -157


“Gifu-Reversible Destiny” (in collaboration with Arakawa). Architectural Design, Games of Architecture, 1996, pp. 27-35.


“Housing Complexity” (in collaboration with Arakawa). Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts no. 6, Complexity, 1995, pp. 88-95.


“Landing Sites/The End of Spacetime” (in collaboration with Arakawa). Art and Design, May-June, 1993.


“Person as Site in Respect to a Tentative Constructed Plan” (in collaboration with Arakawa). ANYWHERE, 1992, pp. 54-67.


“The Tentative Constructed Plan as Intervening Device (for a Reversible Destiny)” (in collaboration with Arakawa). A+U: Architecture and Urbanism, December 1991, pp. 48-57.


“The Process in Question,” Critical Relations. Highgate Art Trust, (editor) Joan Burns, MA: Williamstown, 1989.


“To Return To!” (in collaboration with Arakawa), Marcel Duchamp and the Avant-Garde Since 1950. Koln: Ludwig Museum, 1988.


"Essay on Multi-Dimensional Architecture” (selections published in Boundary 2, Fall 1985/Winter 1986, and Pratt Architectural Journal, Spring 1988).


“Forum: Arakawa’s The Sharing of Nameless, 1982-83,” DRAWING, Jan.-Feb. 1985, pp. 103-104.


Selected Articles & Reviews:

Ariane Lourie Harrison. “Case Studies: Arakawa and Gins, Bioscleave House.” Architectural Theroies of the Environment: Posthuman Theory.New York, NY:Routledge,2013.80-87. Print.


Jean-Francois Lyotard. Que Peindre?: Adami, Arakawa, Buren. Paris: Hermann Editeurs, 2008.


R. Klanten, L. Feireiss. Eds. Strike a Pose: Eccentric Architecture and Spectacular Spaces. September 2008.


Jondi Keane.”Initiating Change: Architecting the Body-Environment with Arakawa and Gins.” Architectural Design No. 221. January/February 2013, pp76-83.


Jondi Keane. “Exert Yourself in Wholly Other Ways,” Kerb, 2007/2008


Jondi Keane. “Situating Situatedness through Affect and the Architectural Body of Arakawa and Gins,” Janus Head, Winter/Spring Issue 2007, 9.2, pp. 437-457


Fred Bernstein. “A House Not for Mere Mortals,” New York Times, April 2008


Costica Bradatan. “The Alchemists of the 21st Century,” Review of Making Dying Illegal. Architecture against Death: Original to the 21st Century, Parallax, 13 (2008).


Florentine Sack. Open House: Towards a New Architecture. 2006, pp. 131- 143.


“Design Innovation House: Reversible Destiny Lofts.” Archiworld, 2006.


Mari Hashimoto. “How to Live in Reversible Destiny Lofts with Directions for Use.” Casa Brutus, February 2006.


Yoshihio Sano. “The trial to cross-over.” Japan Architect, February 2006.


Lawrence B. Nagy. “Parcours vita a domicile.” Monde, February, 26, 2006.


Tomoko Otake. “Home sweet ‘death-defying’condo homes.” The Japan Times, January 15, 2006.


Takeshi Matsuda. “Closeup: Building a Residence with Tubes, Spheres and Cubes.” Nikkei Architecture, May 2, 2005


Joel David Robinson. “From Clockwork Bodies to Reversible Destinies (On the Architectural Experiments of Arakawa and Gins).” Art Papers, March/April 2005.


Lisa Licitra Ponti. “Arakawa + Gins. Living Bodies.” Domus 879, March 2005.


Susan Stewart. “On the Art of the Future.” The Chicago Review, Winter 2004/2005.


Karen MacCormack. “Mutual Labyrinth: A Proposal of Exchange.” Architectures of Poetry. Eds., Dworkin, Craig Douglas and Maria Eugenia Diaz Sanchez. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004


Michel Delville. “How Not to Die in Venice: The Art of Arakawa and Madeline Gins.” Architectures of Poetry. Eds., Dworkin, Craig Douglas and Maria Eugenia Diaz Sanchez. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004


Michelle Delville. “How Not to Die in Venice: The Art of Arakawa and Madeline Gins” Reading the Illegible (Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies). Ed. by Craig Dworkin. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2003.


David Kolb. Review of Architectural Body. Continental Philosophy Review, 2003.


Patrick Pardo. “Regarding the Lives of Human Snails: Arakawa/Gins and the Architectural Body.” The Daily NY Arts Newsletter. May 15, 2003, p.1.


Aaron Kunin. “Stay Alive: Gins and Arakawa vs. The Grim Reaper.” The Village Voice, January 15 – 21, 2003.


Joel David Robinson. Review of Architectural Body. Parachute, April 5, 2003.


Geraldine McKenzie. Review of Architectural Body. How2, Spring 2003.


Jean-Michel Rabate, ed. “Architecture Against Death Architecture” Interfaces (21-22) A + G Special Double Issue, Fall 2003.


Mary Ann Caws. “Taking Textual Time” Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print. Edited by Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux and Neil Fraistat. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.


Jeff Byles. “The Reversible Destiny: Architecture of Arakawa and Madeline Gins.” Plazm, 27, 2002.


Arthur C. Danto. “Arakawa-Gins.” The Nation, August 11/18 1997, pp. 31-34.


Reprinted in The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. pp.265-272


Samira Kawash. “Bodies at Risk- The Architecture of Reversible Destiny.” PAJ 59, 1998, pp. 17-27.


Tom McEvilley. “Arakawa and Gins at the Guggenheim Soho.” Art in America, January 1998, pp. 100-101.


Mark Amerika. “Astrophysical Grammatology- Helen Keller or Arakawa.” American Book Review, February-March 1996, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 18. Gendai Shiso. (The Journal of Contemporary Thought – Tokyo), (Each issue of this journal is devoted to the work of a leading contemporary thinker). August 1996, devoted to the work of Arakawa/Gins.


Serge Gavronsky. “Dot Lamour.” Witz, A Journal of Contemporary Poetics, Winter 1994, Volume III, No. 1.


Mary Ann Caws. “Madeline Gins- Helen Keller or Arakawa.” Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts, no. 6, Complexity, 1995, p. 96.


Robert Creeley. “‘Someplace Enormously Moveable’- The Collaboration of Arakawa and Madeline Gins.” Art Forum, Vol. 18 (Summer, 1980), pp. 60-65.