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) was 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.)



1941Born November 7 in New York
1962Graduated from Barnard College,
1963Began collaborating with Arakawa on the research project The Mechanism of Meaning
1987Founded with Arakawa Reversible Destiny Foundation (formerly Containers of Mind Foundation)
2014Died in New York on January 8


1997College Art Association’s Artist Award for Exhibition of the Year/Distinguished Body of Work, Presentation or Performance Award
1998The highest award in the Rainbow Town Urban Design Competition goes to the Arakawa/Gins Chinju no Mori/Sensorium City (Tokyo Bay)
2003Shiju Housho – Medal with Purple Ribbon Nihon Gendai Geijutsu Shinko Sho – Award for innovation in Japanese contemporary art from Japan Arts Foundation


2005“Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy,” University of Paris X-Nanterre
2008“Reversible Destiny Declaration of the Right Not to Die: Second International Arakawa +Gins Architecture + Philosophy Conference/Congress,” University of Pennsylvania, Slought Foundation
2010AG3: The Third International Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy Conference, Griffith University, Australia

Selected Solo Exhibitions with Arakawa

1990Building Sensoriums 1973-1990, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
1995Reversible Destiny Houses, Busche Galerie, Berlin, Germany
1997Reversible Destiny – Arakawa/Gins, Guggenheim Museum Soho, New York*
1998The City as the Art Form of the Next Millennium, NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo*
1999Arakawa/Gins: Site of Reversible Destiny, The Museum of Modern Art, GIFU, Gifu
2004Arakawa+Gins: Architecture Against Death, Nagoya University of Arts, Art & Design Center, Nagoya

Arakawa+Gins: Reversible Destiny Projects, Kyoto Institute of Technology Museum and Archives, Kyoto

Art Today 2010: Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins, Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Nagano

2012Arakawa+Gins Reversible Destiny to be continued, Gallery Art Unlimited, Tokyo
2016Explorations of Arakawa + Gins, Gallery Art Unlimited, Tokyo
2018Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient, Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Columbia University, New York (touring to the Graham Foundation, Chicago, 2019)

Selected Group Exhibitions with Arakawa

1990L’Art renouvelle de la Ville: L’Art Contemporain et Urbanisme en France. Art Renewing the City: Contemporary Art and Urbanism in France, Tsukuba Museum of Art, Ibaraki (toured: National Museum of Art, Osaka;
Youth Cultural Center, Sendai; Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan)*
1999In the Midst of Things, Bournville, Birmingham, UK*
2013Health, The New Institute, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2017Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness, MAC Belfast, UK; (toured: Dundee Contemporary Arts; Bury Art Gallery and Museum, UK)*
2018The Future Starts Here, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (touring to ArkDes, Stolkholm, Sweden, 2019)*
2019Impossible Architecture, The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Saitama, Japan


1994Ubiquitous Site* Nagi’s Ryoanji*, Architectural Body, Nagi MOCA, Nagi, Japan
1995Site of Reversible Destiny, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
1997Reversible Destiny Office, Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
2005External Gene House, Nagoya, Japan
2005Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka – In Memory of Helen Keller, Tokyo, Japan
2008Bioscleave House (Life Extending Villa), East Hampton, New York, USA
2013Biotopological Scale Juggling Escalator, New York, USA