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Architecture (MA)

Marisa Musing

Marisa Müsing (she/they) is an artist & designer from Tkaronto, Canada. She has a background in architecture, having received her Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of Waterloo (UW), Cambridge, Canada, and her Masters of Art in Architecture from the Royal College of Art (RCA), London UK. Constantly driven by the process of fabrication and making, her work ranges from architecture, furniture design, 3D animations, fashion, painting and sculpture. Marisa has lectured and taught at Parsons School of Design, Harvard GSD, Rhode Island School of Design and ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and Engineering.

In 2018 Marisa co-founded müsing-sellés with Álvaro Gómez-Sellés, a design and architecture studio that plays with furniture and the scalability of object creation. They have made international acclaim, presenting work in a variety of international galleries and shows including including Sight Unseen OFFSITE (NYC 2018), Salone del Mobile (Milan 2019), Nomad Circle (Venice 2019), Maison & Objet (Paris 2020), Collectible Design (Brussels 2020), Transatlantico at Mana Contemporary (New Jersey 2020), and Lake Como Design Festival (Lake Como 2020). Marisa has also recently started the design collective MAMUMIFI with Jennifer Laflamme, where they build stories and ethereal worlds exploring body, femininity, and our relationship to identity through furniture, sculpture, fashion and art. Marisa has presented her digital work in Cloud Tales for Softer Digital (Copenhagen 2023), Bitten Peach Exhibition with the Asian Arts and Culture Trust (Toronto 2023), CRNFT solo show (online 2022), and Hot Air group exhibition (New York 2018). As a mixed-asian queer artist, her work focuses on concepts of body and identity, experimenting through different mediums to express feminist ideals through artistic representation. She is constantly seeking new creative ventures in multiple mediums and scales that allow for playful & beautiful interpretations of the world.

The Kneeling Woman's Fresco

The project Mimicry & The Villa of Mysteries is a cyborg re-analysis of ancient frescoes in Pompeii, Italy. Working with AI to generate new identities for characters painted in Room 5 of the Villa of Mysteries, the work aims to translate our patriarchal histories to build new queer cyberfeminist architectural perspectives that can live beyond the walls of the ancient fresco. Looking at the excavation of ancient sites, the project reflects how reinterpreting through digital tools can provide new narratives for our past and present. In collaboration with AI, the work translates new stories and architectures for the women painted on the walls of Pompeii through a queer cyberfeminist methodology. 

The project reinvestigates the stories of four prominent women in the site, the Domina, the Fleeing Woman, the Bride and the Kneeling Woman. Using architecture as a tool to explore identity, new environments for each of the characters are translated from previous writers and contemporary cyberfeminist theory. The project includes physical artefacts and digital environments for each of the translated women, including sculpture, video work, large scale installation and sound design.

From tourist paraphernalia to photographic reproductions and artistic re-interpretations, the Villa of Mysteries has amassed an accretion of surfaces and mimicked layers. Disruptive excavation procedures of the early 1900s physically altered the imagery of the walls, and countless perspectives of the figures and their actions have unfolded through gender analysis, psychoanalysis, writing, and art, looking to reveal the mystery of the scene. Notably, the male gaze formalised sexist and objectifying stories for the women depicted on the walls, being described by the likes of Sigmund Freud and August Maiuri as ‘intruigingly psycho-erotic subject matter’, ‘the sensual’ ‘voluptuous bodies’ being ‘perfectly preserved youthful beauties’. A cyberfeminist analysis of the site can provide a new common language to interpret the architecture of the Villa of Mysteries and tell revised stories for these women that moves away from the patriarchal lens of the past.

Using Homi Bhabha’s description of mimicry as a translation of meaning, I developed a taxonomy of four stages to describe the queer cyberfeminist method, inspired by Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra Simulation and archaeologist August Mauiuri's defining of four styles of fresco in Pompeii, Italy.


The first stage of decorations is a mimicry of itself, by imitating the wall. It is not until with closer inspection, the mockery of reality is revealed. Similar to Google’s Deep Dream simulation, the glitches in the imagery veer further away from pure mimicry, but perhaps create greater value than an exact replica of the original.


The second breaches the barrier of the four-cornered room to bring depth beyond with perspectival vistas. Similar to the uncanny valley of digital work, the deception of reality creates more intrigue because of the opportunity it creates for anticipation of a realm we do not fully know. 


The third stage returns to the closed-wall, but establishes a new fictional language for the architectural reliefs that frame the surface, an illusion of reality. The image at this order aims to conceal the fact that it has a referent, or claims to describe a referent that does not actually exist. Perverse memes today have this effect, where a joke is hidden in the fact of having to understand what came before. 


The fourth and final stage is inverted again, opening multiple perspectival vistas that enter into decorative splendour, and involves elements of each previous style but with greater vibrance than before. This hybridisation of mimicry reacts to itself and precedes itself; these images are therefore complex and infinite. The internet is the most radical and perpetual form of the fourth order, a style of fractal pure imagination.

Taking on the queer cyberfeminist methodology I developed a series of studies using AI to understand the site and its frescoes through this new language, working from a site perspective, developing new figurative models, and recontextualising the fresco through detail and architecture.

Site image of the Villa of Mysteries with an illustration of the fresco detail drawn onto the floor of the room.
A hand hugging onto a marble wall, squeezing the marble
Spindly delicate columns aligned in a red room
Architectural elements collaged in 3D landscape
Architectural elements collaged in 3D landscape, close-up of detail
fresco detail rendered digitally, displaying an intricate bowl and berries hanging from a column
fresco detail rendered digitally, displaying two women surrounded by architectural detailing inspired by ancient fresco

To fully develop the cyberfem language I wanted to reinvestigate the stories of four prominent women in the site, the Domina, the fleeing woman, the kneeling woman and the bride. Descriptions of each of the characters were collected and labelled to create a taxonomy that was used as the input information for the AI. Given the prompt to write the identity for the character, the AI wrote a series of descriptions, one based on input written by male authors, one based on input by female authors, then using the output from the female author perspective, two more biographies were written with the additional prompt words, ‘cyborg’, and ‘queer’. These compiled descriptions were plugged back into the AI to create a final perspective of the characters as queer cyborg feminists, which then was used to write stories of the buildings they would design, and scripts of their life and environments. Taking these revised descriptions and the methodologies described by the four contemporary women, this elaborate collaboration expanded the perspectives of the women to create new formalised narratives of their architecture and identities. 

The architectural environments are designed based on their revised identities, the language of fresco and AI as each character relates to the different stages. Physical artefacts were also created as an application of the methodology and interpretation of meaning of the Villa of Mysteries that builds on the architecture of the new stories. 

alien-like structure centered between two columns, a floor plan for the Villa of Mysteries underneath
3D printed model of the Domina's building on a metal stand with teardrop detailing
A purple tapestry for the Domina made on the jacquard loom displaying parts of her architecture
collaged sequence of colourful rooms and a woman running away made of stone to the left, looking at a mask on the opposite side
A fresco style image with a central circular altar called a Tholos surrounded by section and elevation detailing of the building
Etruscan mirror showing a depiction of the Bride figure, in a beachy landscape
A woman sitting in an egg computer surrounded by digital elements of her egg environment, digital and cybernetic experience
A keyboard made out of silicone to resemble human skin


digital, 3D print, metal, silicone, tapestry, etched brass, etched marble