**eastward movement is included


weeks three and four.

It looks like I lost track of time and the past two weeks sped by. This is basically just a lenghty memo to myself, so enjoy!


The damage diagramming continues, only now we have been weaving insurance into the discussion. I have made several attempts to pinpoint a specific moment, narrowing in on the details of the event. The objective is to formulate a new descriptive vocabulary for the event. Buildings are described by their massing, materiality, proportion, etc. and we are attempting to invent a set of similarly precise and descriptive terms and diagrams.

It has been difficult selecting the right moment. I began examining the US military for its obvious relationship to damage and damage control, as well as its perverse adherence to a system of relentless logic. The tactics used by the military are based upon strict and orderly procedures, and it's completely fascinating how much energy the military mobilizes to anticipate future events and control their outcome. From there I attempted to diagram the December 30, 2009 suicide attack on Khost, Afghanistan. While I initially focused on the damage to diplomatic relationships and the less explosive repercussions of this event, I ended up focusing on the act of conducting an investigation of the scene itself. The explosion and fatalities are only part of the damage, and the breadth of the damage continues to radiate outward, affecting families, intelligence, and regional politics. This involved investigating an investigative process, and using the procedures put forth by forensic scientists, cryptology experts, bomb squads and the prescribed investigative methods created by the US Department of Justice. While the research was interesting, the complexity of the event as well as the lack of precise information made the process both frustrating and difficult.

Damage and insurance are inextricably linked, so its no surprise that our ongoing study of insurance companies and their appraisal methods has been tremendously helpful in this process. As Mark put it, the world of the insurance industry is a world governed by the most ruthless forms of financial gain. This is a world where planes fall from the sky, cars are continually colliding, and homes burn to the ground. But does an insurance policy actually protect you from being affected by these events? What's more, while insurance provides a feeling of security, damage always exposes vulnerability. Applying monetary value then becomes the most precise way to describing the value of things.

Using these guidelines I endeavoured to find any information related to a system of insurance or asset allocation used by the US Military. I found some evidence confirming that the military uses a similarly rigorous framework for estimating its own value, and two particular documents proved to be helpful. The first was a book published by the Bureau of War Risk Insurance (I think it no longer exists) in 1919 that documented the military and naval compensation claims as a result of the first World War. The second was a published study by an individual who created a series of graphs and formulas that apply a monetary value to the military's tangible assets - tanks, helicopters, rifles, etc.

Through the study he argued that capital assessment may actually be the most useful measure of value because it is a means of providing a macro summary of information that can be objectively compared to the assets of other countries. The durable goods and services of the military - equipment, tactical aircrafts, shelters, personnel and material for their maintenance, and research development - all depcreciate over time. Therefore a formula was necessary to consider their peak value as well as the time in which they need replacement.

The value of the infantry is difficult to describe, and all calls to the insurance companies the military uses were dead ends. Still the first book allowed me to create an average value based on a 2.7% inflation rate since 1919. While the results are debatable and vague, I was able to use these two sources as a means of understanding the complex task of determining value. I also need to come up with a way to spatialize this information.

This Friday our studio had our first pin-up, which turned into a nine-hour damage control extravaganza. Each student presented four items: A digital film using footage from our trip to the site (a section of land on the north shore of Staten Island), a container for a piece of damaged art that is related to our research, a container for an actual artwork that has been damaged, and our most current diagram(s) of insurance. For the conceptual damaged object's display I created a hypothetical travelling 'exhibition' of the military's fighter jets that were adorned by famous works of art and carted around the world on a aircraft carrier painted by a jackson pollack. Yes, this is completely absurd and I probably missed the mark, but the idea was to challenge the value of the art object through the meeting of the military asset. By duplicating the artwork, would the original depreciate in value? Is value a function of singularity? I attempted a similarly absurd display by taking Koons' sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles and displaying it in a concrete grave in the middle of a cornfield. This was an attempt to understand what gives the artwork its value. In other words, I wanted to locate the art and then reloate the artwork. The piece is deliberately kitchy, and resembles any ceramic trinket found in a Chinatown market, only larger and contains a tremendous amount of symbolism and social commentary. This seems to suggest that artwork is given its value by the museum and by removing it from the shelter of the museum it ceases to be valuable. Moreover, through the creation of a barrier between the viewer and the object - by submerging the object below the surface and forcing the viewer to descend in a deep concrete cave - the viewer is discouraged from engaging the object, and presumably prevents the viewer from applying any value.

The obvious problem with this technique is that the barrier is not impossible to overcome. What's more, its isolation could actually give the object even more value. Lastly, the object wasn't physically damaged which was sort of the point in the first place - to figure out a way to display an art object that had all value removed from it. Nevertheless, its been helpful in understanding relevance of the artwork's physical properties and how the presentation plays a tremendous role in establishing value.

[digital craft]

Our class is now studying 3dStudio by following several tutorials that involve the modeling and rendering of SANAA's Park Cafe and the Barcelona Chair. The Park Cafe was challenging, but I am lucky to have used this software since third year. The learning curve with 3dS is steeper than Rhino, so the amount of frustration between the rest of my classmates is pretty high.


Since studying Berlin we've had two lectures. Through Tokyo we discussed a series of urban theories, from Metabolism's creation of the Marine City, the Plan for Tokyo, and other joint-core proposals, to Ito's Tower of Winds and the Sendai Mediateque, to the past and present work of SANAA. This week we looked at London as a testing ground for several related theories created by Archigram and its tangential projects, to the work of James Sterling, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Norman Foster.

I also wrote a paper that questions some of the ideas put forth by Venturi that he thought helped explain the current state of American cities (in 1978 that is) in an article he wrote for A+U. Broadly speaking, it was an attempt to describe the roots of America's western landscape, that America west of the Appalacian mountains developed out of a frontier logic rather than an urban logic. 1,000 words is probably not enough space, but I will soon find out whether I made a convincing argument.


Shohei Shigematsu from OMA gave a lecture on June 15. He talked about the tactical relationship between OMA and AMO, his work on the waist down exhibition, the EU, IBM, and others.

Two things stood out from the lecture: His statements about the role of aesthetics in OMA's work and his suprisingly critical words regarding of the current trend of Japanese reductivism.

Another student asked Sho whether aesthetics played a role in the composition and appearance of the projects, which was coincidentally a topic I've been interested in myself for some time. Without hesitation and much to my surprise, Sho bluntly said the role of aesthetics is VERY strong. Obviously the argument is still the driviing force, but he'd be lying if he were to say otherwise. Interesting.

Regarding the reductivism, his words, while carefully chosen and deliberate, seemed almost resentful of the fact that this movement was simply trend that's borne out of a lack of ambition and creativity. I struggled with this idea, because it's an issue that's more personal to him than to me and it's difficult to argue with an argument that is rooted in a visceral reaction. I find Japan's architectural style and urban logic to be quite fascinating regardless of its symbolic content or lack thereof. Nevertheless it turned my world upside down, for no other reason that it does seem to be a substantive claim given the stagnant Japanese economy that is likely affecting Japan's consciousness.

This week we looked at the photography of Ezra Stoller and Dan Graham. Each invented very distinct styles that were an extension of their general artistic impulses and professional objectives. Despite their stylistic differences their photography was united by the desire to create a visual manifesto. They used their work as a rhetorical device that highlights the prevailing notions of culture, technology, and art.

What has stuck with me since this discussion was the idea that my work can be an editorial strategy. This further triggers a variety of other topics worth considering, specifically the fundamental purpose of built architecture and whether it is even necessary. Tschumi and Eisenman talked at length about architecture's relevancy and its limits. I'm looking forward to exploring these ideas further, despite the fact that they will likely stifle some progress in other areas.


That's it for now. Now it's time for a break and then tutorials and more diagramming for studio.

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New York, New York, United States
I take myself too seriously most of the time and I am trying to do that less. I remind some people of Woody Allen. I occationally indulge in the weekend camping trip. I adamantly support the Kansas City Royals baseball club. My identity is wrapped up in a few simple things, most of which are continuously displayed on this here blog.

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