the core of the project remains the organization of fragments, but this still needs much more development. i know the ideas will reveal themselves, but it's just going to take more exploration. (i should probably stop writing right now and get back to work, no?)
anyway, because they are separate from one another, the conceptual objective is give the fragments autonomy over their new identity. dispersal is useful because it is fundamentally about loss, but loss is also opportunity to insert something new. yes, they will be viewed by different individuals who are likely to project their own meanings onto the objects, but that will occur no matter how the objects are presented and is therefore not a consideration here.
the mid-review was a bit anti-climactic, but that's often the case i suppose. the reviewers provided some decent feedback, but i thought it was telling that some of them had difficulty understanding what i was really challenging by arranging the objects this way. is it too logical? too straightforward? obviously the wrong response is to add complexity for its own sake, but it remains a tempting new path.
the most useful insight i gained was to focus more clearly on the space between the objects. in some ways this is what i was doing from the beginning, and through several diagrams i had previously made (i will post these images eventually) this project was completely about the spacing of the objects. nevertheless, this idea needs to be examined with more intensity and threaded through every scale of the project. in other words, the fragment(s) new identity can be understood vis-a-vis its proximity to its neighboring fragments. an ursula von rydingsvard sculpture is understood a certain way when seen as a solid piece, but at what point does it become mis-read if it is fragmented? how much space is necessary between these objects? how much difference does it make if the fragments are uniform? varying?
one of the reviewers was also concerned about the purpose of the building. he wanted to know whether this display says anything about the study of the objects. in other words, how is the examination of the objects displayed? what does this have to do with value? perhaps i need to be more self-conscious about the institution-ality of the salvage art institute, and its own value.
how can the architecture organize itself around the unorganizable?
what can the architecture learn from a broken piece of art?
what can the architecture return to the fragment? meaning? relevancy? greater importance?
do these fragments become the structural grid itself - the framework within which the program lies and is organized? autonomy is claimed vis-a-vis the fragment's location?
perhaps the SAI should aim to generate an organizational system based on a specific taxonomy - size? value? material properties? damage?
[ arguments ]
these two weeks of arguments were centered on photography as a means of spreading architectural information. we had class visits to the gsapp's archive, and had the pleasure of looking at some of ezra stoeller's original photographs in addition to some other rare and original pieces. the class discussion revolved around the work of dan graham and stoeller, and how they have both contrasting styles and objectives. stoeller seems to prefer to create a sense of distance between himself in the architecture, for the purpose of honestly presenting the building and the ideas it contains. that is to say, stoeller was the perfect "architect's photographer," completely aware of his responsibility to both understand and present the ideas the architect intended to convey. graham's work is more critical if not cynical. nevertheless, he was attempting to find the art in ordinary things, and the display of the ordinary things was artful itself.
at some point you begin to wonder if we as architects depend on photographers just as much as clients or contractors. a photographer is often in the position to highlight and present certain ideas the architect is incapable of explaining or clearly describing, a revelatory notion that only reinforces how much architects depend on external forces to exist.
iwan baan was invited to give a lecture, where he displayed his work and discussed his techniques and adventures. baan is primarily focused on the events that occur around the building or space that he is photographing. i suppose it could be broadly described as contextual documentation rather than architectural. the images were also gorgeous. i particularly loved the photograph of maltzan's inner city arts school in LA. in comparison to the endless metropolis bathed in hazy warmth, the school quietly sits amongst its neighbors of nondescript warehouses and concrete. it was accurate, intriguing, and somehow completely sensational. (here)
what troubled me was his reticence (inability?) to articulate the meaning of the images he captured. he would present his photographs of the national stadium in beijing designed by herzog & de meuron - a symbol of opulence, extravagance, and state-mobilized financing and power - juxtaposed with the impoverished workers living in wooden shacks literally in the shadow of the stadium. when asked to comment on this obviously charged image he would either deflect the question or suggest we ask the architect what the meaning was. this occurred several times during the lecture.
in his defense, he hasn't given many lectures and probably doesn't want to engage in an potentially-combative discussion of international politics and social inequality, but images contain quite a bit of information that often requires explanation. moreover, imagery is the language of architecture and he should know that. in other words, i receive a clear idea when i see that image, but i wanted to know what HE thought when he was standing there himself. i don't know if he was surprised by the barrage of questions that implored him to elaborate on his intentions, but it was clear to me that i wasn't the only member of the audience who left hoping for more from someone who has developed relationships with people at the center of these very important issues.
[ metropolis ]
i received some feedback from my TA about my paper about Tschumi's Blue, which was helpful. i got off to a decent start, but the paper still lacked a strong enough position. the building is responding to much more than the neighborhood, so i decided to expand it further and discuss its relationship to the city. i wish i had more room to discuss Tschumi's use of the color blue, simply because he used red so consistently in other projects. evidently his draw to red stems from its neutrality, in the sense that it is not suggestive of any actual material properties. i haven't figured out what blue does that red doesn't, or if it even matters at all. nevertheless, these decisions aren't made without basis, so perhaps i will eventually unlock this mystery.
we also had our lecture on paris, which was predictably unsettling. when you spend the lion's share of the discussion focusing on architects who chose alternative methods of designing and in doing so, deliberately alienated themselves from the elite and wealthy (clients), you tend to see your world being turned upside down. not to say this is a bad thing, but guy dubord and co. basically gave up on social transformation vis-a-vis built work, and even that was difficult to achieve without having the impact distorted and their message re-shaped by the forces they were attempting to subvert. say nothing of the fact that the events of 68 managed to shape the impulses of some of the most important figures in architecture today. (Tschumi, Koolhaas, Ito, etc.) it's completely fascinating how these individuals had visions of re-engineering society, but these ideas were not rooted in cynicism but optimism. it's interesting to imagine how different things would have been if the riots and rebellion had not occurred.
[ digital craft ]
grasshopper tutorials. 3dstudio tutorials. Materials, Lighting. Most of it is new, even though the software isn't. All good things, until we have to begin making out models using the 3d plotter, laser-cutter, and CNC machine. asking 90 students to make elaborate models with such limited resources is a bit audacious. it's quite a bottleneck, and i'm amazed that some people managed to not only finish their model, but make them absolutely gorgeous. if you haven't figured it out by now, i am still working on mine. the laser cutter ignited my concrete panels. the hatch was too dense and the intensity on the machine was too high. alas.
there's still much to see in the city, but i feel as though i've been better lately about managing my time and knowing when to quit. that doesn't mean i'm sleeping any less, but i think i'm seeing more than morningside heights. on the other hand, i've probably just taken more trips to canal to buy acrylic.