[ studio ]
post-mid-review called for a shift in focus to more practical matters, like program, programmatic diagrams, sections, and plans ... but not too much. i was fully aware that i would continue to vacillate between the two (are there really just two states to begin with? i find this attitude to be quite arcane. and even if there were two definable states i simply could not discern whether this project occupied both, none, or hundreds of these 'areas' simultaneously. good sign, i suppose) so i was prepared for potential twists and headaches down the road where the conceptual foundation could develop significant weaknesses.
until now the project had remained in a highly conceptual territory, and now that it had become clear the overall conceit of the project was fairly well determined this meant that i needed to look for ways to actually materialize these ideas. the alternative would be a project that, in my eyes, would be a failure. of course, this is where the project started to become exciting. the diagrams were beginning to look more "realistic," which further pushed me to start building physical models.
some images of sketches / models:
01 _ spaces between the space of the fragment were beginning to become more crucial to the arrangement of the fragments than the fragments themselves.
03 _ program (colored ribbons) that surrounds and sometimes encompasses the display area (brown bridge).
04 _ the outside boundary was a residual idea that was eventually eliminated because it was no longer necessary and conflicted with the conceptual roots of the project.
05 _ there was not enough time to fully examine the methods of display. this was an idea that involved the potential display of artwork that had been reduced to a cloud or small particles. could they simply be cycled through a circuitous chamber that could display the particles? what does this say about the space the fragments occupy, as well as the spaces between the fragments? what does this say about the display of art itself?
06 _ these were studies that attempted to use a formulaic system of distance to determine the space between the objects. a more comprehensive understanding of parametric software could have turned this idea into something very interesting. it's a shame my knowledge of grasshopper is pretty weak.
07 _ the boxes represent containers for the fragments, and they stack when there is no longer room along the line of the fragment. this creates new and fascinating relationships between the fragments. they become reconstituted not because of the physical and material properties of the original art-piece, but are reorganized based on their new properties and a system of distance. the fragments then acquire a new autonomous identity, liberated from their previous identity.
this became the primary conceptual base of the project - an anti-forensic organization of damaged artwork.
we also had the pleasure of meeting with a representative from AXA Insurance, a company that insures artwork and therefore owns many pieces of damaged art. a few interesting notes from the meeting _
- AXA offers an insurance product. this is a highly conceptual industry.
- a "floater" agreement with the collector that the insured product is protected no matter where it is. this includes the primary physical address, any other location of display, and in transit.
- according to AXA rep, there really is no objective method of assessing the value of a piece of art.
- its easy to see how competitive this industry is, because the insurance companies are willing to put so much on the line to work with these collectors. in other words i could throw my original arshile gorky panting in a suitcase wrapped in bubble wrap and duct tape and send it to california, and when it arrives completely destroyed, it is still covered by my insurance. in other words, AXA covers the stupidity and negligence of their collectors because if they could not exist.
- however, there are five exceptions: inherent vice, failing of drawing and/or photograph, earthquakes, government confiscation, and nuclear war.
- the art world is, in her words, "Driven by commercial interests."
[ metropolis ]
after paris came los angeles and new york. the la discussion obviously hinged on the work of robert venturi & denise scott brown, beginning with complexity & contradiction, and the ny discussion was similarly based upon koolhaas' delirious new york.
what was interesting about these two projects was their respective beginnings, in that each 'examination' or 'brief' as venturi liked to call C&C, could not have occurred if they were not a stranger to the place they were studying. in other words, by taking the role as a curious outsider one then assumes a different position than if they were familiar or even comfortable with the place. in venturi's case, las vegas and los angeles were two cities that he could not come to terms with. because venturi was not 'at ease' with these places and because they were foreign, he felt compelled to examine and document their conditions. koolhaas was similarly fascinated by manhattan and its urban and social conditions that were so foreign to the dutch landscape. enrique also talked at length about the term 'landscape' in the randstad lecture, but that's another discussion.
it was also interesting to reflect upon my education and see some of venturi and koolhaas in much of it. for example, venturi celebrates many of the conditions that we often exhaust ourselves resisting, such as programmatic constraints or site parameters, not to mention the basic notion that design can never negotiate the perfect outcome. the idea that we can benefit from highly constrictive paramaters, and that it is useful to invent additional constraints to direct the design process had been suggested intermittently while at ksu. nevertheless, it was an idea that was provocative enough to stick in my mind despite its quiet presence.
learning from las vegas was fascinating because it was essentially borne out of venturi & scott brown's frustration with their current "tools" for examining cities. in other words conventional means of representation - plans, sections, photographs, axons, and so forth - could no longer sufficiently describe the city and how it operates. LLV was their attempt to develop new tools to document and decipher the city. more significant was the possibility that these tools could be exported and use to document another place, and now cities could be used to make architectural arguments.
it was inevitable that postmodernism would be brought up in this discussion, although enrique deliberately avoided saying it himself - he was waiting for one of us to broach the subject. "did you notice i didn't use the word once during the lecture?" he quipped.
enrique chose to avoid the topic for a variety of obvious reasons. for one, the topic is by definition an intellectual trap, one that attempts to acknowledge too much but manages to produces very little. secondly and more importantly, the term did not even exist within the context of architecture until charles jencks popularized the term in his book, the language of post-modern architecture in 1977. since then, the term has been grossly misused and therefore is hardly worth considering (of course, here i am, writing at length about a topic that i cannot come to terms with myself). while jencks description of the style was more accurately rooted in ideas of pluralism, progress and complexity, it was quickly mischaracterized and reshaped into an oversimplified trope used to describe all architecture built post-1972 when pruitt-igoe in st. louis was destroyed. by associating an architectural style with the destruction of one building type, the term took on a new identity and became one that falsely implies that postmodern architecture is easily identified by its clumsy, stout and playful material properties.
there have been so many alarming repercussions of this label. one, it illuminates how the architectural field has allowed itself to be defined, described and sold by architectural critics. of course critics are necessary in some ways, but like most useful things they have limits. this case exposes how we are incapable of existing without the filter of critics and the broad and misleading labels we have allowed to be disseminated. furthermore, it is completely unfortunate that none of these aesthetic reductions go anywhere near the more substantive core of the 'movement,' and because it is described as a shallow and aesthetically unappealing phase, it allows others to dismiss it entirely without acknowledging what these symbols might actually recall or imply.
is this an argument for postmodernism? perhaps, although i suspect that to some this would be a position worthy of nothing short of fierce condemnation, because we have been trained to think that way. pomophobia must be stopped!
[ arguments ]
this section involved a discussion of the architectural pavilion as a means of spreading architectural information, and lecture by andres lepic, who is a german historian and now the architectural curator at moma. the lecture itself was largely a discussion of moma's annual ps1 exhibition in long island city. we prepared for each of these through several readings that were concerned with the role of museums and the influential exhibitions they have curated.
exhibitions that present the history of architecture are a bit of a phenomenon of late-twentieth-century architecture and museological culture, in large part because of the challenge of framing the arguments of historians and scholars as well as the practitioners the exhibition aims to showcase. the discussion hinged on both curatorial strategies and the repercussion, both intentional and accidental, of highlighting an architectural movement. this often runs the risk of reducing the work of a collection of architects to a narrow theme.
on the other side is ps1, which has played a significant role in exposing the work of lesser-known architects. this topic was particularly relevant because this summer's current installation was designed by florian idenberg's office, solid objectives, who is currently teaching here at columbia. while their work has been provocative, and influential, knowledge of their work had not reached a broader audience. i'd like to believe their name has always been worth of more notoriety (pole dance was an amazing idea, with or without the help of moma) the 'ps1 effect' will likely catapult his office into a higher tier within the discipline.
lastly, the architectural pavilion was a topic that was intriguing enough to explore for my final arguments paper. more on that later.
[ digital craft ]
too much time spent on papers, mid-reviews and models meant that something would fall by the wayside. naturally, it was digital craft. still, i managed to complete a physical model of the utrecht university library, despite the fact that there were so many headaches with the small funnel that is the output shop. you can only imagine how messy it is for ninety needy students to be requesting access to only two laser cutters and one cnc machine.
some images _
01 _ building the model in rhino.
02 _ to make the pattern i simply scanned an image of the it from a book published by wiel arets, took the image into illustrator, transformed it into a dwg, and then turned the enclosed areas from a solid hatch into a cross hatch. of course this meant the machine had to etch every single line within the hatch boundary, which ended up igniting the basswood. this required precise calibration of the machine, which required me to jump down to the output shop numerous times, a difficult and arduous task when other people are waiting for you to finish and you have more important work to do in the first place.
05 _ the pivoting panel. the system is so well-crafted. the pivoting panels rotate outward, allowing more light to filter inside the building, but to also allow the slots concealed within the system to bring air into the building. basically the building is sheathed by a glass and metal machine, with the 'willow' pattern either cast into the concrete panels or etched into the glass. it's stunning.