**eastward movement is included

20101029

in-between.

the theme today is could be about nothing other than in-between-ness. the semester is officially halfway over. i'm halfway through my graduate program. my projects tend to drift into an exploration of the spaces between spaces. i feel half awake. it's time to take a step back to unpack all of that.

[ surface, screen, structure ]

our mid-review is next week. so far we have had numerous site visits - the building in soho that we are designing our screening system for, Mayola, which is a fabrication shop about 2 hours east of the city on long island, and last week we visited FACE fabrication + design, which is a smaller outfit in williamsburg. the design has evolved from a screening device that attempted to generate a dynamic image from the shadows the screen cast on itself to a more elaborate, interlocking system that is more concerned with how it creates an image itself. our instructor is pushing the class very hard, and it has developed into a second studio. my objective was to acquire greater proficiency in grasshopper and solidworks, but it's been more of a struggle than i had anticipated. regardless, there's still plenty of time to do learn.

[ swarm intelligence ]

this is the probably the most difficult class i've ever taken. the root of the difficulty is coming to terms with the disjunction between my ability to conceptualize an idea and how to excecute it. because we are scripting the behavior of these agents rather than using drafting tools, paper and trace, i have essentially received what i asked for - discomfort. i didn't come to columbia to learn what i already knew. i wanted to test my open-mindedness, and right now i'm getting a dose of that by the bowlful. nevertheless, i have to continually remind myself that i will emerge from this class with a greater understanding of another design technique.

[ 12 dialogical / poetic strategies ]

the topics and readings are familiar and foreign at the same time. most of us have a passing familiarity with several of the authors and philosophers ( calvino, proust, heidegger, burke, freud, tafuri, and so forth ) as well as the topics covered ( gravity and grace, exile, lightness, the sublime, iorny, etc. ) but no where near the amount of depth exhibited by yehuda.

a portion of the discussion this morning was centered around the artificiality of architecture and what consciousness is. perception vs. knowledge. husserl's concept of the the absolute beginner was especially interesting - that the ultimate technique for a radical transformation of both self and world is to consciously assume the role as a complete outsider. in other words, radicality is at the root of any genuine philosophical activity. other notes: first philosophy, second philosophy (metaphysics in the cartesian sense), the irrational fact of the rationality of the world, transcendental subjectivty, and others. how to package these ideas and translate them into something useful is still up for debate.

[ studio ]

the feedback we received from our projects on wednesday was tremendous. the panel was lucid and insightful. of course they were brilliant, but i suspect the amount of feedback was in direct proportion to the amount of research our studio had presented. in other words, i cannot imagine anyone else in the world having such a precise focus on abuja & lagos. probably an exaggeration, but its fun to imagine that our perspective is that interesting.

in my last post i expressed frustration that i had a vague understanding of what abuja is like on the ground. looking at google earth maps, promotional maps issued by the government to tourists and businessmen, and historical maps of western africa can only describe so much, especially when maps of these sorts are surprisingly conceptual. youtube videos have been a useful tool in more clearly understanding abuja's identity up close, but they still have limits. because of this i chose to accept these parameters and think about abuja as a simulated landscape, where images are projections and the city is understood through its effects.

i can place the first moment i discovered an academic curiosity in artificiality. it was in a class i took at kansas state taught by david seamon. seamon's research was largely about urban spaces, cities, and their functionality. the subtext of this class was significantly more phenomenological, and my and papers and discussion clumsily attempted to decode what these concepts of the synthetic and the authentic actually meant to me. place and placelessness were two themes that have always resonated for one reason or another, but i've determined that these concepts remain in my scope of interest. the only change is the context.
testing these ideas further within the context of abuja is exciting for so many reasons. because abuja was conceived as a built solution to nigeria's reputation of wars, coups, and continual ethnic tensions, it is the ideal laboratory to examine how a state grapples with its own identity and how it synthesizes these ideas architecturally. in other words, abuja's built landscape refers to its own past by avoiding a confrontation with it. an authentic recognition of itself, at least from the eyes of a white midwestern-born neophyte academic, would require that nigeria mobilize efforts to highlight and expose the past rather than erase it. on the other hand, this suggestion is rooted in a desire to reveal the truth and unpack its meaning. perhaps this is an approach that's completely wrong within this context, and an alternative must be explored.

nigeria's objective is to appeal to a different audience, and therefore it is performing for a different audience. because lagos and abuja are umbilically tied abuja has to work that much harder to distinguish itself from the narrative of chaos that lagos is assumed to contain. this audience is global, it is wealthy, and it is powerful. this audience wants to invest in cities / nations whose infrastructure is reliable and functional. this audience wants to work with a government that is competent and stable. this audience wants to be entertained and is accustomed to a certain degree of luxury and comfort.

so many more thoughts to elaborate on, which i need to spend more time ruminating over. a new post is already being drafted.

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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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