Elena Manferdini opens the symposium and introduces guest critic Sanford Kwinter, and a panel consisting of Jeffrey Kipnis, Hernan Diaz Alonso, and Wes Jones. She outlines the role of thesis at SCI-Arc, stressing the responsibility of students to seriously investigate the architectural implications of their topics.
The panel discusses qualities exhibited by a good thesis, noting a balance between innovative ideas and effective communication. Wes Jones inquires about the difference between designers and architects. While conceding the importance of consulting with peers, the panel cautions against being over-influenced by others, and the sameness that results.
Diaz Alonso discusses the relevance of student theses within contemporary architectural practice. The panel discusses the change in topics over the last decade. They discuss the dangers of monoculture and complacency.
The panelists talk about Sanford Kwinter’s lecture the previous night. They warn against the codification of architectural techniques.
The panelists talk about representational tools and their ability to either stagnate or advance the paradigms of architecture. The panelists contrast architectural skills with representational “magic tricks.”
Pippo Ciorra defines three possible roles for architecture exhibitions: historicizing existing architecture, building inside the museum, and creating conditions for architects to build outside of the museum. He notes that aspects of MAXXI in Rome which might appear to be obstacles, have been for him advantages--especially the abrupt way work was suspended, leaving spaces which could be used for public events. He discusses the first two Young Architects Program (YAP) outdoor installations at MAXXI, and exhibits where he attempts to combine representations of architecture with built installations in a way that intelligently redirects contemporary architectural discourse. Ciorra and Sylvia Lavin discuss the museum installation as a kind of architecture, and as a bridge to building outside the museum. While Ciorra disapproves of trend towards curatorship becoming an academic discipline; Lavin suggests that curatorship has become the central cultural communication role. They engage Elena Manferdini, and discuss her experiences with MOCA's New Sculpturalism show. Ciorra stresses that as a YAP juror he is always looking for work with ideas, that is extremely experimental, and that can satisfy the requirements for shade, seating, and water. Lavin reminds the students in the audience that they are already curators--if only of their own work. Ciorra stresses the museum as a stage for developing new kinds of work, plus engaging other disciplines, and a wider public. For him, exhibits are a means, not an end. Lavin points out to students that for many of them, their first significant architectural project will be some kind of museum installation: "the museum is the new garage."
Eric Owen Moss outlines the background of the competition, in which a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs created the opportunity to create a four-year pavilion that would be used not only for SCI-Arc's commencement but for community events. Each of the competition participants (Marcelo Spina, Elena Manferdini, Ramiro Diaz-Granados, Tom Wiscombe) briefly describe his or her project. Moss challenges each of the participants to clarify their explanations, prompting a discussion of siting, communicating to different audiences, and open versus closed systems. Marcelo Spina suggests that the competition format leads designers to modify their work according to intuitions about jury preferences and prejudices. This prompts a discussion of different strategies for dealing with competitions. Moss concludes with a summary of the jury's response to the four projects.
Farshid Moussavi proposes that style is about how elements in their multiplicity are experienced in everyday life. She illustrates her argument with several projects, including the John Lewis department store and cineplex, The Yokohama International Port Terminal, La Folie Divine residential tower in Montpellier, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, the Victoria Beckham flagship store, and the mid-size office tower, 130 Fenchurch Street in London. She discusses the projects in terms of multiple elements assembled to engage users. In a discussion following the lecture, Moussavi and Elena Manferdini discuss the question of architecture's audience, finish, color, and the role of the architect today. Moussavi argues that, despite the complexities of the contemporary collaborative building process, architects still have agency, and the ability to explore and invent.
Jeffrey Kipnis begins the seventh of the Fecundity of a Mossy Climate conversations by reviewing Elena Manferdini's work, arguing that even when the work seems graphic or pictorial, Manferdini is always thinking architecturally. Manferdini joins Kipnis to discuss her use of imagery from nature, and the kind of political role that architecture can play. They respond to questions from the audience about politics, audiences, and the problem of scaling-up.
Eric Owen Moss moderates a symposium consisting of distinquished faculty members Jeffrey Kipnis, Michael Rotondi, and Hernan Diaz-Alonzo. They discuss representation, imagery, functionality, materials, and contemporary culture. Coy Howard, Elena Manferdini, and Chris Genik pose questions for the panelists. They reflect on the recent death of Raimund Abraham.
Eric Owen Moss introduces newly anointed Distinguished Faculty, Michael Rotondi, Jeffrey Kipnis, and Henan Diaz Alonzo. Moss presents a set of images, pointing the talk in the direction of representation and image control through architectural devices. The panelists agrees that lack of originality is a problem that plagues contemporary practice.
Michael Rotondi discusses the impact of terrorism on architecture and how, for example, embassies reflect contemporary values and fears. The panelists discuss representational techniques, symbolism, minimalism, “the box,” and affect and effect in art and architecture.
Michael Rotondi, Jeffrey Kipnis and Hernan Diaz Alonso discuss computer protocols, man and technology, and whether the software or the designer is more influential in contemporary design. They discuss materialism, production techniques, and cultural associations, and the role of the architect.
Michael Rotondi, Jeffrey Kipnis and Hernan Diaz Alonso discuss materialism, production techniques, and cultural associations, and the role of the architect.
The panelists discuss fashion and its historical relevance to architecture. They compare and contrast the two arts discussing their ephemerality, temporal situations, and materials. They also comment about scale and the interaction between an object and its environment.
Elena Manferdini explains that this instalment of the Form@ series will address the topic of color.
Manferdini begins with an exploration of the conceptual problem of color, focusing on the meanings of whiteness. She begins with the association of Greek and Roman antiquity with whiteness, which since Johann Joachim Winckelmann to the present has been associated with whiteness—white buildings, white statues—despite knowledge that classical architecture and sculpture was originally polychrome. She characterizes Le Corbusier’s use of white as a translation of idea of classicism into modernism, with the added suppression of ornament. At the same time Corbusier popularized an understanding of white as a sign of utopia and eternal aesthetic relevance, Italian Fascists deployed white as the color of totalitarian power, erasing all individuality, disorder and dissent.
Florencia Pita discusses the experimental uses of color, focusing on the evolution of color theory from Newton to now. Newton’s color wheel superseded empirical paint-based color charts, proposing a systematic theory of color harmony. This was expanded by by Claude Boutet, and Ignaz Schiffermüller. Goethe rejected Newton, proposing his own theory, which was promoted by Arthur Schopenhauer in On Vision and Colors (1816). Philipp Otto Runge’s color sphere (1810) extended the color wheel in three dimensions. His ideas were systematized by Albert Henry Munsell in 1910, defining colors on the basis of three variables: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (saturation). In the 20th century, Johannes Itten promoted a system of complimentary & analogous colors, while Joseph Albers challenged students to create new color wheels, and investigated changing perception of colors. His book, The Interaction of Color, marks the transition from color as paint to color as printed matter—the CMYK color model of cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). The Pantone Matching System proprietary color space defined colors by numbers to ensure standardized output. The new color space of print media was reflected in pop art (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist) and in related architectural work as demonstrated by “The Duck and the Document: True Stories of Postmodern Procedures” in the SCI-Arc Gallery (Summer 2017), curated by Sylvia Lavin.
Manferdini and Pita respond to comments from the audience on theoretical versus experiential uses of color, the cultural anthropology of color terminology, architecture’s lack of color theory, color as event, and the need for students to be aware of the cultural resonance of their color choices.
Elena Manferdini begins a series of discussions on topics relevant to graduate students working on their thesis projects: collage, color, the sketch, and the idea of Genius/Master creativity cycles.
She begins by identifying some questions raised by recent graduate thesis projects: What happens when architecture borrows from another medium? What happens when ideas become subject matter? What happens when subject matter is mistaken for content?
She presents the two paths of creativity, and creative production discussed in David Galenson’s Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity (2007).
In Galenson’s formulation, the Genius type focuses on realization of precisely-determined goals. Once a problem is solved, they pursue new goals. Their careers tend to demonstrate discontinuity, and peak early (Picasso, Frank Stella). Architects of the Genius category might include Vitruvius, Palladio, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Aldo Rossi, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Greg Lynn, and Santiago Calatrava.
In contrast, Galenson’s Master type explores vaguely-defined goals patiently over time. Their careers tend to demonstrate continuity, and peak late (Cezanné, Rothko). Architects of the Master category might include Frank O. Gehry, Thom Mayne, Zaha Hadid, and Eric Owen Moss.
Manferdini discusses the evolution of the idea of genius from the classical sense of artist as vessel of divine inspiration, to the modern, 18th century secular aristocracy of intelligence and talent (Voltaire, Newton, Einstein). Since World War II, critiques of its sexism, racism have demoted the Genius, though a romantic aura still clings to the idea of creativity—cultural baggage in the way we look at ourselves, and our production.
As a counter-example, Manferdini reviews the careers of exemplary women artists of the Italian Renaissance: Properzia de' Rossi (c. 1490–1530), Sister Plautilla Nelli (1524–1588), Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532-1625), Lavinia Fontana (1552- 1614), and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c. 1656). Manferdini stresses how each of these women were able to fashion careers because of access to education.
After Elena Manferdini explains the history and format of the symposium, six students present their thesis proposals: Taryn Bone, Scotty Zane Carroll, Mustafa Kustur, Hannah Pavlovich, Julian Ma, and Yu Li. To begin the panel discussion, Manferdini reviews some of the key ideas that have shaped thesis at SCI-Arc over the last eight years. Marcelyn Gow, Hernan Diaz Alonso, and Andrew Zago debate what is needed now to keep thesis at SCI-Arc relevant, the crucial transition from thesis research to design, and plausibility. They discuss contexts, including the organization of thesis at the ETH, the work of the Futurists as presented at the Guggenheim. They also discuss authenticity, tools and nostalgia. Diaz Alonso stresses the unique ability of SCI-Arc students to discover new coherences. Zago defends the usefulness of engaging with abject or outré ideas. Gow distinguishes sobriety—as represented by greyscale work—from seriousness.
Noted Architects, designers, and cultural leaders share their thoughts on the future of design through a series of short presentations during "L.A. Architecture Month," part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA.