Jeffrey Kipnis introduces the second of the Fecundity of a Mossy Climate conversations with a survey of Florencia Pita's work, stressing its focus on architectural issues, and how its flatness is only apparent. Then Kipnis and Florencia Pita discuss her work, joined by Marcelyn Gow, debating plan, color, affect, and abstraction versus representation, and difficult versus easy geometries.
Marcelyn Gow reviews dozens of thesis projects produced by SCI-Arc graduate students 2006-2013, stressing the significance of minute nuances of line: frayed, tangled, calligraphic, fuzzy, sharp. She also discusses projects in terms of lines defined by folds, flips, stacks, trajectories, and tomographs. She concludes by classifying recent SCI-Arc thesis projects into fourteen categories inspired by ”The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” of Jorge Luis Borges.
Hernan Diaz Alonso introduces the event as a new format of review for the post-grad programs that addresses the full complexity of the issues.
David Ruy identifies machine vision and artificial intelligence as the main issues of this session of Architectural Technologies. What does it mean for a machine to see? To think? What is the role of the designer, working with mechanized collaborators?
Marcelo Spina and Casey Rehm outline the 2016-7 session of Architectural Technology, “Distortions and alterations of the real: the attraction of unexpected machines”. To avoid operating in a vacuum, they grounded the investigation into machine vision and artificial intelligence with a real site, the 1931 Lincoln Heights Jail, closed since 1965. Students explored the site in a 2D machine vision exercise, followed by a point cloud scan of the site, scripted manipulations of the data, and recomposited images back into the site.
Spina and Rehm present student projects:
•José David Mejias & Daniel Horowitz, “Crypto-Architecture”
•Moheb Hezkial & Shabnam Moravveji, “Resurgence”
•Zihua Chen, “Half Half”
•Burcin Nalinci & Sanhita Vartak, “Biophlia”
•Soham Doshi, “Robotic Assembly”
•Arsenios Zachariadis & Hsiao-Chiao Peng, “Fug They”
David Ruy, Marcelyn Gow, Marcelo Spina, Casey Rehm, Robert Stuart-Smith, Ferda Kolatan discuss issues raised by the presentation, including the case of machine vision and artificial intelligence as demonstrated in automated cars, the agency of the designer, ethics, automation, machine collaboration, internet of things, programming, and originality.
SCI-Arc students Connor Covey, James Kubiniec, Sasha Tillmann, and Nithya Subramaniam present drafts of their in-process graduate thesis proposals. Stan Allen, Florencia Pita, Marcelyn Gow, and Todd Gannon critique the proposals. Allen advises the students to refine their proposals in reference to the CATTt schema devised by Gregory L. Ulmer in Heuretics: The Logic of Invention:
• C = Contrast (opposition, inversion, differentiation)
• A = Analogy (figuration, displacement)
• T = Theory (repetition, literalization)
• T = Target (application, purpose)
• t = Tale (secondary elaboration, representability) But also Tail (applicability in the world)
He also offers Jeffrey Kipnis’s three goals:
• Convince that the problem belongs to the discipline
• Identify the vulnerable cliché
• Devise a viable counter-proposal
Todd Gannon reminds Allen that CATTt has been used for thesis prep for so long that it’s been retired. He suggests that, in general, rather than pursuing maximum clarity, it would be more productive to pursue incongruity and ambiguity.
Allen cautions against the temptation to try to describe and theorize a sensibility.
Commenting on specific projects, the panel suggests a variety of lines of investigation to pursue, from
Thomas Pynchon’s 1997 novel Mason & Dixon, Gerald E. Frug and Eyal Weizman on borders, Fredrick Barthelme’s “On being wrong”, and serious shop talk rather than theory texts as a model for formulating an argument.
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.
Greg Otto opens the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA)'s panel discussion of the current state of design and design tools. Marcelyn Gow discusses the disconnect between exacting processes and illegible outcomes. Tom Wiscombe argues for mystery, autonomy, critically breaking or misusing tools, and the exploration of architecture's capacities. Alvin Huang discusses his work in terms of an exploratory practice focused on designing with technology. Roland Snooks discusses his explorations as a way of undermining the discrete reading of architectural elements. The panelists respond to a question posed by Greg Otto on digital tools and architectural fundamentals. The panelists respond to audience comments on issues that remain relevant or arise as new problems.
Hsingming Fung introduces Ramiro Diaz-Granados, his SCI-Arc Gallery installation Go Figure, and Marcelyn Gow and Andrew Zago. Gow and Diaz-Granados discuss Go Figure in terms of the contradiction between the cartoon figure and the visceral figure. Diaz-Granados and Zago discuss its use of geometric projection, and disruption of the primary figure.