Peter Testa & Hernan Diaz Alonso: Robot House (October 2, 2017)

(Note: the wobbling image stabilizes after the 3 minute mark.)

Hernan Diaz Alonso welcomes the audience to the launch of Peter Testa’s book, Robot house : instrumentation, representation, fabrication, published by Thames & Hudson, noting the role of the Thames & Hudson architecture editor Lucas Dietrich.

Testa argues that the work of the Robot House has been opposed to digital perfectionism (parametric design) and digital positivism (robots as a fabrication platform), exploring a much more contaminated connection between digital and physical. “We broke the robot and broke the computer, and by doing that created a new space.” He stresses new emphasis on the image—especially video and motion capture—as generative structure, with the robots offering different imaging technologies, evolving a new physidigital ethic and aesthetic. On the other hand, he sees these developments as part of the tradition of architects developing new conceptual and visual tools going back to the Greeks’ development of geometry and Alberti’s window. And for the immediate future, he sees a focus on pushing further into the physical.

Testa describes the challenges of a book that such a wide variety of work. The three introductions discuss the Robot House in different contexts: Eric Owen Moss discusses it as part of SCI-Arc’s project, Gregg Lynn positions it within the discipline, and Testa’s provides the theoretical framework. The content organized in three categories—Instrumentation, Representation, Fabrication—each broken down into a series of Techniques. The graphic designer Julie Cho of Omnivore created an organization of projects that clarifies links and filiations. Each of the seminars and studios are summarized, and at the end is documentation of the interfaces they have developed.

Peter Testa and Hernan Diaz Alonso respond to comments from the audience regarding robots as spectacle, the not-yet-developed Killer App, and keeping the emphasis on architecture rather than robotics.

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