Archinect

Architectural Association (Michael)

 

Archived

Sep '09 - Aug '10

 
  • Connecting the dots in reverse: the art of suspended disbelief

    I recently watched a recording of Steve Jobs presenting a graduation address at Stanford where he enumerated on the idea of connecting the dots, but only in retrospect. He went on to explain that he did a bunch of things early in life that made no sense and appeared supremely useless, like taking calligraphy class, which proved instrumental in helping him design the first personal computer and begin the company Pixar. Only in retrospect can you connect the dots intelligently rang the speech.

    I mention this annodote because I am currently in the process of compiling and sequencing a book of all the research my team has conducted over the last six months. It is our Phase I book and it catalogs all of the absurd, amateurish, whimsical and despirate design experiments we conducted on our way to finding a thesis project. The goal of the book is to connect the dots, to document step along a trajectory of thought and build a thesis argument from the results, both successful and unsuccessful of the experiments. In short, to connect the dots. Before making the book, however, it seemed abundantly clear to me that we had fooled around for many months, discarding each experiment, moving on in a different direction and beginning anew from scratch. We had a project to describe but there really didn’t seem to be too many dots to connect through the history of our process. But the book needs pages and everyone likes pretty pictures so after the most important experiments were laid out I began stuffing all the rest of our early work in too. “Here is us blowing on balloons.” “Here is us making a sock.” “Here is us making a plastic version of velcrow…” Eventually reaching our first two experiments, it struck me like a Chuck Noris love-tap #437a to the head, that they contained almost in total, the project that we were currently developing. One experiment was tying up a balloon bondage style in wire and the other was screwing a bunch of paper plates together with balloons near the joints. These two experiments, which took us only hours to conduct and document, and even less time to move away from, encapsulated the entire componentry based investigation that we have been pursuing throughout our DRL thesis. In retrospect, the dots lined up pretty well and what is more, these past dots are serving as guides as to where the project should evolve to next.

    This awareness brings to mind one of the mantras of the current DRL director: “suspended disbelief.” He used to talk about this concept all the time as a way to encourage students to not be too critical of our experiments, not too practice and to not discard them in the hopes that if we were able to suspend our disbelief that the mess on our desks or desktops was just a non-functioning mess, that eventually it could evolve into something quite provocative. Some teams were able to do exactly that and some teams never were. As I think about it now, however, it occurs to me that Theo’s suspended disbelief is the prerequisite to Job’s retrospective dot connecting because one has to first allow themselves the freedom to play at random experiments before the logic that connects these dots evolves months later.


  • Lick the book

    Rule number one of situational awareness: Don’t [pretend to] lick Francois Roche’s new book when he happens to be standing right there. And by right there I mean way in the back lurking in the shadows setting up his computer for a lecture later that evening but still able to see you...


  • Applause, boos and hope

    I have never seen an audience clap at the end of a DRL presentation. Principally, I think we don’t clap because there isn’t time. While critics are still responding to the a presentation, often vigorously trying to get their two cents in and be heard over the others, the arms start...


  • Exhale: a story of teenage angst.

    I slept last night because all of the big decisions have been decided. My instincts screamed that I should attend a DRL party last night for Machiavellian reasons, to make new connections, strengthen the old and feel out people’s positions on different topics. So much has politics and social...


  • The illusive Patrik Schumacher and his ephemeral ethos

    I remember reading a blog a year or two ago where the author described the DRL as a place that revolved heavily on the ideas and personality of Patrik Schumacher. As one of the founders of the course this certainly was the case but, for those of you who are Zaha enthusiasts and those who are not...


  • The ways in which decisions define

    This feels like one of those fork-in-the-road moments that occur every now and again in life. Whether or not they are important each decision seems like it has the power to define the rest of my life in some significant way. The fork giving me the squinty-eyed-stare at the moment is that of...


  • The illusive Patrik Schumacher and his gravity.

    I remember reading a blog a year or two ago where the author described the DRL as a place that revolved heavily on the ideas and personality of Patrik Schumacher. For those of you who are Zaha enthusiasts and those who are not, I have to confess that the first term of the DRL has been almost...


  • Penultimate Materializations

    Final semester juries are two weeks away in the DRL. On the first floor Phase 1 robots are climbing, spraying dropping, drawing, pushing, giggling and even rocking out to queen. On the second level Phase 2 agents are flocking, aggregating, negotiating superbodies and in general being impressively...


  • DRL snapshot

    On my desk are a number of things: 1 book by the philosopher Lacan which explains where the origins of serial killing behavior lie. This is for a paper on Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture. 13 kenetic sculptures in lacra which bloom open or closed as passers by pull and push the wires...


  • Pompous = Survival

    I was trying to explain to an acquaintance one morning over breakfast what it was that I was studying at the DRL. He was erroneously trying to sell it as Architecture and I was arguing that it had nothing to do with buildings and all to do with systems. Generative, networked and manipulatable...


  • Chaos is the Content

    ‘You have to do the readings. That is where the answers lie.’ (paraphrased wisdom from phase two students) Every critique, seminar, lecture and project assignment creates a myriad of new questions that seem to push this program farther out into foreign territory. As you have read, it...


  • Architecturally favored chaos

    Week number one just wrapped up in a momentously disorienting storm of programming, reading, presenting, cracking, hacking, foreign pronunciations, lectures and chaos. In short, architecturally flavored chaos. No one knows how many classes we have or where we are supposed to be right now but we do...


  • Unlearning

    All of the AA graduate programs had a half hour orientation back-to-back and open to all. It became blatantly obvious that even within the AA the DRL is a unique program. The orientations unfolded as follows: [TYPICAL] Each set of faculty gave a brief description of the agenda of the course...


  • Surrender

    Orientation is officially over for the here at the AA and the beginning of classes looms large as Monday approaches. Through lectures, orientations, speeches, boat tours, office tours, exhibition tours, picnics, gallery shows, symposiums, parties on the terrace and a lot of waiting in line, the AA...


  • Reflexive sleep deprivation awarness announcement

    Ever think about being sleep deprived while you were working all night in a fairly sleep deprived state? If this is your hobby, or you just want to experience the magic of it, then here is a little podcast sweetness from This American Life to make 2am a little more interesting: 361: Fear of Sleep...


  • Initial Confessions

    Dear Readers, Before I begin trying show you what will happen at the DRL this semester, I want to tell you why I am here. The answer is fear coated in luck. The fear comes from the fact that this school, and particularly the DRL program represent an experience that is completely foreign to me. It...


  • ×Search in:
 

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

Other blogs affiliated with Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA):

Recent Entries


Please wait... loading