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SCI-Arc (Marlin Watson)

 

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Jun '05 - May '06

 
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    Marlin Oct 24 '05 3
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    La Llauna More akin to Morcheeba than Portishead. The elephant of a ringtone keeps blowing up and no one wants to address it. So, Eric Owen Moss continues right on with the discussion. The line between ringtone and theme music is permanently smudged. Every leader needs theme music.

    Lampin cold cold lampin Pearl Girl rolled an impromptu gathering of drunkards into a birthday celebration in my honor. In addition to Pearl's professional peeps, Deo and Rosen brought some old friends and celebrated their old-friendedness by double fisting forty ouncers. Two Night Trains finished, two Cobras and one Mickeys were left half-empty, ultimately becoming the smoker cipher's five impromptu ashtrays. Things have changed since the years when leaving an unfinished forty ounce of fine malt liquor was a party foul.

    Left in the Lurch This past summer when I returned to my undergraduate studies, I felt like an outsider to the celebration of Hernan Diaz-Alonso's PS1 commission, SUR. I was away from SCIArc for three years and, as a consequence, away from the euphoria of academia and Architectural Record. The literature in the bathroom of the Wayfinding Planning Firm consists of trade magazines featuring strip mall / suburban condo developments. Indeed, while something wonderful was brewing at SCIArc, I was enjoying the daily reminder that New Urbanists still know how to use magic markers.

    Lay Low Things have changed since the years when resisting forty ounces of fine malt liquor was a party foul. I declined the forty afforded me by my oldest friends - each of whom chipped in forty cents to buy it - in favor of the bottle of Makers' Mark Bourbon compliments of Nick, writer for Under the Radar magazine. Nick is a close friend of Pearl's, and his presence floods rooms with boisterous laughter and self - deprecating humor. No one can keep from loving the guy. As an indication of character, the gift of Makers Mark was the result of a subtly noted propensity of mine toward Bourbon over Scotch.

    Labeling Laws Indeed, in summertime trade ads, magic markers make everyone look remarkably happy. In contrast, mock-ups of what writer Fred Bernstien described in September's Arch Record as “a hi-tech skeleton,” were being shipped to New York inside an impromptu gator board box flying apart on the 110 freeway. That's true.

    Lyricist Lounge I only ever had one thought about the PS1 project: If those shiny red benches aren't comfortable, then I suppose I'll call it great sculpture. Indeed, Moss is right: the project has a kind of mysticism that woos the audience into liking it, without a clear understanding of why. Which explains why I also like it. But on the surface of the project, there's nothing that allows a familiar point of understanding- no armrest, door height, things marked in drawings as TYP - and less so when, in my case, the experience of the project is relegated to magazine photos. So, I resolved to judge the project on the merits of its comforts as furniture. The cozy meter. That's a vital scale of judgement for me.

    Lushken Kugel-Like The comfort factor was never part of the published dialogue on the project until Bernstein's article, where he casually drops the observation, “Diaz Alonso's benches are so close to the ground that people feel uncomfortable sitting on them.” Bernstein's accompanying onslaught of criticisms aside - Haterade - the bench observation struck me, because my questions appeared to be addressed. I recognize now that my simple judgment standard completely overlooked the greater achievement of the project.

    Louie Louie Me birthday this past nineteenth Wednesday week. Birthdays are that annual reminder that maturation might be a good idea. New Years Day celebrates renewal and rejuvenation, right? But rejuvenation amounts to three weeks of checkbook fuck ups through oversight. Similarly, birthdays remind me I should grow up and finally stop fucking up my checkbook. Famous people born on my birthday? Swingers' -famed comic genius John Favreau and my Mom.

    Loose Lips Honey, these times are a changing, but they're as old as any. Observe: Over a smoke with Deo, I witnessed a professional in his mid-thirties vomit vodka and cheese on the porch.

    Land Locked Whiskey over malt liquor because it's better with cigarettes. Makers Mark straight, conversate, then ash some of the smoking habit I acquired over the years in the fermentation of seemingly happier times. They weren't. They're the same. The scale is different.

    Land Lover The birthday fell on a Wednesday, so the better part of it was spent being cranky over my methods application project in studio. Afterwards, I sucked down a cigarette on the patio / handicap ramp, and stared at the flight paths being traced through the downtown twilight sky. Before pushing out the butt on the sole of my Gazelle, I noticed two of the planes I had been tracking from the horizon intersected directly overhead. I thought about the probability of this occurrence, and presumed that this was this the first time I had ever seen this. If the flight paths were viewed as being closer to the horizon, maybe, but less likely intersecting, colliding, directly overhead. Curious.

    Living Riley's Life Those are benches. Those are seats. Those are shades. The Architectural Record article also mentions witnessing a family use one of the Lycra forms as a hammock basket for their baby. I imagine any situation where a mother would be confident enough to let her baby out of her care is one she has investigated, one that doesn't violate the way a child is an extension of a mother's own flesh. I appreciate that Bernstein makes mention of this observation: presumably it must've been a cozy hammock.

    Laas, Los! The final word on the PS1 project came in the casual two-part discussion accompanying Hernan Diaz-Alonso's SUR exhibit, now on display at the Kappe Library. Among a dance floor of mingling, three-legged bugs with the construction process animations for heads and a backdrop of galaxy-like murals of the dismantled project drawings, Diaz-Alonso gathered up the key principals for a discussion on the exhibit, followed by a dialogue with Moss. The discussion quickly turned into a candid conversation between the key players that could easily have been titled, “Ten lessons on the lowest bidder.” Chapters include: MMM Mexican Milling Machine Co., Baby's Daddies at Good Times Disco Shipping, The Integrity of Single Ply Gator, Engineers with British Accents, Methyl Ethyl Ketone Texans, and “Did you see the Benches?”

    Lucky Lad I moseyed back into studio after the plane collision, and I realized I had codified a random occurrence from one vantage point, colored unnecessarily important by my decision to make it into “something that happened.”

    Laundry List When Moss arrived, the discussion turned into a discourse on the relevance of the SUR exhibit to students in pursuit of a similar formal language. Moss' header might have been, “Structure will change the drawing,” with the sinker, “And they built it, and showed it could be built.” Studio cut the discussion short, but certainly the candid nature of hubristic tales and the laundry list of hilarious practical lessons made this one of the more enjoyable events at SCIArc this semester.

    Lover's Lane Midway through the semester. Enjoyment is a negligible term. The PS1 structure would have made an interesting stage for a wedding ceremony.

    Level Level Moss addressed the drawings on the wall: Do these make sense to any of you in the room? A rhetorical question. The answer is “no.” Part of the issue, Moss added, is that the drawings don't explain the construction of the plaza in a tenable language. While this was true, it detracted from the part of the project the drawings on the wall do represent.

    Landlord Moss is addressing the drawings on the wall. Now, cue up some trip-hop. Something smooth, more Morcheeba than Portisehead. More aura than eight bit drums. After two, three, four loops, it's clear the audible music in the middle of Moss' commentary is a cell phone. After four or five loops, it's interesting to see who will be the first to address the elephant. Once it's clear the call isn't going to voicemail, Moss addresses himself, “that's my phone,” and continues right on with the discussion. Ringtone and theme music blurred. In filmmaking, some consider it cheating to use score to highlight a point.

    Listserv Personally, I don't know what the drawings covering the walls represent either, but I think Moss' question about what the drawings represent in terms of the construction process overlooks the function of Diaz-Alonso's films, the three-legged ones looping on the DVD players that prance around the exhibit. Potentially misconstrued as a behind-the-scenes vignette, many of the films are analogous to a time-lapse animation, except that they display the physical construction. This notion is one of the concepts floating around Kulper studio: An idea that the time lapse of the construction site of a building is as much a part of the architecture as its final manifestation and, thus, time-lapse photos of construction sites are Chronophotographical Projections, Eadweard Muybridge-like, a drawing set in themselves. A representation of constructed architectural space. Mystery manifested

    Lender Liability The eleventh lesson is that sometimes the second or third lowest bidder may ultimately be cheaper than the lowest bidder due to avoided time and headaches. After all, what's in it for the lowest bidder given they have nothing to lose? With a Greek chorus of crying babies and house DJs, the Disco Shipping guy might respond, “Good times.”

    Lay Leader Grotesque, pornographic, skeletal. And yet, the mystery in the project disappears when, during the films, a particular montage sequence pops up: executive architect and SCIArc alumnus Rives Rash is on site jimmying an aluminum pipe into shape between the steel bars of a scaffolding rig. Later, a monologue from one of the programmers explains the complexity of the code that is necessary to capture the design's curves.

    Lloyd's of London As much a part of the computer as the design language is, the key principals added the conclusion that, at its root, this stuff still comes down to power measured in human hands and labor. Well, so long as the radiusing robot's lowest bid is $300 a bend, and the budget is hovering under ninety cents a square foot it does. Perhaps the way projects like this succeed is when the team is fortunate enough to have people like the executive architect, the ones who know the drawing set inside and out, on-site jimmying the structural members into shape. The tenth chapter in the discussion, The Rule of Entrepreneurship: “a good leader surrounds himself with geniuses.”

    Live LargeExecutive Architect Rives showed up to the discussion with a cast and four screws in his left wrist from something unintelligible, again. Genius. Congrats SUR project team. Everyone on the This is Not a Lecturediscussion poster.
     

     
    • 3 Comments

    • AP
      Oct 24, 05 12:07 pm

      happy [belated] birthday, marlin...

      I prefer[ed] O.E., but the Mickey's killa bee always caught my high school fancy...never got into scotch or bourbon, just whiskey, for a minute.

      The discussion sounds interesting, I had mixed feelings bout the Bernstein article, juxtaposed with Rem's lauding of the project for precisely the reasons it was being criticized in record...the hammock bit also undermined any negative comments in the mag crit...my mental image of that baby, wrapped in swaddling nurbs...mmmm...I wondered how that stretchy material felt on his/her baby-skin.

      Marlin
      Oct 26, 05 6:52 pm

      indeed, it was an incredible and insightful discussion. The UPenn blog mentioned enjoyment of Diaz Alonso's guest lecture per his humor.

      I have an MP3 of the discussion and i'll get the link here as soon as i get the thing on an open FTP site. Worth the podcast, particularly because the discussion transcends the subject. Leave your email notification open from this blog and i'll comment when it's updated.

      By the way, AP, nice photos of Delft. The way stidio is proceeding, anywhere but here is looking pretty good right now.

      ~marlin

      Marlin
      Oct 26, 05 6:58 pm

      Oh, and:

      Europe's in a tissy. Only cheese from Greece can call itself Feta.
      Scotch and bourbon are subsets of Whiskey. Scotch is made in scotland, bourbon is made in Kentucky. little party factiod. It gets the ladies.

      ~marlin

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