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    My final video

    Mark Bearak Dec 9 '07 30


    I received a lot of interesting comments during my pin-up last Friday. The main source of discussion was about how the agents work in terms of free will or prescribed trajectories. The second major issue was the floor plates; the comments were that they were too generic and didn't really add to my scenario of changing the way we live.

    In my mind the issue came down to resolution. In other words, how far I took my project over the last three months vs. how far it could or should not have gone. It is an important factor, especially in terms of what the jury would discuss and I will be more conscious of it in the future.

     

     
    • 30 Comments

    • Arnaud M.
      Dec 9, 07 4:22 pm

      I was looking at your studio's blog and as someone commented on one of your previous posts, this is pretentious and useless. Intellectual masturbation in all its splendor.

      I do not see how this video can redefine the way we live. Besides being a nice blob it is not much different from any regular supertall.
      How does your structure protects its occupants from elements? In what ways the fact that it's generated by robots (although the irony is that YOU designed the way the robots work) makes it different once its in use by humans? How does the structure work? Whether your robots have any free will or not doesn't matter in the end. What matters is the outcome and what I saw of your project so far is just fluff.

      If you want to convince people of the validity of your project, you've got to bring more than just a video to the table.

      will gallowaywill galloway
      Dec 9, 07 6:14 pm

      i wouldn't go that far. it is nice to look at in parts and the potential of the spaces is there, if not focused on. my guess is you spent most of your time learning the software and less doing design or showing off the potential of the planning...?

      the idea that square walls are any different than your organic ones is a fallacy in my mind. the volumes don't really change. it may be there are some new relationships on the interior that most buildings don't have, but my opnion is that those relationships can be achieved through straight orthogonal construction just as easily.

      so what you have is an aesthetic exercise, not a new polemic (the structure is also very dubious)...for me if the argument is becoming an aesthetic one the best way to proceed is to not attach any signifigance to the form and simply talk in abstractions, with form being background, merely incidental.

      that you didn't do that makes it very easy to criticise the project.

      but i think there is more going on than we can see, or are made to see. maybe in another iteration we get to see more than a bbq...? how do people live in your building?

      but anyway, those construction shots from above are very coolio.

      aml
      Dec 9, 07 6:18 pm

      i disagree, i think the ability to experiment is part of the school experience. thanks for posting all your process, it's been great to see it develop.

      ps. your robots remind me of the evil robots in the matrix

      aml
      Dec 9, 07 6:19 pm

      ps. meant to disagree with the first post, just posted at th same time than jump

      Arnaud M.
      Dec 9, 07 6:30 pm

      Aml,

      I understand your point about experimentation and somewhat agree with it. But don't call it architecture when the experiment is about blobs and how you form/conceive them.
      Architecture is about sheltering people and activities, this project has no program and yet sets itself to redefine the way live. Either I missed something or the project is flawed in its goals.

      Boileau said: “Whatever we well understand we express clearly, and words flow with ease.”




      Apurimac
      Dec 9, 07 6:43 pm

      Agreed, the initial criticism is remarkably harsh considering the context.

      As far as experimental approaches are concerned I can see alot of validity in approaching the construction of architecture through robots and carbon nano tubes, which may very well be coming into practice as many of us younger cats hit our strides later in life. My only real issue with this is if it is a system, is there any other context in which we can see it function? I would love to see what happens if you let your little robots loose on a small, cramped urban site and then watched as the programed intelligences of these robots deals with said context. We've seen one iteration, with one list of variables, but what happens in other situations? I personally would rather see 10 shitty videos of your robots working in 10 different contexts rather than 1 pretty video of a tabula rasa condition.

      Besides that, its a great video and I'm sure the work put into the scripting and animating of it all was very intense. Good work mate.

      Arjun Bhat
      Dec 9, 07 7:22 pm

      mark, now that the semester is over, i have some random questions for you:

      -am i correct in understanding that the "robot" flies through the air by constructing what is essentially a concrete pillar underneath it?

      can you explain francois' fascination with robots? do you think its founded, is it some personal fetish of his, both?

      as for an architecture being able to reconstruct society, its social structure, humanitas in general ... why should architecture take on those goals? if you had to critique the program of the studio as a whole, what would you say? conversely, what did you find to be most beneficial?

      one more question - what are your thoughts on archi-lingo that incorporates letters in parentheticals, as in the case of

      (n)certainties
      R&Sie(n)
      Co(o)p

      random observation: a lot of the material it seems, even tho its exploring very new trends in formal production such as scripting, is just rehashing a lot of the over-the-top archi-babble of the mid/late 90s. i thought that period of neo-dystopic-techno-fetishism went the way of the dodo.

      c.k.
      Dec 9, 07 7:43 pm

      fetish is THE word.

      syp
      Dec 9, 07 10:41 pm

      It looks making the robot is far more difficult than making the building. Do you want a critique for the robot or the building?

      won and done williams
      Dec 9, 07 11:01 pm

      i'm more curious about the brief moments of social interaction than i am the architecture per se - the meeting at the barbeque, the chotchkes on the bookshelf - i found those moments very evocative, and wish that the architecture could have framed them in a more meaningful way; there seemed to be a disconnect. maybe that was the intent, but it comes off a little abstract. i enjoyed your project more than i agree with it, but it is without question a worthwhile exploration.

      aml
      Dec 10, 07 12:11 am

      Arnaud, i probably agree with you more than you think on the issue of blobs. but what i see here is in the context of a studio exercise, an exercise that, to use jafidler's words, i enjoy more than i agree with. but i'm not discussing the execise's brief here. school is a good time to try on several hats, and some of those hats consider this sort of formal play as part of architecture. your critical position excludes it, but that should be taken up with the project brief, not with the final result. you should leave space for dialogue. it also makes you miss the opportunity to try some hats you may not agree with, but may teach you something in the long run [in any case, more arguments against them].

      Arjun Bhat
      Dec 10, 07 12:56 am

      seconded.

      doctorzaius
      Dec 10, 07 2:06 am

      I really enjoyed the video, and all of your previous posts too. Apropos some of the comments above, lumping this in with 90s blobs is missing the point of difference and is giving the strength of some of your work a bad rap. Although I don't think the radish-forms, single iteration and choice of media are doing anything especially novel or helpful, the precise control of the robots via your scripts is what I find most interesting. This doesn't seem to me to say much of anything about a new way of living, at least initially per se, but rather a new post-human method of production capable of reorganizing the inorganic body of mankind as a whole.

      For this to really comment on a new mode of post-human production, the robots need to pass some sort of uncanny barrier vis-a-vis the today's softer, more humane, modes and really believably become part of that system.

      When an image in the spirit of this sort of video can achieve the iconic status of some of the 30s vintage skyscraper construction images sigfried gideon uses in Architecture and Time, I feel it will have passed this uncanny barrier. It is not that it has to mimic man standing up on the beams of those photographs so uncannily we can't

      tell the difference, but it has to become so believeable as to be assumed without a suspension of disbelief that it is part of the larger inorganic body of man today, in the same manner as the model T or the TV or the computer screen, essential to an everyman's conception of self in some way.

      There are already robotic appendages in some of the more remote parts of the world today being very much in the realm of the real--predator drones, flying machines the size of dragonflies with cameras, etc. etc. These new things inclusion in the biosphere and zoosphere are becoming a fact of life. I don't think their typical garden variety horror rendering in movies like the matrix or your video above capture the essence of this new form of living, but as a discipline and as a culture we havent yet found what this new mode of representation is or can be.


      doctorzaius
      Dec 10, 07 2:07 am

      Sorry for the rant. I just feel that some of the questions that are valences within this work will be fundamental to the entire discipline and culture in the near future, and to really get at these we need to get beyond talking about blobs and how this is or is not another 90s blob. The comment about orthogonal walls is astute. At this stage where the sort of scrfi rendering is the default mode of representation, more emphasis should be placed on the instrumentality and potential for entirely new strategies for building, for seeing, should be played out. I know your script is extensive, and yet we do not yet have a good way to analyze it in any meaningful way at the moment without a fair amount of insider knowledge.

      These robots could build in the pitch-black good old country dark and know where they are by sound pulses. This building could go up while everyone is asleep, or could be constructed by seeing vectors no human being could ever see. There are fundamental questions that could and might be here, they just aren't presented in your video.

      Sir Arthur Braagadocio
      Dec 10, 07 12:17 pm

      i always assume too much, but if you are technically capable in making animations such as mark has, i don't think you'll have any problem understanding technical detailing and engineering coordination, or explaining fundamental stuff.

      i think mark did really good work, so good it made people call his work bullshit, yell and ramble, and applaud like crazy.

      that his art is defined mathematically i think is the hardest for most people to grasp meaningfully, but clearly his project brought a serious meaningful question to the jurors: free will vs. prescdribed trajectories.

      (although i'd argue all those fundamental questions have been answered numorous times fundamentally to equally argue had mark address all your fundamental questions, he would just be mathematcially responding)

      good work mark and great blog, keep us posted



      FOUAD
      Dec 10, 07 12:42 pm

      the video was very effective in conveying the idea of scale and evolution...or at least thats what I found most interesting about it....

      cool

      Mark Bearak
      Dec 10, 07 1:57 pm

      Now that the semester is winding down I can respond to your questions, YAY!!!!

      -"am i correct in understanding that the "robot" flies through the air by constructing what is essentially a concrete pillar underneath it?"

      The robot is spinning carbon fiber, as soon as the fiber is spun, the robot works its way up the structure. In the same way that a crane uses existing structure to move up a skyscraper under construction.


      -"can you explain francois' fascination with robots? do you think its founded, is it some personal fetish of his, both?"

      I can't speak for Francois; after spending a semester with him I think he is far more interested in the robotic protocol / behavior. The actual designed robot is just a manifestation of these desires.


      -"as for an architecture being able to reconstruct society, its social structure, humanitas in general ... why should architecture take on those goals? if you had to critique the program of the studio as a whole, what would you say? conversely, what did you find to be most beneficial?"

      Architects always reconstruct society, otherwise we'd call ourselves engineers.


      -"one more question - what are your thoughts on archi-lingo that incorporates letters in parentheticals, as in the case of

      (n)certainties
      R&Sie(n)
      Co(o)p"

      I'm not a big fan of archi-lingo either, but it in the day of the blog, the lingo comes along with it.


      -"random observation: a lot of the material it seems, even tho its exploring very new trends in formal production such as scripting, is just rehashing a lot of the over-the-top archi-babble of the mid/late 90s. i thought that period of neo-dystopic-techno-fetishism went the way of the dodo."

      If you want to talk about the blob, there really isn't enough bandwidth to even scratch the surface. The original blob was generate, abused and destroyed in a millisecond. It is a shame that I missed that wave since I imagine it was an exciting, albeit brief, moment in time. In my mind, everyone who just starts playing around with a nurbs surface to generate design is abusing the blob. Anyone who builds a studio around moving cv's is even worse, but I won't get into that. My work is derived from the actual geometry, that is why everything is written from scratch. I hope that by taking the time to learn the basics of geometry, I'll at least be building my own work; not piggy-backing on someone else's efforts.

      Mark Bearak
      Dec 10, 07 1:57 pm

      -"i'm more curious about the brief moments of social interaction than i am the architecture per se - the meeting at the barbeque, the chotchkes on the bookshelf - i found those moments very evocative, and wish that the architecture could have framed them in a more meaningful way; there seemed to be a disconnect. maybe that was the intent, but it comes off a little abstract. i enjoyed your project more than i agree with it, but it is without question a worthwhile exploration."

      I really appreciated your comments, since the moments were important to me. I know my people are cartoony and the BBQ scene is comical, but it meant to add some sort of humanity to the digital world.


      -"ps. your robots remind me of the evil robots in the matrix"

      A lot of people brought up the sentinels from the matrix. For me the important discussion is whether or not the sentinels have free will or are the working along prescribed trajectories as well? Obviously, the agents in the Matrix have agency, but I never considered my robots as sophisticated as the agents.


      Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to get to the rest of your comments this evening.
      stevegambini
      Dec 10, 07 3:08 pm

      yeah, you suck.

      Mark Bearak
      Dec 10, 07 3:37 pm

      Steve,
      don't you have some other blog you can rip on? :)

      stevegambini
      Dec 10, 07 3:37 pm

      whatever dude, you are too easy.

      Fred ScharmenFred Scharmen
      Dec 10, 07 9:31 pm

      Steve, you're a dick.

      ... and I'll just chime in to say that I agree with everything meta said. Nice work.

      colinrichardson
      Dec 11, 07 3:03 pm

      Mark,

      to me, this is interesting and worthwhile work and i commend you in your willingness to put personal work up on the web.

      could you tell us a bit more about how this overall form is generated? are the the robots constantly shifting course based on their context? are they following predetermined paths that you've designed, that you've allowed an algorithm to help you design? does your answer depend on whether you're talking about this particular example, or what would ideally happen in a real-world implementation?

      if you've already explained this somewhere else, could you direct me towards it?

      also, does steve have a blog? where's his work?

      -colin

      Sir Arthur Braagadocio
      Dec 11, 07 11:08 pm

      free will vs. prescdribed trajectories

      what's your position on this mark? (architecturally)

      Mark Bearak
      Dec 12, 07 4:16 am

      What the fuck is free will? I think absolutely everything has been mathematically predetermined. The only free will that we have is the ability to accept what we're handed. What do you think metamechanic?

      Sir Arthur Braagadocio
      Dec 12, 07 8:33 am

      i used to think all things were mathematically predetermined and then i gave Derrida and Deleuze a chance...they didn't convince me of anything other really, but they both referenced a guy named Edmund Husserl in reference to the origin of geometry (actually Derrida's first work was on Husserl and O of G)...i just scanned the pertinent agruement into a PDF recently, so i could email it to you if you wanted.

      yes all things are predetermined and the emotional response to this situation is the state of being consciouss of what most would call "free will". is it mathematical for everything, absolutely NO.

      prescribed trajectories - the assumption that all things can be mathematically formulated then projected in the computer to form spatiotemporal solutions (as your project did)

      the breaking of prescribe trajectories is when you work out trajectories that are in concrete reality but not mathematical, don't ask me what they are, etc...i'm a math guy...

      for example is there any math that really describes color or sound the way it really is perceived, or is the math a visual representation of the color and sound? (color is really tricky)

      how would you skillfully have incorporated color into your project?

      generative_monkey
      Dec 13, 07 7:48 pm

      Mark- Thanks for sharing your work publicly. I was interested to see the work coming out of Francois' studio, having had him as a studio instructor before.

      I think his fascination with robots has to do with the visceral quality of their production, in the way that they produce the material for the building. I think you can see it in the video, the way that your robots spew out- or rather shit- the carbon fiber material, and subsequently climb up on it. While it is interesting to speculate on a machine that is anthropormorphic, it's a bit of a one-liner, and we've seen it in a lot of Francois' speculative work. Plus, as you mention, its very similar to the technology of a crane building a skyscraper.

      What is more interesting about the robotic scenario is the way in which the resultant outcome is (in theory) impossible to predict. The notion of having these various robots, each doing their own thing, is predicated on an uncontrollable end result- a kind of uber-emergent situation where the sum of the all these parts operating produces a new state of living or condition not previously known. The problematic part is simulating and presenting that idea. In your video, I'm curious to know how the robots decide to stop producing or going higher? Is it a fixed supply of material that each have? If so, does that mean that all robots produce the same result? Also, what happens when they reach the top? Do they live with the human inhabitants, thus changing known protocols/ interactions? All of these issues are hard to present as resolved, because they are, in fact, supposed to be unpredictable.

      I am also really interested by your choice of site. Presumably one was not given to the studio, but you've chosen a very specific site in NYC. If I'm right, its the big hole-in-the-ground, open to the train tracks below leading to Penn Station. I'm curious as to why you showed it as a flat tabula-rasa, instead of what it is in reality- a complex site heavily embedded with infrastructure. It would have been more interesting to consider what these robots could have produced within the existing infrastructure. What kind of parasitic space might have come about if the robots attached themselves to part of the city? I ask also, because you began the video with a scenario of an existing condition- someone living inside the Empire State Building.

      Thanks again for sharing- am interested to hear your thoughts.

      evilplatypus
      Dec 17, 07 1:34 pm

      "What the fuck is free will? I think absolutely everything has been mathematically predetermined. The only free will that we have is the ability to accept what we're handed"

      I think that a very dangerous stance indeed. I love your animation however the carbon fiber lattice if spun according to "predetermined trajectories" as your saying than then why so free flowing? subconsious effort at injecting beauty? Free will?

      Wouldnt the robots be subject to their programer's will? And ultimately someone has decided this must be built here for this reason. The ultimate will expressed.

      little duckie
      Jan 6, 08 1:54 am

      Fascinating. I love the discussion with meta and mark on free will.

      This construction method is a blessing to the architectural movement to soften modern style by being very consciously sculptural.

      These carbon fiber elements, being created by machines, I'm assuming would probably have the aesthetic character of rolled steel...very sterile. Agreed? However, the hand of the designer is now more important in developing the character of the building. Simply put. Less humans involved creates more responsibility for the designers. An interesting inverse relationship that works to the advantage of architects...and perhaps programmers.

      Thoughts?


      The Structure:
      You expressed some interest in building form being controlled by mathematics, (which I find somewhat ironic since the code books are essentially a series of math equations determining building forms,) but your emphasis here is on vertical structure. I love the idea that pleasing forms can be calculated. Drawing inspiration from weaving reminds me that there are so many arts and crafts that can contribute new ideas to architecture and construction. I feel that a rigorous pursuit of that line between art and science is a limitless well of creation.


      The Construction:
      I haven't seen the video with sound, so I might be missing something...(sorry I just keep ending up on computers that either can't play it or don't have sound), but how does the machine get the material up into the air to spin carbon fiber? You compared it to cranes that climb the building, but those pull beams and columns from the ground. What is the equivalent action for the machine?

      aml
      Jan 30, 08 7:16 pm
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