Expelled from the land of ‘reality’ and rebuffed for being lavish, figuration abounds with allure. Suited to the current times of intense formalism and granted embellishment, figuration expands into a vocabulary of candy colored surfaces and pretty shapes. The sources of this genre illustrate the imagination and give the potential to expand the design vocabulary.
The objective of this seminar was to first research those sources, from art to architecture and film. The output of that exploration then was to influence the work developed. The class created a series of ‘characters,’ which were designed and fabricated as small figurines. These figurines were to be abstract representations with a complex but clear, coherent geometry. The object was not to have human features but was to contain a distinct, self-consistent morphology. The figurine was then to be articulated further through the application of color and texture. The introduction of a modeled and fabricated background along with a storytelling narrative added an animated sequence to the characters. Finally, by using stop-motion animation, a narrative was created using the figurine(s) and stage in states of motion and transformation.
During this seminar, we were able to take advantage of the chance to pull source material from nearby mediums such as art (Jeff Koons, Murakami, Yayoi Kusama), film (1st Avenue Machine, Robert Rodriguez, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton), scientific drawing (Ernst Haeckel, Eadweard Muybridge, D’Arcy Thompson), industrial design (kidrobot, Gregg Lynn, Marcel Wanders, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec), and fashion design (Hussein Chalayan, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Viktor and Rolf). By reaching outside of pure architecture to produce a coherent project out of various media—digital models, physical models, drawings, renderings, animations, photographs—we were able to create both physical and virtual space that explores both the traditional and contemporary issues within the discipline such as morphology, form-finding, materiality, and above all, the experiential.
From early on, we discovered that even as we worked toward producing the more imminent products of other disciplines such as the sculptural objects and film we produced, because we were still operating within architecture, we began to cross into the territory of the projective—more traditionally the territory of the architectural visual representation. As we created digital models, drawings, and computer code, they all pointed toward another object, outcome, and experience than the one merely represented on paper or in the physical model.
The fabrication process and methods we chose transformed our digital models’ materiality, most notably in texture and color, which further differentiated them from each other besides just in their form/deformation. Through these material effects that emerged and were applied, the figurines and their world became capable of projecting a different atmosphere and space that the physical model on its own nor the other representational methods could independently produce. In this in between space, these figurines and their world help redefine the limits and realm of architectural exploration.
Location: Southern California Institute of Architecture