SCI-Arc (Marlin Watson)



Jun '05 - May '06

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    By Marlin
    Oct 8, '05 6:45 PM EST

    Here Dangerous Water The point of Perry Kulper may ultimately be a kind of confusion. Studio has never been about precisely defined projects. Again, if it were, perhaps studio would be an engineering course. So then, how do studio professors teach? Why is it so easy to be lost or, rather, why do studio problems seem so ungraspably open ended? Indeed, the solution is never the problem. The problem thus should arrive at a solution and a well-stated problem.

    Left Safe Authority Gives Food The slippage of quantifiable human activity greases the slope towards a design solution. The active frameup for problem solving is never precise. What the hell are square footage designations for a bedroom anyway? The problems of architects are never precise. The design problem, therefore, can never be introduced as, “Here are some lemons. Make lemonade.” Rather, the pedagogic modus most often is, “Here are oranges. How do you make lemonade?” This is the side of architectural thinking that gets to the root of Kulper studio, the lineage from Archigram, the side interested in making problems. Quagmires.

    Continue Safe Jail Really, what is a bedroom anyway? Why is it as big as the garage in some cases, and in others, bigger than the living room? Kumar, in his Cornell log writes, “The primary function of the space, as a bedroom, is sleeping. Very few waking hours are spent in this room; only those preceding and following the night's sleep. These brief hours consist of some occaisonal reading (before bed), and the daily change of clothes in the morning. The visual tasks - besides finding the way to the bed - are thus reading and looking for clean clothes.” In Kumar's description of his bedroom, the behaviors of the bedroom unfold without a language of square footage. Quantifiable human activity. Patterns of movement. How then, can design methodologies be used to take hold of this micro-codification and begin the departure from the conventional thinking of bedroom-ness? How in the world, apart from the temperate climate, did Rudolph Schindler remove the bedrooms and instead devise sleeping baskets for his own home?

    Right Trolley protected by Dogs We picked methods out of a hat for the first exercise this semester, but Perry tossed one in my lap. Serendipity? Perhaps. A folded Post-It etched with the number 16: notational methods. Post-Its 15 and 17, with whom I shared the same sticky glue, originate from the same methodology family: diagramming, indexing, syntax, and notation. Benignly stated: Develop a diagram that develops home. Develop an index that develops home. Develop a syntax that develops home. In my case, Develop a notation that develops home. There's one catch Perry didn't let in on: In order to form a notation set, I needed a clearly defined index, a clearly defined diagram and a clearly defined sentential, symbology set.

    Here Dangerous Sucker with Dangerous Water Top down because the constraints are too large to arrive at some fluid, emotive, bottom-up design method. Koolhaas. Competition charettes. Build the project backward from the constraints rather than forward from impulse and instinct.

    Above: Dreyfuss' catalog converted to a periodic index
    Below: Index of syntax conversions


    Left Safe Woman Gives Food Henry Dreyfuss' index of hobo symbols ground a notation set in domesticity, but they also do something more important for me by limiting the characteristics of domesticity. Thus, what one could describe as “program,” the set of activities in a building, Dreyfuss has cataloged into 60 some odd symbols relevant to the hobo. My research developed out of biographies, and it became clear to me that Dreyfuss' “Hobology” index could be reduced to a set of objects and actions in lieu of pictographs representing entire sentences, then further codified and reduced to the genes of a sentential logic. But what do I do with that, if and when I actually develop a language? How does that arrive at an architecture?

    Continue Dangerous Religion Takes Alcohol Tschumi's Event Cities. Eisenman's Ten Houses. Notational systems and syntactic thinking. Kinetography Laban notation, musical notation, John Cage, John Zorn. A period and a Capital letter. A framework to note the beginning and end of a phrase. A latent temoporal condition, a setup device.

    Left Safe Man with Safe Dogs Hobos travel with a buddy. Or travel to find the drunk buddy. The meaning behnid the symbols, apart from pure logic implicit to certain pictographs, certainly was passed along orally from drunk buddy to drunk buddy. Historically, the hobo symbols were scrawled on to particular locales in order to record and identify the conditions that would benefit other hobos. Thus, the physiognomic condition signified by the graffiti symbol has to be present first in order for the condition to be codified and labeled.

    Here Dangerous Water Dangerous Food Notational sets have rules such as how to structure a sentence, beginnings and endings. These rule-based concepts are also associated with game theory. Through the fewest set of rules, the traditional Go game contains infinite variety, the potential for an infinite number of games. Only the backside of a hobo ever approaches his home. How do I develop the set of rules to conduct the sentential game with Hobo symbols? And end up with home? Can a game theory be generated with a few set of rules that can randomly generate these conditions?

    Continue Train About Corbusier's five points: through these five rules, Corbusier created a rule set that enacts infinite variety. Five rules. That's it. Corbu.


    Straight Safe Woman Gives Alcohol The resulting “game,” the hobo home to culminate this two week project as it were, is mildly sloppy, but it worked. It centers around, or is constructed as, a sleeping bag with adjustable belts. Each move can allow for these belts as a series - adjustable indexes - to generate sentences that describe the Hobo's surroundings: Here, Left, Right, Straight and Continue. These symbols were already part of Dreyfuss' chart, but rather than nouns to describe instructions, used in the belt sentence they describe proximity to a stationary point: The Here. In other words, wherever the Hobo happens to be standing, that becomes the Here. A hobo never turns back, and thus no sign for Behind, or Turn Around.

    Here Safe Doctor As he “moves” toward choices depending on what nearby condition most benefits the hobo, the belts on the sleeping bag game are readjusted to create a new set of proximity conditions. Places that become “dangerous” such as the “dangerous charity with guns” square, become impassable and can build a complexity of life-threatening locales within the Hobo's “Home.” The construction would stop once one of these locales offered a train or a trolley, and the belts can be reset in order to form a new “home.”

    Continue AlcoholAh, Kulper.

    Safe Authority with Guns Takes Food Something compelling happened during the construction of the game: implausible conditions would occur. Untrue sentences. By acceptance of an axiom, we know E=MC3 is untrue, even though the syntactic characters are still located where they're supposed to be. Things would pop up like, “dangerous religion protected by a dog gives money.” Now what exactly the fuck is that? I struggled with this, because this was a byproduct of reducing what ultimately is a set of hieroglyphics describing very specific conditions down to a set of syntactic notations. While my symbols could describe sententially almost every Hobo condition Dreyfuss had in his chart, it also could create new, indeed curious or submerged ones as well. So, I let these become what they were, because perhaps this is one of the uncanny results of using a notation methodology as a means towards an architecture, and ultimately the most valuable lesson learned. The latent possibility of perhaps a “dangerous money giving religion here” room is what adds an unexpected and poetic character to the Hobo home. A notational system can uncover why the biggest bookshelf I own is in my bathroom, or how perhaps why a reading chair might belong in the closet. And in turn, perhaps the methods can blow apart program. Blow apart convention.


    • 1 Comment

    • Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

      my favorite post so far!!!! nice to see someone engaging henry dreyfuss in a meaningful way.

      Oct 10, 05 1:08 am  · 

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