SCI-Arc (Marlin Watson)



Jun '05 - May '06

  • anchor


    By Marlin
    Mar 2, '06 10:49 AM EST

    Above: The first of two short films on Miami, this first film was made prior to our studio visit to Miami. The Assignment's constraint, naturally, was that only appropriated footage could be used for the film. This film depicts a deserted Miami by using only a series of subtly manipulated still photographs found on Flickr and re-created ambient sound and foley.

    Shade �The best thing about Miami is how close it is to the United States.� This is the mantra overheard in Miami. Studio Professor Nathan Belcher insists my glib view on Miami will change. It already has. Stories of the studio trip, calling Miami payphones and asking answerees for instructions to the colored beach. �You know, the beach where you have to get off the ferry and wade in to the shoreline. You know, that beach.� By referring to the studio site in Miami as �the colored beach,� not too many people knew how to get me to it. Mapping will become a crucial part of Belcher�s Miami studio.

    Something Sampled The Fugees reunited in front of my apartment last week, outside the Hollywood and Highland mall. The CD single for the Vocab, the first single off the first album, with acoustic and live versions, was a prized piece of my collection that has since been lost during one of many apartment migrations. In a twist on Bob Dylan�s amp, the Fugees were initially derided as gimmicky for the introduction of acoustic instruments into their repertoire. Truth is, it was kinda gimmicky, but without Wyclef and his guitar, the Fugees would have been otherwise a forgotten underground act no one ever heard of. Lauryn Hill would never have met John Legend, producer of The Myseducation of Lauryn Hill. Things would be different.

    Specificity Bienvenidos Bondage. �Miami is a city of rich specificity,� Belcher writes. �It is a unique city that has become a caricature of itself. It is, in fact, a complete fabrication.�

    Sight Spect I�ve been looking for a suitable doorway to Prof. Nathan Belcher's Miami studio log. A month has passed since the previous entry, which could be seen as the last page of the now first log. Additionally, I waited for the appropriate doorway into a log to sum up last semester�s Perry Kulper Methods studio, because I decided it was too complex and significant to write about in realtime: Hindsight and retrospect are a better way to assort the Kulper narrative. Writing about utter chaos -which was the state of things at the time- wasn't. Chaos, instead, seems suitable for South Beach.

    Shape Studio Kulper began last semester�s studio brief, �The Shape of Form,� with a statement from Goethe:

    Something Something �Form is something mobile, something becoming, something passing. The doctrine of formation is the doctrine of transformation. Metamorphosis is the key to the whole alphabet of nature.�

    Smoke StressThe Fugees also made it okay for the likes of the old No Limit (stress on the Old) records to sample the less-than-street melodies of Enya. Enya would start getting co-writing credits in Pen and Pixel�s graphic style. Hip Hop would never be the same.

    Seeyour Self �Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed? Can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not see then that your own transformation is equally necessary?�

    Something Similar The cinder state of wood is equally necessary. What�s above is a quotation from Marcus Aurelius, portrayed in the film version of Julius Caesar by the late Marlon Brando. March is tea time for assassinations. Quotations are an adequate beginning: appropriating someone else�s poetry, someone else�s conclusions, in order to mould an introduction for a journey to an ultimately similar conclusion. I thought I would appropriate the Marcus Aurelius -or Marlon Brando, depending on your perspective- quote as a beginning. Instead �or in addition to, depending on your perspective- I start with the last email Perry sent the studio before the final stretch of fall semester:

    Hey all,

    It's time, in our efforts to move from shape to form, to open the conversation full-throttle. A couple of notes that we will continue to build on in the studio:

    Materiality (not to be separated from form) might operate at a number of levels, including:

    Temporally: Old, gnarled oak trees speak a different temporality than do freshly blooming daffodils, and granite boulders are different than plastic laminates and carbon fiber.

    Referentially: Or, as structures of reference. Materials can reference any range of things...laser cut aluminum, for example, might refer to a particular feminity, while placing boulders refers to a particular masculinity...or, milled glass to a particular technological advance which would be different from dry stacking bricks, which might refer to a completely different era, and so on.

    Graphically: Certainly material can be used to get graphical components working. Inserting thin steel lines co-planar to the plaster surface to which they belong might refer to 'drawing' on a surface, for example.

    Indexically: Here, material can produce an index of any range of things, including indexing themselves...stainless steel and cold rolled steel can index rates of change and the durational status of cylclical changes, for example.

    Sensually: Here, materials can evoke/provoke the body and vivify its haptic world. Many architects working on atmospherics would rely on this capacity of materiality. You can enhance the sense of touch by choosing particular materials, configuring them and finishing them in particular ways.

    Organizational Structure: As an example, you could use water. Imagine the way it is collected from the roof, way in which it polishes and is polishing floor materials, the ways in which it functions (drinking, restrooms, window washing, etc.), establishing a sense of waterproofing in your spaces, and the way surfaces are finished. With water jet techniques, we can imagine the ways in which a water jet can de-materialize materials as a way to organize, or structure, particular relations in a piece of work.

    Assembly Logics: The ways in which assembly, fabrication, detailing, etc. could contribute to the relational structuring of something in the work. Lashing sticks together, for example, is quite different in terms of meaningfulness relative to 'butt joining' cast glass pieces. Each of these carries a particular communicative difference.

    Strangify the Norm: Surrealism, for example. Meret Oppenheim�s Fur tea cup, or painting everything, and I mean everything, in the studio pink.

    And so it goes...We'll try and focus on material choices in the remaining two weeks of the studio. There are many things materiality can do. This will have to do with the �shape to form� discussion and moving work to another depth. Shape may be useful in some cases, but form more useful in others... it�s a situational thing.

    Continue Foregrounding and vivifying your Conceptual Framework! The content, it is what pushes architecture into another realm of possibilities, it is what makes your work unique! Make decisions about making the conceptual framework as robust as possible. Find its limits!

    Okay, back to the wood piles here. Work incredibly hard. Care about your own development...long and focused hours...time to pull out all the plugs! Keep working for yourselves and your own growth- NOT for me!


    Sunshine Indeed, Perry�s letter offers reminders of creative conclusions we might have all reached, but may not have recognized until they were wrapped in a delicate and potent letter and sent to everyone in the studio, just before late nights turned into the long blur of light and dark and coffee. So, Perry Kulper�s last open letter seems like a good place to mile-mark the log. And is always a good read.

    Streaming SCIArc began video streaming its lectures this semester. Peep the site creator. Podcast your Moss.

    • 1 Comment

    • Hey Marlin... thank you for the letter. I've never taken Perry, but feel him talking to those of us outside of his realm. His framing of "materiality" is quite elegent and needed in an institute that lately lacks such focus.

      Site Creator :)

      Mar 8, 06 3:23 pm  · 

      Block this user

      Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

  • Marlin

Other blogs affiliated with Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc):

Recent Entries