University of Illinois Chicago (Matthew)

The Shape of Cool

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    Getting There

    Matthew Messner
    Mar 20, '11 6:29 PM EST

    With the thawing sun of spring starts to shine on Chicago so came Studio Review 3 of 5 to our class. And Now? SPRING BREAK!

    After waking from a 17hr pseudo-hibernation state,finally relaxed.

    Our studio projects are looking more and more like "buildings" as we refine the resolution and working scalarly. With a pile of models representing 265'x256'x60' structures and a hand full of renderings we received our criticism. It would seem nearly impossible to predict project to project who's work will get praised and who's will take a verbal lashing. Thankfully none heard straight out "this project stinks" remarks. Over all the review ranged from great praise to reserved uncertainty from the critics. We'll count that in the positive column.

    As for my work personally? There was much discussion of formal symbolism, formal driven process decisions and the overall potential of the project. This was all a bit hard for me to swallow as "formal symbolism" is something that I would generally try and avoid as if it was a flesh eating plague. The review was not completely negative but I took it as a sign the the project had been too far out of my hands and that it was not turning out as I would like it. I realized I have to make some major changes to the process leading into the rest of the semester if I am going to recover a project that I will be proud of.

    So the next desk crit I laid it out to my professors.

    I start with, "I am not emotionally invested in this project, and that is a problem..."

    Blank stares...

    I continued by explaining that I didn't feel the control of the project had been in my hands. Weekly pin-ups and daily desk crits mean changes are made every day before anything can be worked out. Further more I have been attempting to design within the constructs of the UIC process, which is counter to so much of my undergrad.

    My solution to the issue? I will be taking the project completely into my own hands and doing what I feel will make the project work, for me. This seems like a "duh" thing to say, but thank about how much of your project is effected by others. If you think no one has effect on your work, then you are probably lying to yourself. This is especially true if you are pushing yourself into new territory through the guidance of your professors.

    This is all not to say that I don't have faith or respect for what is being taught in my studio or the criticism that I have so far received. It is to say that the way that I will be incorporating those lessons and criticism into my overall design will be changing. I am not giving up on trying to move forward within the paradigms of the studio, but rather my responses to criticism are going to change.

    We may even see the return of my favorite undergrad response to a wary professor, "just wait it'll be good."

    Does any of that make sense? I would imagine other have felt the same about studio projects that seemed to be running off the rails.

    Anyway, to read more about the details of this project check out Brandon Biederman's portion of our schools publication 2331. He goes over more of the assignment requirements that we are working with. I will go over more of this stuff at some point, but for now i'll defer you to his writing and just complain about my own project here. (that's a joke... kind of)

    Until next time, which will be an overview of our classes work in Theory, here are a few images of our last review.

    Senada Imsirovic Explains her plans.
    Heather Atkens pointing out differences in working models
    Travis Kalina directs attention to his renderings.
    陶韬 gets amped up about his model

    I'll try and collect some work from the class to put up here so everyone can check it out.


    • 1 Comment

    • Stephanie

      My solution to the issue? I will be taking the project completely into my own hands and doing what I feel will make the project work, for me.

      This to me sounds like a wonderful plan.

      One of the great moments in post-secondary education is when you realize that what you've really been struggling with the whole time is:

      Learning to trust your own feeling for truth
      "Their" feeling, backed up with substantial 'reasoning' for what you should swallow as truth.

      There is an excellent book called 'A Technique for Producing Ideas', by James Webb Young.

      In it, he describes a simple formula for people in creative jobs to consistently come up with good ideas.

      Stage two is referred to as the 'Mental Digestive Process.'

      After gathering as much information as possible, on all relevant subjects of interest to the task, you then turn those bits of information over and over with the tentacles of your mind and 'feel' them.

      I don't think he means to deduce logically by means of reasoning.

      He says:

      You take one fact, turn it this way and that, look at it in different lights, and feel for the meaning of it. You bring two facts together and see how they fit.
      What you are seeking now is the relationship, a synthesis where everything will come together in a neat combination, like a jig-saw puzzle.
      And here a strange element comes in. This is that facts sometimes yield up their meaning quicker when you do not scan them too directly, too literally. [...] It is almost like listening for the meaning instead of looking for it.

      Sounds.... touchy-feely, does it not?

      Rather a different approach then what your tutors would no doubt like to see you pursuing!

      When it comes to any branch of design, especially architecture, 'feeling' is a far from accepted method for generation of ideas.

      One thing that is interesting though.

      When a well-developed 'feeling' emerges from a thorough search for connections and relationships between various facts with the tentacles of one's mind....

      It's relatively simple to back-track a logical 'reason' to satisfy those who don't quite yet trust the method of 'feeling' over 'swallowing.'

      And if there is one thing I've learned from my education, it is that satisfying your superiors' peace of mind is far more important than actually learning.

      The trick is to find a way to do both at the same time...

      Best of luck ;)

      Mar 25, 11 5:22 am  · 

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