Tangential Fabrications

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Computer



Jan '12 - Aug '13

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    Gazing Upwards at the Ivory Tower

    Aaron Willette
    Jan 31, '12 2:45 AM EST

    "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." - Mark Van Doren

    For reasons still unknown to myself, for the past 5+ years I have worked under the assumption that some sort of academic position would be part of my professional career. Prior to my return to student life I sat on more design reviews and thesis panels at Wentworth than I can recall and was able to co-teach a couple electives in elementary design computation/physical computing, experiences which only served to reinforce this desire. Additionally it has shaped a number of career choices I've made over the years, key amongst them the decision leave a steady, well-paying, productive staff assignment to pursue a Master's degree. And now as the end of my studies are in the foreseeable future I find myself preparing to apply for teaching position and fellowships, trying to locate my own personal interests within the larger academic discourse.

    This vital act of locating oneself has proven more difficult than initially thought, as it has forced me to address the duality of my design interests. On one side I have my somewhat-obvious allegiance to the emerging computation/fabrication camp, whose duplicitous nature is difficult enough to deal with on its own. In contrast to that is an interest that seeks to return to the communicative power of narrative and mythology in architecture, akin to the writing of John Hejduk and, adjacently, the work of Matthew Barney. The obvious conclusion (for myself at least) is how does former facilitate that latter, something I vaguely touched upon this summer in a project in Boisbuchet, France. While admittedly not a radical interest, it has still proven to be quite the challenge and is something I attempt to make some progress with on a weekly basis (I'd love to say daily, but I don't have the time for constant academic navel-gazing).

    After this deliberation comes the larger question of "How can it be used to understand the spatial condition?" Luckily I've been able to work through this question for a course I'm enrolled in, eloquently named "Teaching Practicum". In preparation for academic careers the course has us preparing studio briefs and similar documents, all of which I've been able to leverage for my own means as an assumed sub-context for the course itself. So I'd like to offer up, to you my Archinect peers, my first studio brief in which I try to approach these subjects. I make no claims on its viability as an actual studio, and I'm pretty sure it would be a challenge to shoehorn in NAAB criteria into it - however, knowing the audience of academics (both professors and students) that stream through the site I'd selfishly appreciate any feedback.

    Be gentle and forgive the name, its just a rough draft...

    Mechanisms, sensors and electronics have become yet another tool at the disposal of designers, allowing them to create objects and environments responsive to both internal and external stimuli. The play of these forces permeates through the physical manifest of the artifacts they define, endowing them with anthropomorphous characteristics that imply personality and agenda. Mecho/Spatial Mythologies will seek to remove these tools from their stereotypical architectural applications in order to explore the creative potential in their serendipitous otherness. Artifacts which straddle the fading boundary between the physical and the digital will be constructed not only as an exercise in making, but as exploration into the creative, non-linear abstraction of information. Narratives will be fabricated around these objects, framing the ritual of their use via post-industrial mythology. Finally the artifact and its companion literature will provide the ontological framework for a piece of architectural speculation. The projects will be documented in a manner native to the designed artifact as a means to 'close the loop' between the various stages of investigation and provide a coherent context for a critical discussion each body of work.


    current listening: Sunny Day Real Estate - How It Feels To Be Something On
    This is the one album in my collection of 1500+ that I listen to on a near daily basis - absolutely amazing.

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An in-the-trenches view of digital fabrication, academic research, post-hardcore music and whiskey. Not necessarily in that order and often in combination.

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