shannon_mattern + media_architecture   1211

The Avery Review | The Architecture of Banal Bureaucracy: WeWork and Algorithmic Design
Merging their commercial design capabilities with their technology offshoot “Powered by We,” WeWork now offers “a full suite of design, construction, and operations solutions to a wide range of members including Enterprise companies,” leveraging its “vast experience, market penetration, and economies of scale to deliver exceptional custom designed spaces and services for clients of all shapes and sizes.” According to Bloomberg, this has led the company to scale back on the acquisition of offices and “instead help redesign and run spaces that customers already inhabit.” Powered by We now boasts thirty clients having designed eleven spaces.6 They have most recently been signed up to redesign UBS offices in New York, who in explaining the decision to go with WeWork rather than a typical commercial architecture practice, claimed “the more we talked to the team at WeWork, the more we felt they had something extra to add.”7

This “something extra” now includes a tendency to see the design and management of office space as an algorithmic process....

In the case of WeWork, the desk itself is governed by a centralized bureaucracy where it is used as the key metric to calculate occupancy and to predict growth (which they estimate to reach 1.9 million “units” globally over the next eighteen months). The wider bureaucratic tendencies of WeWork thus fall neatly into a Weberian lens of “rationalization.”...

WeWork’s space-laying algorithm is one tool in the now endless surge of automated BIM options that aims to make the bureaucratic processes of architecture more efficient, calculable, and less labor-intensive....

In this regard, wider developments in BIM, when positioned alongside the merging of data science with architectural production and management, mark a potentially unknowable rationalization of the profession’s banal bureaucracies. WeWork’s fascination with the rationalization of the desk may reveal it as less Weberian vanguard than rearguard, using twenty-first-century technologies to solve twentieth-century problems while laying claim to being epoch-defining innovators—and yet this much-publicized “innovation” is also what undergirds its position as an extractor of new profit horizons, stemming not from the square footage of office buildings so much as the labor of those who build offices.
we_work  coworking  media_architecture  data_space  algorithmic_design  algorithms  bureaucracy 
yesterday by shannon_mattern
Bjarke Ingels designs an Astoria film production campus for Robert De Niro -
It’s no secret that New York’s film and television industry is booming, or that there’s been a recent real estate push for investment in spaces for the creation of shows, movies, and more.

Robert De Niro has thus enlisted the help of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to design a “vertical village” for film in Astoria, Queens. Initial renderings were released this week, unveiling a 650,000-square-foot facility dedicated to film, television, and AR/VR atop the former home of a Steinway & Sons Piano Storage Facility.

The $400 million project was first announced in July when a group of investors, including the actor and his son, purchased the five-acre plot along Steinway Creek in the northwestern edge of Queens. Promising to bolster the city’s fast-growing production economy and provide over 1,000 daily union jobs, Wildflower Studios will be a “true destination film campus,” said Adam Gordon, president of the company, in an interview with The New York Times.
media_architecture  augmented_reality  film  media_production  media_space 
4 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
X+living completes chongqing zhongshuge bookstore in china with escher-like stairs
the chongqing zhongshuge bookstore by shanghai-based firm X+living celebrates the landscape and historical sites of its namesake chinese city, chongqing. the two-floor store invites visitors into a theatrical interior, typical of the studio’s design approach, packed with lampshade-shaped bookshelves, an escher-like reading area, and a colorful children’s room with drawings of the city’s landscape, buildings and transportation.
media_architecture  bookstores 
june 2019 by shannon_mattern
Exponential Rooms - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
I started researching architectural robotics at the MIT Media Lab, and then went on to found Ori, a company that develops and brings robotic furniture systems to market. What my team and I have been working on is the idea of moving from a world where humans have to adapt to spaces, to one where spaces adapt to us. So if there’s less space because of increasing density, let's start thinking about how that space can adapt to our needs....

the moment we start asking people, what if you had a 200-square-foot bedroom, or a 200-square-foot office, or a 200-square-foot bathroom? They all said wow, that’d be nice. So we started looking into how robotics could be used to adapt space based on what activities are taking place within it. If we can make a 200-square foot office, a 200-square-foot bedroom, and a 200-square-foot bathroom all fit into one single 200-square-foot space, it will make that 200-square-foot space feel bigger than if those three functions were statically subdivided from 200....

One of the things that has drawn me to these microapartments is that, by individualizing dwellings, they force us to think about collective services and infrastructures. Do you see this experimentation with or turn towards microapartments as a representation of a paradigmatic shift in perception?

We need to think about the building as a whole. First of all, the building of the future is not just a residential building with micro units; it's also an office space, it's a hospitality project. It's mixed-use. But when I think about the building of the future, I see a set of layers. One of those layers is technological, and is where all the mechanics, electronics, and software invisibly lay. On top of that, using those technologies, you have systems of the type that we've being working on; systems that are disguised as furniture and interior architecture but actually transform space in order to adapt to your activities. But then you need to keep going and think about optimizing floor plans... We should start talking about functionalities, and instead of saying a four-bedroom apartment, we should say a place that sleeps four people....

We’ve started thinking about community layers, and how smaller spaces lend themselves more communal functions. There's been a big trend across Europe that’s now getting to the United States of co-living, which is the idea of not just sharing amenities, but also activities, like cooking. It’s so important to think about the programming of these spaces and how to create opportunities for people to engage. You can continue and think about what it would mean, or what it could do to apply this type of thinking and these systems to healthcare or education, both of which are becoming digital. And then of course you can even think about how this affects more bureaucratic things, like leasing and its terms. Why are we bound to one-year leases? It’s going to create a whole new experience of how buildings are designed, how people interact with their physical spaces, the virtual space around it, spaces of community, and other people....

It's not about creating bedrooms, it's about creating enough places where people can sleep with dignity and with comfort. It's a kind of performative turn, looking at what we actually do and not what it’s called. The entire paradigm of program in architecture is being abandoned because people say it doesn't matter anymore....

truly effortless means pressing a button, like a light switch, or having something programmed so that your space automatically changes when you get out of bed. Effortless means voice control, which has been around for a while, but now with new devices like Alexa, Siri, or Google Home is really becoming mainstream. What if you could say “open my bedroom” or “open my living room” at any moment, without stopping what you’re doing? This is not just about a bed disappearing or showing up; it’s about the activity and the experience of transformation. It’s not just a bed that’s connected to the activity of sleeping; it’s the bed, it’s the temperature, it’s the lighting… All of those things need to happen at the same time...
media_architecture  robots  modularity  smart_homes 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
A Severely Gridded, Heavy-as-Cement Font That's A Little Rough Around the Edges | | Eye on Design
Texel began life in Melbourne’s studio-io as a branding concept inspired by the solid forms of Brutalist buildings. This architectural vernacular came into being just after WWII and was seen by some as an honest, plainspoken style and by others as an offense to aesthetic sensibilities—hulking structures formed from raw slabs of cold concrete are not everyone’s cup of tea.
typography  architecture  media_architecture 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
Seeking an Edge, Developers and Investors Turn to ‘Proptech’ - The New York Times
A decade later, “proptech” is a hot buzzword in commercial real estate, as developers and investors seek an edge in buying, selling and managing their properties....

The company wanted an operating system that functioned like that of a smartphone. “We had a lot of technology in our buildings, but no interoperability between the various systems,” Mr. Rudin said. “We wanted those various silos to be able to communicate with each other and share data.”

No such product existed. So Rudin spun off a company to develop a system, called Nantum, which captures real-time data on metrics like building occupancy, water usage and office temperatures....

New York, where Rudin is based, has become a global hub for proptech. Venture capital investments in real estate technology in New York rose by 133 percent last year, totaling more than $2 billion, according to data provided by CREtech, a media and research organization. Most of the capital has so far been plowed into ventures on the residential side, but the commercial sector is heating up....

The most visible shifts so far have been in residential real estate, where companies like Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow have built platforms to ease home transactions through the “instant buying” business model. ...

On the commercial side, shared work-space providers like Convene, Industrious and WeWork, are disrupting the office market. WeWork, which was valued at $47 billion in an investment round this year, announced last month that it had filed for an initial public offering. It has grown into one of the world’s biggest commercial landlords; as of Dec. 31, it had about 401,000 memberships across 425 locations....

MetaProp invests in early-stage businesses, and helps connect them with big industry players who can educate them about the industry’s needs and how their products could be expanded. The firm recently opened a co-working space for proptech start-ups in Midtown Manhattan, in cooperation with the city’s economic development corporation. Called PropTech Place, it features 25 rentable desks and exhibits of new technologies under development.

“We wanted a place where people from organizations both large and small could have a home base where they’re going to meet like-minded people,” Mr. Aarons said....

Housed on the top floor of an office building in New York’s garment district, Enertiv builds smarter platforms to help run the physical systems in commercial buildings, said Connell McGill, the company’s chief executive. To help managers reduce operating expenses, for instance, Enertiv can install sensors to track the performance of elevators, boilers and other equipment. One Enertiv product provides panoramic digital replicas of equipment rooms; selecting any piece of machinery provides details like real-time sensor data and maintenance history. The system can even assign performance ratings to each piece of equipment, and make maintenance recommendations, based on a growing database of more than four billion hours of performance data....

Blueprint’s system helps owners manage their energy assets across their portfolio and sell their surplus power, said Robyn Beavers, the company’s chief executive.
smart_cities  smart_homes  media_architecture  bim  real_estate 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
Mediating Theory - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
This syllabus frames the production, transmission, and understanding of architectural knowledge through theoretical discourse. Each session theory is positioned within a specific media form: Matter, Body, Sound, Narrative, Treatise, Map, Manifesto, Diagram, Program, Standard, Image, System, Interface, Heap. The syllabus highlights a central tension: between the global and the local, the shared and the situated, form and content—and the tension between the specificity of instructive case studies and the more general framing of theory.

It frames various forms of architectural theory within a global context. It offers, in roughly chronological fashion, a certain amount of “canonical” material—cases and texts that have traditionally served as a discursive foundation for architecture and which are most important in this day and age to critically deconstruct this historical foundation. The syllabus’s motivating dynamic is to present familiar “canonical” material with materials that can actively “aerate the canon.”
media_architecture  syllabus 
april 2019 by shannon_mattern
Architecture Unbound - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
First, the consideration of property positions architecture in relation to issues of ownership, security, and the political and legal divisions of space. This theme includes considerations of the ways in which architecture has participated in colonialism and racial segregation, but also more broadly the ways architecture has been produced by and helped produce ideologies of how life can be planned and divided up. The second theme, labor, sets architecture in relationship to its material and intellectual production. It examines how labor has been theorized in the age of technological reproduction, including considerations of colonial histories of labor and reproduction, histories of intellectual property, the socio-politics of higher education, and how architectural construction has been conceived in revolutionary contexts, including the Soviet Union and Maoist China. The third theme, inhabitation, focuses on the human body and how architecture participates in its activities and passivities of inhabiting space. In particular, it considers how theorizations of race, gender, class, and disability can guide consideration of the diversity of bodies that encounter and shape architecture. The fourth theme, media, examines how drawings, digital media, and their embodiments have participated in the construction of architectural discourse in diverse global contexts. This theme focuses not only how architects represent building but also how architecture as a practice represents itself in the global market. The final theme, environment, situates architecture in relationship to the earth. It pays particular attention to notions of climate change, political ecology, and globalization, and investigates these issues through architecturally-influential concepts such as development, modernization, and heritage.
media_architecture  architecture  environment  property 
april 2019 by shannon_mattern
Barnard College’s Milstein Center Wins 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Award | Barnard College
Barnard College’s Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning has been awarded the prestigious 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA), which partner every year to honor the best in library architecture and design. The Milstein Center was one of six libraries worldwide to be selected; all submissions were designed by American architects.

The Milstein Center was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) — the global firm behind design superstars like One World Trade and Burj Khalifa — and built with funding from major donors, including Barnard alumna Cheryl Glicker Milstein '82 and her husband, Philip; the Tow Foundation on behalf of Leonard Tow and daughter Emily Tow Jackson '88; and Diana T. Vagelos '55 and her husband, P. Roy Vagelos. It has fast become the academic heart of the College since its grand opening on October 3, 2018, after 24 months of construction on the former site of Lehman Hall. Comprising a five-floor base and an 11-story tower on Barnard’s leafy, four-acre campus, The Milstein Center is an environmentally responsible, 128,000-square-foot learning and gathering space and an innovative model for how libraries are evolving.
libraries  media_architecture 
april 2019 by shannon_mattern
Buster Keaton: Anarchitect | Lapsus Lima
Keaton, in contrast, can be read as an artist interested in spatial rather than social relationships. His is an ordinary character moving through ordinary settings, who in so doing finds himself caught up in extraordinary circumstances, situations and manners of embodying space.

As he migrated from vaudeville stage to movie set, Keaton realised the comedy itself did not need changing, though the opportunities afforded by the camera could extend the world in which the spatial interplay he had developed since childhood took place.

“…the greatest thing to me about picturemaking was the way it automatically did away with the physical limitations of the theatre. On the stage, even one as immense as the New York Hippodrome stage, one could only show so much. The camera had no such limitations. The whole world was its stage. If you wanted cities, deserts, the Atlantic Ocean, Persia, or the Rocky Mountains for your scenery and background, you merely took your camera to them.” [1]

Keaton’s comedy derives largely from the positioning —and constant, unexpected repositioning— of his body in space, and in architectural space particularly. [2] Unlike other slapstick performers who relished in the close-up and detailed attention to the protagonist, Keaton frequently directed the camera to film with a wide far-shot that could contain the whole of a building’s facade or urban span within the frame. Proud of always carrying out his own (often extremely dangerous) stunts, this enabled him to show the audience that his actions were performed in real-time —and real-place— rather than simply being tricks of the camera or editing process. It also allowed him to visually explore the many ways in which his body could engage with the urban form....

In an interview, Keaton said that if he hadn’t been taken along the entertainment path by his parents, he may have fancied becoming a civil engineer [4]; something legible in early films, which time and again contain bizarrely engineered mechanical systems....

His well-meaning character sets out to convert his client’s home into one saturated with modernity and automation. A staircase becomes an escalator at the flick of a switch, automatic sliding doors are installed, the bathtub is attached to rails to take it to the bedside, and dining-room panelling cantilevers down to the table to reveal a model train connecting through to the kitchen.
media_architecture  film  comedy  electricity 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
After The Manifesto - Columbia GSAPP
There has been something like a mania for the manifesto in recent years. While only a little while ago one could still hear about the absence of manifestos in architecture, today we seem to be surrounded by them. Manifestos have been the subject of public reading marathons, taken up as themes for biennales, exhibited at galleries, exchanged for drinks, and become the subject of conferences at schools of architecture.
About this resurgence, there is understandably little consensus. The urgency of the genre has returned to prominence at a moment of economic crisis and political protests over inequality, but it also appears wedded ever more intimately to official institutions of culture, which have gravitated toward performative genres in recent years. For some, the manifesto remains an archaism, the product of another century whose current revival artfully masks the fact that it has outlived its use. For others, the manifesto remains protean, a form that not only continues to remake itself but also stands to be reclaimed in our age of rapidly changing media. For still others, it is precisely the outmoded, untimely qualities of the manifesto that make it so interesting at present. What does this confusing situation imply about the ongoing relevance of the manifesto form today?
media_architecture  manifestos 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Huawei opens a cybersecurity transparency center in the heart of Europe | TechCrunch
5G kit maker Huawei opened a Cyber Security Transparency center in Brussels yesterday as the Chinese tech giant continues to try to neutralize suspicion in Western markets that its networking gear could be used for espionage by the Chinese state.

Huawei announced its plan to open a European transparency center last year but giving a speech at an opening ceremony for the center yesterday the company’s rotating CEO, Ken Hu, said: “Looking at the events from the past few months, it’s clear that this facility is now more critical than ever.”...

Huawei said the center, which will demonstrate the company’s security solutions in areas including 5G, IoT and cloud, aims to provide a platform to enhance communication and “joint innovation” with all stakeholders, as well as providing a “technical verification and evaluation platform for our

“Huawei will work with industry partners to explore and promote the development of security standards and verification mechanisms, to facilitate technological innovation in cyber security across the industry,” it said in a press release.

“To build a trustworthy environment, we need to work together,” Hu also said in his speech. “Both trust and distrust should be based on facts, not feelings, not speculation, and not baseless rumour.
5G  telecommunications  transparency  security  media_architecture 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
USModernist's Priceless Architecture Magazine Archives - CityLab
Today, Smart manages the largest open digital archive of major 20th century American architecture magazines. The registry features roughly 6,000 complete issues spanning dozens of titles, from well-known periodicals such as American Architect, Arts & Architecture, and Sears, Roebuck and Co., to industry-specific trade magazines. In all, there are some two-and-a-half million downloadable pages—roughly 750 gigabytes of content—dating as far back as the late 1800s. The web resource also includes a masters’ gallery that showcases the residential output of the most famous 20th century architects: every design by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Richard Neutra (including the Largent House in San Francisco, whose illegal demolition sparked outrage and made headlines earlier this month); and many more by dozens of other masters. Also available online is a podcast, now in its fourth year, that Smart hosts and produces.
archives  architecture  media_architecture  magazines  periodicals 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
The Lenin Institute for Librarianship by Ivan Leonidov (1927) – SOCKS
Ivan Illich Leonidov (1902-1957) designed the Lenin Institute for Librarianship (the collective scientific and cultural center of the USSR) in 1927 as his thesis project at the VKhUTEMAS, the art and technical School of Moscow, with Alexander Vesnin as his tutor.

The Institute is made of a series of individualized shapes embodied by clear geometrical forms – mostly rectangular boxes and a sphere – which are boldly composed together.
The three main buildings of the institute are a massive library with five million books joined by the Institute of librarianship, both contained in a high-rise building; the auditorium which also functions as a planetarium and as a speaking platform for mass demonstrations, located in a huge glass sphere elevated from the floor through a metallic structure; and the actual research institute hosting the research labs, a horizontal slab, suspended, which also connects the two other buildings. The single volumes are related through the composition of two asymmetrical axes on a decentralized circular platform where both the auditorium and the library are located. The library axis is also prolonged by a straight suspended roadway leading to the city center.

An important feature of the overall design is the presence of steel cables with the double role of guy-wires in tension and radio communication antennae. The cables counterbalance the anti-gravitational effect of the highest buildings and especially that of the auditorium which appears as a hot-air balloon ready to take a flight. They also underline the idea of communication among the people working together in the institute and in the whole country.

The center was supposed to be located in Moscow, on the Lenin Hills, the highest spot in the city, just a few kilometers southwest of the Red Square. An aerial tramway with a central aerodrome and suspended roadway would have connected the institute with the center of the city while the radio station would have put it in communication with the whole country.

As to underline an era of unlimited faith in an upcoming technological world, the role of technology is formally and functionally expressed throughout the whole project, especially in the library where an automated book-delivery system with a vertical and horizontal conveyor system delivers the books directly from the stacks to the reading rooms.
libraries  media_architecture  logistics  telecommunications 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Qatar National Library by OMA | 2018-04-11 | Architectural Record
There’s no mistaking that the new Qatar National Library was designed by the Rotterdam office of OMA. Like a lot of OMA’s built work, it is slightly odd, slightly off-putting, but impossible to ignore. And the building quite literally borrows from earlier OMA projects, most conspicuously from the Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal with its unusual crystalline geometry and large swaths of corrugated glass, and, inside, from the Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville in Caen, France—though Rem Koolhaas would say otherwise about that.

As Koolhaas described the design during a recent tour of the building, “We started with a square then lifted two corners.” The resulting structure appears like a rocky outcrop amid a bizarre hardscape of craters and faux mounds—by Dutch design firm Inside Outside—that might fit as easily on the moon as in this desert setting. Massive columns, nearly four-feet wide, protrude from the building’s concrete underbelly—where the main entrance is—to support the entire structure and its 80-foot-long sloping spans. Circling the exterior, the library changes appearance from different angles—the “pinched” corners are unquestionably the most intriguing aspect; where the building meets the ground opposite those corners, not so much....

Despite the books, the vast, pitched main room feels more like an arena than a library. In fact, one of OMA’s early plans for the lower central space included programming for sporting events. It now houses the heritage library where rare manuscripts are kept and exhibitions mounted—its exposed sunken, mazelike, travertine-covered walls suggest the excavated pit of the Colosseum in Rome. As in the OMA design for Lab City outside Paris, parts of this pit are covered with platform-like expanses accessible to visitors and, since the building opened last November, where musicians play during recitals.
media_architecture  libraries  middle_east  qatar 
may 2018 by shannon_mattern
Libraries that speak loudly - Shelf awareness
The books’ old home, completed in 1903, was designed as a temple of learning to be used by a limited academic elite. Their new one is part of a cultural complex, which includes an opera house, standing at the heart of a new section of the city.

Unlike the old library, the new site makes little reference to the architectural language of ancient Greece. It seeks to convey the idea of a modern nation, one comfortable with its history but also capable of expressing itself in a contemporary idiom on a grand scale. ...

The new national library in Qatar (pictured, top) also feeds into evolving ideas about modernity, society and democracy in the Gulf state....

The concept touched on the aspirations of the Qatari leadership to be seen as enlightened leaders. The building is a spectacle of transparency and openness: huge steel trusses and concrete columns create a vast space in which the majority of the library’s 1.5m books are displayed....

The library also manages to articulate tradition in an ingenious fashion. A subterranean section of striated Iranian marble stores and displays heritage publications. In a state that is sensitive to the accusation that it had limited cultural wealth prior to the discovery of oil, this basement of textual treasures is a clear refutation.
libraries  media_architecture  national_libraries 
may 2018 by shannon_mattern
The Avery Review | The Circle: Geographies of Network vs. Geometries of Disjunction
It might seem contrarian that in the era of global connection, which promises new horizons of democracy and freedom, the symbol of Apple is that of an exclusive and self-referential figure: the circle. The circle, which alludes to security, protection, and eventually, autonomy, is operative across Apple products, processor or building. When the spinning wheel is closed, the download is complete and the software is ready to be applied. The logo of an Apple device’s settings is a toothed gear; in order to gain access to the screen, one must press the central button, a circle. The circle is also the image of the plan for the Apple campus in Cupertino, California—both the older campus, known as “Infinite Loop,” which was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum in 1993, as well as the new campus, Apple Park, which was designed by Foster + Partners.

Evidently, the metaphor of the arena recalls the unrestricted global arena, which represents the exchange of information through digital infrastructures. Yet this figure also has certain political and economic implications. In fact, the Apple corporation embodies the idea of a new pragmatism, based on organizational efficiency in the struggle against competitors, control of information circulating on the Internet, and trading of this data through communication infrastructures. Therefore, if the geometry of the circle represents a universalistic idea of global connection, it also represents enclosure and self-sufficient centralization.
media_architecture  apple 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
The Artist Turning Interior Decor into ‘Reparation Hardware’ - VICE
It feels warm in the gallery hosting Reparation Hardware, a solo show from multidisciplinary artist Ilana Harris-Babou, but it has nothing to do with the temperature. Inside Larrie, NYC, a relatively new spot started by Becky Elmquist and co-run by friends in the biz’, the walls are painted a sagey-beige known as “Plantation Tan.” The color gives off a luxury cabin-in-the-woods vibe when Harris-Babou flicks the switch on the tungsten bulbs overhead. The space at once feels more like a high-end interior decor storefront, which would not be out of place in the Lower East Side neighborhood where it resides.

“Depending on what light you look at it in, it’ll look brown or green,” Harris-Babou told me of the exhibition-specific paint job. “The kind of thing where it’s a showroom that’s a fake living room; something that’s supposed to be homey or unobtrusive.” It’s perfect for Reparation Hardware, a subtle evisceration of the upscale design philosophy that gilds the homewares company from which the show takes its name. “I started looking at Restoration Hardware and what it is about that impulse to take, say, wood from an old barn and bring it into your house tastefully, and maybe in so doing, naming the past as a success, not a failure,” the artist explained. “I was doing a play on words and started thinking about restoration, reparations. Reparations maybe as being so terrifying because they’re an admission of failure, right? Maybe specifically saying this American Dream didn’t succeed in its goal.”

Her investigations take the form of mixed-media sculptures. They're hefty amalgamations of lumpy but glossy ceramics and polished furnishings. She's also made two videos: Red Sourcebook and Reparation Hardware. Red Sourcebook juxtaposes the racist ethos of “redlining” practices against crisp HD footage of a Restoration Hardware design guide getting marked up in red Sharpie. And Reparation Hardware is mock ad for the exhibition that stars an abandoned New England barn, a field of urinating cows, and a wry Harris-Babou herself as the Reparation Hardware spokesperson. The show conjures a feeling more than a thesis. It's about being outside of time and looking in, with free reign to mix and match objects new and old for the express purpose of curating a nondescript yet distinctively “cultured” sensibility.
media_architecture  renovation  conservation  preservation  reparations  blackness  race  magazines  advertising 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
Rendering: The Cave of the Digital - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Throughout this cave, and across the paleo-world of what is now southern Europe, are cave paintings of bodies and figures, people and animals. Not portraits, but points, like the freeze-frame screens that football pundits use on pay TV. Except these drawings are made over millennia, describing some other kind of relationship to time and space. These cave art scenes are pictures of space, of gaps between, of the tension between figures.

The surfaces of the cave narrate stories like celestial constellations. Images are etched, smeared, blown, and drawn onto this undulating, ragged, curved surface so that topography blurs into figures—the surface of a sleeping bison, the neck of a horse conjured by shading applied to a fissure or a bump.

Caves invert the space of the world above ground. In these underground interiors, space is bounded by the earth itself. Yet through the drawings in these concave enclosures, they are rendered into worlds. Representation transforms them into an essential act of architecture—spaces that organize meaning and form. One might even say that these drawings act as the first form of architecture—that the natural cave becomes architecture not through shelter but representation. These were not places to live, after all, but served some other purpose.

Caves are spaces of representation without edges; where the world and the space of the page are the same thing. Drawings whose subject, but also medium, is space. Representation that is applied to the world itself; representation that becomes the world.

Inside the cave, we occupy the drawing just as the drawing occupies and manufactures space. We are not outside observers of an image, but active participants within the space of representation.

Looking closely, there are other specific representational tropes. There are no faces on any of the figures. No sky either; no trees, no rivers, no landscape, no horizon.

They are pictures of the world, but a world that is different to ours; a world whose outlines remain daubed on cave walls but whose meaning we can’t comprehend. Maps whose coordinates have been lost, whose legend no longer makes sense, whose orientations and coordinates obey different rules. Representations whose scale and depth no longer register as they did with their authors....

Space is not a natural phenomenon, but something constructed. Medieval European space, for example, is fundamentally different from Neolithic space. Perspectival space is fundamentally different from Byzantine space. Space is a product of social, economic, and environmental conditions. It provides a specific framework for encounter, relationship, and the production of specific kinds of meaning. Representation is not just a way of recording or depicting space, but the way of constructing it. Spatial representation is not merely pictorial or graphic, but also conceptual....

Erwin Panofsky argues that the invention of linear perspective could only occur at the moment when a particular conception of space—the concept of infinity—emerged.1 He suggests that this idea of the infinite emerged because of a new religious conception of a singular, divine omnipresence. Without this idea of the universe, it would be impossible to conceive of the vanishing point....

To this we might add that the drawing system of perspective, relying as it does on accurate measurement to construct its space, emerged within the highly mercantile contexts of Florence and Venice; places where the measurement of goods was fundamental to the accumulation of wealth.

In other words, perspective brought spiritual divinity and earthy pragmatism together into the same representational space. ...

That Pacioli, a Franciscan friar as well as mathematician, is also credited with the invention of double entry bookkeeping should come as no surprise. “Double entry” is a system of recording transactions in terms of credit and debit; a debit in one account will be offset by a credit in another, so the sum of all debits must be equal to the sum of all credits. Double entry remains the basis of contemporary accounting. It is the space that appears when spreadsheets are opened, just as perspective is the space that appears when Sketchup is fired up and pictorial space for constructed the lonely figure in an empty world.

Both perspective drawing and double entry bookkeeping are systems that seem to help accurately record the world as it is. But at heart, the power that both have is to remake the world according to their own vision. ...

The power of perspective is not only its internal representational mechanism, but how it projects its ideal geometry outwards into the world. Not as a form of recording the world, but of constructing it. Unlike the representational space of the cave, which internalizes the world, perspective is mapped outwards from its vanishing point, beyond the frame of the page and into the world.

One can further argue, along with Hito Steyerl, that concepts which emerge from perspectival space shape geopolitical space:

The use of the horizon to calculate position gave seafarers a sense of orientation, thus also enabling colonialism and the spread of a capitalist global market, but also became an important tool for the construction of the optical paradigms that came to define modernity, the most important paradigm being that of so-called linear perspective....

Just as language constrains what it is possible to say—or perhaps even think—the conventions and genres of representation used to create architecture also set out the terms of its engagement with the world. They may appear to represent space as a simple, “natural” thing, but the possibilities of the space they depict are already contained within them before pen is put to paper, or cursor to page. ...

Attempts to deploy alternative, even Cubist types of architectural space, from Deconstruction to Parametracism, have only served to reinforce traditional representational modes, insofar as their highly complex forms have required the development of hyper accurate software that replicate the spatial constructs of traditional architectural representation. In other words, advanced 3D modeling software have only served to reinforce preexisting forms of representation. ...

This rejection of the technical sophistication of the photorealistic “real” instead embraces a new awkwardness. It finds itself making digital collages that hit Google images hard and proclaim their diverse sources. Instead of complex three dimensionality, they take advantage of Photoshop and Illustrator’s ability to operate in an infinitely layered two-dimensional plane—which, in passing, operates as a native digital space rather than a simulation of the real just as a digital database can operate in nth dimensional space. These drawings accentuate the artificiality of the drawing, sometimes through the use of one point perspective, or by rejecting perspective entirely for a flattened “digital Byzantine.” These, amongst others, are tactics of post-digital architectural drawing. Far more than a stylistic project (though this is always a present danger of representational regimes), they configure an approach to digital culture that turns away from the pixel-perfect simulation of the real to expressly declare the representational quality of the drawing. These drawings accentuate representation’s “representational” quality, eschewing preset realism in order to expose how drawing and seeing are active in constructing the world.
archaeology  caves  writing  space  representation  art_history  perspective  media_architecture 
february 2018 by shannon_mattern
The People's Court | Urban Omnibus
Van Buren and others say restorative justice spaces should feel comfortable and approachable, rather than imposing and authoritative. Peacemaking circles are used for decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution in different communities, from schools and families to the work place and the criminal legal system. A fundamental tenet of these circles is that each person has a change to speak.
justice  media_architecture  architecture  law 
january 2018 by shannon_mattern
Noora – Tartu, Estonia - Atlas Obscura
Noora, the new main building of the National Archives of Estonia, opened in February 2017. It’s remarkable in many respects. Its walls contain a trove of archived pieces of the past, strung together in a web of storytelling and written records, but the historic records are just one piece of Noora’s appeal....

Noora holds yet another piece of experiential art. A unique audio device called The Lilt is integrated into the building and creates sounds based on the building itself and the movement of the people inside, which are used as activating impulses that initiate musical rhythms from a chord matrix. As people mill about, it gives the piece an unpredictable and labyrinthine nature. It’s as if the archive itself is symbolically giving its own version of history by recording the daily happenings within the building.
media_architecture  estonia  sound_space  archives 
january 2018 by shannon_mattern
“The Harper Establishment”; or, How a New York Publishing Giant Was Made | Martina D’Amato | Visualizing 19th-Century New York
It was Bogardus’s “completely fire-proof” buildings that author Jacob Abbott chose to highlight in the popular 1855 book The Harper Establishment; or, How the Story Books Are Made, an account of the construction of the new premises, its structural and mechanical innovations, and the state-of-the-art machinery located within it.4 The complex, which covered ten city lots, would have made for an impressive show to passersby. The main building at 331 Pearl Street, adjacent to what was then Franklin Square, bore a completely iron façade; it housed the headquarters and offices of the brothers, space for artists and writers, and floors devoted to publication storage and shipment, and the Cliff Street structure contained every facet of the printing process and the factory’s labor force. ...

Abbott’s book gave Harper & Brothers an opportunity to present to readers an account of the firm’s innovative factory production at a time when the public was starting to take more than a passing interest in burgeoning industrial and technological innovations. As historian Vanessa Meikle Schulman has argued, the medium of print, specifically engraving, could combine reality and artistic imagination to craft an image that was in some ways even more revealing of truth.6 An engraving in the book depicting a cutaway of the Cliff Street building is one such example where the artist took the liberty to give readers a view into the structure that was physically impossible but singularly revealing of the building and the industry that took place on each of its seven floors (FIG. 3). Bogardus’s novel bowstring girders, the arched beams bearing the weight of every floor’s columns, are visible at the top of each floor and were unique in their use as both structural and decorative elements....

from the “great composing-room” on the top floor, where compositors are seen setting type for books and periodicals, to the many presses on the first floor above the basement, the paper drying racks on the second floor, and finally the folding, sewing, and book-finishing and binding machines. The cross-sectional image also hints at the company’s division of labor. The dozens of mechanical apparatuses represented give a sense of just how innovative and paradigmatic the business was by midcentury, housing the latest rapid printing presses and commanding an enormous workforce.
media_architecture  media_city  printing  books 
january 2018 by shannon_mattern
Theory of forms | Creative Combinatorics
In connection with his color theory Ostwald was also engaged in the “harmony of forms”. Using the rules he developed Ostwald created ornaments and new forms “according the laws of combinatorics” which were “all beautiful, without any exception”!
media_architecture  intellectual_furnishings  die_brucke 
november 2017 by shannon_mattern
Life, Abstracted: Notes on the Floor Plan - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Unlike the characters of Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, in which the Danish director staged a town made of white painted outlines drawn on the floor with some occasional walls and pieces of furniture, we don’t see or experience the plans of the spaces within which we move. Yet plans are everywhere: we spend most of our life within them. By plan I’m referring to what within the discipline of architecture is commonly understood as a “floor plan,” that is, the orthogonal view of a horizontal section of a building.
The making of almost every architectural structure nowadays implies the design of its floor plan. The drawn plan is thus not just an abstraction of architecture but a “concrete abstraction,” since together with other forms of architectural notation, the plan translates many determinations—money, measures, code, gender, class, rituals, beliefs, ideologies, environmental conditions, etc.—into a specific spatial layout. With its conventions of scale, measure, and view, the plan acts—much like money—as a “general equivalent” within which a multitude of determinations coalesce into a measurable “universal” datum.

...floor plan as a “concrete abstraction,” as something that even in its own abstract status of notation is both determined by and determinate of concrete conditions and the way in which we dwell, inhabit, and produce space....

We can see the architectural plan emerging here in the most essential of terms: a drawing traced on the ground that defines the relationships between building elements to achieve a structure in which the position of each is consistent with the whole. ...

The large marble plan of Rome known as Forma Urbis Romae is a prime example of how the plan imposes its normative power on lived space. Completed during the reign of Septimius Severus in the third century CE, the Forma Urbis was a ground floor plan, a horizontal section of the city carved into marble slabs.8 Fragments of the map were rediscovered during the sixteenth century and have since, in part thanks to depiction by Giovanni Battista Piranesi as part of his Roman Antiquities, become an emblematic representation of ancient Rome. Measuring approximately sixty feet wide by fort-five feet tall, the map was most probably displayed vertically on a wall in a public building such as an archive, library, or as suggested by several scholars, a public register of property.9
In the Forma Urbis Romae, private and public buildings are often—though not systematically—differentiated in terms of how they are represented: the wall thickness and interior columns of public buildings are rendered, whereas the walls of private buildings are drawn as single lines. Furthermore, there are scalar inconsistencies, with monumental public buildings drawn at a slightly larger scale than the surrounding residential fabric. In clearly differentiating res publica from res privata, the purpose of the map was to function as a cadastral survey of the city, i.e. a map that serves as an accurate register of property. The Forma Urbis Romae manifests the Romans’ extreme attention to partitioning the urban territory into public and private land. But this process of reification in which every parcel of the ground is either one or the other found its point of origin not in the res privata per se, but in the very institution of the res publica and res sacra as parcels of land excluded from commerce....

Vitruvius, in his De Architectura Libri Decem, presented three main techniques to correctly draw, and thus design architecture: ichnographia (plan), ortographia (elevation and section) and scenographia (tridimensional rendering).11 While orthography and scenography represent buildings as they appear when built, ichnography, defined as the tracing of a geometrical projection of a building’s horizontal section, is an abstraction of the building that represents a datum not visible from within the built structure itself. Yet it was precisely this “invisible” datum that allowed the juridical value of places to be determined....

The work of partitioning the land was not just bureaucratic and managerial, but often a highly symbolic affair that involved religious rituals such as auspices and acts of consecration. Here we can see that the juridical abstraction of the city into patrimonial values was not at odds with the ritualization of space upon which the planning of cities was founded: both were instrumental to augment and facilitate social consensus. A plan of the city such as the Forma Urbis is thus not just the definition of the city’s value organized into res publica and res privata. The topographical certainty of this partition and its geometric intelligibility is also the political basis on which the empire rests and defines its sovereignty. It is that which makes the abstraction of urban territory possible...

Within the architecture of the monastery, abstraction is performed as the organization of discrete, specific moments into more generalizable and repeatable patterns.13 This spatial condition was reflected by an architecture made of simple, generic, and rhythmic forms. Incidentally the first known architectural drawing is the so-called “ideal plan for a monastery” preserved in the library of St. Gall, Switzerland.14 Drawn on five parchments sewn together, the plan was drafted in the monastery of Reichenau under the supervision of its abbot Haito and sent to Gozbert, the abbot of St. Gall. In addressing Gozbert, Haito wrote that the purpose of the plan was for the abbot of St. Gall to “exercise your ingenuity and recognize my devotion.” This means that the plan was not meant to be the blueprint for a specific project, but rather a diagram (completed with an extensive text and legend on its back) to help the abbot to define the disposition of the different spaces and their use....

By carefully choreographing the monk’s daily routines, the monastery became a fundamental model for industrial civilization. We should not forget that, unlike in antiquity when it was considered an unworthy sphere of life, better avoided or delegated to slaves, it was within the monastery that labor was first recognized to be an essential aspect of life. The monastery thus became a model for modern institutions in which the floor plan becomes the sine qua non of architecture, such as the hospital, prison, factory, school, and above all, housing. At the same time, the spatial ritualization of daily routines became the model for movements and projects that challenged the inevitability of industrial capitalism...

Xenophon’s Oeconomicus compares the perfect conditions for harmonic cohabitation to a dance where everything is ruled according to a carefully orchestrated choreography whose performers are not just objects, but bodies.24 It is precisely here that we see how domestic space produces the most generic condition for production: everyday life. It is also in this way we can understand how a house houses, or becomes housing. While the noun “house” emphasizes the symbolic dimension of the domestic realm, “housing” focuses on the functioning of the house. In the western world, housing as a specific architectural project emerges in the late middle ages when ruling powers began to consider the welfare of workers to be the fundamental precondition for a city or state to be productive and generate wealth. Interestingly, at the moment housing becomes a proper architectural project, the floor plan is understood as an increasingly essential datum for its production. From Sebastiano Serlio’s treatise on domestic architecture to Catharine and Herriet Beecher’s model for “The American Woman Home,” housing is conceived from the vantage point of the plan....

What was a stake in this careful planning of the home was, in Roberts’ words, ”the preservation of domestic privacy and independence of each distinct family and the disconnection of their apartments, so as to effectively prevent the communication of contagious disease.”26 Yet what in these plans seems to be effectively prevented is communication altogether, evincing a capitalist intent to replace the solidarity typical among working class families and households with the petit-bourgeois ideology of “privacy” and self-containment. ... By clearly separating apartments and giving each of them an autonomous entrance, for example, each housing unit would have less windows than what was subject to the then-expensive window tax. In Roberts’ model houses, economy both in the sense of home economics and as large scale social organization overlap and become one, and the plan becomes the most legible hieroglyph of a political economy crystallized into space....

A history of architecture through floor plans would reveal the way life has been constantly ritualized, abstracted, and thus reified in order to become legible and organizable. Understood in this way, the plan demystifies the naturalization of power relations since it shows how they have always been deliberately constructed by the formation of habit and perception.
media_architecture  floorplan  drawing  diagram  code_space  property 
october 2017 by shannon_mattern
Recovering the Philosophy Chamber, Harvard's Enlightenment-Era Teaching Cabinet
A vast and encompassing view of the world contained in a room so small that it was referred to as a chamber — such was the hope and hubris of the 18th-century Enlightenment figures in America.

The tiny room was called the Philosophy Chamber, and it attracted some of the most inventive minds in the United States, when our country was in its formative years, feeling out its independence and still searching for its own narrative. George Washington visited, Benjamin Franklin helped secure its contents, John Hancock donated the flocked wallpaper, and John Singleton Copley painted august portraits for its walls. At once a laboratory, art gallery, and lecture hall, its main purpose was to serve the students of Harvard College.

This wee chamber thrived from 1766 to 1820 and then all but disappeared, until recent years. Ethan Lasser, a curator at the Harvard Art Museums, kept encountering references to a teaching cabinet at the school while researching something else entirely, the whereabouts of a lost portrait.

What he discovered instead was evidence of a lost museum, a place that was the heart of intellectual life in New England for more than half a century.

Now, for the first time since the Philosophy Chamber was disbanded and its formal portraits, scientific instruments, natura...

In a profound act of cultural erasure, many of these objects were stripped of the particulars of their making and history once they entered the global trade of “rare curiosities,” as the exhibit calls it. Basic information about the creators, materials, and cultures was disregarded in favor of the tales of adventure that brought them to America. In the current exhibit, some of the indigenous objects are intentionally presented without fully correcting the record, with only scant information, as would have been the case in the chamber. This seems strange, even problematic, at first. Yet it’s meaningful to experience these items at they would have been viewed in the cabinet, without the kind of context we’ve come to expect. ...

Indeed, one of the great contributions of this exhibition is the reproachful realities it brings to light, the academic roots of racism. The curators do not shy away from what they’ve uncovered in the primary didactics for the show or its scholarly catalogue.
intellectual_furnishings  media_architecture  pedagogy  museums  cabinets 
september 2017 by shannon_mattern
The billion-dollar palaces of Apple, Facebook and Google | Art and design | The Guardian
It is, at all events, the project against which other tech companies’ proposals want to define themselves. They want to be the things that it is not. The official story of the Facebook/Gehry collaboration is that Mark Zuckerberg was wary of the architect’s celebrity and the latter had to convince him of his ability to deliver the project – with the help of Gehry’s in-house software – more cheaply and efficiently than his rivals. The finished version is from the rough-edged and rumpus-room schools of tech HQ design, with a huge open-plan office containing 2,800 workers and splashy, colourful works by local artists. “The building itself is pretty simple and isn’t fancy. That’s on purpose,” said Zuckerberg. “We want our space to feel like a work in progress. When you enter our buildings, we want you to feel how much left there is to be done in our mission to connect the world.”


Shohei Shigematsu, the partner at OMA New York in charge of Facebook’s latest expansion, Willow Campus, says that “our mission was not to provide iconic architecture but also regional and social thinking”. ...

If Apple Park seems aloof and extraterrestrial – despite the fact that quite a lot of its landscape is open to the public – then Facebook and Google want you to know how much, like street jugglers or mime artists, they want to engage you. But there are also similarities between all these projects, such as the all-embracing nature of their ambitions. Each campus is a self-contained universe where everything – the species of vegetation, the graphics, the food in the cafe, the programming of events, the architecture, is determined by the management. They make their own weather.

Under the Google tent or inside the Apple circle there is little but googleness or appleness. There is nature but – despite the meticulous selection of native plants – it is of an abstract, managed kind. There is art, but it is drained of the power to shock and subvert, leaving only diversion and reassurance. There is architecture but, notwithstanding the high degree of invention that goes into materials, it finds it hard to shed the quality of computer renderings, the sense that buildings are made of a kind of digistuff, which could as well be one thing or another. Even when the corporations reach out to their communities, to use the preferred PR terminology, the rest of the world is a hazy, ill-defined entity, a mist in the background of the computer-generated images.

These panoptical worlds are a function of the sheer scale of the corporations, but they also reflect their mindset. It has been pointed out that tech campuses resemble hippie communes of the 1960s in their apparent egalitarianism, their illusion that you can go back to nature, make your own rules, liberate yourself with science and share everything. Physically, Google’s big roof echoes the geodesic domes that hippies put up in their rural retreats.

While their sci-fi is strangely dated, culturally it makes sense. As the author Fred Turner has argued in From Counterculture to Cyberculture, radical Californian ideas of the 1960s were, with added profit motive, converted into radical Californian technologies of recent decades. And as has been belatedly dawning, there are limits to the sharing, equality and freedom, particularly when the intellectual property and business strategies of the tech giants are at stake. Their architecture gives form to these contradictions, to the combinations of openness and control and of freedom and barriers. They are perfect diagrams of the apparent equality and actual inequality of the tech sphere, where impermeable septa divide those in the inner circles from the rest. There is inequality everywhere, of course, but the tech trick is to pretend that there isn’t.
media_architecture  media_workplace  google  facebook  amazon 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
Housing Labor - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The cybernetic model fascinated architects and inspired some of the most radical architectural thought of the period, such as Cedric Price, Joan Littlewood and Gordon Pask’s Fun Palace (1961–1966), Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon (1956–1974), and Yona Friedman’s Realisable Utopias (1976). While most went largely unrealized, management consultants Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle’s implemented cybernetic principles throughout a wide range of built projects with the invention of Bürolandschaft (office-landscape, 1956–1971). Acting as consultants, the Schnelles and their interdisciplinary QUICKBORNER TEAM developed a design and planning method called “organizational cybernetics” (Organisationskybernetik) which, starting in the early 1960s, they used to generate organizational concepts and office space designs for companies looking for administrative innovation.

For the Schnelles, cybernetics presented itself as a new social structure free from hierarchical structure, capable of transforming the alienation of work into the autonomy of individuals. Their pragmatic approach toward the cybernetic organization and rationalization of administrative activity consisted of recording and systematizing every step in the office’s work process. They placed a particular focus on information flows that would allow for as much work as possible to become calculable, and thus automated. Workers responsible for executing on the spot, trivial, repetitive labor could be replaced by information-processing machines, while non-trivial work with a high degree of “informational” uncertainty, which could not be processed by machines at the time, was planned to be worked on by teams of indiviuals.1 While drawing from its predecessor “scientific management,” Organisationskybernetik adopted a more comprehensive approach to the reorganization of labor by taking into account its informal aspects and atmospheric conditions.

The layout of post-war workplaces were, as portrayed in cinema of the time such as Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960) or later and to critical effect, Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967), geometrically rigorous with a formally legible hierarchy and, as inherited from early industrial factories, designed for central monitoring and discipline. Office-landscapes were instead designed for a “community” of labor consisting of small groups and teams with no discernible bosses or leaders. With its psychologically inflected color schemes and calculated ordering of workplaces, potted plants, and partitions, office-landscapes were intended to make each individual feel as if they were in a democratically organized space, aware of their social responsibilities, and motivated to work. Fundamental to this was the programmatic incorporation of leisure.
workplace  office_culture  media_architecture  intellectual_furnishings  office_design 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
Workers of the World, Conform! - Triple Canopy
While the popularization of the typewriter and Dewey decimal system in the late 1800s transformed the storage and retrieval of information, Ostwald believed that even more fundamental change was required in order to maximize efficiency. Ostwald, a prolific writer and renowned scholar, proposed something more like the division of physical labor into a series of motions, as advocated by Frederick Winslow Taylor in The Principles of Scientific Management (1911). He aimed to enable distant researchers to communicate with ease and office workers to process data without trouble. ... Ostwald believed that the result would be the seamless documentation and circulation of all knowledge—and, ultimately, the connection of all minds into a single “world brain.”... This shift had a moral dimension, as standardization was associated with orderly and democratic societies, transparent and punctilious characters. ...

Ostwald and his cohort were galvanized by the development of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy increases in any isolated system. The law gave credence to the notion that workplace efficiency represents a scientific and not just a moral or economic imperative. Ostwald was not unusual in his belief that the escalation of entropy threatened the very existence of life on earth. ...

To minimize waste, Ostwald advocated the use of universal auxiliary languages such as Ido, a simplified form of Esperanto (which was billed as “everybody’s second language”), and the invention of a global currency. But his focus shifted after the advertiser and bibliographer K.W. Bührer gave him a copy of Die Organisierung der geistigen Arbeit durch “Die Brücke” (The Organization of Intellectual Work through “The Bridge”) (1911), which Bührer wrote with the mathematician Adolf Saager and published in German and Esperanto. The book argues that the creation of universal systems for recording and circulating information hinges on the worldwide adoption of standards for the formatting of paper. By eliminating the need to consider paper sizes, fonts, layouts, margin sizes, and so on, standards would free postal workers, scholars, and bank clerks from the burdens of information management.

Through a newsletter, leaflets, a series of theoretical essays, and public exhibitions, Die Brücke lobbied for the imposition of uniformity on sheets of paper—which, in their various dimensions, cluttered desks, spilled from folders, and distorted image reproductions. “Paper and other bearers of signs and symbols form the technical foundation of all cultures, that is, of all intellectual capital [geistigen Kapitals],” Ostwald wrote in his 1927 autobiography. “If one wants to organize, one can only do so if one first intervenes in the unification and coordination of the most everyday, common, and thus also least reflective functional routines.” Following a proposal by the eighteenth-century German scientist Christoph Georg Lichtenberg, Ostwald proposed that all paper sizes share a common aspect ratio and that smaller sizes be derived from larger sizes by folding the latter in half.

The paper sizes published by Ostwald and Die Brücke were called World Formats, because they were to be used everywhere and by everyone. “No world format can function without a world that accepts it,” Markus Krajewski writes in World Projects: Global Information Before World War I (2014). “Thus at the end of Ostwald’s script introducing the series of formats lie the unavoidable appeals to publishers and editors to use the eminently utilitarian world format for their own respective print products.” Ostwald managed, at least, to persuade the head of the Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization), who suggested a partnership toward the end of World War I. ...

Although the collaboration fizzled, Ostwald’s former secretary, an engineer named Walter Porstmann, ended up going to work for the German Institute for Standardization. He modified Die Brücke’s proposal, which became the standard DIN 476, published in 1922. The paper formats are now in use by all countries except the United States and Canada. (The vast majority of printed matter appears on A4 sheets of paper, which measure 210 by 297 millimeters.) They are essential to the infrastructure of the Information Age and permeate the modern office, having shaped binders, filing cabinets, envelopes, scanners, printers, as well as programs like Adobe Acrobat and the documents they generate. While they may go unnoticed, and even fade into memory with the domination of the digital realm (which involves ever more complex and obscure forms of standardization), they express a familiar ideal: With the right technical adjustments and systems, society can not only be salvaged but liberated.

The German Institute for Standardization began plotting to reformat society in 1917, when engineers, industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats, and scholars were called on to determine how to increase productivity and decrease costs (especially in relation to the manufacture of arms). They first issued standards for pins, screws, screw threads, screw fittings, and technical drawings. The nonprofit company’s purview expanded during the 1920s, as did the influence of a new kind of worker: Verwaltungsingenieure, or administrative engineers. Each new standard not only prescribed the form of a particular object but contributed to a system that governed the relationship between objects—as well as the processes from which they emerged, and the laborers who executed them.

Following the implementation of DIN 476, which consists of multiple “series” and “classes” of paper sizes, the German Institute for Standardization developed specifications for bank statements, envelopes, address fields, postcards, train tickets, binders, newspapers, business letters, margins, subject headings, and mail-sorting machinery. The postal service and railway were early adopters and fervent evangelists....

With the rise of Hitler, the mandate for orderliness and efficiency was intensified, and took on an overtly sinister aspect. Standardization was associated not only with discipline but with the enhancement of surveillance. The Nazis initially required party communications to conform to DIN 476, and ultimately outlawed the use anything but A4 paper in official correspondences. ...

This attention to communication was matched in the construction industry, which the Nazis standardized and consolidated in order to quickly rearm and achieve economic independence, as well as to manage the mass of slave laborers who made this possible....

The ISO, which is based in Switzerland, now issues protocols for GPS systems, shirt sizes, shipping containers, image compression techniques, and social responsibility; the protocols are voluntary and nonbinding, but the pressure to adopt them—and the costs of failing to do so—can be extraordinary. “Promises of a comprehensive, rationalizing, universalizing intelligence accompany the idea of global governance,” Easterling writes. “Such ideologies have been powerfully shaping the thickening bureaucracies that currently preside over global development.”...

Handbooks like the Bauentwurfslehre guided the arrangement of interlocking components and managed information in order to minimize complexity and ambiguity. Today, architectural drawing is effected through a series of algorithmic protocols, the drafting table having been supplanted by a computer interface that plugs into a programmable black box.
standards  paperwork  Dewey  media_architecture 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google | World news | The Guardian
Palantir, the CIA-backed startup, is Minority Report come true. It is all-powerful, yet no one knows it even exists. Palantir does not have an office, it has a “SCIF” on a back street in Palo Alto, California. SCIF stands for “sensitive compartmentalised information facility”. Palantir says its building “must be built to be resistant to attempts to access the information within. The network must be ‘airgapped’ from the public internet to prevent information leakage.”

Palantir’s defence systems include advanced biometrics and walls impenetrable to radio waves, phone signal or internet. Its data storage is blockchained: it cannot be accessed by merely sophisticated hacking, it requires digital pass codes held by dozens of independent parties, whose identities are themselves protected by blockchain.

What is Palantir protecting? A palantir is a “seeing stone” in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; a dark orb used by Saruman to be able to see in darkness or blinding light. “Palantir” means “one that sees from afar”, a mythical instrument of omnipotence....

Palantir watches everything you do and predicts what you will do next in order to stop it. As of 2013, its client list included the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Centre for Disease Control, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Up to 50% of its business is with the public sector. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, was an early investor....

Palantir is at the heart of the US government, but with its other arm, Palantir Metropolis, it provides the analytical tools for hedge funds, banks and financial services firms to outsmart each other....

Palantir calls its work with the LAPD “improving situational awareness, and responding to crime in real time”.... Algorithms take in data on the location, time and date of previously committed crimes and this data is superimposed to create hotspots on a map for police officers to patrol. ...

In 2013, TechCrunch obtained a leaked report on the use of Palantir by the LA and Chicago police departments. Sgt Peter Jackson of the LAPD was quoted as saying: “Detectives love the type of information [Palantir] provides. They can now do things that we could not do before.”
algorithms  analytics  big_data  palantir  surveillance  security  media_architecture  data_centers 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple’s New Headquarters - WSJ
sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion...

Yet Ive applied the same design process he brings to technological devices: prototyping to minimize any issues with the end result and to narrow what he calls the delta between the vision and the reality of a project. ...

The scattering of thousands of Apple employees across more than 100 sites in Silicon Valley has rendered more difficult the collaboration necessary for innovation. “We didn’t plan our growth, and then when we saw our growth, we were so engrossed in trying to push things forward that we didn’t spend time to really develop the workplace,” says Cook. “We’ve done a really good job of working around it, but it’s not the way we want to be working, nor does it represent our culture well.”...

The chairs are by Poul Kjærholm...

Some principles were a given, such as the belief that natural light and fresh air make workers happier and more productive....

From the beginning, Ive had an “absolute obsession with the idea that it was built like a product, not like a piece of architecture,” says industrial designer Marc Newson...

Ive takes a subtly British dig at other tech campuses sprouting across Silicon Valley. “A lot of the buildings that are being built at the moment are products of software-only cultures,” says Ive. “Because we understand making, we’ll build [a prototype] and try it and use it, and see what works and what doesn’t.” Facebook commissioned Frank Gehry to make its headquarters, with unfinished plywood walls and cables and cords that dangle from the ceiling. Bjarke Ingels’s and Thomas Heatherwick’s plan for Google’s new campus calls for a giant metal roof canopy.

Ive was used to taking on projects in new domains—such as music players and smartphones—so designing a campus didn’t feel like a leap. In fact, Ive thinks the line separating product design from architecture shouldn’t be so rigid. Architecture is “a sort of product design; you can talk about it in terms of scale and function and materials, material types,” he says. “I think the delineation is a much, much softer set of boundaries that mark our expertise.”...

The fourth floor will be home to the executive suites (including Ive’s design studio), the watch team and part of the group working on Siri, which will also occupy a fraction of the third floor. The Mac and iPad divisions will be interspersed with software teams on the middle levels....

The ring would be made up of pods—units of workspace—built around a central area, like a spoke pointing toward the center of the ring, and a row of customizable seating within each site: 80 pods per floor, 320 in total, but only one to prototype and get right....

The team quickly discovered that early versions of the small offices on each side of the central area were noisy—sound bounced off the flat wood walls. Foster’s architects suggested perforating the walls with millions of tiny holes and lining them with an absorbent material....

“The thing about that level of perfectionism and that level of simplicity is it really belies the complexity.”...

The same attributes accent Apple Park, though the materials are deceptively humble. Most of the ring is made of glass and concrete, Ive points out—though the concrete on the ceilings that run the inner and outer circumferences has been polished to mimic the terrazzo floor in the staircases, down to the same flecks of rock....

The main cafeteria, where Ive began his tour of the recent progress on campus, is a four-level atrium with massive 440,000-pound glass doors that open on both sides to let air pass through. Giant columns clad in blasted steel resemble the aluminum used on Apple’s phones and computers. ...

Ive and Cook place great importance on employees being physically together at work—ironic for a company that has created devices that enable people to work from a distance. Face-to-face communication is essential during the beginning of a project, when an idea is sprouting, they say. Once a model emerges from a series of conversations, it draws people in and gives focus. “For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction,” says Cook, “and I don’t think it will ever happen.”...

THE THOUSANDS OF employees at Apple Park will need to bend slightly to Ive’s vision of the workplace. Many will be seated in open space, not the small offices they’re used to. Coders and programmers are concerned that their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting. Whiteboards—synonymous with Silicon Valley brainstorming—are built into floor-to-ceiling sliding doors in the central area of each pod, but “some of the engineers are freaking out” that it isn’t enough, says Whisenhunt. iPhones will be the primary mode of communication for everyone, though individuals can also lobby for a desk phone, if they feel they have a need for one.
media_architecture  media_workplace  furniture  intellectual_furnishings  apple 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
Learning from the Virtual - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The process of rethinking “museum” architecture today must take into consideration the impact of all different types of new and on-the-horizon technologies where VR and AR are but two of many profound ways of thinking and seeing the world that are already affecting the production and experience of art. Add to these voice control, visual and sensory response systems, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning, and the changes become ever more nuanced and complex, with the potential to radically shift museum culture itself.
virtual_reality  museums  media_architecture  sensation  artificial_intelligence  robotics  machine_learning 
august 2017 by shannon_mattern
Langlands & Bell: the artists storming Silicon Valley's fortresses | Art and design | The Guardian
These bleached bodies are the headquarters buildings of the world’s biggest technology companies, as seen through the detached, deadpan eyes of artist duo Langlands & Bell.

“Our obsession started when we came across Norman Foster’s plan for the new Apple campus in Cupertino,” says Ben Langlands, gesturing towards an image of a pristine white doughnut bristling with a regimented stubble of tiny columns. The first of the $5bn building’s 12,000 employees will move into the mothership this month, welcomed into a mile-long closed loop of offices, lined with brushed aluminium and clad with the largest panes of curved glass the world has ever seen, every element fitted with the precision of an iPhone...

Now in their late 50s and early 60s, the provocative pair have been probing the darker side of what they call “strategic architecture” for the past three decades, constructing immaculate white models of buildings that speak of networks of wider global influence beyond their four walls. Since the late 1980s, they have trained their laser-sharp gaze on everything from the big banks of Frankfurt, to the geometric headquarters of Nato and Unesco, to the sprawling panopticon penitentiaries of the US and international courts of justice – as well as Osama bin Laden’s house in Afghanistan.

Bringing a clinical precision to their subjects, they lay their victims on the operating table and conduct a cool-headed autopsy, peeling back facades and lifting off rooftops to lay bare the bones of power for all to see. “We’re providing a kind of privileged access,” says Bell, “stripping away the envelope and revealing the innards.”...

The artists rarely visit the sites in question nor speak to the architects, but undertake desktop research and download drawings from municipal planning authority websites to build up the required information. The plans are often unavailable for security reasons, so they frequently rely on the promotional perspective views, which give their images an eerie familiarity. These are PR shots lifted from the blogs and billboards, but bleached of the surface gloss of the original image, stripped back to reveal the lifeless skeletons beneath.

This ghostly white aesthetic has become more familiar since the rise of 3D printing, but Langlands & Bell’s process is refreshingly luddite – they trained in the 1970s, so prefer scalpels to B-splines. They still construct each model by hand, layering up card and foam-board to form a “two-and-a-half dimensional” relief, before photographing and digitally manipulating the images, adding the shadows and eye-searing background colours, which gives this series the appropriately corporate gloss of a series of Pantone swatches. Some are shown as models, others as editioned prints.
media_architecture  silicon_valley  institutional_critique 
july 2017 by shannon_mattern
10,000 New Yorkers. 2 Decades. A Data Trove About ‘Everything.’ - The New York Times
The answer he came up with was the Human Project.

This fall, Mr. Glimcher and his team will start recruiting 10,000 New Yorkers willing to open up their lives to researchers for the next two decades, if not longer.

Researchers will follow every aspect of their lives, virtually all the time, to try to answer fundamental questions about why we make the decisions we make and how they affect our lives.

The hope is that in the vast streams of data — around 250 gigabytes of information on each subject every year, the equivalent of a computer hard drive — patterns will emerge that will help improve public health, education and decision making.

The method of following a group of people over a long period of time to study health has proved effective in the past, most notably in a study that began in 1948 by tracking 5,209 adults from Framingham, Mass., which is now in its third generation. That project was designed to study cardiovascular health, and much of what we know about heart disease and the effects of things like diet and exercise is derived from its findings....

Mr. Glimcher and his team hope to collect information on subjects as varied as the genome and social interactions. They will collate some 50,000 data points, including medical records, credit card information, GPS tracking and education records. They will also conduct physical examinations, including taking blood and urine samples.

But the first challenge will be getting people to sign up.

One of the flaws in the current collection of big data, Mr. Glimcher said, is that it misses large swaths of the population. Simply put, it skews to the wealthier and the healthier. For instance, if one looked at Google Traffic, it might seem that the South Bronx had the best roads with the fewest problems. However, Mr. Glimcher said, that is probably not the result of fewer potholes, but rather fewer people with smartphones.

“So how do we get a data set that covers everything?” he asked.

The researchers decided to randomly target families in 150 census blocks in New York City, and their research suggests that they will have a 40 percent success rate in getting people to participate. Even with a 10 percent success rate, Mr. Glimcher said, they will get the people they need.

But unlike cellphone and social media companies, Mr. Glimcher said, the Human Project wants to be sure everyone knows exactly what he or she is signing up for....

So far, Mr. Glimcher said, it is not the data that comes from the phone or other technology that gives people the most pause. It is the data collected from something much more basic: feces.

One of the Human Project’s goals is to study the microbiome and the millions of bacteria in the gut. The best way to find information on the subject is in stool samples. But that requires some explaining.

The dozens of recruiters who will fan out across the city are being trained to handle that topic and many others. They will also have to convince people that all of this information will be kept safe.

In fact, a big part of the $15 million start-up budget is being spent on security.

A special data center is being built at the new campus of New York University in Brooklyn, where the Human Project will be based....

It will be as secure as the information kept by Chase Bank, he added.

However, unlike at a bank, the data needs to be available to researchers from a variety of disciplines, so a system of security zones will be in place.

In the “green zone,” all activity will be monitored, but access to secure information will be limited.

To look at the actual data, people will have to enter the “yellow zone” using a thumbprint and a non-clonable ID card for entry. Outside researchers can request a mini-data set, which will not include any identifying information.

The crown jewels will be kept in the “red zone.”...

To enter this area, people will have to pass through what is known as a “man trap,” essentially an antechamber between two sets of doors. There they will have to provide a thumbprint and an ID and will be scanned via video to ensure they are alone. Finally, those seeking access will have to enter a code proving that they are not under duress.

The data is also largely protected from subpoena power, Mr. Glimcher said.
big_data  methodology  data_privacy  sampling  media_architecture  data_visualization 
june 2017 by shannon_mattern
The Crisis in Conservation: Istanbul's Gezi Park between Restoration and Resistance | Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Among the urban revolts that arose in 2010–13, the Gezi Park protests in Turkey present a particular challenge to architectural history and conservation.1 In the case of the Turkish protests, the central issues were control over a symbolically important public urban space, Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square, and the power to shape architectural heritage and public memory. Two visions of architectural heritage clashed in Taksim: on one hand, the government's proposed “restoration” of a demolished Ottoman building, which would have both reified a neo-Ottoman political identity and served as a glittering shopping mall; and on the other, the desire of a broad coalition of citizens and civic organizations to conserve an urban public park and its five hundred plane trees. When public revulsion against police violence transformed Gezi in June 2013 with massive demonstrations and millions in seventy-nine cities across Turkey joined in protest, the Gezi Resistance evolved from a rejection of the government's authoritarian vision for heritage restoration and urban renovation into a rejection of the governing bloc's cultural hegemony generally.

It is worth recounting the crisis in conservation in Istanbul's Taksim Square and the culture wars in the years leading up to the Gezi events, a troubled triangle of public architectural heritage, government plans, and civil resistance. In the aftermath of the Gezi events, and of 15 July 2016, when progovernment citizens took to the streets to thwart a military coup, we are left with sobering questions. What are the limits of public participation in architectural conservation and urban historic preservation? Can a coalition of citizens and civic organizations preserve and sustain public architectural heritage against the will of the government, in defiance of the prerogative of its bureaucracy, and brave the violence visited upon the people by the state's police? What happens when the fate …
public_space  turkey  media_architecture  preservation  authoritarianism 
june 2017 by shannon_mattern
Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft | Christa Kamleithner, Roland Meyer, Julia Weber, Reinhold Martin, Meredith Tenhoor | Feedback Loops
the academic study of architecture as one discipline among others really only begins in the nineteenth century. It accompanies the founding of art history departments in the new research universities in Europe and a bit later, in the United States. Which is one reason that I have been studying the history of those universities: not in order to write a disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) history of architecture, but an architectural history of disciplines.

By architectural I mean a material complex in which architecture, as traditionally defined, links up with other media, like printed books or electric light. Understanding this requires getting at how media operate in general, as well as how particular media operate within specific situations. Rather than limiting ourselves to understanding architecture, then, as one among many disciplines, I would suggest that we redefine it as one among many media. All media belong, in turn, to contingent historical processes interacting with one another. In which case, studying these processes may therefore even require replacing architectural history with media history, while at the same time recognizing that both are simply iterations of history-as-such—not necessarily as studied in history departments, but as a contingent formation in its own right. And so we can speak of intermediality as well as interdisciplinarity....

certain «media theorists» of the time (Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord, most notably) shaped their criticism invisibly around emerging architectural spaces. That particular form of media critique needed built architecture to articulate the dystopian dimensions of a fully technocratic society. My research on this period has made clear to me that the disciplinary boundaries that we might hold up between media and architecture were no more than «other realms» across which ideas and designs had to be translated in order to be constituted as such. Architects draw from and reinterpret media theories; media theorists think through architecture....

Architecture, in this view, is discussed mainly as a medium of organization and distribution – rather than as a medium of representation. ...

Behind this, however, is another distinction that has recurred over the years for media studies as well as for architectural studies. That is the distinction between mass media and technical media. While many modern media such as film, television, or architecture are clearly both at once, emphasizing one or the other aspect has notable consequences. For example, at one point, in dialogue with Samuel Weber’s Mass Mediauras 3 and with other post-Benjaminian scholarship, I found it useful to describe the mid-century curtain wall, typical of post-war corporate architecture, as a «mass medium». But on reflection, that was only possible after having considered the metal-and-glass curtain wall in some detail as a technical system based on modularity. The point, after all, was not just that the curtain wall, like the Hollywood cinema analyzed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, transmitted messages associated with postwar consumerism, although it did do that. It was that in the end, its actual «message» was rather more structural: the scaleless, gridded patterns that were the source code, or syntax—so to speak—of corporate organization itself, a universal space enabling flexibility, variety and standardization. And as technique, that code operated more on the epistemic plane than it did on the ideological (or semantic) plane that Horkheimer and Adorno associated with «mass deception».....

the very definition of political economy depends on an architectural model, but also that markets – architectural ones, those actually built – become a way of both inventing and testing different modes of political economy. In the long modern period there are many moments in which architecture is primarily understood as a distribution system – or even more broadly a means of managing circulation....

there might be a bit more of a fetishization of data within architectural practice. I hope that the conversations happening among historians can help to situate this use of data and open up more skepticism about the adoption of such models within practice....

Looking at Les Halles in longue durée makes clear that architecture and discourses of political economy depend on each other. The point is not to establish whether architecture has a governmental function, but rather to identify technics and media, especially architecture, through which a particular form of political economy can emerge both discursively and technologically....

Rungis was one of the largest public works projects of its time in France (though it was funded partially through private capital, and was one of the early experiments in the privatization of public infrastructure in postwar France.) It was designed by functionalist architects and planners inspired by avant-garde planning movements of the 1930s, rather than by engineers, as is more typical of such projects. It has an aesthetics. The goal of its design was to make food distribution more efficient, and food less expensive, and it was therefore also a key ingredient of the economic and social transformation of France from a society whose economy depended on necessary goods to one oriented around conspicuous consumption, exports, tourism, and leisure: low food prices were intended to free up room in household budgets for new forms of expenditure. Part of this was to be achieved through regulation, but much of it was to occur through design, both architectural and technological; food sales would be tracked and modulated by early computer systems. Using these early technologies, planners did all they could to eliminate the material resistance of food, to make it as informational as possible. But this was not a new goal spurred by technology – it had been part of the intentions of eighteenth-century market designers as well....

Would you agree that while being «one among many media», one of the specific features of architecture can be found in its special way of combining technical and aesthetic dimensions, spatial organization and visible form?

R.M.: Yes, architecture typically combines these dimensions in different ways. But I should clarify that by aesthetics I mean a mode of cognition, a way of grasping and making sense of the world, more than a philosophy of beauty, image, or artistic feeling. This mode of cognition is embedded in material systems; it is therefore built-in, but historically variable. Hardwired into technical media like architecture, such a mode could also be called mediapolitical, if by politics we mean power relations
media_architecture  institutional_critique  disciplinarity  logistics  information  organization 
may 2017 by shannon_mattern
10 Must-Listen Architecture and Design Podcasts for the Holiday Break - Curbed
Is there a form of media that compliments city living better than podcasting? Whether it keeps commuters company during a morning train ride or provides a soundtrack for a stroll through city streets, the ubiquity and portability of podcasting can make a favorite show seem like a constant companion. In a post-Serial world, when Marc Maron gets the opportunity to interview the President in his garage, there are more shows than ever. We looked back over recent episodes and broadcasts and picked out some of our favorite architecture and design podcasts of the year, ideal listening during long trips, airport delays or simply free time over the upcoming holiday break.
media_architecture  audio  podcasts  radio 
february 2017 by shannon_mattern
Room One Thousand — Little Boxes: High-Tech and the Silicon Valley
Before Silicon Valley existed, another “little box,” the garage, already occupied a central role in the development of the electronic industry in the area. Although historians often cite the Stanford Industrial Park as the key physical site in the development of high-tech industry, a good case can be made that the lowly garage played an equally central role. In 1938, Bill Hewlett and David Packard rented a house in Palo Alto. Hewlett moved into the 12 x 18 foot garage, which they also used as a workshop. There, they invented and produced audio oscillators; the first product of what later became the electronics industry. Now a museum, the preserved shack is listed on the national register of historic places with a plaque reading “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”[16] After this, the new Hewlett Packard Company moved to a shop front in Palo Alto and then built their own warehouse-style building adjacent to the railroad tracks there. Only much later, in 1957, did they separate research and management from production, building one of the first modernist complexes in the new Stanford Industrial Park. As the flagship tenant in the development, their buildings, designed by architects Clark, Stromquist and Clark and landscaped by Thomas Church, set an example for later Silicon Valley campuses: with their striking design and employee amenities, rare at the time, including gardens, cafeterias, fountains and a “worker’s playground” with a horseshoe pit, badminton and volleyball courts....

Observers, attempting to account for this have traced Silicon Valley’s unique achievements to many causal factors: its history of well-funded military research, Stanford University’s strong links with tech industries, the Valley’s mild climate, and the availability of risk-tolerant venture capital.[22] Annalee Saxenian argues that the Valley’s success lies in its dense communication networks, where continuous personal interaction between engineers led them to change firms or start new firms, a type of intellectual and economic mobility that has produced the continuous flow of startups that guarantee the Valley’s continued economic vitality and growth.[23]

Less attention has been given to the role of Silicon Valley’s suburban landscape in fostering this culture. In fact, urban scholars have cited its “haphazard planning” and “car dependency” as detriments to its development.[24] However, it might also be argued that the flexible, network-based structure of Silicon Valley life and work found its physical analog in flexible, connected suburban space, with its freeway network and cheap and easily adaptable buildings. Over the decades, the little boxes that Malvina Reynolds imagined would produce identical residents have accommodated groups as varied as engineers and their families, working class homeowners, low-wage production workers, groups of unrelated high-tech employees, and Chinese and Indian immigrant families. ...

Silicon Valley demonstrates that a dispersed landscape predicated on mobility and the continuous construction of banal and repetitive building types is easily adaptable to growth and change. Since both are essential elements of innovation, it is not surprising that innovation flourishes here.
suburbia  silicon_valley  media_architecture  media_workplace 
january 2017 by shannon_mattern
History for an Empty Future - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
A history of architects’ names would be less a collection of biographies than an anthology of traces left by existences; traces that became more articulated in their design as those existences were shaped by an increasing number of increasingly denaturing systems of production, structures of power and abstract epistemologies.2 Palladio may have been widely known by a specially designed name, but architects did not commonly sign things until well into the eighteenth century. By then, a name alone was insufficient for the complex task of authentication required by a culture organized around the circulation, collection and exchange of images. Palladio’s name printed in a book was enough to spread Palladianism, but Piranesi needed both a name and an identifying signature to function as avatar and keep him attached to his drawings as they dispersed, image by image, across Europe.3 As industrial modernization further alienated the architect-as-person from his productions, compensatory architectural signatures proliferated until even buildings themselves were signed....

The advent of a geological era designed by humans, today commonly known as the Anthropocene, was therefore raising the question of what kind of signatures, what signs of life, would be useful for a time after the human—for a historical age without human posterity? Those becoming architects as these questions were taking shape are the architects associated with postmodernity and its anxieties about history. These architects constitute the last generation for whom the use of their own name as avatar, linked to their biographies and personal experience, appeared to be a natural selection rather than an act of design. This generation was scrupulously attentive to how they would enter the historical record, constructing elaborate and explicitly designed genealogies of architecture into which they inserted their names. Above all they self-archived, almost continuously, and while their obsessively constant choices about what to keep and what to expunge from the design of their future memory produced an almost comprehensive record of their existences, their efforts nevertheless contain gaps; evidence of moments when they appear to have been distracted from posterity by the exigencies of immediate events. And in these unintended lacunae, self-designs not only without designers, but more importantly without designated or even imagined recipients, begin to appear.

Peter Eisenman and Robert Venturi are two architects who were particularly consumed by self-archiving in the 1960s, although they followed apparently opposed design methods in this enterprise. Eisenman allowed relatively little material to find its way into the archive of House 1, for example, which is evidence of the great deal of material he elected to repress.6 He included only drawings, largely by his own hand, and no paperwork, thereby eliminating any trace of constraints on him and exposing his desire to appear absolutely autonomous, which is to say self-regulated and self-designed. His protocol recalls that of an art collector or museum curator, carefully picking and choosing things according to criteria designed to appear subjective and hence able to produce a record of a human existence identified as such by its pure and autonomous subjectivity. Many of these drawings are signed. Venturi, on the other hand, kept and included everything: every scrap of paper, specification set and phone memo.7 His protocol was clinical and scholarly, designed to appear objective, and his archive contains far more signatures on typed letters, contracts and other mechanically produced documents than on drawings. Where Eisenman’s archive is holographic, like a handwritten last will and testament, with his name appearing as an intrinsically authenticating autograph, Venturi’s archive is an accumulation of copies, typesets, and transcripts; the sort of documents that require notaries to authenticate their signatures. The former imagines its salience in terms of its capacity to record the unfolding of a personal history—what the field calls a “design process”—addressed to other persons with histories, while the latter imagines its salience in terms of its capacity to record the traces of functions deposited in an impersonal mountain of paperwork addressed to other operatives.
media_architecture  architectural_history  authorship  archives  intellectual_property 
january 2017 by shannon_mattern
A.UD Lecture Series 2014-2015: Robert Somol - YouTube
...completing his book manuscript, This Will Cover That: Writing and Building from the Death of Corbusier to the End of Architectur
media_architecture  writing 
december 2016 by shannon_mattern
Best (and Worst) Practices for Designing Learning Spaces | Library Babel Fish
A new Project Information Literacy report by the ever-curious researcher, Alison Head, has just been published, the first in a new “practitioner’s series.”  Planning and Designing Academic Library Learning Spaces involved interviewing 49 librarians, architects, and consultants involved in 22 library construction projects that were completed between 2011 and 2016. The research probes how these three parties negotiate their values and incorporate them into designs, what kinds of learning are these new and renovated spaces meant to support, and what best practices (and worst practices) might inform libraries embarking on a renovation.
It’s interesting to read this report against Scott Bennett’s influential study from 2003, Libraries Designed for Learning. He interviewed library directors about recent building projects and argued that we need to do a better job of considering “the library in the life of the user” rather than “the user in the life of the library,” that we should not focus planning on student learning rather than library functions. This study suggests we’ve made some progress. The most important goal for these renovations were creating flexible user-defined spaces for collaborative and individual learning. None of them focused on the needs of the library staff.
media_architecture  libraries  academic_libraries  planning 
december 2016 by shannon_mattern
The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight
It was an unusually audacious, highly sensitive assignment: to build a massive skyscraper, capable of withstanding an atomic blast, in the middle of New York City. It would have no windows, 29 floors with three basement levels, and enough food to last 1,500 people two weeks in the event of a catastrophe.

But the building’s primary purpose would not be to protect humans from toxic radiation amid nuclear war. Rather, the fortified skyscraper would safeguard powerful computers, cables, and switchboards. It would house one of the most important telecommunications hubs in the United States — the world’s largest center for processing long-distance phone calls, operated by the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T.

The building was designed by the architectural firm John Carl Warnecke & Associates, whose grand vision was to create a communication nerve center like a “20th century fortress, with spears and arrows replaced by protons and neutrons laying quiet siege to an army of machines within.”....

True to the designers’ original plans, there are no windows and the building is not illuminated. At night it becomes a giant shadow, blending into the darkness, its large square vents emitting a distinct, dull hum that is frequently drowned out by the sound of passing traffic and wailing sirens.

...An investigation by The Intercept indicates that the skyscraper is more than a mere nerve center for long-distance phone calls. It also appears to be one of the most important National Security Agency surveillance sites on U.S. soil — a covert monitoring hub that is used to tap into phone calls, faxes, and internet data....

Documents obtained by The Intercept from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden do not explicitly name 33 Thomas Street as a surveillance facility. However — taken together with architectural plans, public records, and interviews with former AT&T employees conducted for this article — they provide compelling evidence that 33 Thomas Street has served as an NSA surveillance site, code-named TITANPOINTE.
Inside 33 Thomas Street there is a major international “gateway switch,” according to a former AT&T engineer, which routes phone calls between the United States and countries across the world. A series of top-secret NSA memos suggest that the agency has tapped into these calls from a secure facility within the AT&T building. The Manhattan skyscraper appears to be a core location used for a controversial NSA surveillance program that has targeted the communications of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and at least 38 countries, including close U.S. allies such as Germany, Japan, and France....

The 2011 guide, written to assist NSA employees visiting various facilities, discloses that TITANPOINTE is in New York City. The 2013 guide states that a “partner” called LITHIUM, which is NSA’s code name for AT&T, supervises visits to the site.

The 33 Thomas Street building is located almost next door to the FBI’s New York field office — about a block away — at Federal Plaza. The 2011 NSA travel guide instructs employees traveling to TITANTPOINTE to head to the FBI’s New York field office....

It is not clear how many people work at 33 Thomas Street today, but Warnecke’s original plans stated that it would provide food, water, and recreation for 1,500 people. It would also store 250,000 gallons of fuel to power generators, which would enable it to become a “self-contained city” for two weeks in the event of an emergency power failure. The blueprints for the building show that it was to include three subterranean levels, including a cable vault, where telecommunications cables likely entered and exited the building from under Manhattan’s bustling streets....

But the site has other capabilities at its disposal. The NSA’s documents indicate that it is also equipped with powerful satellite antenna — likely the ones located on the roof of 33 Thomas Street — which monitor information transmitted through the air.

The SKIDROWE spying program focuses on covertly vacuuming up internet data — known as “digital network intelligence” — as it is passing between foreign satellites. The harvested data is then made accessible through XKEYSCORE, a Google-like mass surveillance system that the NSA’s employees use to search through huge quantities of information about people’s emails, chats, Skype calls, passwords, and internet browsing histories....

As in 1983, AT&T may not be completely alone at 33 Thomas Street. Earlier this year, a technician working at the building — who did not want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media — told The Intercept that a handful of Verizon employees were still based inside. However, the NSA’s documents do not suggest that Verizon is implicated in the surveillance at the TITANPOINTE facility, and instead only point to AT&T’s involvement. Verizon declined to comment for this story.
surveillance  media_architecture  telecommunications  NSA 
november 2016 by shannon_mattern
National Security Agency Said to Use Manhattan Tower as Listening Post - The New York Times
From a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan, the building at 33 Thomas Street, known as the Long Lines Building, looks like nothing less than a monument to the prize of privacy.

With not a window in its walls from the ground up to its height of 550 feet, 33 Thomas looms over Church Street with an architectural blank face. Nothing about it resembles a place of human habitation, and in fact it was built for machines: An AT&T subsidiary commissioned the tower to house long-distance phone lines. Completed in 1974, it was fortified to withstand a nuclear attack on New York, and the architect made plans to include enough food, water and generator fuel to sustain 1,500 people for two weeks during a catastrophic loss of power to the city.

Now, an investigative article in The Intercept and an accompanying 10-minute documentary film, “Project X,” opening on Friday at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, say the building appears to have served another purpose: as a listening post code-named Titanpointe by the National Security Agency. The article and film say that Titanpointe was one of the facilities used to collect communications — with permission granted by judges — from international entities that have at least some operations in New York, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and 38 countries.

...Equipment in the building monitored international long-distance phone calls, faxes, videoconferencing, voice calls made over the internet.

Much of the documentation for the article and film draws on material provided by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the agency who released information in 2013 about the N.S.A.’s collaboration with telecommunication companies in vast surveillance programs. Laura Poitras, who collaborated with Henrik Moltke on the documentary film, was a member of a group of journalists awarded a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Mr. Snowden’s revelations.

....the building’s location about a block from F.B.I. offices at 26 Federal Plaza; and a reference to satellite intercepts for a program called Skidrowe. The building has satellite dishes on the roof and is the only site in New York City where AT&T has a Federal Communications Commission license for such stations, according to Mr. Moltke, who wrote the article with Ryan Gallagher....

The New York Times and Pro Publica reported in August 2015, that AT&T had had a close relationship with the N.S.A. for decades and had been lauded by the agency for its “extreme willingness to help.”

However, neither the materials from Mr. Snowden nor the new reports state with certainty that the N.S.A. was using AT&T space or equipment. As it happens, while AT&T Inc. owns the land at 33 Thomas, it has only about 87 percent of the floor space; the balance is owned by Verizon.

Asked about the Intercept report, Fletcher Cook, an AT&T spokesman, did not directly respond but said the company provided information when legally required or in specific emergency cases. “We do not allow any government agency to connect directly to or otherwise control our network to obtain our customers’ information,” he said.
surveillance  media_architecture  NSA  infrastructure  listening  telecommunications 
november 2016 by shannon_mattern
Spatial Thought - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
More like an environment than a traditional exhibition, Les Immatériaux was a scenography, an informational space or interface where objects, sounds, projections, music, and texts conveyed an image bordering on an “overexposition,” as Lyotard says, drawing on Paul Virilio’s concept of the “overexposed city.”4 Unlike the nineteenth-century world exhibitions, the aim of such an overexposure was not to project a sense of newness and amazement—not to simply affirm the seductive power of the new—but rather to trigger a “reflexive unease” in our relation to things that we already dimly sense.
In a conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Phillipe Parreno recalls visiting Lyotard’s exhibition:
Les Immatériaux was an exhibition producing ideas through a display of object in space. It was very different from writing a book or developing a philosophical concept. And that’s precisely what I loved in that exhibition, that it wasn’t a conceptual exhibition. I learned later that Lyotard wanted to do another exhibition, Resistance. “Resistance” isn’t a good title. You immediately think of a series of moral issues. But when I met him, I understood that he meant in fact resistance in another way. In school when you study physics you are told that frictional forces are not important—the forces of two surfaces in contact let certain axioms become uncertain. I think that’s what Resistance was to be about.
exhibition_design  exhibitions  epistemology  media_architecture  materiality 
november 2016 by shannon_mattern
This New Code Ensures Buildings Designs are Internet Optimized | ArchDaily
looking at a building, how good its internet is, is probably not one’s first thought. But for the tenants and companies inside it, it’s a key building service that they rely on daily.

As Arie Barendrecht explains, “it’s vital to tenants of buildings and critical to attracting and maintain new tenants – it’s a non-negotiable design component."

Barendrecht is the co-founder and CEO of WiredScore, a company that ranks commercial buildings on their connectivity. Beginning in New York, the company has provided wired certification to over 300 buildings in the city, with further operations across several other US cities as well as London and Manchester in the UK. The company’s work is instrumental in showing architects how their designs need to prepare for the 21st century and acknowledging those that already do....

Space allocation, in particular, is a critical factor. It’s not unusual for tenants wanting to upgrade their connectivity to discover they can’t, simply because there is no room for it. A common example of this seen by WiredScore is not having the floor space for wireless equipment like DAS or small cells. The space for wireless is simply not included in a lot of current building designs, but increasingly needed by tenants given the rise of the mobile workforce.

It’s also important for spaces to be flexible, not just for the potential to free up more floor area, but also to support the installation of new technologies regardless of what sort of wired or wireless infrastructure is required. This is especially relevant for new buildings where technological requirements can easily change between the time of planning and its completion....

Nowadays, many companies depend on having connectivity 100% of the time, making this sole dependency especially risky. Instead, diverse conduit pathways provide an alternative backup if one side were to come under fire, flood, or other physical damage. This involves having at least two different internet providers running their cables vertically through, and horizontally out of different sides of the building.

Resiliency focuses on the protection of the equipment itself, such as placement above grade – a lesson many New Yorkers learnt following the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. It also covers allocating telecom in a way to prevent day to day damage, and the best-designed buildings for connectivity separate equipment from areas of the building where users could accidentally damage equipment...

Materiality also comes into play, especially their effect on wireless coverage. Energy-efficient glass, in particular, blocks external cellular networks from entering buildings. So for developers aiming for LEED certification, Arie suggests having wireless strategies in place to compensate for the typically worse cellular coverage caused by low-e glass.
media_architecture  internet  infrastructure  wires  connectivity 
october 2016 by shannon_mattern
Seizing the means of rendering - Amateur Cities
these renderings are devoid of background and where there is one, it is generic, half-realized, serving to thrust the subject into the foreground and beg the viewer to ignore any of the details about how this future vision will integrate with the present.9 [9] Many projects have been set up to critique and criticize our rendered futures. Crystal Bennes’s excellent hashtag ‘#DevelopmentAesthetics’ takes a tongue-in-cheek crack at the literary and visual language of development hoardings. Where Dan Hill describes planning notices as the most important civic document we can interface with, I would argue that development hoardings are the second.10 These massive wooden walls block off the future-in-construction and proudly proclaim the social and cultural transformations to come, blind to the city around them, forcibly separating interaction...

Beyond the dream of living in these rendered future fantasies, the act of rendering itself is a privileged activity. It requires several components; the time and education to imagine compelling futures and then the time and education required to learn the skills to represent these imaginaries in visual form. If technology could be defined as the combination of tools and the knowledge of techniques on the application of those tools then inventing the future is a combination of its imagination and its rendering. And though there is a long and convoluted history of the architectural drawing, 3D rendering software is the most common tool used by architects and students today. ...

here is a difference between a render, which is one actor’s imagined future, and the way that that future will actually play out, but due to the commonality and cultural assimilation of rendering, these two ideas have become conflated. We have built a culture of resistance to renders. A future is presented as a glossy, gleaming spire and we almost dutifully express outrage towards its generic structure and gentrifying effect, nostalgic for the world before. Very few renders evoke hope and aspiration at street level because they are harbingers of someone else’s ideal of your built future. ...

The work of 3D artists such as Alan Warburton’s CGWTF and Nikita Diakur’s Ugly Universe, amongst many others, start to suggest how rendering tools can be turned against their creators and used perversely to break the physics and rendering engines that are prebuilt for beautiful architectural usage. Matthew Plummer-Fernandez’s portfolio of work has sought to build imaginaries for how 3D software might free us from our existing capitalist frameworks. The possibilities of this software goes far beyond the perfect rendered tree and glossy glass facade, it extends to simulating entire new rules for physics, creating unimaginable materials and realizing impossible structures. These projects go further than the quasi-speculative works seen at architectural exhibitions and graduate shows. They channel the tools into broadening our definitions of utopia.
media_architecture  rendering  illustration  futurism  marketing  utopia  tools 
august 2016 by shannon_mattern
tabanlioglu architects merges old + new with istanbul library
tabanlıoğlu architects have completed the restoration of the ‘beyazit public library’, with its rare book collection in istanbul, turkey. the historic piece of architecture dates back to 1884 and was formally a soup kitchen and a traveler’s inn that included a kitchen, a primary school, a hospital, a madrasah and a hammam. 

located adjacent to the beyazıt mosque, the library is sited in the public square and connected to the spine of the historical peninsula, divanyolu; one of the most vibrant spaces in the old part of the city. tabanlıoğlu architects’ response saw the interior of the building being sensitively re-organized and the structural fabric carefully restored, including the prominent multi-domed roof. the quarter, where the state library sits, is infused with historical connections of a literary nature; the old-book bazaar (bouquiniste) that is set in a courtyard leads tobeyazıt gate, one of the main entrances of the grand bazaar. the front façade of the library backs the monumental plane tree under which is the traditional open air coffee shop serving since the ottoman times.
library  media_architecture  special_collections 
august 2016 by shannon_mattern
Using Virtual Reality to Create a New Corporate Headquarters - The New York Times
The virtual reality demonstration has been integral to Nvidia’s design and construction of the new building — it is powered by Nvidia products. Nvidia makes computing chips that were originally used to accelerate computer graphics in video games. Today, the chips are increasingly being used in engineering visualization and high-performance computing, including the architectural design of the company’s future headquarters.

This year, Nvidia also began offering a highly interactive rendering software technology intended to complement its graphical processors. Known as Iray, the software has made it possible to quickly alter everything in the company’s architectural design simulation, from the location, size and transparency of triangle-shaped skylights to material surfaces and colors.

“We have never been able to capture the fidelity we are able to reach today,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive of Nvidia. “The rug has to be precisely like the rug in the real world and the paint has to be the paint.”
media_architecture  virtual_reality  design_process  rendering 
july 2016 by shannon_mattern
7 Gorgeous New Libraries That Aren't Just About Books | Co.Design | business + design
The public library is one of the greatest inventions of the modern age—a physical representation of the Enlightenment-era belief that citizens should be able to have free and equal access to knowledge. Yet after almost 200 years, the library is undergoing an architectural reinvention, as epitomized by the winners of the AIA's 2016 Library Building Awards.

...the Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, in Toronto, by Norwegian superfirm Snøhetta, features collaborative learning spaces and expansive tiered seating areas, which were inspired by ancient Greek stoas—freestanding covered walkways—and agoras—places for open assembly. With its punchy colors and mixture of public and semi-private areas, it almost looks like the offices of an elite tech company. The same could be said of the study pods within the Billings Public Library, in Montana, by Will Bruder Architects and O2 Architects.
libraries  media_architecture 
april 2016 by shannon_mattern
Behind the facade of starchitect video marketing - uncube
What I have noticed, whilst browsing through the swarm of promotional clips posted in the YouTube and Vimeo channels of many architecture firms and real estate companies, is not just the rapidly growing tendency to recur to video communication for the representation of architecture, but also the presence in these clips of recurrent tropes. With The (Un)RealShit I have started to isolate and analyse these tropes separately, so as to better understand the logics they respond to. I then reassemble them into brand new clips that I use to criticise the whole phenomenon. 

One such trope is the “self-building building”. Often used for towers and skyscrapers, this trope can assume a variety of autopoietic patterns: from the spontaneous assemblage of glass panels and steel beams to the weaving of gigantic noodles floating in mid air. ...

They need to hide the economic, political and environmental struggles that lie behind them, in order that reality can be perceived as a ready-to-buy commodity. But what about the conditions of the workers who will actually build them? Or the lives of the citizens who have been evicted for the privatisation of the land they will rise upon? Or the conditions of inequality they keep on perpetrating? ...

If there’s an architect who knows how to take advantage of video communication, it’s Bjarke Ingels. Since the very beginning of his career he has shown a particular ease in front of the camera, starring in several short videos in which digital animations are used to visually enrich the explanations of his design ideas. One of the core ingredients of these clips is Ingels’ simple, visually charged gestures offering a dumbed-down interpretation of his projects, which are presented as the logical outcome of games of vectors and shapes, literally reproduced by the movements of the architects’ hands. “Simplification”, the second trope I have run into, may look like an innocent PR strategy, but there are implications here, namely, the actual relationship established by BIG’s projects with the discourses that explain them.
media_architecture  rhetoric  marketing  video 
april 2016 by shannon_mattern
The Full Texture of a City: Ratik Asokan interviews Sarnath Banerjee
As a non-western artist, you have to ask yourself a question fairly early in your life: do I want to become a bridge maker, do I want my culture to be understood by the west? I have no intentions of doing such things. I’m fine being a little strange to a non-western audience. It doesn’t bother me if my book doesn’t change a generation of American readers, like Jhumpa Lahiri’s books are doing, or Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s books are doing. In order to write universal literature, you have to iron out a lot of particularities. And I’m not interested in making things friendly reading for Americans. We come from huge landscapes: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. If you put that world together, it’s a lot of people.

Who gives a fuck about New York? What’s great about being in one small section of the bookshop in the Strand? I don’t think it makes me feel any culturally greater. I think that age has gone: of having my work understood in New York, or by an Anglophile Indian for that matter. It’s not my intention to be understood. I will continue writing for a readership that is fundamentally local. Because if you want to produce universal writing, you run the risk of losing your local knowledge. Your views are so universalist that the street aspect disappears....

quoting big thinkers—though they certainly affect my thinking—reminds me of being an MA student. And I don’t want to sound like an MA student. The whole idea is to make knowledge available without hiding behind big names. Maybe it is not a rejection. It is simply having the confidence to speak without having to quote people....

I feel history is more of a story than a lesson. Okay, I know this idea of presentism: this idea of constantly evoking the past to justify the present moment. A lot of people will tell you, “history is how we got here.” And learning from the lessons of history. But that’s imperfect. The Russians tried to learn from the lessons of Napoleon and decided—after Lenin died—to evict Trotsky because he was too willful a man. Their solution was to give the top job to an ambitionless bureaucrat. That’s how they ended up with Stalin! So if you learn from history you can do things for all the wrong reasons.

This history as presentism is not entirely true. I agree with it, to an extent, but I’m not interested in it. I’m interested in history because it’s a discipline that requires a lot of effort from the imagination. You need to put in a lot of imaginative effort to figure out how people lived in an era that is not yours. And in that understanding of people from a different era, I feel, is an important gateway into humanity. Because you understand human behavior. In order to understand humanity, history is important.

And I like historians. They have good interpretive skills. They are also often great storytellers. ...

I’m going to get ten historians to work with ten visual professionals, not necessarily artists—animators, illustrators, set designers, architectural model makers, fashion people, I don’t know—to give their research a form that you and I could read. Perhaps they can make historical sets....

Imagine you own a roadside bookshop. You know where the books on geography are, where the medical textbooks are, where the SAT preparation books are, where Auden’s poetry is, where the contemporary South African fiction is, where the Tintins are. But if you don’t write this down, and you die, then the catalog dies. It just becomes a mess. It doesn’t exist as a catalog anymore.

Somewhere down the line, a city is a bit like that: a gigantic group of cluttered books. But a writer or artist has a way of making sense of it, of understanding how it is cataloged. The catalog lives in the writer’s head. Only if you write will the city-catalog be expressed. If you don’t, it slips into chaos.

And the most important part of a city is its people. In fact, people for me are like little cities. When you meet someone, it’s like you’ve found a new city to explore.
citation  humility  india  media_architecture  comics  historiography 
april 2016 by shannon_mattern
Representing Material Evidence: The Catacombs in Print | JHIBlog
This awareness of text as image sometimes influenced the reproductions of epitaphs on sepulchers. Although many of the reproductions only imitated original inscriptions through their use of capital letters, Severano’s team occasionally reproduced visual elements in the text, such as the exaggerated size of T’s (probably referring to the association of the Greek letter Τ (tau) with the cross) in some (p. 300). As in the case of the praying figure on broken plaster, they also tried to indicate damage, either by replicating cracks in the stone or including ellipses in the transcription. While they frequently attempted iconographically based reconstructions of missing parts of paintings or imperfect sarcophagi, textual frammenti were left incomplete. In one instance, on a marble stone that was especially “worn out,” they simply confessed, “Il resto non si può leggere” (p. 400).
textual_form  media_architecture  books  book_design  print 
march 2016 by shannon_mattern
Shelf Aware Machines | The Ploughshares Blog
I left the store agreeing with Jenn Risko: Amazon Books will never be the hub of an intellectual community the way an independent bookstore can. And yet it doesn’t seem to be trying. Amazon doesn’t want to be a City Lights; it wants to be a Hudson Booksellers. Here, in the shadow of the old flagship Barnes & Noble, is an even more pure expression of books as corporate commodity, as product trotted out just across the aisle from the newest TV streaming device. And Amazon Books is okay with that.
media_space  media_architecture  bookstores  amazon 
march 2016 by shannon_mattern
In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers | ArchDaily
Architectural renders are translations of a rather abstract drawing. MVRDV accepted grudgingly to have a visualization department because renders are used as a translation of the architect’s core business, the technical drawing, to make the building understandable to clients and users—not to mention the fact that most newspapers would never publish a technical drawing.

Years ago, MVRDV communicated their work with screenshots of 3D software onto which black cut-outs of people had been pasted in order to give scale. Since then, the technological standard has been raised; computer games and movies such as Avatar are the new common ground, and even children play games with better graphics than an architect’s 3D software. Because of this, the will or ability to read abstract artist impressions has declined, both with the public and our clients. Renders are a necessity. This is how society works now, whether we like it or not....

So we built up our own team, of mostly Italian visual artists, and they have created the renders for our office ever since. This team operates in the small window of opportunity between the end of the design and the deadline of the project. It is a tough job that deals with basic questions of presentation: What effect does the proposal have on its urban surroundings? How can we choose the right perspective to communicate this? How do we show the number of floors even if the façade is opaque? Can we find that exact time of day that the shadow does not obscure details we want to show? The visualization team is in close contact with the architects and they discuss façade details, what kind of people might visit the place and the sizes of trees. This is a strongly iterative and evolutionary process.

Is the render only used for pitches to clients? It might surprise that in more than half of our projects a render comes after the project is secured, so often it is not even an advertisement as such, but simply a way of communication. In many cases however the render is indeed a tool to convince decision makers, and the render team has to be precise about this as everything in the image is a promise.

...But the render with all its flaws is by far a more effective tool for describing a project to the public than merely trying to communicate incomprehensible technical drawings. Can you imagine the public outcry if a building were communicated in a way that only architects would understand?

Furthermore, the render is also a tool to create enthusiasm for a plan. At the Art Depot the rooftop forest was just an option. How would a forest look on the roof? The idea turned out to be so compelling that extra funding was found to actually create it. If critics see the render as a tool for developers to realize commercial projects, the same critics should also accept its ability to generate more architectural and urban quality.
media_architecture  renderings 
march 2016 by shannon_mattern
Learning Space Toolkit
Planning learning spaces becomes more complex every day. Whereas once this process amounted to providing mainly places for quiet, individual concentration, today it means creating more places that accommodate a wide range of activities, technologies, and participants – both in-person and connected virtually. In these spaces, people need to be able to create, retrieve, combine, display, share and information, then do it all over again, all in a space that they can easily reconfigure and is well supported by staff that meet and anticipate their needs.

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries and its Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) are partnering with strategic consultants brightspot strategy and AECOM to design, share, and promote an updated model for institutions to plan and support technology-rich informal learning spaces. This Learning Space Toolkit will include a roadmap to guide the process along with tools and techniques for assessing needs, understanding technology, describing spaces, planning and delivering support services, and assembling space, technology, and services to meet needs, even as they change.

The Toolkit will be freely available as a resource on the web and will be developed using a collaborative process that shares thinking early and often from the broader community. The resources developed will support the full lifecycle of a project, from defining the goals and needs early on to constructing the space to supporting and assessing it. By using the Toolkit, institutions will be better equipped to orchestrate the planning process so that learners are better supported and space, technology, and services are effective.
learning  media_architecture  libraries  learning_space 
february 2016 by shannon_mattern
The Avery Review | The Critic As Producer: An Essay on Essays On Architecture
compiling a genealogy of essays on architecture could continue almost endlessly, stopping in at William Gilpin’s essays on the picturesque, or the essayistic responses of Semper and Ruskin to the Crystal Palace of 1851, or early textual touchstones of modernism like “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered,” “City Planning According to Artistic Principles,” and “Ornament and Crime.” These are not manifestos, nor are they histories, nor are they descriptions of projects—in each case we find a polemical thinking-in-public that shapes the architectural discipline and also the popular response to it. But all essays are necessarily partial, and this one will turn instead to a moment when the political potential of the essay form gained a newfound importance, as industrialization and social change were effecting radical transformations on the modern metropolis.
It’s no coincidence that the major proponents of critical theory in the twentieth century, and the Frankfurt School in particular, adopted the essay as a potentially transformative literary form. One might even argue the inverse, that the genre of the essay—in its structural aspects and its intellectual lineage—in some sense demanded the rise of critical theory, being a form of thought uniquely suited to a certain form of writing. Looking back on the Frankfurt School heyday from the vantage point of the 1950s in “The Essay as Form,” Theodor Adorno points to the “anachronistic relevance” of the essay genre, untimely but still potent in its ability “to polarize the opaque, to unbind the powers latent in it.” (This “anachronistic relevance” is indirectly taken up by Terry Eagleton’s The Function of Criticism­, which argues that “the role of the contemporary critic, then, is a traditional one…not to invent some fashionable new function for it.”)7 The political charge of the essay is exercised against the rigidity of thought itself, under the premise that changing reality starts with changing how we think about the real. “By transgressing the orthodoxy of thought,” Adorno continues, “something becomes visible in the object which it is orthodoxy’s secret purpose to keep invisible.”...

Every age brings its own conventional distinctions, and the essay form remains an important tool for illuminating and even sometimes undoing them. We are at a moment in architecture when the specialization of intellectual labor has created its own conventions—in particular a dissociation between architectural production and architectural critique. This is a rift that has gone by many names, and has produced an outsized atmosphere of anxiety, but has also found palpable shape in a discipline that increasingly sees its critical apparatus, if you will, existing to the side of architectural pedagogy and practice....

The essay form has also achieved a place of privilege in architecture’s current media sphere. To a remarkable extent, architectural publishing is turning to the essay, in the guise of the small book, the pamphlet, or the ebook, as a preferred way of presenting ideas—to see this in action, one need only look at the excellent Strelka Press (edited by Justin McGuirk), Sternberg’s Critical Spatial Practices series (edited by Nikolaus Hirsch and Markus Miessen), the AA’s Architecture Words series (directed by Brett Steele), or some of the projects undertaken by our own Office of Publications at Columbia University GSAPP. Portable, digestible, and text-centered, these essays/books mount a resistance against the hyper-aestheticized gloss so common to architectural publishing, and against the regrettably persistent idea that the field of architecture doesn’t need to think too hard about what its products do in the world. One could argue that the twenty-first century’s fascination with the essay sidesteps scholarly depth—but this has always been a part of the essay genre, and given the incisive work being done by this generation’s architectural historians, the more pressing question is how the emerging sensibilities and ideas of scholarship might reenter the world of more casual reading.
media_architecture  design_criticism  architectural_criticism  essays  writing  critique  publications 
february 2016 by shannon_mattern
“A medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program” – BLDGBLOG
I’ve always loved Umberto Eco’s observation, from a text he delivered for the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina back in 2003, that “a medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation.”

The carved statuary, the stone ornament, the careful placement of scenes: it was all part of an edited visual narrative that you could return to again and again, like a 3-dimensional comic book or a collection of film stills in the center of your city, a body of symbolic storylines and characters given architectural form.

At the time of these cathedrals’ construction, Eco explained, “manuscripts were reserved to a restricted elite of literate persons, and the only thing to teach the masses about the stories of the Bible, the life of Christ and of the Saints, the moral principles, even the deeds of national history or the most elementary notions of geography and natural sciences (the nature of unknown peoples and the virtues of herbs or stones), was provided by the images of a cathedral.”...

Let’s start with the obvious: the fractal library in The Name of the Rose, a fictional architectural construct that belongs up there with other mythical buildings, from Kafka’s Castle to Daedalus’s Labyrinth or the Tower of Babel. The library, Eco explains, is a fortified architectural complex doubly protected by a weird system of mirrors and winds:
“The library must, of course, have a ventilation system,” William [the book’s non-narrating protagonist] said. “Otherwise the atmosphere would be stifling, especially in the summer. Moreover, those slits provide the right amount of humidity, so the parchments will not dry out. But the cleverness of the founders did not stop there. Placing the slits at certain angles, they made sure that on windy nights the gusts penetrating from those openings would encounter other gusts, and swirl inside the sequence of rooms, producing the sounds we have heard. Which, along with the mirrors and the herbs, increase the fear of the foolhardy who come in here, as we have, without knowing the place well. And we ourselves for a moment thought ghosts were breathing on our faces.”
libraries  notre_dame  media_architecture  cathedrals 
february 2016 by shannon_mattern
Nelson developed the Storagewall concept for the book Tomorrow's House, which he wrote with Henry Wright. The Storagewall was introduced in the chapter "Organized Storage." Even before the publication of the book, Life dedicated a title story to the wall, and had a freely standing version of the wall built. In addition, a Storagewall was installed in a single-family home in New Jersey, as the article reports. Storagewall formed the foundation for Nelson's almost two decades of work on storage furniture and storage systems.
nelson  intellectual_furnishings  domesticity  home  media_wall  media_architecture  furniture 
january 2016 by shannon_mattern
The Archive Studio / Jonathan Tuckey Design
The Archive Studio by Jonathan Tuckey Design is located inside London's Grade I listed Royal Festival Hall that opened for the Festival of Britain in 1951. As of this Autumn, The Archive Studio allows Southbank Centre to explore, catalogue and arrange their collection and bring elements of this unique archive to life. The idea of making visible the processes of a working archive has been a key element in achieving this. The Archive Studio does this, for example, by allowing visitors to see archivists and volunteers at work. The general public also has the opportunity to engage directly with the archive material and play a part in its presentation and preservation.
architecture  archives  performance  media_architecture  exhibition  preservation 
december 2015 by shannon_mattern
The Future of Architecture Visualization: An Interview with Morean Digital Realities and Zaha Hadid Architects | ArchDaily
PL: In your perspective as structural engineer, how important is visual communications to explain the project?

Karl Humpf: It has became more important as the forms of infrastructure projects often are more complex than in the past. Today you have to give the public and/or a wide range of stakeholders, organisations etc. a comprehensive impression of what will be built in the coming years and visualization has become a selling tool for authorities or, especially important in competitions or similar procedures of design.
media_architecture  rendering  animation 
november 2015 by shannon_mattern
So why did Amazon open a bookstore? » MobyLives
So why brick-and-mortar retail? Most likely because Amazon’s long-term strategy is simple: It wants everyone, everywhere to buy everything from Amazon … it will be a potentially valuable learning experience … lacking a physical presence the company ends up with a somewhat limited view of what its customers look like and how they behave. A retail presence can help change that.

And there you have it. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then. Amazon may indeed learn something from its bookstore/test lab—about show-rooming or about what kind of different data it can collect in situ. But does it really think brick and mortar stores, which it has been so disdainful of since the company’s beginnings, have anything to teach it?

Most likely not. As Yglesias sort of says before hedging his bets, Amazon may just be doing this simply because it can.

In short, let us not read too much into this blank slate that is no more nor less than a pure and brain-dead emanation—perhaps the ultimate emanation—of a rapacious free-market capitalism. A shark eating everything in its path because that’s what sharks do.

The question may not be “Why did Amazon open a bookstore?” but rather, “Why not?”
bookstores  amazon  media_architecture 
november 2015 by shannon_mattern
New York City's Mail Chutes
If you have ever worked in an old building, the chances are you will have at some point walked past a small mysterious brass box . Located about halfway up the wall, it is notable for a flat length of glass leading both into and out it, disappearing into the ceiling and the floor below. Often painted over, ignored and unused, they are a relic of the golden age of early skyscrapers called the Cutler mail chute.
The Cutler mail chutes flourished during the advent of the first multi-story buildings in the turn of the 20th century. The invention was fairly simple: the glass chutes would run internally the length of the building, with a mailing slot on each floor. Rather than having to make the trek downstairs to find the nearest mail box or post office, you would simply pop your letter into the chute from whichever floored you worked on, and gravity would swiftly carry your letter to a mailbox in the lobby, for daily collection from the postman. In an era when people were sending handfuls of letters each day, the convenience of the Cutler mail chute was a godsend....

As letters grew in size, clogging of the mail chutes became an increasing problem. A famous example occurred at the grand old McGraw Hill building on West 42nd Street. Once an emerald Art Deco masterpiece, and former home of Marvel Comics, the building has now faded into disrepair and a clog in their mail chute was discovered in the mid 1980s. When it was eventually tracked down and cleared, the resulting avalanche of undelivered mail filled 23 sacks.
dead_media  mail  infrastructure  media_archaeology  media_architecture 
november 2015 by shannon_mattern
Amazing Building Adventures! by Martin Filler | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Constructed of sturdy materials and meant to last decades, even centuries, architecture may seem to have little in common with comics, which are printed on cheap paper and prone to being thrown away by one’s mother. Yet the two mediums not only have a natural affinity, but the multi-panel drawing format can do several things that other visual methods cannot to advance broader knowledge of the building art.

An intriguing new exhibition, “Arkitektur-Striper: Architecture in Comic-Strip Form,” at Oslo’s National Museum-Architecture provides a fascinating overview of this phenomenon....

Comic strips can vividly illuminate a sequential story, and thus bring alive the often long, tedious, disjointed, and arcane process of architecture. Because so many comics are still hand-drawn, they can portray urban settings that feel much more emotionally alive than the super-slick, digitally altered photos now favored by real estate developers to make their unexecuted plans look as real as possible.

Two parallel but intertwined threads run through “Architektur-Striper”: comics that use architectural motifs, and architects who draw on the conventions of comics to present their designs....

Although the exhibition (and its brief but well-illustrated catalog, with texts in both Norwegian and English) is heavily weighted toward postmillennial examples, it begins with one of the greatest exponents of architecture in comic strips, the American artist Winsor McCay. In his various newspaper cartoon series, especially Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914 and 1924-1925), McCay frequently evoked the skyscrapers that transformed American cities during the first decades of the twentieth century, and implied that these unprecedented wonders emanated from the realm of dreams....

One glaring absence in “Arkitektur-Striper” is material relating to America’s classic mid-century comic books, in which striking depictions of the modern city were as central to the narrative as omnipotent protagonists like Superman and Batman. Both those characters figure prominently in the small and disappointing show “Superheroes in Gotham,” on view at the New-York Historical Society concurrent with the Oslo exhibition. Despite the emphasis suggested by the title, the New York show is almost devoid of comics with architectural settings—all those moody skyscraper canyons through which Clark Kent’s alter ego flew and Bruce Wayne’s drove his Batmobile—and overloaded instead with kitschy showbiz memorabilia and fanboy merchandise.
media_architecture  comics 
november 2015 by shannon_mattern
Conference 2015 - Research on Display: The Architecture Exhibition as Model for Knowledge Production
We now recognise the architecture exhibition as a medium of its own, including its own history. It cannot therefore be treated as a neutral vehicle for the presentation of best practices, the dissemination of innovative ideas, or for the propagation of a singular architectural style or ideology. Exhibitions have a power to frame architectural discourse by exploring the larger cultural conditions that shape the discipline. In the same way as a world's fair communicates a global condition, an exhibition of architectural drawings communicates the existence of archives and their institutional memory, while a model interior of a house conveys that the private, everyday realm also belongs to the sphere of culture and its politics.

Architecture exhibitions come in many variants, as we know. A dominant exhibition format has tended to showcase the latest developments of masterpiece architecture to a larger audience, as was the case with the now iconic Modern Architecture: International Exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1932, which launched the International Style. Other formats such as biennials stage debates on the state of architecture in relation to urgent societal or urban issues, e.g. The Greater Number at the Milan Triennale in 1968 curated by Giancarlo De Carlo.

The 2014 Venice Biennale entitled Fundamentals, curated by Rem Koolhaas, proposed another kind of format that dominated the various presentations: the exhibition as a platform for the presentation of research. From Beatriz Colomina’s Radical Pedagogies to the Korean pavilion by Minsuk Cho of Mass Studies that won the Golden Lion, the exhibition was not simply a product of research: research itself was on display.

...Laboratories of Architectural Ideas
moderated by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Yale University

Cases of architects curating exhibitions to explore their fascinations and new idea.
architectural_history  knowledge_structures  multimodal_scholarship  media_architecture  exhibition_design 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
From SimCity to, well, SimCity: The history of city-building games | Ars Technica
I'm going to take you on a whirlwind tour through the history of the city-building genre—from its antecedents to the hot new thing.

While extremely limited in its simulation, Doug Dyment's The Sumer Game was the first computer game to concern itself with matters of city building and management. He coded The Sumer Game in 1968 on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8 minicomputer, using the FOCAL programming language. David H. Ahl ported it to BASIC a few years later retitled as Hamurabi (with the second 'm' dropped in order to fit an eight-character naming limit).
The Sumer Game, or Hamurabi, put you in charge of the ancient city-state of Sumer. You couldn't build anything, but you could buy and sell land, plant seeds, and feed (or starve) your people. The goal was to grow your economy so that your city could expand and support a larger population, but rats and the plague stood in your way. And if you were truly a terrible leader your people would rebel, casting you off from the throne.

The game captured many a player's imagination, and several more expanded versions soon emerged, with different localities but the same core systems. Of these, George Blank's 1978 Apple II game Santa Paravia and Fiumaccio was perhaps the most notable, as it introduced several types of buildings (or "public works") that you could buy/construct.

With Santa Paravia, most of the elements of a city-building game were in place. You had taxes, buildings, disasters, population growth and decay, approval ratings—even a map of your kingdom that displayed at the end of each turn. But the most crucial ingredient of the genre was missing (and no, it wasn't that the game was still turn-based). Santa Paravia felt as though you were playing a computerized board game, not experimenting with wooden blocks and model train sets.
games  media_architecture  media_city  urban_media  urban_planning 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
What's at stake in the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Artist Theaster Gates has timed the opening of his newest community-based venture to a part of the CAB. At 68th Street and South Stony Island Avenue, he has created a wonderful arts venue from an abandoned, yet architecturally distinguished, bank building. It houses an eclectic collection of materials, including the Johnson Publishing archives, the vinyl record collection of “godfather of house music” Frankie Knuckles, and 60,000 glass lantern slides from the Art Institute and the University of Chicago.
archive_art  theaster_gates  exhibition_design  media_architecture  media_archaeology  archives  biennial 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
Paju set to become film town, in addition to being book hub : Arts & Entertainment : News : The Hankyoreh
Paju is getting a new “book and film town.”
The project is the second phase of an effort that has already seen the creation of a book hub in the Gyeonggi Province city. Now some 30 film-related businesses are set to move in, while additional venues are built for residents to enjoy films. Having already established its reputation as a publishing center, Paju is about to become a “cinema town” too.
Myung Films unveiled the buildings for its eponymous art center and film school in Paju to the media for the first time in an opening ceremony on the morning of Apr. 30. The company, chaired by Lee Eun and Shim Jae-myung, is the producer of films such as “Architecture 101” and “Revivre.”
The complex consists of two four-story blocks with two basement levels each. Covering a total area of 7,941 square meters, the structure was designed by architect Seung H-Sang.
Myung Films is the second film-related company to move into Paju, after the special visual effects firm Demolition last year. More than 30 more are set to finish move-in procedures through the end of 2016. It would be the second setting in the country to house a large concentration of film-related businesses, after Seoul’s Chungmu-ro.
Film industry professionals began work on the second-stage of the Paju Book City effort in 2007 with the aim of turning the community into a “book and film city.” Around 110 film and publishing companies have formed a Paju publishing complex cooperative and begun clearing the ground to build a construction headquarters for the town. The first stage of the project, covering an area of 250,000 pyeong (826,500 square meters), brought around 300 publishing and printing companies into Paju Book City.
“We’re planning to turn this into a space for communicating and creating culture through film,” explained Myung Films chairman Lee Eun.
paju  media_architecture  media_city  film  media_workplace 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
10,000 Publishing People at Work: South Korea's Paju Bookcity - Publishing Perspectives
The publishing industry is phase one of the Paju complex. Planning is now well underway for phase two which will see some 30 film companies, film software companies, animation houses and TV production companies moving into purpose built spaces and forming a ‘content cluster’. “We’re inviting people from these areas to set up base in Paju where the rents are lower than in Seoul,” explained Lee. “And we are expecting there to be many syngergies.”

The initiative is indicative of the importance South Korea’s new President Park Geun-hye is placing on “content.”  She is keen to exploit the country’s “soft power,” its elements that make up the successful Hallyu or Korean wave — K-pop, K-film, K-soaps, K-webtoons (manga-style online cartoons) — and she wants to add these “content” exports to the list of manufactured goods (mobiles, cars, etc.) for which Korea is already famous.
paju  media_architecture  labor  publishing  print 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
Myung Films Paju Building / IROJE Architects & Planners | ArchDaily
Myung Flims is a relatively young film production company who made and released many controversial films and hit films from ‘The Contact’, which was released quite a long time ago, to recent ‘Architecture 101’. It can be said to be a film production company that made some success stories in our infertile film industry.
media_architecture  media_workplace  film  paju 
october 2015 by shannon_mattern
The Instruments Project
Caught between technophilia and technophobia, the fields of architecture, landscape, and urbanism are unable to articulate the material and epistemic conditions under which they labor today. Architectural techniques and tools remain consigned to the celebratory rhetoric of scientific discovery and technical innovation, whose principles now govern design practice and pedagogy simply by way of theoretical exhaustion. Speed, exactitude, acumen, efficacy, expertise, efficiency, and other trusted axioms of modern life can no longer conceal the political and existential silence that resides at their core. The Instruments Project is an excavation of that silence: its continuities and divisions, its hidden historical impulses, and the forms of reasoning and representation resident within it. Through sustained attention to instrumental processes that are, by design, simultaneously material and metaphysical, the project works towards establishing the technical dimension of architecture, landscape, and urbanism as a legitimate site for historical inquiry and philosophical reflection.

The project proceeds from a twinned assertion. First, there is no “pre-technical” form of life, and therefore no possible epistemology in which technics simply follow from other domains of knowledge. Second, technical conditions are never “merely technical” but rather open onto the whole of lived life. Against that background, The Instruments Project undertakes a series of basic questions: What is an instrument? What does it mean to undertake even the (supposedly) most rudimentary technical operations—scanning, modeling, specifying, rendering, sensing, timing, imaging, automating, using—whose present semantic emptiness is matched only by their historical and philosophical richness?
media_architecture  tools  instruments  epistemology  labor 
september 2015 by shannon_mattern
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