Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fight for Kisses, the game. Download HERE.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


in the interest of this blog not falling to the wayside im actually going to put some work up (gasp!).

my proposal centers around digital sculpting as a method of generating architectural surfaces. you can read it here. feel free to critique it to pieces.

as you can see below, im not super good with the fancy-pants software yet, but theres all sorts of time left (right?). turns out its quite difficult stuff to work with, but im optimistic in the long run.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Shasta High School Football Team runs through a banner Friday night while entering Thompson Field. The Wolves won their first River Bowl 42-6, ending 11 years of frustration.

Of the many journals that covered the dialogue on emerging digital design techniques in the 1990’s, two in particular stand out as the most influential elements of that dialogue as it affects us in our present conception of computation in architecture. Greg Lynn’s Folding in Architecture, published in 1993, laid the foundations for the theoretical inclusion of digital techniques in architecture, and Stephen Perrella’s Hypersurface Architecture, released in 1998, provides a response one half-decade later. While it is Folding that introduces the potentials of the digital into architecture, and is theoretically more substantial, with the inclusion of commentary from Gilles Deleuze, Jaques Derrida, Peter Eisenman, Greg Lynn and Jeff Kipnis, Hypersurface Architecture is perhaps more compelling since it confronts the many theoretical conundrums of the techniques that Folding inspired. Perrella’s edition, including essays by Brian Massumi, Michael Speaks, and Perrella himself, intends to address the issues of hypersurface theory, a term devised by Perrella to describe the condition of a material surface imbued with the meta-quality of time and motion, most likely inspired by the developments of technological media and information exchange prevalent at the time of publication. Inadvertently, however, in its discussion of the role of motion in built-form, Hypersurface Architecture frames a current and ongoing debate about the role of dynamics and time-based modeling techniques in architectural design.

In Perrella’s opening essay he sets the tone of Hypersurface with a conceptual construct about the interrelated role of signage and surface, or what he calls the “pixel” and the “topological.” “The topologizing of architectural form,” he explains, “may be taken as a state of preparation for the reception of the flow of data as it overspills from contemporary cultural activities. A main effect of this transformation entails interconnectivity and continuity among previously systematized categories of architectural technics and production…While the two impulses – pixel and topological architecture – have been separated categorically, at this juncture overlaps are emerging as a result of repetitive deterritorialisations.” This interest in the deterritorialization between built-form and flexible media not only dates the piece to a specific era in time, but it establishes a set of connective threads between then and the current era, where we are dealing less with the fascination with a new set of media tools brought about by electronic media and more with the subjugation of mores that were established at the time of their onset. Take Perrella’s example of the city bus that is painted with a product advertisement, which is both a moving body and a dynamic interface where two surficial conditions morph in response to each other; the advertisement conforms to the shape of the bus, and the bus sacrifices parts of its identity to the advertisement. The interest in this kind tension has evolved. The animation of surface is no longer a matter of combining distinct media, such as the pixel and the topographical. It is now a matter of embedding animation into the surface’s material articulation. Interestingly, Perrella foreshadows this by describing the human body as a hypersurface, wherein flesh and faciality both bound the animation of our internal flows while translating them into the liveliness of our everyday motion and expression. It is perhaps not surprising that topology (and its internal variation) later became wedded to anthropomorphic form in the guise of more complex surface machinations, such as the eventual shift to subdivision surface.

Massumi, meanwhile, focuses his discussion on animate form within the architectural design process. His interest is to dissect the philosophical meaning of incorporating animation within a process that has a specified fixity as its end-goal, and he begins this investigation by defining a teleological shift in the starting and ending medium of design. Whereas form was originally origin and telos, the raw origin in the animate process is now defined as deformation. Form is merely the resultant. But how can we be sure of such a shift as this? Let us turn to Le Corbusier for an answer:

Conception is, in effect, an operation of the mind which foreshadows the general look of the artwork…Possessed of a method whose elements are like the words of a language, the creator chooses among these words those that he will group together to create a symphony…One comes logically to the necessity of a logical choice of themes, and the necessity of their association not by deformation but by formation.

We must assume, however, that for Massumi, and for Perrella for that matter, deformation and formation are one in the same in the process of animate form. In fact, it is their coincidence that potentially indicates the appropriate stoppage point for the process, and can only be measure, according to Massumi, by intuition and a careful sense of arbitrarity. And yet, still a problem remains, this time pertaining to the process’ capacity to actualize the virtual:

If the idea is to yield virtuality and bring it out, where is the virtuality in the final product? Precisely what trace of it is left in the concrete form it deposits as its residue? What of emergence is left in the emerged? If the end form is a sign that does not signify, then what does it do and how does it do it? What is the relation of the asignifying sign to its event?

For this, we make a quick detour to Deleuze. The virtual, according to the philosopher (by way of Massumi), gives form, but itself has none. “Although the virtual…cannot itself be seen or felt, it cannot be seen or felt as other than itself.” What Deleuze means is that the generative process of animate form leaves traces of transitional nature, but it itself never aspires to be transitional. The end, we should recall, is what instigated animation in the first place, and it is perhaps that we aspire to an acutely complex degree of formal homeostasis that led us to animation in the beginning.

Still, we are left to wonder what it is about homeostasis that is so encouraging. Why seek a balance of flows and significance with context when it is often the prerogative of design (and oftentimes form) to provoke? Michael Speaks uses this question in revisiting the pedagogy set forth in Folding, analyzing its perseverance and pitfalls since the volume’s release in 1995. He manages his critique by confronting none other than the central pedagogue, Greg Lynn. Speaks connects Lynn’s work to the problem of homeostasis through the issue of symmetry. Lynn’s work, he explains, aspires to a supple relationship with its context, because by breaking symmetry, the project reveals a sense of stability with regards to external forces from context. At the time, this was done through the use of animation scenarios that showed the building reacting to literal force, and yet they did not answer to the question of potentially ever being fixed objects. At the Anywise conference, Jeff Kipnis asked Lynn to explain his position:

Kipnis: Let me hold you accountable to [this] question, Greg. Because you say at the level of dynamic animation, we could be fascinated by what we see, but because you do not resolve it as a fixed static object with materials, structure and construction, at which point we see its real consequences, we’re left fetishizing the video rather than really understanding its design consequences. Is this true or not?

Lynn: I want to resist answering that question. In other situations in which I have shown material like this, the response has been, ‘Well are you saying architecture has to move in order for this to be an interesting design approach?’ I would say no.

Kipnis: You say no, but you do not show us what happens when you take the motion away.

Unlike Massumi, Lynn at this time could not traverse the border of animation; the seduction of movement was enough to prevent him from making the leap to the meaning of form after it is frozen, which as we have established is the end-goal that generates its beginning.

Meanwhile, Speaks establishes two further critiques – which I will not explain in depth here, but will only list for future directions in my work. The first critique addresses the homeostatic complexity aspired to in Lynn’s work, amongst others. The process, he argues, inevitably results in complex form and complex articulation of surface, yet it almost never results in a complex spatial organization. The second critique comes from a detailed comparison Speaks makes between Lynn and Eisenman, in which he outlines Eisenman’s critique of the architectural “new.” According to Lynn’s predecessor, the new is led by a covert coherence to humanism and is rarely advanced by systems from within. Eisenman contends that architecture should do the latter and should never attempt to innovate beyond its own interiority. Strong things to consider.

Next up is Zaera-Polo’s Operative Topographies in Quaderns, and then the big push for the review on Monday. Wish me luck, give me thoughts, pull my finger.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

AADRL: DDIS.TURB (D. Akritopoulos, S. Georgiadou, D. Manisali)

The power of Cache’s book is due to his skillful implementation of the concept diagram. To begin any analysis of Cache’s work, it is a primary necessity to acknowledge the inherent tug-of-war between the simplicity and complexity of his three concept diagrams: the image, the vector and the frame. The simplicity of these three elements as discernable and tangible objects is quite clear, however it is that Cache uses these as conceptual armatures that confounds their legibility and instills the potential for them to be laden with a complex interpretation. If we start with the diagram of the image, for example, we can imagine the image of a hammer. The hammer as an image is a stick, a top of metal, sometimes there is a nice coat of varnish. There is also the image of its action; its handle sits in the hand, and as an extension of the arm, we can see the image of a swinging motion. Meanwhile, this image of the hammer is affected by cultural vectors, including the fact that we use hammers to drive nails, pull nails, break windows, and even strike flesh. But how we define the hammer’s affect is determined by the frame through which we limit the abundance of vectors. So with one frame, I see the image of the hammer and I recognize a particular vector as linked to a motivation which initially brought me to the frame. So, it is the conceptual structure of these three elements – image, vector and frame – with which Cache proceeds to investigate the meaning of surfaces in architecture. But in order to proceed, we must recognize that these diagrams exist prior to representation.

What is most compelling in Earth Moves is its lasting application to present technology and the ways it continues to shift, not in its technical particularities, but its access to the particularities of the image, vector and frame. Translated into English in 1995 (I believe it was written even a few years prior, discovered by the Any crew, and then brought to the US for English publication) Cache had already experimented with a variety of CAD/CAM techniques and written at great length on their philosophical affect on the making of architecture and its internal furnishings. Cache could not have anticipated the specific evolutions of digital techniques in the 12 years since then, but the present applicability of his ideas indicate either that he was clairvoyant or that the sea change (about which we are still crazed) had already happened. Regardless, the tides of technology continue to ebb and flow, and the rise of techniques such as blend-shaping, physical dynamics, and parametrics came about, mostly as a result of the issues that Cache’s work investigated at the time. Most specifically, I am interested in his writing on mass-customization and the variable object, which Cache calls an objectile. It is perhaps best to use Cache’s own words rather than summarize:

“It used to be that the object was simply what we saw in front of us; it was generally contrasted with the variations that are thought to take place within the subject. It was inseparable from a sense of clash or constraint that went together with a will to last or to resist.” (88)

Before we confront mass-customization technology, objects existed much like the iPod or iPhone, which benefited from a high degree of flexibility without losing durability, permanence or a sense of its own existence (branding). But as soon as objects broke the legality of the series, or even morphed the beginning and end constraints of the series, a new image emerges that exists beyond the physical surface we read in the object, which in imagistic terms could be defined as the surface’s set of control vertices.

“The object was meant to maximize the utilitarian function, and its very repetition was the sign of its legality. Many also took this legality to be a form of equality: the identical object, produced by the masses and for the masses. But this sort of contract is no longer viable today. For the standard model is not the same as equality and the norm is not the same as the law…Henceforth, the image takes precedence over the object. The [Computer-Assisted Conception and Fabrication] image, malleable in real-time, has lowered the status of the prototype as well as all representation of the object. The modes of production of images, as in the case of advertising images, are no longer derivatives of this primary one…The primary image is no longer the image of the object but the image of the set of constraints at the intersection of which the object was created. This object no longer reproduces a model of imitation, but actualizes a model of simulation.” (95-97)

But how, then, does this affect our understanding of surfaces, especially those that form the intersection between built-form and land-form? More specifically, how does seriality and a divergence from seriality apply to the methods with which we as architects define a boundary between figure and ground? Lucky for us, Cache makes certain statements that potentially point us in a resolvable direction:

“A field of surfaces thus governs the object that has now become the set of possibilities of their intersection. But the surface of the object also becomes separated from its function when the latter is no longer mechanical or electronic.” (97)

Here Cache makes a clear distinction between the object and the surfaces that compose it, and he claims that the phenomenon of surface morphology becomes disconnected from the object’s function while it is in the process of mutating. What Cache is espousing here is not a complete abandonment of surface’s obligation to function or performance, rather he seems to be describing a non-predictable allegiance of form and function. Like the imageless-ness quality of Cache’s diagrammatic image, we should imagine here an architecture that is more formless and composed of “continuously shifting affiliations and alliances” (Kipnis, “Folds, Bodies and Blobs,” 93). Again, we should avoid assigning a formal explanation of this event as shields us from understanding a fuller, conceptual field of potentiality. I prefer not to resort to a discussion of an inflected surface supporting both a basketball player and baby, for its sheer improbability and pointlessness. But if we imagine, instead a field of shifting control vertices, or shifting spheres of influences, we can also imagine a shift in the gradations between the identities of figure and ground, of black and white, or reversed if we were to imagine the Las Vegas strip. Shifts in this field, between smooth progressions, accelerations, decelerations, rhythms, radii, microscopically clean delineations and event horizons are all components that could mix the new potential gradient of various shades of grey. The focus therefore shifts from the object to the effect generated by the changes in influence, or the movement implied within the field by the shift in control vertices.

The purpose of my investigation from here on out will be to study the profit of such a system. It certainly provides a means of rethinking the surface of man-made land as a topology worthy of articulation. But why is it that we must articulate the ground, and is it necessary for the articulation to be gradated, especially if that gradation is gradual or abrupt? What we arrive at possibly, is a debate between a mathematical image of the ground versus an organic one. Our use of objects (extending from the image, vector and frame diagrams) is a linear event. However the multiplication of perspectives gives credit to a system of organic relations within the field and in relation to the object. Again, we must focus on the effect of the field and not on the performance of one instance of the object. But in an environment of limited resources (with which we must maximize our efforts), I cannot imagine the justification for any such effect, especially when it becomes an element of social or cognitive agency. The desire to blend built-form into land-form is a diagram-less image, its is one we take from our nurtured understanding of biology and physics, and yet it apparently has nothing to do with the interaction between figure, ground and the elements that cross from one to the other. This means I need to keep reading to figure out how it might be worth something. So let’s see, maybe we’ll start with Hypersurface Architecture by Stephen Perrella. They wore some excellent sunglasses in the 1990’s.


Monday, October 22, 2007

It has come to my attention that this blog is seriously falling behind its original intent. If you were to LOOK | AT | OTHER | EXAMPLES of thesis blogs on the internets, it appears as if we are generating no exchange of ideas, no critique and no advancement in our respective dialogues as we attempt to generate the holiest of holies, our blessed GSD theses. All praises, all praises.

To this end, I am posting MY LATEST PROPOSAL with some notes, questions, thoughts, etc. Hopefully this will jump-start some activity in the right direction and start a more steady exchange of information, ideas, comments, critiques, and all around dialogue.



My intention in pursuing this area of research on the issues of digital surfaces with regards to the intersection of built-form with land-form is to directly confront the emerging trend in dgital design to sub-div the shit out of everything. If you look at student-work from the various RAHIM STUDIOS, SCI-ARC, the AA, and elsewhere, suddenly the vast majority of academic output assumes the tectonic viability of strange things that blend into the earth or each other like a bizarre breed of organic softees. And I must come completely clean on my rationale, for much of my motivation stems from my being confounded at the time Ali showed me the work of one of Hina's students at Pratt, who designed a tower that "melded" into the earth. It seemed utterly pointless for him to show that to me (after which he let out his best Brat-like "niiiiice") and irrelevant to the work I was doing. In my project for Ali, I decidedly designed the tower to "sit" on the ground, for I felt that there was nothing in particular meld-ish about our site (Sheikh Zayhed Road in Dubai). The tower had more of a JOHN JOHANSEN-on-acid condition, an evolving spiny monster on the landscape, rather than a symbolic SWAMPTHING emerging from the land. But this is enough self-confession, so let's get back to the serious thinking.

Moving on from the desire to avoid a slavish devotion to the sub-div foxtrot, I started noticing certain origins of this trend. And remember, I am speaking mainly in formal terms. The theory will come later, and it is equally important. If we look at projects like Yokohama, the West-Side Highway competition entries by R/U and Eisenman, and certainly anything by KOL/MAC, NMDA, GLForm, we see the emergence of projects that formally peel the surface of the ground into something inflected and inhabitable. I use the term "inflected" after reading Bernard Cache's Earth Moves, in which he describes a contemporary sensibility for the non-datum site. He draws is ideas of inflection from Deleuze (and I realize I am on shaky ground mentioning that name), but to the best of my ability to comprehend Cache or Deleuze, I believe the inflection is the shift from concavity to convexity, which has enormous potential to shift physical and conceptual flows through a terrain. It is this shifting that characterizes the contemporary surface and its freedom to assume changing degrees of curvature that were once limited to the natural topographies of the earth's surface. Getting back to the examples above, architects at the end of the 20th century realized the computational possibility of designing such surfaces and incorporated them freely into their body of work. Alejandro Zaera-Polo even curated an entire issue of Quaderns (220) on the topic of "Operative Topographies," explaining how he and Farshid were heavily invested in researching the potentials of inhabitable surfaces. Then if we look forward to Greg Lynn and XEFIROTARCH's inclusion of software programs like Maya, we begin to see projects such as the Art Hotel, the U2 Tower, and Lexington Park Plaza, where ground and building are impossible to distinguish.

The technique of combining landscape and architecture into a cohesive element is interesting. Everyone has pitched a tent in their design pants at some point looking at a project that does this. But let's face it, even where Yokohama tries, things end up s.t. rugglin. God forbid Kol/Mac ever build heir Reybould House Extension. It would make any pants-tent fall in no time. The reason for this is because of a graphic mistake we make in using the computer interface and the convincing appearance of the computational surface, which seems in its capacity for inflection to have the ability to be one-and-the-same with its context. This conundrum is precisely what I am interested in, and I feel it can be addressed in a few ways. The first is to study the mathematic construction of computational surfaces. Sub-divs and NURBS especially have an equasional structure to them that might be very interesting to reveal. Would the structure-revealed contaminate the surface in some way, or could it be considered a parametric limit, just as any design material has its limit? The second is to think of possibilities for moving the discourse long in some fashion so that it recognizes the failed viability of the computational surface as seen through the graphic interface. Should the surfaces of our buildings assume the characteristics of the earth if they are created with an entirely different set of forces? Should the surfaces be the product of an animation if they are only to be frozen in their built-form? Hmm...

So yeah. Now I guess need your help.

What I'm looking for are suggestions for case studies. I'm most interested in examples that exist prior to the Deleuzian/Cache influence, such as examples from the International Style, non-western examples, new-new projects, and more.

And if you care to bitch me out for my feelings about surfaces, put up your dukes and let's have at it. I can take a digital right-hook and the subsequent binary-eye like the best of them.

Noel, Chris, the ball is in your blog.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Eh papi. What ese? Hold on, let me turn down the reggaeton.
Yes, its Manny rocking the mp3 equipped sunglasses. Classic. According to official sources, they didn't have batteries. For more Manny Being Manny, here's his Wikipedia entry. Hey, can I get in on that wave? Wait for it, wait for it... Thx. K Bai.


Lots of great ones here. Loads slow, but worth it. K bai.


Kisho Kurokawa, the Japanese architect who pioneered the Metabolism movement, has died of heart failure aged 73.

According to BDonline: "Kurokawa was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1934. He graduated from Kyoto University before co-founding the Metabolists in 1960 at the age of 26. Described as a kind and compassionate man, his philosophy was based around the idea of a paradigm shift from what he termed the “age of machine principle” to the “age of life principle”.

He defined the latter as being influenced by concepts including symbiosis, recycling, ecology and intermediate space. In 1972, he built the iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower. The scheme, considered the first capsule building designed for actual use, and using offsite manufacture technologies, inspired later proposals by architects including Piercy Connor. Despite being placed on international heritage protection group Docomomo’s short list for modern world heritage buildings in 1997, the development failed to win protection and currently faces the threat of demolition, after being found to contain asbestos. Other well know work included the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art and the Hiroshima Contemporary Art Museum."

Do you think he was buried in a capsule pod?


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The return of the Trainwrek is nigh. October 19, 2007. Noel promises to strip down to his undergarments.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Initiation pics are up on FLICKR. check 'em.



Sunday, October 7, 2007

It has officially started. I present to you my very first, poorly written and not very thought-out THESIS PROPOSAL. It's fun to pretend you're reinventing the world when it's just words!


Saturday, October 6, 2007


Friday, October 5, 2007

A retrospective look at the EAMES OFFICE'S famous "Powers of Ten" movie, which depicts the relative scale of the universe in factors of ten (logarithmic units). According to the Eames Office, "over ten million people have since seen the film." Holy schnaps! Also, the Eames Office has declared October 10 of each year "Powers of Ten Day," hooray! The day is devoted to promoting and sharing innovative methods of viewing ideas from an infinitesimal to a cosmic perspective.

According to WIKIPEDIA, there are some apparent errors in the film, For instance, what is shown as one square metre is actually somewhat more than that at times. When zooming out, the 107 m rectangle fits snugly around the Earth, but the Earth should really be somewhat bigger (when zooming back in, it is shown correctly.)

The film is also limited to what was known at the time of its production: Quarks are mentioned merely as a question, even though the concept had been accepted by much of the scientific community for approximately a decade at the time.

The movie has also been referenced on the SIMPSONS, MEN IN BLACK, and MONTY PYTHON. Sylvia Lavin and Greg Lynn watch "Powers of Ten" each night before turning out the lights and playing with the ORGASMATRON.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sony Bravia's new advert - Play D'oh. Here's how they made it. Previous installments include Bouncing Balls / making of and Paint / making of. Go to the Sony Bravia site for higher-res streams of all three.

Cool, yes, but the end reminds me of the more impressive and aptly named Human LCD. Those Koreans know their anime.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The STUDIO-OFFICE interface be alive!


Finally finished rendering PSC's Taiyuan Art Museum Competition. Just the raw renderings HERE. Now onto PShop and the friendly Chinese .psd people.

L(adies) W(ith an) A(ttitude)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's official. The new LWA WEBSITE, designed by Studio Office, is alive and well on the internet. While the site doesn't live up to our every aspiration (blame them, not us), it's still a step in the right direction for the firm.

The entire site is designed using dynamically-loaded content, so the client can update virtually all content without accessing the Flash file. To do this, Noel rocked the house with some innovative and clever behind-the-scenes coding. After lots of .xml files, LMC tweening and general agony, we now offer it to you, the fine public, to critique and enjoy.