Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Socially constructed materiality

As part of ARCHITECTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AN INTRODUCTION, course by Antoine Picon, Harvard University.

Digital architecture is about materiality because materiality is changing.
Materiality is culturally constructed, but the problem is the definition of materiality, materiality is not nature. It is the image we have of nature. The notion of nature is also socially constructed through what we can produce, and nature can be different. Today it is basically informational. It is about movement and the definition of nature over time changes.
Materials are socially constructed: before a bone was a material, now we construct material as much as we construct nature. There is this idea that materiality is the relation we have to what seem tangible in the world. The way we perceive materials and objects when we are not sure if we touch or if it in our brain, it is a problem. With the computer, we don't know what we touch. There is an extension to us: it goes into us.

Materiality is then constructed through:
1- a sensory education To live in a culture is to learn how to perceive things in a certain way, e.g. colors differ in culture, so there is a construction of the senses.
2- tools a society with tools, e.g. lenses, microscope, sees things differently.
So people who thinks there is a problem with computers think there was a problem before. Digital architectural representation is a virtuality because it can represent everything. It occupies an impossible point of view.

Then what's new with the computer screen? Has it been close to materiality? Thre is the thickness of the computer screen; there is a layer of software much more than in the traditional pencil that transfers in the paper. Redefining pertaining objects: natural versus cultural. The semantic of words is interesting, for instance, 'poutre' in French means two different things, so it makes us see things differently depending on our culture.

There is an analogy with the car: before people thought that we had lost something essential in walking with the car. The car has forced us to redefine the world. Before the car, to experience acceleration you had to jump from the window, now it is totally inbuilt in our body, this is totally structured. The car has redefined pertaining objects and also the sensation. With the acceleration you feel in power and also the vulnerability of the body in this moment, e.g. the Starwars race computer game. This goes to an existential thing. We also use computer metaphors and our perception of our body is changing through the machine we build. The computer is something we drive like a car. The perception of landscape is changing via having experienced the car.

The computer has redefined certain things:
- deformation we can twist things
- geometry focus that explains why we have so many frozen flows project
- surface, light and texture it has drastically changed what is around us. Grain conduction, there is a return to ornament which is very different from traditional ornament and now it becomes texture. Digital architecture is one syndrome: fascination for light and texture. The computer makes a global syndrome more visible

Redefinition of materiality new pertaining objects, new sensations; however when you gain something, you loose something. There is also the problem of scale, hence the fascination for the fractale, there is a dissociation with the material where you can view infinitely. Before architecture represented bones, now architecture is boneless. This is the end of structure and information kills structure. The machine is a combination of software and hardware layers. It has influenced the way we interface the layers in architecture. We went from the gothic cathedral, e.g the Switz clock, to the layered architecture, e.g. hamburgers in Mc Donald.

Technology is about interfacing different realities, linguistic and economic use of heterogeneity. Architecture is now about deconstruction of techtonic. The classical language of techtonic is deconstructed and even worse the dissolution of the system. It is not a dematerialization of architecture, it is a shift. There is today an affinity with the baroque.
Tool: an externalization of the body function. The computer is an externalization of the mental function. We internalize while we externalize and then we become our tool. When we use for instance a hammer, we think ourselves using the hammer. Lots of people use the computer as a metaphor: my hard drive is broken. I am a 386. The machine can create even pain. The computer is not just an extension of the mind but also an extension of the body. There are plenty of experiment on senses: vision, smell, and the perception of space changes. 'Zooming' has now become a totally normal activity. Everything is zoomable now. The crisis of scale: we perceive things very accurately more from far than from close. This is the crisis of intermediary scale. The way we perceive nature today: stable and unstable. Things are constantly changing, as we live in a world of mutation; this is a qualitative transformation, a magic condition due to metamorphosis, e.g. zoom, that can apply to painting or architecture. The very very concrete becomes abstract and the very very abstract becomes concrete, e.g. if I zoom in a face it becomes skin and then the skin itself becomes landscape. Materiality was the reversed from the abstract, and the computer is not a machine in the traditional sense, but it is an environment. There are new ways of inhabiting this strange world, world with decorativeness, playing with surfaces, ornaments. Traditional ornament had a scale because it was linked to the body and the human scale. Today it is not linked to the human scale anymore. We are passing from human-body technology to technologies that can only be thought in term of landscape and is not the world around us.

In traditional architecture, space was a given. Today, space is not a given: it is very small or very huge. We have a human responsibility but not in the megalo-utopia. We are responsible in this redefinition of materiality.

In architecture theory
Notes taken during the Architecture Science and Technology class taught by Antoine Picon 12th Dec 2005

New materials and technologies

As part of ARCHITECTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AN INTRODUCTION, course by Antoine Picon, Harvard University.

Materials and a new way to define materiality

What is the situation in the field of technology?
There are a few reflections and the idea is that we are in the middle of a revolution regarding materials. This is somewhat true, for instance 'the microcapsule' and material research for architecture. We now design materials at the molecular level and then designing structures will be less important than designing material, e.g. the evolution of concrete. It became a material and is decomposed into properties such as: needs less water, less cracks, etc... For instance, la grande arche de la Defense would have been impossible without compact concrete. Concrete is now mixed and has mechanical properties, e.g. curve, etc... then it can be used for chairs. There is a redevelopment in furniture in concrete. It is not without danger because it can produce monsters :D and cannot be destroyed.

Ben Barrell beautiful bench

There is also 'glass' and the reflection on the glass using piezzo electric technology and the smart materials bluring between materials and structure, the development of composite and of smart materials which create a blur between materials and structures. There is a material revoluion, the first one was done at MASA then there is a contamination, however it has not reached architecture yet. At what level do we design today? Farbric can now be designed and there is a notion of new modernity which is not much about structure but more about material. There is then a current important question which is: how traditional design will position itself toward the material revolution?

Computer simulation
The computer simulation made possible a whole range of things: more computation, more domains. For instance, fireproofing. Before there was a big structure, an envelop to protect against fire. Now protection against fire is done dynamically. We then think of fire in a dynamic way, for instance what burns first and what burns last. This is a totally different design that takes in consideration the logic of collapse. For example, the 11th of September, the catastrophic tower collapse happened dynamically, so a protection against such catastrophes cannot be conceived as static anymore.
Computer simulation enables a lot but is not exactly the real world, so atomic tests are still needed, because no computer simulation can tell us how things edge and so on. Simulation raises a lot of questions imposed by the program and even color codes tell us how things are to be designed. The collapse of Roissy airport terminal was a good example of the limitations of computer simulation. There was a problem in the construction process that could be due to the computer simulation. The tradition simulation mode is still in use, e.g. the heat propagation in a building using a saline solution.

Structure and scale factor
If we look at suspension bridges for instance the Washington bridge of 1 km and the Golden Gate of 1km300 and that now we reach 2km bridges, the scale of structure creates problems. The gigantism does not prevent diversity, e.g. deck can be thick, or aerodynamic deck. However the gigantism has created a specific European type of answer and now that bridges can be 2km long, we need to take in consideration the curvation of the earth, because from the start to the end of the bridge the curvation is different. The cables of such bridges are huge as well and there is no limitation for suspension bridges. The cable state bridge is an obscession from European to
Japanese because of aesthetics and engineering issues. These bridge cables are wrapped in an aerodynamic shape to resist the wind.

Examples of cable bridges

Then towers will become higher and lighter themselves and the problem is not to pile up elements but more physiological elements, for instance, ear problems. Piano's genius to to consider that gigantism works if we pay attention on other problems than just structural problems, e.g. air condition mixing gradually with hot air using the curve of the building. Performance and large scale is a major problem on what happens today.
The relation between architecture and infrastructure: The architect provides the meaning to the node of the network. The architecture itself can become the infrastructure, for instance at an airport, system of place and infrastructure. There was two movements in the 20th century: gigantism and lightness (solution like their shell that are in plywood, etc.) This movement lead to membering. The most efficient surface; wooden structure, beautiful structure. There has been research on surfaces, plastic parts, wired network. Some are pretty thick but pretend lightness and lightness can go with gigantic things, a new poetry is then emerging. We are very far from this lightness idea at an international level, for instance China does not appropriate light structures. We are not ready to live in a world of membering, lightness, however if we use tension, we can do things much lighter and stable and it can function at any scale. This is the field of 'tensegrity', e.g. arch vault in tensegrity which is a pretty sophisticated geometry compared to other type of structures.

We can now do everything we want. Is everything what we want?
For instance, there are ethical problems even in engineering and architecture, and if we link a continent to an island, we change the way people live on the island. There is a moral responsibility of the architect, so how to build?
We thought we knew what to build, but now it involves discovering new materials, developing material and computation. Architects used to be asked to produce a form only and education in architecture is not adapted to this movement.

By Cati in architecture

Saturday, December 10, 2005

cities: 10 lines. approaches to cities and open territory design

From Sept 2005 until now I have created the graphic design for the exhibition: cities: 10 lines. approaches to cities and open territoty design currated by joan busquets and felipe correa at harvard graduate school of design.

By Cati in 'on the side' work

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The ambient peacock explorer

The Ambient Peacock Explorer
I developed the Ambient Peacock Explorer as a framework for mobile units to document on their environment and report back to a central hub

I believe that new work in this area can physically substantiate the documentation through tagging, the incorporation of physical communities or other conceptual redefinitions of the environment one seeks to capture.

structure mobiles units + headquarter

mobile units independent from the headquarter
One shell per context of exploration. Shell inflated on top of the structure to indicate where the mobile unit is going.
Context based shells per unit
Water: Jelly Fish Organic Shell
Countryside: Wooden structure
City: Inflatable Concrete
Air: Blimp

Is composed of four gathering areas: the air, the countryside, the city and the water area, a studio and an editing room. Each wall receives life feed from the mobile units based on each unit context. Environmental data from sensing mobile units are also projected on the walls as meta information. The headquarter itself retro-project on its roof the life feed of its environment and on the external walls displays the video from mobiles units. The production center also invites to discuss the documentaries and environmental issues and by that is also a showcase building.

technology specs
Live feed video camera from mobile units to headquarter. Each mobile unit is composed of one video camera connected via satellite to the headquarter. The life feed video camera is sent to the headquarter and projected onto the contextual area outside wall and inside wall (as part of the cafeteria gathering) area.

Video recording and metadata from mobile units to headquarter. Each mobile unit documents by recording visual environmental elements and use sensing technologies to combine video recorded and environmental data for later post production video retrieval. For instance GPS technology for location data retrieval, temperature, wind information and so forth. The production companies will retrieve video recordings of the mobile units and metadata associated to them.

Live feed video camera from mobile units onto mobile units. Each mobile unit would retro project their life feed footage onto their semi-transparent fabric structure to melt within its environment.

Headquarter data exchange with mobile units. Information and request coming from headquarter to define what to explore by real time exchange video footage. Scenario: if the mobile unit is in the air and crosses a bird migration, the headquarter could visualize it and request more detailed footage or more sensing environmental data coming from the bird migration.

communication system diagram

visual scenario of the ambient peacock explorer

the blimp
the air mobile unit.
The shell inflated on top of the structure indicates the mobile unit is going to document from above and in the air.

the mobile unit
common to all contexts is controlled by two people. It has real time contact with the headquarter via satellite. One person controls the mobile unit and one gathers data, exchanges information, and prepare the unit to its environmental use. The unit consists of the inflatable blimp on top, the floatation device including the organic shell at the bottom, a projector to display environmental data inside each shell.

the mobile unit going into water.

The compressor is used for the floatation device and an organic semi transparent shell is added around the structure. The environmental life feed video is projected on the shell. The mobile unit is waterproof.

external view of the headquarter as a showcase.

Four walls: the air, the countryside, the city and the water. Each wall receives life feed from the mobile units based on each unit context.

The Ambient peacock explorer is a project I made with Philip Vriend for the Kinetic Architecture class, Assignment 2, November 2005.

By Cati in kinetic architecture

The Ambient peacock explorer poster

By Cati for Kinetic Architecture, Assignment 2, November 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Archigram and technological utopia in the 1960’s

As part of ARCHITECTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AN INTRODUCTION, course by Antoine Picon, Harvard University.

Between the 50’s and the 60’s it is a climax of modernism architecture and it is the period during which modernism is questioned.
The Archigram movement fostered a new type of relation to technology, a relation more linked to mass consumption. The idea is : could pleasure transform itself into nightmare because of what technology entails? It is also the beginning of digital culture. Kem Koolhass or Bernard Tschumi are both radical architects and their work raise issues that are still relevant today. For instance Archigram raises the following question: Does architecture form still matter? And also super studio questions the status of economy.

Technology and the critique of the Modern Movement in the 1950s-1960s
The modern movement had not really grasped the essence of technology; in the 20’s technology is a collection of fascinating devices, and in the 50’s technology is a seamless web of artifacts and is a connection between artifacts, the connection becomes more important than what it connects, e.g. connectors, plugs. It is also the time of the atomic bomb where a man can destroy the planet. There is this notion of globalization and a global vision, view that will inspire artists at the time. There comes the feeling that the time is closing, giving it an extra degree of finitude. There is the bio layer, the tech layer which is a third layer above it all, as a surface condition. This is very different from the continuous notion of technology from the 20’s. Then when one starts to think that earth is finished then all follows.
In the 20’s technology is seen as linked to a productivist vision but not to consumerism and in the 50’s it is linked to the idea of consumption and to the US, for instance the work of Richard Hamilton in 1966: his collages on mass consumption. The idea is that technology might be about pleasure and that technology can provide pleasure and that you can loose your soul in this world. The modern movement had not understood the full extent of technology. Technology as a system of links ends as a techno sphere with the critic of the fetishism of the object. The moderns had not understood technology as an environment.

Before understanding Archigram, one has to understand the megastructure, e.g. Gunter Domenig (dwelling unit for Graz), Nicolas Schoffer (Cybernetic city), and Yona Friedman (Paris Spatial). The super structure becomes invisible on top of the city so that human can finally breeze like birds.
A mega structure is about:
- A way of life: a new way to live
- About connection: the mode is important and how things are linked to one another. A system of connection
- An environment: control.
Architects produce structures bordering utopia due to this technological context but the mega structure idea is contradictory: what is then architecture about? Is it object (because mega structure looks like a giant object, an entire city shaped as objects). It is linked to hyper-concentration about dispersion.
The main contradiction about the mega structure is that its DNA is itself destructive; if the mega structure proliferates, the you don’t see earth anymore, then it is not a structure but it becomes a surface. And it disappears as a structure.

The English context
In the 50’s England has just won the war but is poorer than what planned. In the mid 50’s this gets better and there is hope. The independent group in the UK looks at the new nature of technology and consumerism as a new relationship to technology. What later becomes pop culture is questioned then. In their CIAM grille, they criticize this relationship and fetishism and propose a more architectural vision of society.

The CIAM grille

In the golden lane project, the city becomes a system of connections in 1952. The idea: let’s redistribute architecture in a system of connection. It is a system of dwelling units. This gives birth to the mega structure where you plug-in units and you can program the 3D grid of the mega structure (as in Friedman’s work).
Cedric Price is a pioneer in computerized architecture with the Fun Palace. It is a mega structure purely devoted to cultural activity. It is a very detailed project, much more advanced than what Archigram proposes.

Archigram, the group, the review, the projects

The members of Archigram are Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Green, Ron Herron, Mike Webb. They all come from the province and from middle class. Cook is the P.R. of the group and Herron is a prodigy craftsman. There are parallel movements that proliferate the same ideas than Archigram and convey their unsatisfactions through journals.
Archigram starts as a journal.

Archigram1 is the journal where they publish their thesis with pop culture scene.
Archigram2 is where they publish their post thesis design, e.g. the fiberglass project and bloobish forms. Nottingham shopping Viaduct is an auto constructive structure, a life that expands itself.
Archigram3 is more organized thematically. They borrow Fuller idea. Architecture is expandable like any structure as deployable units. The message becomes clearer with the new relation to technology. The genius of Archigram is to pursuit what is in the air. The idea that the city is about connections and what happens, urbanism is about creating events, an ambiance. In 1961, Archigram is recognized as avant-garde movement and in 1963 they organize the ‘living city’ exhibition as a set of interactions.

The living city

Hence the montage of collage, neons… In this montage, the gloops are thematic units to have people think about the city, e.g. situation, movement. The idea of the continuous web or l’hypothese des plaques (that Guy Debord loves). Another example: The Montreal Tower is a mega structure with the idea of provisory units.
Archigram4 They use comics to convey messages. It is more about using pop culture. And it is a step beyond the independent group.

Cover of archigram 4

The most emblematic city is the plug-in-city, city into a set of connections, at every level, environment level.

The plug-in city

They introduce the new use of colors and the overcraft to travel from one city to another. One critic about this work is that it is usually at the stage of sketches rather than detailed projects. Then the computor city from 1964 to 1965 is the idea of the controlled environment, they put a mega structure in movement, e.g. the walking city.

The walking city

The living pod (1966) is a kind of tent that can move independently from the mega structure.

The living pod

The idea of the space suit and that you can carry a huge environment on your back and can transform into a house, e.g. Cushicle.

The cushicle

One of the latest project by Archigram is the seaside bubble, and then it goes to the idea of mobile unit, that a city is about creating interactions for the environment and more about an atmosphere. Then the idea of instant city (that instantly transforms itself) with a ‘dirigeable’ that projects events which is more linked to their earlier idea and to the one of situationists.

The instant city

One question is : is it an installation? Is it architecture?
The mega structure is disappearing but carry itself with architecture. Archigram have never theorized and never asked ‘where is architecture’ while they were making their collages. They also raised the idea of pleasure or intolerable suffering within technology.
At the time of the Monte Carlo project, the mega structure has disappeared and becomes a surface. If architecture is an environment, what is the status of form? This question is implicit in the mega structure movement to overcome the modern movement.

The Monte-Carlo project

Archigram is about colors and strange picturesque: technology picturesque, there is something about the Victorian bathroom in Archigram. In the UK there is humor while in France and Italy it is Marxist and talk more about the drama of capitalism even though this is the basis of architecture. An architect builds something in revolt. The radicals produce architecture based on the impossibility to produce architecture in capitalism and explore the limits of the architecture practice.

The Italian radicals and their posterity
Archizoom is composed of Andre Branzi, Paola Deganello, Massimo Morozzi and Gilberto Corretti. Branzi is the head of the movement. They use computer chips to show connections for instance. The future of the mega structure is the distribution of electricity and all with the incertitude of the form. That echoes with the digital culture today. Is it a paradise? Is it a nightmare? The idea of over consumption, by Benjamin, begins at the time.
Superstudio is a little bit less negative than archizoom and reflect a lot on the status of form.
The type of questions raised: Is architecture absurdity? What is the meaning of boundaries we try to create? Strangely globalization has recreated a meaning for architecture because of competition. When there is total homogeneity, there is no justification for architecture… What type of humanity populates those structures? What comes next in post-modernism?

In architecture theory
Notes taken during the Architecture Science and Technology class taught by Antoine Picon the 28th Nov 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

architecture and digital media

A powerful example of the relationship between the space and the place of the digital object, e.g. ad.

I took this picture at South Station in Boston; the beauty of this relationship makes the object of the ad luxurious...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Andy Goldsworthy

I have just watched the River and Tides documentary on Andy Goldsworthy. I feel so regenerated but with a hurge to go back to nature. Such perception in sculpture is fascinating.

By Cati in personal

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Touching memories

Touch is at the heart of intimate relationship. It is also a powerful trigger of past emotions. Touching memories is a system that detects and records a touch by a loved one. Be it a stroke, a pat, a hug, or a rub, the system will store the touch and play it back to you whenever you need it

This project is in its conceptual phase.

By Cati in affective design

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Open Studio by MIT Media Lab

Open Studio is a new experimental online art exchange system developed at the MIT Media Lab. I find it very promising, so check it out!
So yesterday night, I have started to look at it, and made a few drawings with their system, it looks as if I was painting with my feet, but the constraint in design is what makes it very interesting to me.

La Petite Tuture Rose that I have sold in 2 minutes to Burak Arikan :D

Le feu s'etiole that has been bought by Brent Fitzgerald today!

And ... Les mots doux, sold to Francis in 5 minutes last night !!!

There are cool ideas on this Studio and such a great tool to experiment with. By trying it out, and exchanging art work, I have found that it raises questions about the value of virtual art, especially the recognition in a virtual community.

Finally, 'douceur' my last drawing with the system ...

By Cati in digital drawing

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Strive to Capture the Elusive

Terzidis K. The Strive to Capture the Elusive in Terzidis K. Algorithmic Architecture London: Architectural Press, 2006

From this chapter, I selected parts that found the most important for my research. It is not a summary.

Design as a term can be confused with planning. Design is about conceptualisation when planning is about realization. Design is about the stage of capturing, conceiving, and outlining the main features of a plan, as such, it always preceds the planning stage.
In Latin, the word design is about the derivation of something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality. In greek, it is about incompleteness, indefiniteness, or imperfection. « Design signifies not only the vague, intangible or ambiguous but also the trive to capture the elusive »

For the Greeks, design is linked indirectly to a loss of possession and a search into an oblivious state of memory. This is antithetic with the western notion of design that is stepping in the future and frequently associated with innovation.
Innovation is associated with originality but originiality is about a point of departure. Within the modernist tradition of novelty, the search for innovation may have become a misguiding rather than a guiding factor in deisgn.
« While the shock of the new may have provided in the early twentith-century an escape from the traditions of the past, its constant us ein the world of fashion today and the everlasting struggle to introduce something new for, or as if for, the first time defies its original purpose. »

A different appearence does not necessarily justify novelty, and an original concept involves newness in a productive, seminal and influential ways. Since novelty involves the negation of existence (something that did not exist before), novelty is impossible. It is only a sensory illusion.
Then the notion of an origin as a starting point is key in the process of design. First to determines the similar producst and second that it connects to the reminiscence of something that was lost but whose consequences are still present.

By Cati in kinetic architecture

Kinetic form

Terzidis K., Expressive Form: A Conceptual Approach to Computational Design, London: Spon Press, 2003, Chapter 3: Kinetic Form pp.33-45

From this chapter, I selected parts that found the most important. It is not a summary.

Kinetic form
'Kinetic is a term used to describe a situation related to or produced by motion' ; motion is the act or process of changing position or place over time. While the goal of motion may be immovability, the goal of kinetic form is to express perpetual motion through its immovable structure.

Observations : The perception of motion is relative ;

Superimposition is the act of laying or placing something on or over something else and can express motion.

Sequential justaposition : a serie of changes to a form are laid out in a sequential fashion, suggest motion by evolution, continuity.

Friction is a force that resist the relative motion perceived as motion when associated with matter and force.

Deformation can be associated with friction

Adhesion, stickiness, resistance and sluggishness suggest resistance to motion

Abscence as the state of being away and subtraction as the act of taking something away imply change since something was detached or dissappeared.

Aftereffect is an effect following its cause after some delay

Motion can be suggested to the viewer and not be literal, e.g. through metaphor or analogy like in the showing of a waterfalls without water.

Imagine a design where all is in motion. A variety of elements (geometrical form or symbolic form signifying a memory from the past) can be selected by a designer who directs the event. All the in between stages are transparent and become part of the compositional experience. The result is a moving image the behavior of which becomes the responsability of the designer.

« Kandinsky dreamed of a 'great city built according to all the rules of architecture and then suddenly shaken by a force that defies all calculation'. This dream sums up the double challenge of architecture and architectural theory today and the double challenge of computational design.(…) The architect of the past is seen as the virtuoso performer. The future architect may become the composer of symphonies in form, space, and color ».

By Cati in kinetic architecture

Space and motion

Jormakka K., Flying Dutchmen: Motion in Architecture, Basel: Birkhauser, 2002, 75-87

Space and motion
Nietzsche : « we want to have ourselves translated into stone and plant, we want to go for a walk in ourselves when we wander in these halls and gardens ». By means of empathetic projection, Nietzsche connected architecture to events in the body.

Schmarsow : the beholder’s body is essential to our experience of space (close to the idea of Nietzsche and Henri Poincare : the body being an instrument of measurement). But Schmarsow adds the notion of movement of the body in space as an essential element of architecture.

Husserl : all spatiality is constituted through movement. The speed of the observer affects the experience of space and like for Kant, the body is the source of our notion of space. For Kant there is the Nullpunkt : « thanks to the body, I am the center of things », Husserl adds a distinction between a lived body and a physical body « In walking my organism constitutes itself (…) the kinaesthetic activities and the spatial movements stay in union by means of association » For Husserl the body is the center of space.

Merleau-Ponty : our body is not primarily in space. What we understand as the axis of up and down does not change when we lie in a bed instead of standing up. In the abstract up and down has no meaning, it only is possible through other experience e.g. gravity

Deleuze : the idea of smooth space that can only be explored by the body (resemble Husserl’s notion of Nahspharen)

Deleuze and Gattari : A nomad is distended in the region. The absolute has become local because place is not delimited. The absolute is not at a particular place but become a non-limited locality.

Post-constructivist designs based on this idea of smoothness : they spa-tialize time (related to musical notation + rhythm of flow of things as in Bergson)
Lars Spuybroek says that space must be conceived from the perspective of the moving body « Bodies try to transgress themsleves in time… connected to other bodies, other rhythms, other actions. In this sense, you can really only talk about space as a result of an experimental body timing its actions. Space is never a given ».

Motion also implies disclocation relative to a frame of reference or an outside and motion is not contained within an object in movement but in a continuous differentiating co-constitution of the frame and the mobile, e.g. the sky annalogy of Deleuze where the flash of lightening is distinguished from the balc sky but must carry the sky with it. Things with different properties must be different things, so that a hand as a detached member is not the same thing as a hand connected to the body. Then for Hegel, parts of an organic whole are inconceivable except as parts of that whole which is self contradcitory according to Moore as it assumes that the part is logically distinguishable from the whole.

Derrida radical organicism, where in the actual workd everything is bound to and conditioned by everythign else (resemble Nietzsche). Boundaries of art for instance are marked by somthing that exists beyond the work. The outside constitutes the inside, e.g. a frame in a painting. Hence the very concept of an organic unity is self-contradictory.

Jormakka, author of the paper « Instead of desinging objects with a spectacular inside but no connection to exterior systems, one needs to consider the ways the building taps into other fields of forces that are all in motion and have no clear spatial boundaries. (…) A decentered and polyvalent architectural practice will concentrate not on aesthetic totalities but on infrastructural interventions, organizational re arrangments, and a discontinuous dispersion of strategic architectural moves in the existing fabric in cooperation with other professions and interest groups »

By Cati in kinetic architecture

Monday, November 07, 2005

Urban Planning and Design, structure of London, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Tokyo

The structure of each city, panels designed for the December exhibition currated by Joan Busquet and Felipe Correa, faculty at the Graduate School of Design.

By Cati in 'on the side' work

Urban Planning and Design

Designing the December exhibition currated by Joan Busquet and Felipe Correa, faculty at the Graduate School of Design, I found interesting that the density of Tokyo is pretty similar to the density of London. Felipe also mentionned how, as usual, average statistics can trick us in showing a Los Angeles with an average low density ... More info will come in the structure of each city.

By Cati in 'on the side' work

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Encouraging sustainability at home!

Our, Lauren my roomate and I, bottles of sparkling water made by people around here: pure sustainability :D

By Cati in 'home design'

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On design

On design by Cati Vaucelle

While the 16th of October 2005 the New York Times discusses prophecies made on the recent devastating situations, my response as a designer is to define a role of the designer in conceiving products that could support the after-shock of such catastrophes. While preventing earthquakes or hurricanes is still scientifically difficult, integrating political and social awareness into the conception of products for emergency support during and after an event could prevent the usual consequences of the natural disasters.

Journalists report on an event and represent the truth of an event, however the power of photography is immense; we watch documentaries, read newspapers by just ‘eye gaze scrolling, looking mainly at the pictures and thinking we are informed. Today, visual media is the favorite instrument of the development of information. The quantity of information cannot decrease. If the production of events is independent of the journalist, the everyday media consumption of the audience is constant. Journalists look for shocking visuals on a reality that does not deserve it and this reality then takes an abnormal importance. According to the cultural theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard, the Gulf War disinformation made not the events but the information become the scandal. We now look for the credibility of the truth and because of the lack of credibility in modern visuals, journalists use emotions to make spectators believe in the truth of the scene. As soon as it deserves the population’s attention, such as the series of natural disasters that have happened recently, the event cannot just be rationally described, the scale of dramatization having changed, reality has to be linked to some para normal phenomena, and thus journalists propagate, even if by questioning, the theories about prophecies and mystification of the events. Always stepping away from what is actually happening, and even though prophecies might be in actions, the only idea of not focusing of what is needed in such an emergency situation is renouncing to our responsibility as citizen.

Within this context, the designer conceives solutions to prevent -if possible- discomfort coming from threatening disasters, and engage in a discussion about what can be done to support a population before, during and after a catastrophe. Usually journalists discuss what is demanded through fascination for the 'spectacle'. They succeed most of the time in mobilizing the attention of citizens and raise funding to contribute to the global 'first days' help. However, after a few weeks attention is driven somewhere else. Even though resilience phenomena is taking place in the touched population, a considerable proportion of its actors may die of the disaster consequences few weeks later.

The responsibility as a designer today facing the major international problems borrows the philosophy of the Ulm School of Design of the post war in 1949 as it integrates political, social and scientific approach to design. A designer could want to change the dynamics in the world immediately and design solutions depending on the inter relationships between the agents in control. This is for instance one of the missions of Veja, a firm that uses material for fair trade, selecting ecological products, and producing objects in dignity. A designer could also want to enable a better democracy positioned politically and raising social questions. As much as the Ulm school of design introduced, as an example for their students, courageous persons who have risked their lives in resistance to a way of life they knew was fundamentally incompatible with their own values, designers today have the privilege to potentially combine political and social solutions to the design of effective products and or media.

Recently, we can then read a lot about comparative scale of death tolls, and indeed, at 7.6 magnitude, the earthquake was said to be the strongest to hit South Asia in a century and as killed around 55, 000 people with a death toll still raising. What is even of most importance for a designer is to prevent more death and more disease. The earthquake has thus left millions of persons homeless and evacuation plans have been prepared, expecting a threatening cold winter and accumulating rainy days that will certainly worsen the situation, and the population is then vulnerable to disease threats from the devastated public sanitation systems. Relief supplies are in place, but it is necessary to empower the population by relocating them in a new home. Could it be then a priority to create an emergency structure involving the design of mobile homes, health centers and toys structure to provide immediate psychological relief? What if all the survivors could have access to such immediate structure encouraged by the government? What if products were carefully designed integrating local knowledge with comfort and necessary means of existence. Could it bring them away a little from the drama? What if these components were mobile and easily transportable to allow them to be at the desired location in a minute? An instant support.

The mission of design today is to offer concrete solutions to such gigantic social and economic disasters as the attempt of Peter Brewin and William Crawford at the Royal College of Art in designing inflatable concrete and flexible long-term shelters for supporting the population after devastating events:
All the materials to create a robust and durable concrete shelter for disaster relief are combined within a plastic sack. The sacks can be easily transported to the necessary location. Water is added to the sack on site and the plastic inner can then be inflated to create a shelter. The concrete mix covering the inner sets in 4 hours leaving a structure that has a 15 year life-span, keeping cool during the day and retaining heat through the night

The role of the designer is to rethink the linkage between propagated information and the actual flux of events into concrete design solutions considering the dynamics in actions between political debates and social implications. Involving the population as soon as possible in the design process is also a way to have active participation and awareness of the current events, empowering it to participate and by this diminishing its feeling of powerless that contributes to its uncomfortable and useless disaster mystification and fear of prophecies.

By Cati in product design

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The pot

Object I made for my CAD CAM class, first assignment
more info

Friday, October 28, 2005

Project: Memento Box

The Memento Box is a personal door to souvenirs. I designed this interactive box as an attractive passage from door to space. The door leads to my souvenirs and is always slightly opened.

The door to souvenirs

I usually gather my souvenirs, my life memento artefacts into a shoe box . This shoe box gets older with the souvenirs and is such a precious element in my life . Any of the objects it contains recalls a passage in my life .

What if these souvenirs could be recalled though our senses? a smell can prompt a memory, a taste can suddenly recall an old story, e.g. the Madeleine of Marcel Proust and whenever we day dream, memories just pop up to our mind .
However, when we try to concentrate of souvenirs, they just fade away. There is this illusory sensation that it is impossible to grasp them, and the hardest we try, the less clearer the souvenirs become .

What if the process of recalling souvenirs were embedded into a shoe box and what of this shoe box becomes a space, our personal space of souvenirs .

I designed this interactive box as an attractive passage from door to space . The door leads to my souvenirs and is always slightly opened . A bright light shines in the back of the box clarifying a few objects and pictures around it . However, whenever my hand tries to grab what captures the eye, the door closes onto my hand and all is dark again . Whenever I go away for a tiny bit, the door opens up and more lights shine into some parts of my souvenirs and I can travel though them from far away ...

This project is my first assignment for the Kinetic Architecture class at Harvard GSD . More information about this project -its computational implementation, design properties, and concept details- can be found on my technical blog .

Inside the box

  • When you first come close to the box, the door is slightly opened with some light in the back. When you come closer, the light turns off and the door closes. If you step back then the door opens mid way and a few lights shine in the back. It never opens up completly as you can never recall all of your memories even from a single moment ...
    It connects a bit with Tantalus story where water recedes as he tries to drink and fruits retreat as he tries to reach.

  • Inside the box.
    well you cannot really see everything as it meant to attract you and represent the process of remembering souvenirs. If you go from far away you can then see few Legos everywhere, pictures of my childhood, my favorite doll as a child and few others objects ...

  • Process of building the box.

    I am using a BASIC Stamp Rev. Dx Module to control a photocell sensor and a servo motor.

    I am using a rotational to linear motion system I made with Legos pieces.

    I am writing in Basic for this Basic Stamp

  • I am using a rotational to linear motion system I made with Legos pieces that is hidden among the Lego objects inside the box

  • Electronics consist of a programable BASIC Stamp Rev. Dx Module, a photocell, few LEd's, minimum electronic components, and a servo motor