Derrick De Kerckhove, Moderator
Whither thine boundaries, o Architecture, in a networked, cognitive, interactive universe? Is architecture still single? Does the architecture of networks qualify as architecture?
If we could answer some of these questions, we would be in a better position to propose strategies for evaluating, selecting, and distributing architectural design in digital and networked as well as more traditional modes of support, distribution, and access. Not being an expert, I perhaps have more questions than answers concerning the archiving of architectural design. How does one distinguish between architecture and design in a total information environment? Indeed, we are collectively transiting through a digital phase of electricity in the wake of the analogic phase that brought us light, heat, and energy. The novel thing about electricity today is that it has become cognitive. We now have three distinct yet related domains in which architecture and design are operative: physical space, mental space, and cyberspace. Much of our design activity, from conception to production, is mediated by a screen, where all three kinds of space coincide. There, too, reigns a hidden architecture that of software.
Appointed director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto in 1983, Derrick De Kerckhove worked with Marshall McLuhan for over ten years as French translator, assistant, and co-author. His publications on themes relevant to architecture and design, networked media, and the evolving wireless condition include a volume co-edited with Charles Lumsden, The Alphabet and the Brain (Berlin; New York, 1988), which assess the impact of the Western alphabet on cognition; Brainframes: Technology, Mind and Business (Utrecht, 1991); The Skin of Culture (Toronto, 1995); Connected Intelligence (London, 1998); The Architecture of Intelligence (Basel; Boston, 2001); and McLuhan For Managers (Toronto, 2003), with translations in Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. De Kerckhove has taught connected intelligence workshops around the world for corporate, government, and academic audiences, with the shared goal of furthering strategy development using digital technologies. He has also contributed to the architecture of Hypersession, a collaborative software in development with Emitting Media, with educational as well as administrative applications. As a consultant on media, cultural, and related policymaking, De Kerckhove has participated in brainstorming and planning sessions for the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 1992 in Seville, the Canada in Space exhibit, and the Toronto Broadcast Centre for the CBC. He has been involved in planning an exhibition on Canada and Modernism at the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie in Paris for 2003 - 2004, and is now presently on Global Village Square, a project proposing a permanent public video-meeting point between Toronto and two Italian cities Naples and Milan. He is the 2004 Papamarkou Chair in Technology and Education at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Architectural ideas... put them on paper!
Paper, which has played a key role in architectural design from at least the 14th century, cannot be considered a mere support for architectural representation. Rather, during this era of paperless offices and studios, it is crucial to reflect more broadly on the uses and functions of paper in the facture of architecture itself. The act of drawing on paper does not simply involve an automatic transcription on surfaces of ideas that are already clear in the architect's mind. Working on paper is a way for the architect to mediate the act of making, following the Vitruvian precept that making architecture is "a continuous mental process completed by the hands."
Marco Frascari's professional experience began in the early 1960s under the tutelage of Carlo Scarpa, and since 1970, he has maintained an architectural practice. He studied at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV), where he received a doctorate in architecture in 1969. During the 1970s, Frascari moved to the United States. He received an MSArch from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught for several years before joining the faculty of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech in 1997. He is also on the faculty of Virginia Tech's Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, and has lectured and taught and at the AA in London, Columbia and Harvard universities. Frascari's writings have been published in journals including Casabella, AA Files, Terrazzo, and the Nordic Journal of Architectural Research. His seminal essay, "The Tell-the-Tale Detail," published in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965 - 1995, ed. Kate Nesbitt (New York, 1996), has been translated into Spanish and Japanese, and a Chinese version is now underway. Frascari is currently working on a book entitled The Grimoire of Architecture: A Discourse and Eleven Exercises in Architectural Drawings.
Building with Geometry, Drawing with Numbers
Beginning with the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries,
most of the traditional geometrical tools central to the classical tradition
as well as the building practices of the Middle Ages were replaced by
a new culture of numbers. This shift from geometry to numerical thinking
in architectural design and building was a watershed moment in the history
of Western architecture, and inaugurated architectural paradigms that
climaxed in the twentieth century, but as this paper will suggest, are
now being rendered obsolete by the new digital environment.
Mario Carpo teaches architectural history and theory in France, and has taught and lectured in universities in both Europe and the United States. In 2002, he was appointed Head of the Study Centre at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Carpo's research and publications focus on the relationship among architectural theory, cultural history, and the history of media and information technology. His publications include the award-winning Architecture in the Age of Printing (Cambridge, Mass., 2001), also published in Italian and Spanish, and a forthcoming French edition; a French translation of Leon Battista Alberti's Descripto Urbis Romae, including a commentary (Geneva, 2000); La maschera e il modello (Milan, 1993); and Metodo e ordini nella teoria architettonica dei primi moderni (Geneva, 1993). Recent essays and articles have been published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Grey Room, L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui, Arquitectura Viva, and AD/Architectural Design.
Black Screens: The Architect's Vision in a Digital Age
What kind of vision does the architect have today? Architectural practice has obviously been transformed in the last decades by the pervasive use of computers to design, represent, test, and even construct buildings. But this is not yet to say that the architect visualizes differently. What do we see in a digital drawing? What is the architecture of the drawing itself? This paper explores the disciplinary effects of the embedded default settings of computer rendering software, tracing the history and impact of the new figure of the architect sitting in front of a screen.
Before being appointed dean in 2004, architecture critic and theoretician Mark Wigley joined Columbia University in 2000 as director of advanced design studios. He taught from 1987 to 1999 at Princeton University, where he was appointed director of graduate studies in architecture in 1997. In 1988, Wigley co-curated (with Philip Johnson) the exhibition "Deconstructivist Architecture" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and also co-authored the catalogue. He curated the exhibition "Constant's New Babylon" at the Witte de With Museum Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and authored the catalogue Constant's New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (Rotterdam, 1998). Wigley has written a number of other books, including The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida's Haunt (Cambridge, Mass., 1993), and White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture (Cambridge, Mass., 1995). His essays have been published in numerous architecture journals. Wigley received the BArch and PhD (1987) from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Epistemic Machines: Image and Logic
Thinking back on the history of 20th-century physics, we have become accustomed to demarcating the field in terms of theoretical physics special relativity, 1905; general relativity, 1915; non-relativistic quantum mechanics, 1926 - 27, and so on. This construct seems to assign to physics periods of continuity broken up by sudden ruptures. In this talk, whose theme is drawn from my book Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (Chicago, 1987), I would like to explore how this history would look if one did not assume that experimentalists, instrument makers, and theorists all marched in lock-step. We would stand to gain insight into what it has meant to be an experimentalist (or to conduct an experiment) by tracking the history of the material objects of the laboratory: cloud chambers, nuclear emulsions, spark chambers, bubble chambers, and the electronic hybrid detectors that now cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Tracking these detectors historically reveals the complex interactions experimentation has had with industry, warfare, and other fields of scientific inquiry. On the broadest level, it reveals the competition between and eventual union of the long tradition of image-making devices and the equally powerful tradition of electronic logic devices. To understand the links between these various subcultures of physics, I examine what it means to abandon talk of "translation" and to adopt instead a picture of trading languages, that is, the scientific equivalent of pidgins and creoles that allow the different sectors of the scientific community to communicate without necessarily sharing global beliefs.
Peter Galison became a John D. and Catherine T. Mac Arthur Foundation Fellow in 1997, and in 1999 was awarded the Max Planck Prize by the Max Planck Gesellschaft and Humboldt Stiftung. His work focuses on the intersection of philosophical and historical questions such as: What, at a given time, convinces people that the results of an experiment are correct? How do scientific subcultures form interlanguages of theory and things at their borders? More broadly, Galison's work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of 20th-century physics: experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. His books include How Experiments End (Chicago, 1987), Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (Chicago,1997), and Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps (New York, 2003). In addition, Galison has launched several projects that examine the powerful cross-currents between physics and other fields including a series of co-edited volumes on the relations between science, philosophy, art and architecture. These include Picturing Science, Producing Art (with Caroline Jones, New York, 1998) and The Architecture of Science, with Emily Thompson (Cambridge, Mass., 1999). Galison co-produced a documentary film on the politics of science, "Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma," and is now working on a second, "Secrecy," about the architecture of the classification and secrecy establishment.
The definition of classical architecture in terms of both holism and modularity emerged from the dimensional logic of fractional units. The recent inexpensive and ubiquitous use of digital technology for design and manufacturing has been understood as introducing spline surfaces to architectural and industrial design. The basic contribution is not just these new shapes, but in fact an entirely new dimensional sensibility of calculus, that is, infinitesimally defined components within a continuously defined series. The return of the whole and of the intensively defined part has an important resonance with classical architectural and preoccupations with harmony, proportion, synthesis, and holism, as well as the continuity between structure, fenestration, surface, and ornament, will become more and more prevalent in the fields of architectural and industrial design as more architects begin to understand the aesthetic principles implicit in the adoption of digital tools.
One approach to this shift is a return to defining objects in terms of collections of related elements which modify both based on their continuous definition as a whole, as well as changing in response to transformations in their neighbors to which they are connected. The definition of a primitive rather than an origin is critical in this approach. The use of a primitive defines a dialogue between a more generic whole and a collection of continuously defined parts. This is distinct from other "bottom-up" approaches of parametric design as it foregrounds the classical concern with holism, harmony, and proportion, only now relaxed and redefined with the logics of calculus' infinitesimal dimensional series. This also implies a shift from the fetishization of the detail as a point of transition between geometric and constructed entities in favor of continuous series or clouds of details that are intricately connected one to another.
Greg Lynn graduated cum laude from Miami University of Ohio in 1986 with degrees in Philosophy (BPhil.) and Environmental Design (BED.). He received the MArch from Princeton University in 1988. Lynn has worked in the offices of Peter Eisenman and of Antoine Predock. His office, Greg Lynn FORM, is based in Venice California. Given his dual degrees in philosophy and architecture, Lynn has been involved with combining the realities of design and construction with speculative, theoretical and experimental potentials of writing and teaching. He is the author of six books that combine his interest in contemporary and popular culture with the rigors of architectural theory and history, including: Intricacy (Philadelphia, 2003), Animate Forms (New York, 1999), Folds, Bodies and Blobs: Collected Essays (Brussels, 1998) and Folding in Architecture (Chichester, West Sussex, 1998).
Although Leibniz was well aware of the work of Girard Desargues and Blaise Pascal, he chose to pursue an analytical path. Much later, when Jean Prouvé wanted to industrialize folding processes, the machines available at the time could only deliver standard results. Today, machines that allow for non-standard folding processes are available provided that computer software takes the new possibilities fully into account. This paper shows how "associative design" enabled a return to an arguesian conception of the fold that was fully geometrical.
Bernard Cache was born in 1958. Cache explored the concept of the "non-standard" in Earth Moves (Cambridge, Mass., 1995), a concept that Gilles Deleuze had referred to as "Objectile" in The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley (Minneapolis, 1993). In 1996, together with Patrick Beaucé Cache founded the firm Objectile, which develops and manufactures non-standard components for architecture.
The City of Memory
Since the invention of writing, humanity has cultivated the art of forgetting by recording and representing knowledge and information in the form of books, paintings, tapestries, sculpture, quipu, card files, electronic databases, etc. As we move into the 21st century, we have access to unparalleled means of recording and annotating the world we experience on an everyday basis. The new "architectures" of knowledge are not great buildings, as in the past, but rather streams of data stored in anonymous data banks the "architects" of this knowledge are those who know how to manipulate and represent data in meaningful ways. Making sense of this abundance of information transforming it into knowledge requires a new approach, beginning with our relationships to place and space, and forms of transcribing and recalling "social knowledges."
Giles Lane is co-director and founder of Proboscis, a non-profit creative studio based in London. Lane leads Proboscis' research program, SoMa (Social Matrices), as well as specific projects and activities such as Urban Tapestries, Mapping Perception, Private Reveries, Public Spaces, Peer2Peer, DIFFUSION, and others. Lane is currently Associate Research Fellow in Media & Communications at the London School of Economics (LSE). Previously, he was a Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art, first in the Computer Related Design Research Studio (1998 - 2001) and then in the School of Communications (2001 - 2002).