Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
critic: stephen PHILLIPS
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
nema ASHJAEE: This biennale in downtown LA expresses the modern Network Culture on multiple levels. Aside from its obvious network morphology, the structure itself is conceived from a bottom-up methodology that builds an open framework to accept event and display spaces. Network Culture’s temporal nature is further expressed in the temporary structure as it reconfigures every two years to accommodate a new organization of spaces.
These temporary spaces house pavilions, installations, media projections, and other art pieces related to the digital, networked age. Biennale participants would each be allotted one of these spaces that result from the emergent process that determines the site’s organization. Permanent, infrastructural program—restrooms, amphitheaters, food courts, etc.—provide the anchor that allows the site to function during these events.
A major goal of this project is to revitalize downtown LA. During “off” years, the structure can be used in tandem with the nearby LA Convention Center to host other events as well as provide a potential open exhibit area for the general public. Primarily, the site will become an open public space, something downtown LA sorely lacks. Mat-building methodology (especially function-mixing) will ensure the site remains heterogeneous enough to maintain a level of activity that will make this area a focal point for revitalizing downtown.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
nA: Going into my thesis year I knew I wanted my project to center around computational, scripted methodologies as a design tool. During my research I became inspired by the works of many architects and artists focusing on emergent processes. These bottom-up systems govern many aspects of this world, from the natural (flocking birds) to the artificial (your “recommendations” on amazon.com). I was also fascinated by Deleuze’s essay on control societies, so I set out to develop a design methodology on what I thought of as an “open society”.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
nA: For inspiration I would re-read Gilles Deleuze’s “Postscript on Control Societies” and Mark Wigley’s “Network Fever”. When it came time to focus on production Led Zeppelin never failed me.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
nA: I have recently been looking at the works of Kokkugia and Future Cities Lab. And the Grasshopper community always has interesting work to display.