Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
critic: carla LEITAO
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
vivian BRATONE: The typology of the archive is suffering from the multitudinous ways in which we share information and knowledge today. The citadel-like archives of hard-to-access and deeply nested materials form a landscape that today’s society rarely needs to traverse. On a parallel downward trajectory is mankind’s link to his environment. Information overload has led to a virtual disorientation and on a larger scale, a decrease in territorial identity as the growth and development of our cities are increasing shaped by non-material fluxes.
As a multifunctional, a-scalar presence situating itself partly above and partly within coastal urban cities in the year 2048, the Hydra Index is an institution working to bridge information gaps between inhabitants and their rapidly decaying environment. Literally creating different fronts for itself to operate on, the particles swarm with artificial intelligence and are capable of collecting data, communicating with other particles and existing research institutions, and coming into contact with humans. Shaped by both material and non-material fluxes, the intelligence and potential of the institution lies in its distributed form as well as haptic capabilities. At its core, the project tries to explore ways in which models for architecture can integrate/mediate information and generate knowledge in order to reactive static archival typologies while shedding light on the fragility of the surrounding environment.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
vB: This project was completed in my thesis year under the guidance of Carla Leitao [AUMstudio] who brought the idea of clouds and distributed networks to the partnership at the very beginning. As a thesis cluster, my fellow students and I worked with these same themes in very different ways, and our individual projects were in continual dialogues with one another as they developed. The Hydra Index was heavily born of a materials research that started with a comprehensive present day overview and analysis in order to give the design a basis as well as a springboard into 2048.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
vB: reading: Katherine Hayles, Chris Anderson, Sanford Kwinter, Bruce Sterling, Lev Manovich, John Ruskin, Karl Chu, Jaques Derrida, Phillip Ball, Vernor Vinge, and Jorge Luis Borges. Listening: a lot of Tycho, Pretty Lights, and the Fugees.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
vB: Since completing this project I’ve started work on a masters in Sustainable Urbanism in Germany so my focus has shifted a bit from back then, but I still read a lot in and around the topics of distributed networks, informatics, biomimicry, models and space, visualizations, media space, and design proposals from the year 2040 and onward!
Additional credits and links:
The project was the winner of the 2011 Rensselaer Harriet R. Peck Prize.