Columbia University GSAPP
critic: francois ROCHE with ezio BLASETTI
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
mengyi FAN & joseph JUSTUS: The scenario describes a structure that grew out from the ocean—facing a progressive rising of water as its colonizers struggle to maintain an equilibrium. It is forever undergoing constant repair as it struggles to stay afloat—supported only by a system of mechanic agents who supply it with the necessary substances and means to create inhabitable grottoes. Without this ongoing system, the structure would easily collapse, returning back to the depths of the ocean from which it has once risen.
The colonizers live in fragile pockets, grottoes created by the voids between the calcium carbonate deposited by the machines and the resulting upward forces of gases. These spaces are always fluctuating, their morphology adjusting to deal with the constant beating of forces from water currents and pressure. The machines themselves are not immortal—over time as they continue to deposit substance, the calcification process eventually renders them immobile, trapping them in their own secretions. They eventually float to the surface, like the oxygen released by the creation of the structure, and become part of what they had set out to create. Their logic is simple—only flocking towards other machines as they mimic the movements of the currents. The spiraling created by the machines are imprinted in the memory of the structure, layers stratified with the history of the movements.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
mF & jJ: Jacques Cousteau, Greg Egan’s Distress, Werner Herzog, Tim Hawkinson, bubbles.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
mF & jJ: Watching starfish dying, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, reading Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
mF & jJ: Atelier Olschinsky, Urs Fischer.
JURY COMMENTS ///
hernan DIAZ ALONSO — The alternative reality that this project defines is subversive and provocative.
it introduce the possibility of an aggressive formalism which could have the capacity to redefine social behavior, and that is a key factor in the current evolution of this particular disciplinary topic.
mark GAGE — Gorgeous. I don’t normally go for projects that aren’t reproducable as designs– i.e. systems, particularily biological/ mineral ones. I think though that this deserves merit for going straight from concept to affect– in essence skipping the design of form. The aqueousness of the presentation is easily imagined as as formal proposal. That’s a incredibly interesting territory for an emerging designer to investigate.