suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
ben BRADY: This thesis aims to explore the tension prevalent in tody’s libraries from all scales. Video cannot kill the radio star. Despite promises of obsolescence of one technology over another, we must realize that this is never the case. Video didn’t kill radio. Photography didn’t kill painting. Film didn’t kill the theater and the age of digital information will not kill the book and the library. “This” doesn’t kill “that,” but rather “that” may be re-defined by “this.” The library is at a unique place today as facing head-on the power, speed, and mobility of the digital world, while simultaneously being burdened by its own immense physicality.
There are multiple causes for the tension prevalent in libraries today. One being an unproductive, sloppy, and forced relationship between digital and physical worlds of the library and the second being the program related to the book and to print media being forced to fight for space in its own home against extraneous programs that have attached themselves to it.
The tension between the physical and digital worlds of information have left of with skeuomorphic objects, vestiges of one technology holding us back from an ushering into a new place. The prevalence of these skeuomorphs, manifesting themselves in our media today (fake page turns on pdfs, falsely rendered wooden book cases on ibooks, fake leather ledger calendars on our computers) are evidence of us being in a confused time, a time where we will call for the the speed and transparency of the digital world, but at the same time still calling for a relationship to the slow and the warmth commonly associated with libraries.
The gestalt move in the thesis is to split the digital world of the library and the physical. Let’s give the library a chance to be what it wants to be, a place for books, and lets explore the power of the digital when it isn’t burdened by the responsibility to imitate the physical. Then, we can focus interactions between them in a considered way. Similarly, we should separate the programs found in libraries today that have nothing to do with the book (theater, cafe, gallery) from the more scholarly program. While there is a societal need for such disparate programs to exist next to each other, there is no reason to blur the lines between them. While the model of the hybrid works well on the scale of the iPhone and personal technology, it falls short to dealing with the specificity of program already embedded in the library. The library is conceived from the inside-out with the specificity of the program and individual spaces in mind. Focused interactions between the digital world and physical world emerge and choice-of-use becomes the most important quality for the user. In the most digitally charged environments, wifi-cold spots emerge. These are phone-booth sized rooms that represent a voluntary break from the connectivity of our digital environment, places of focus and contemplation in an analog space. The library of tomorrow must startto respond and take a stance on the awkwardness already prevalent in libraries.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
bB: My mom, MetaLab@Harvard, Faraday cages, anechoic chambers, Walter Benjamin, Herzog & de Meuron.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
bB: JG Ballard, The Buggles, Ray Bradbury, David Weinberger, Matthew Battles, Jeffrey Schnapp; watching Blade Runner, reruns of The Office, and Brazil.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
bB: Pound Studio, I|K Studio, SsD, Snohetta, Herzog & de Meuron, Peter Ferretto, Peter Markli, Howeler + Yoon.