MArch GAD, The Bartlett, UCL 2012 (Distinction) (Bronze prize)
supervisors: marjan COLLETTI, guan LEE, tea LIM, & pavlos FEREOS
critics: evan DOUGLIS, kaas OOSTERHUIS, luca GALOFARO, & matias del CAMPO.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
vasileios CHLOROKOSTAS: This research investigates the architectural relation of the body with the environment in multiple scales. Under the theme of Form follows Fetish various relations of micro-scale, the human body, the crowd, the macro-scale and the environment are theoretically analysed, and consequently researched dy design in an obsessive manner.
Recursive subdivision is manipulated and used as the tectonic, architectural counterpart of cellular subdivision. Using three design studies: the “nano suit,” the “archimera” and the “infra-skin,” the research aims to perform a series of zoom-ins and zoom-outs from the cosmologic to the microscopic and vice versa, through which a new archetypic architecture can emerge.
I admire one’s natural tendency to comprehend through the delicate manipulation of matter in fingers scale. “One degree is not a large distance, on a compass it is scarcely the thickness of a finger nail, but in certain conditions, one degree can be a very large distance, enough to unmake a man.”(1) On a computer screen, one pixel adopts this mercurial nature always depending on certain conditions which allow it to be translated and perceived differently in the screen’s 2.5-D world.(2) Thus, one pixel is also an unknown distance.
In a world where materialized parametrical models are beginning to merge with existing anthropometric data already experienced and empirically known, the need to seek a handful of distance begins to grow. As infants we continuously touched objects, creating reference maps of textures which support and complete our sense of vision of our surroundings. In Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of “2001, a space Odyssey,”(3) neanderthal people experience an explosion of intelligence triggered by simply touching the super-smooth texture of the monolith, something they never had come in contact before, in the wilderness. I tend to believe that one starts to find comfort when coming in contact with super-small distances, as opposed to the super-large ones one is asked to per ceive, use or even, design.
(Microperceptions -> Expression -> Idea)
What influences greatly this research is the idea that after an external phainomenon affects the body and before the birth of a conscious memory of that event, there is a multilayered procedure taking place. Brian Massumi (4) specifically talks about a “crowd of ‘molecular’ or ‘micro’ perceptions,” each stratum of which “has its own rules of content formation to feed its level-specific functioning, as well as unique forms of expression to transmit the generative impulse to other levels”. Essen tially, these “micro-perceptions” stack in order to provide the brain with the necessary margin of unpredictability, on which the brain thrives and“relays with other autonomies [. . .] from the cosmological to the microscopic, but also from the microscopic to the macroscopic.”(5)
(Cosmo -> Recursive Subdivision -> Micro)
But apart from the brain’s conceptual link between micro- and cosmo- how are those two different scales related? Can a certain form for example, provide the information necessary for a texture to be designed for it? In addition to its geometrical intentions, the application of recursion can be also seen as a mode of action-reaction between the form and its established environment. Recursion in mathematics is the repeated application of a procedure or rule to successive results of the process.(6) Mat Wall-Smith makes a link between recursion and Massumi’s theory about the relation between body and the world: “the relation between body and world is defined in ‘mutual’ recursion. Mutual recur sion [. . .] describes two functions that are defined according to a mutual relation,[…] it describes a relational ontology. In actuality this means the two systems are not distinct at all, they are compo nents of a dynamic assemblage.” He suggests “an architectonic relation based on an established way of perceiving and expressing the body’s relationship with the greater ecology” through various “technics.”(7)
Since recursive procedures can define this architectonic relation, one such “techne” could be the mutual recursive subdivision of the body and its environment. Subdivision of cells is a constant situation in the microscale of nature, so its tectonic counterpart could very well be recursive sub division of geometries. This serves as a mediator in this dynamic relation of body VS environment. It performs architectural mutations as a non-concious reflex mechanism that addresses specific functionalities and conditions, and even interact with real, cellular mutations in multiple scales.
(Nature > Environment >> Architecture > Body?
Body+μ => Architecture++ => Environment+texture?)
The design research focuses on the somewhat unformulated and ill-defined relationship between architecture as it is practiced today and the “cosmo -> recursive subdivision -> micro” scheme described above. In 1755 The abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier published the second edition of his Essay on Architecture with a famous, often reproduced illustration of a primitive hut.(8) In the illustration, mother nature presents the hut as an abstract concept but also as a material construc tion to the juvenile human. Having the hut as an archetype, the subjects of proportion, form, and ornament can be addressed. But apart from constructing a representation of the first architectural idea, this image also suggests a dictatum of design laws: Nature > Environment >> Architecture > Body.
Clark’s Neanderthal human mentioned in the hypothesis however, is the exact op posite of Laugier’s juvenile human. Also ignorant and ready to adapt, Clark’s Neanderthal “grows up” by separating himself from nature. He marvels the tectonic, the alien, the super-smooth and strives to reach it. In the process he builds his own artificial environment around himself, an envi ronment that actively pushes him to evolve, where every natural enemy is eradicated. While this version of the “human” resembles much more our current point in history, architecture practice largely still follows slight variations of Laugier’s dictatum of laws, instead of re-inventing it. Such a reinvention is approached in the final stages of the design research, where: the body pulls its pseudopods outwards so that they can later mutate into an architecture ,a second layer between man and environ ment; a condition fundamentally different from: an arbitrary algorithm is translated into a form and then scaled up to size to fit a real, haptic site.
For more information please visit: www.texturefollowsform.com
(1) short animation film: The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (Lucas, An thony, 2005); written by Mark Shireffs and Anthony Lucas; produced by Susie Campbell), 3D films.
(2) “Wikipedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2.5D, accessed on 15 January 2012
(3) 2001: A space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968). Based on the homonymous novel by Arthur C. Clarke, 1968)
(4) Massumi, B., A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari, London: Psychology Press, 2002, p.34 -42
(5) Deleuze, G., The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993, p.87
(6) “Wordreference”,http://www.wordreference.com/definition/recursion, accessed on 9 Novem ber 2011
(7) “The Fibreculture Journal”, http://twelve.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-081-toward-an-ontology-of-mutual-recursion-models-mind-and-media/, accessed on 1 May 2012
(8) “Wikipedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc-Antoine_Laugier, accessed on 1 April 2012
sP: What or who influenced this project?
vC: I am a Science Fiction ultrageek (biopunk and apoclyptic fiction). Aesthetically I was influenced greatly from the works of Evan Douglis, Michael Hansmeyer, and the creative works of all my talented friends at the Bartlett!
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
vC: Playing Computer Games—this is a must (Halo, Crysis 3). Reading Deleuze (again), Brian Massumi, Larry Niven. Watching various anime (Elfen Lied, Stein’s Gate, King of Thorn) and almost every cheesy movie of 2011–12.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
vC: Jose Sanchez, Daniel Widrig, Davide Quayola.