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  • The Sentient Event: Establishing a Reflexive Ecology

    The Sentient Event: Establishing a Reflexive Ecology
    troy NEW YORK

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
    critic: Carla LEITAO

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Jillian CRANDALL: For decades, the Olympic games have been used as leverage in cities to generate tourism and to fund infrastructural developments. In actuality, the event more often leaves a disproportionate amount of damage in its wake—environmentally, financially, and infrastructurally. The central problem of the Olympics is that while technology and culture continue to evolve, and while performative limits are transgressed each day, the fundamental nature of the event has remained stagnant.

    This calls for a rigorous reconceptualization of what the event should not only be but do, responding to a long history of the Event in architectural discourse. This project adds to that history with the hypothetical Summer Olympics 2028: version 2.0. Here, an assertive position is taken by regarding architecture as pure-program, defining new modes of inhabitation not necessarily bounded by walls but embedded within existing networks and infrastructure. This is ultimately an architecture predicated on moving bodies shaping space as a physical medium, and conversely space influencing the relationships between humans and their environment.

    By imbuing the event with purpose and intelligence, a direct link is formed between the individual, the games, and the city. The goal of the TRACfield TRIAD (an acronym for Transient Responsive Actuating Connector, and a spin on the traditional triathlon) is to create new intersections and traces in the city via the athlete as agent, to assesses and measure the interaction between the body and the city’s visible and invisible obstacles, to deploy, inform, respond, and remediate. These effects will last long after the games end, with careful planning long before they begin. During the TRIAD the athlete is seen as a type of cyborg-agent-avatar yet still an individual. Their garments, devices, and modifications become a part of them: a performative athletic fashion as important as their specialized training. For example, during the Enviro-Ground event the cleats distribute electromagnetic spores which germinate into an electroluminescent safety net, and a semipermeable membrane grown by electropolymer shape memory material. The intention is to raise awareness and mitigate explosive growth around the threatened forests of Istanbul, though for each event the objective may differ. This redefines the role of the architect as a collaborator with politicians, economists, environmentalists, researchers, academics, and sponsoring agencies. The prior stagnancy of the event is eradicated in favor of a new sentience, creating a multiplicity of perspectives for participants of local and non-local destinations in a radically new and dynamic way.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    JC: This project was developed during a thesis studio with Carla Leitao [AUMstudio], the framework of which engaged the temporary and permanent character of event spaces, particularly large-scale games (Olympics, World Cup). Initially I researched post-event conditions of Olympic Villages, along with collective assembly and heteromorphic megastructures (Archigram, Fuller, Constant). When it came to designing and articulating such a radically new event, I was influenced by the notational devices of Rudolf Laban, Oskar Schlemmer (Triadic Ballet), Morton Feldman, and John Cage in order to produce a notational score for the games representing security, surveillance, media coverage, athlete calibration, garment and device utility. It is both choreographic and lyrical, a slippage of past, present, and future to aid the athlete, inform the spectator, and to reflect on in later years. This project takes the hot topic of ‘smart-cities’ and subverts it into an event-based urban mitigation/activation.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    JC: Reading Georges Bataille; Andrea Branzi; J.G. Ballard; Ben Bratton; Italo Calvino; Beatriz Colomina; Manuel DeLanda; N. Katherine Hayles; Fredric Jameson; Henri Lefebvre; Brian Massumi; Marcos Novak; Bruce Sterling; Eugene Thacker; Bernard Tschumi; Vernor Vinge; and Paul Virilio. Listening to Massive Attack’s Heligoland; Brian Eno’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea; MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular; Lady Gaga; Joy Division; and Per Tengstrand. Watching the films of David Lynch and Lars von Trier, American Horror Story.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    JC: An ever evolving list including Reversible Destiny (Madeline Gins); Bernard Tschumi; OMA; Delugan/Meissl; Mecanoo; Höweler+Yoon; SO-IL; the Quay Brothers; Brent Green; Kurt Hentschläger; and Ben Rubin.

    Additional credits or links:
    [Web site]
    Harriet R. Peck Thesis Prize Winner 2012

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