The “Possible Mediums” Conference, which took place at The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture from February 07-10, 2013, brought together 18 designers, 120 students (from the four co-host schools: The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and University of Kentucky College of Design), and special guests John McMorrough and Jeffrey Kipnis, to participate in design workshops and formal discussions surrounding the question of mediums in contemporary architecture.
Challenging the boundaries of architectural convention, the invited workshop leaders led students in exploratory processes rooted in mediums external to the discipline (such as film or comics) or developed from atypical applications of more conventional mediums (such as drawings or models). The conference results, both in design and discourse, demonstrate the profound potential of an expansion and diversification of architectural mediums as format, as material, and as a means of projection.
“Active Models,” one of the four themes around which the conference was structured, features designers that employ robotics and interactive technologies to link digital and physical environments. Their work utilizes embedded computation, continuous measurement, and kinetics to propose new modes of visual, spatial, and formal engagement. In multiple research projects initiated by Andrew Atwood (Atwood-A), self-made robots are used to translate drawings into objects. Atwood identifies drawing as the primary medium for architectural production and embraces the gap that emerges during the process of physical, three-dimensional translation. Jason Kelly Johnson (Future Cities Lab) employs physical computing (distributed sensors and micro-controllers) to create a series of what his office terms “live models”—dynamic formations that adapt to fluctuating inputs, enlivening data in both architectural processes and products. Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim (IK studio) present optimistic and engaging scenarios for the synthesis of architecture, interactive technology, and engineering. Denying the false assumption that architecture must be static and inert, they propose kinetic surfaces, objects, and structures that change the way humans interact with the built environment. From translations of design conventions to alterations of social behaviors, the work of this group demonstrates the vast potential of interactive technology within contemporary architecture.
Curated by Kyle Miller (eightyeight-west), the workshops in this group investigated the partnership between interactive technology, physical computing, and architecture. Andrew Atwood’s workshop sought to enliven static, physical objects through animated projection and precise graphic overlay. The workshop organized by Simon Kim and Mariana Ibañez produced responsive and kinetic thin-shell canopy structures. Jason Kelly Johnson worked with students to produce a radical menagerie of small breathing, pulsating and twitching robotic drawing machines. Together, the workshops presented a wide range of strategies for understanding the productive nature of the “Active Model” both in process and as product.
Additional information on each workshop, workshop leader’s bio’s, and photo/video documentation can be found on the conference Web site: http://possiblemediums.wordpress.com/