“Strange Craft: Summer Masterclass in Contemporary Digital Architecture” with
Michael YOUNG & Kutan AYATA,
Rhett RUSSO & Kartin MUELLER RUSSO, David RUY & Karel KLEIN, and Ezio BLASETTI & Danielle WILLEMS
New York, New York 10003
The discipline of architecture finds itself currently at a juncture regarding digital technology. Gone are the days of the effusive excitement and exuberance over the future of computation in architectural design. The revolution has largely come and gone leaving what is quickly becoming a choice between two dominant directions. One path sees computation as an ever more technical, pragmatic power, useful in predicting, evaluating, and controlling a building’s performance. The other path finds the digital in architectural design to be a non-issue, what matters is only the design content; working on a computer changes nothing.
The choice illustrated above is of course not really a choice, for one side is given technical control, the other cultural meaning. Both deny the qualitative aesthetic questions that arise with changes in mediation. The shift to a digital mediation has unleashed some rather strange qualities into our architectural world, qualities well worth looking longer at. For instance, craft, (typically associated with manual material traditions) has mutated into a conversation regarding variable precision and controlled accidents in the digital fabrication of images and objects. Traditional cross media translations, such as collage, montage, and superposition have a rich material history in 20th century modernism, but existed as a choice in medium. Contemporary digital design requires constant shifts between 2 and 3 dimensions, animated and still images, pixel and vector representation, curves and meshes, objects and fields: to work in a digital environment is to be constantly shifting between technologies of mediation. We are all collage artists. It is in this space of the crossings between Digital Craft, Technologies of Mediation, and Aesthetic Theory that this Masterclass sets its agenda.
The Masterclass will consist of four one-week sessions focused on specific topics led by internationally recognized leaders in education and practice. The sessions will each have a different contemporary problem that will be taught, researched and explored, with all four sessions building upon one another, as the month long Masterclass becomes a single project.
The sessions will take place at The Cooper Union in the heart of New York City. All students will have studio space in which the production, discussion, presentation, and review of the work will take place. All students will have access to the digital studio, which includes all necessary software and hardware, both PC and Mac, output including Laser printers and Plotters, 3d Printer and Lasercutter, and the full shop of The Cooper Union for wood and metal working.
WEEK 1 | July 8 to July 12
Digital surfaces are aggregates that mask and reveal their construction in particular ways. The differential geometry that structures their measurement and manipulation gives discrete control while visually remaining continuous. Another way of designating this mixed status is that they are collages. A particular history of surrealist collage via Max Ernst links into artists such as Tim Hawkinson, Jiri Kolar, and Gerhard Richter, offering an alternate manner in which to consider the nature of a digital model’s “seams of continuity” through an aesthetic investigation. This session will create a series of digital/material collages.
WEEK 2 | July 15 to July 19
Increasingly, objects are being designed to evolve in the presence of information. What is the role of matter in the design process? How do objects, both real and virtual communicate, interface and distribute in space according to their specific properties? What are our design aspirations for the role of aesthetics, technology, craft and the individuation of the technical object?This session will create a series of physical objects.
WEEK 3 | July 22 to July 26
Bible Scenes on Google Earth, Stormtroopers in a Parking Lot, and Photos of Models of Photos
Some strange things are happening in visual culture these days. Whether it is in the world of advertisement, public relations, or the fine arts, the boundary between the real and the imaginary is increasingly uncertain. This session focuses attention on what has unexpectedly emerged as a new realist style that has nothing to do with banality and objectivity, but everything to do with speculation and estrangement. We can make the observation that the architectural rendering has always been a weird form of realism. Despite its proud history, renderings have recently succumbed to bad visual habits and cynical repetition. Can we learn from contemporary visual culture and overcome some of our rendering clichés?This session will create a series of rendered scenarios.
WEEK 4 | July 29 to August 2
Animate Abstract Matter
Computational procedures are abstractions that claim a particular aesthetic territory. The primary operative layer of algorithms is obscured, encoded in the grains of products and affects. Their expressivity lays in trespassing the limits of evolving forms in relationship to shaping forces of material manifestations. A closer examination in the parallels between the animate behaviors of matter and the emergent phenomena in simple software reveals the potential of a unified craft of self-organization. Beyond the explicit and key-framed notion of time, algorithmic procedures can embody multidimensional dynamics in the generation of form. The associated drawing in this type of exploration is in fact, a meta-animation, namely a cross-section through a phase-space of possibilities. This session will create a series of computational animations.
Masterclass Leaders include:
Kutan Ayata, Ezio Blassetti, Karel Klein, Katrin Mueller Russo, Rhett Russo, David Ruy, Danielle Willems, Michael Young