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  • Algorithmic Generation

    Francis BITONTI, "Algorithmic Generation."
    troy NEW YORK

    “We are a generation of architects interested not in geometry, but in pattern. We create languages but have none we can call our own. Our explorations in computation have flattened history. . . .”

    [EXCERPTED FROM FRESH PUNCHES ]

    *image courtesy the author.

    We are a generation of architects interested not in geometry, but in pattern. We create languages but have none we can call our own. Our explorations in computation have flattened history. We have imagined a world of discrete binary operations and, in a world such as this, where all permutations can be enumerated, past, present, and future coexist. The structures of time and space are now adaptable; they are the mirror of our own desires. This is an age of mass personalization and customization: each individual is the center of his own space. Our habitat has become an accumulation, an assemblage of individual universes.

    From simple operations we unfold entire galaxies. We are a generation that designs by means of searching: we search through these galaxies of possibilities while we try to discover innovation and we manipulate the artifacts we find strewn about the universes we create. We are looking for a future, all the while materializing futures far ahead of their time. We have broken free from the linearity of time and progress. To design now is to encode and decode abstract strings of data.

    We are obsessed with the structure of things. I concern myself with only one question: What is the most discrete element? Body and mind have been separated. No longer are we dependent on geometry for intelligence. Our geometry has become primitive, yet we have produced complexities that baffle even their creators, even ourselves. We have developed a primitive elemental language. Our language is adaptable and generic: we express meaning with grammar, but not with content.

    We are a conflicted generation; we are minimalists who produce excess.

    We are concerned with only the most discrete and fundamental elements of the world. This is all we can try to understand: we grasp only the beginning and the end; the process escapes us. It doesn’t matter how much we think we understand, the process has become conceptual, a reality that is beyond our senses.

    We are a generation of architects that is more than human: we are augmented. We spend our days with things we can’t see, taste, touch, or smell. As designers, we operate as filters or search engines. We generate and enumerate possibilities, and encode and decode the results: we are code breakers and cryptographers. Giving form to the immaterial, we speak the language of our machines. We teach them to speak for us; our machines learn new languages through us and together we shape a new world. Are we getting farther from human? Are we becoming artificial? Sure, but it is artificiality that is the core of humanity: we have always been toolmakers and we have always been augmented. We have always been beyond human—we have evolved with our tools. This heightened dependency makes us more vulnerable than ever. Doesn’t that make us even more human, to be incorporated into a machine? We are not celebrating the rationality of a new machine. This is no new modernism. Computation is a celebration of the fragility and complexity of our own humanness, our own “personness.”

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    [MORE FROM FRESH PUNCHES]
    [PURCHASE]

    [Francis Bitonti Studio]
    [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]
    [Pratt DAHRC]

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