columbia

Syllabus for Network Culture. The History of the Contemporary

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

A4515: Network Culture. The History of the Contemporary  Fall 2013

Professor                                Kazys Varnelis
Description

The purpose of this seminar is to come to an advanced historical understanding of the changed conditions that characterize our networked age. As a history of the contemporary, the seminar is organized around a series of topics tracing a genealogy of present-day culture, focusing on the network not merely as a technology with social ramifications but rather as a cultural dominant that connects changes in society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology. It's a primary thesis of this course that the network is not an innocent technology but rather a social construction that serves to naturalize and exacerbate uneven growth and the distribution of power.

Topics to be addressed include network theory, changing concepts of time and space, the rise of networked publics, contemporary poetics, new forms of subjectivity, and methods of control. Throughout, we will make connections between architecture, urbanism and this insurgent condition.

The theme for fall 2013 is Uneven Growth and responds to a MoMA exhibition that will open in October 2014. Students will be welcome to participate in the workshop at MoMA leading to the exhibition and are encouraged to pursue the topic of Uneven Growth in networks in their research projects.

RequirementsParticipation: 20%

Each class will consist of a presentation by the instructor on selected themes, followed by an in-depth discussion in seminar. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion in which all students participate. Active participation by all students in each session is required. 

Tumblr: 20%

Each student is expected to maintain a tumblelog on tumblr.com and to post at least twice a week. Beyond mere reblogging of information pertinent to the course, the tumblelog will form a record and commentary upon their research during the semester.

Research Project: 60%

For a research project, students have an option of either undertaking a curatorial project or an essay. Either is due on Monday, December 16.

The curatorial project will explore the topic of uneven growth in networks. The Netlab’s specific focus in this exhibit is research on the future of uneven growth in Hong Kong but students are encouraged to explore uneven growth as a constituent of networks.

Both design and scholarship are integral to the term project, which should take the form of an exhibit catalog as might be found in a museum. A carefully curated and designed book will be accompanied a 2,000 word essay (roughly 10 pages double spaced, 12 points) on the curated material. If students choose to write an essay, they should turn in an essay of roughly 4,000 words (roughly 20 pages double spaced, 12 points).

Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate failure.

Reading

All readings will be available on-line.

01

09.06

Introduction

02

09.13

An Overview of Networks

Manuel Castells, “Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.

Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 177-182.

Charlie Gere, “The Beginnings of Digital Culture,” Digital Culture (London: Reaktion, 2008), 21-50.

Optional: Kazys Varnelis, “Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture,” Networked Publics, 145-163.

03

09.20

Network Theory

Albert-László Barabási, “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Small Worlds,” and “Hubs and Connectors,” Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.

Nicholas Carr, “From the Many to the Few” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.

Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,” Wired, October 2004,  http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html

Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality,” Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet. http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html

Optional:

Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.

Duncan J. Watts, “The Connected Age,” Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.

04

09.27

Control

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology,” http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.

Saskia Sassen, “Electronic space and power,” Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.

Alexander R. Galloway, “Physical Media,” Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.

Optional:

Saskia Sassen, “On Concentration and Centrality in the Global City,” Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor, eds., World Cities in a World-System (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 63-78.

Stephen Graham, “Communication Grids: Cities and Infrastructure,” in Saskia Sassen, Global Networks. Linked Cities (London: Routledge, 2002), 71-92.

Kevin Phillips, “Preface,” “Introduction. The Panic of August,” “Finance: The New Real Economy?” Bad Money. (New York: Penguin, 2009), xi-lxxiv and 1-68.

05

10.04

Postmodernism and Periodization

David Harvey, “Fordism” and “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation,” in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.

Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146  (July/August 1984): 53-92.

Jeffrey Nealon, “Once More, With Intensity, Foucault’s History of Power Revisited,” Foucault Beyond Foucault, 24-53.

Optional:

Hal Foster, “Postmodernism: A Preface,” in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), ix-xvi.

Jean François Lyotard, “introduction” “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984), xxiii-xxv, 71-82.

 

06

10.11

Time

Jean Baudrillard, “The End of the Millennium or the Countdown,” Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.

Bruce Sterling, “Atemporality for the Creative Artist,” http://www.transmediale.de/en/keynote-bruce-sterling-us-atemporality

transcribed: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/atemporality-for-the-crea...

optional: Robert Sumrell and Kazys Varnelis, “Personal Lubricants. Shell Oil and Scenario Planning,” New Geographies 02(2010), 127-132

 

07

10.18

Space

Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control,” Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.

Marc Augé, “Prologue” and “From Places to Non-Places,” in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.

Hans Ibelings, “Supermodernism,” Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.

George Simmel, “Metropolis and Mental Life,” Donald N. Levine, ed. Simmel: On individuality and social forms, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1971), 324-339.

Optional:

Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, “Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things,” Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357–363.

 

08

10.25

Uneven Growth Workshop, MoMA

 

 

09

11.01

Subjectivity

Kenneth J. Gergen,“Social Saturation and the Populated Self,” The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.

Brian Holmes, “The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique,” Transversal,  http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en

Jeffrey Nealon, “Once More, With Intensity, Foucault’s History of Power Revisited,” Foucault Beyond Foucault, 24-53.

Warren Neidich, “From Noopower to Neuropower: How Mind Becomes Matter,” Cognitive Architecture:From Bio-politics to Noo-politics; Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information(Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2010), 538-581.

 

10

11.08

Publics

Yochai Benkler, “Chapter 1. Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge” and “Chapter 4. The Economics of Social Production,” The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 1-28 and 91-127.

Bill Wausik, “My Crowd. Or Phase 5: A Report from the Inventor of the Flash Mob,” Harper’s Magazine (March 2006), 56-66.

Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008), 1-77.

Optional

Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).

 

11

11.14

Poetics

Geert Lovink, “Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse,” Eurozine (2007), http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-01-02-lovink-en.html

Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002), 7-48.

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), excerpts.

Jordan Crandall, “Showing,” http://jordancrandall.com/showing/index.html

 

12

11.21

Complexity

Joseph A .Tainter, “Introduction to Collapse,” The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1977), 13-32.

Charles Perrow, “Normal Accident at Three Mile Island.” Society 18, no. 5 (1981): 17–26.

 

13

11.29

Thanksgiving Break / No Class

 

Terminal Condition. Spring 2012 Netlab Studio

 

Terminal Condition
Spring 2012

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Professor: Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Assistant: Leigha Dennis

Description

This studio explores the re-construction of a large-scale infrastructural element in the city, specifically the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. A structure of 1.5 million square feet, passed through daily by hundreds of thousands of commuters, over seven thousand buses, and thousands of automobiles, providing parking for over 1,000 spaces for automobiles on top, surmounting a subway below, linked to the Lincoln Tunnel through massive ramps for vehicular traffic, and accommodating a significant shopping area, the PABT operates in a realm between building, city, and infrastructure. We are interested in this overlap as a venue for experimentation in programming and design.

As the largest commuter facility in the city, the PABT is a necessary part of everyday life for hundreds of thousands of workers in the city. The PABT was constructed in response to growing traffic congestion in midtown produced by the operation of eight independent bus terminals in the area a decade after the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel in 1937. Costing $24 million, the PABT bus terminal started operations in December 1950, consolidating eight independent bus terminals located in the midtown area. The building has been expanded twice to accommodate growing bus traffic: in 1963 a $30 million expansion added new decks and in 1979 a north wing was built at a cost of over $160 million, integrating with the original structure with a bridge over 41st street through a series of massive X trusses designed by Port Authority chief structural engineer Eugene Fasullo.

Bringing over 50,000 sightseers to the city daily, most of whom stop at Times Square, the PABT has been a key player in midtown, caught up in a longstanding crime problem that only abated during the last decade. With a new, modern exterior and a tiled interior resistant to vandalism, the 1979 reconstruction was intended as an architectural solution. But the expanded space quickly wound up serving a growing population of hundreds of homeless people, drug dealers, and male prostitutes while the “Minnesota Strip” on Eighth avenue outside became a site where newly-arrived runaways of both genders, particularly from the Upper Midwest, would be pressed into prostitution. Soon, the brutalist trusses became seen as a symbol of the decay of the Times Square area. In response, the Port Authority invested significant funds in the redevelopment of the neighborhood and implemented crime prevention strategies. The building is now vastly safer, but with the successful redevelopment of Times Square, the PABT is one of the last vestiges of an older, less commercialized New York. Over the last decade, the Port Authority was working with the Vornado Realty Trust to construct a skyscraper over the north wing, which was built with the possibility of exploiting its air rights in mind. Plans for a forty-story office tower by Richard Rogers including a rooftop garden and eighteen new bus gates came to naught when the Chinese developer pulled out this past November.

In this exercise, we set out to develop new hypotheses for the future of the PABT which we see as needing to respond to a world in which mobility is as much a matter of portable networked telecommunications devices as travel. With the resurgence of bus travel, the Terminal has the opportunity to become an even more significant gateway into the city for both commuters and visitors. Containing significant retail space, the PABT is a major center of commerce in the Times Square area. How do we make a building that embraces civic, commercial, and infrastructural spaces while remaining secure?

Semester Plan

This studio understands the architect as a builder of not merely physical edifices but also social, conceptual, and technical structures. Our interest is to use architecture and the most advanced thinking in network culture to construct new and better ways of life. In doing so, this studio is engaged first and foremost with institution building and shaping of social behavior.

We will begin the semester with team-based based scenario plans. Students will identify the drivers in society, technology, economics, ecology, and politics likely to impact the building over the next generation. These scenario plans will be communicated through the technique of architecture fiction. A review exploring these scenario plans will be held in mid February.

Students will individually develop detailed proposals for the reconstruction of the building by mid-review in March. These proposals will take the form of books that define the mission and goals of the reconstructed PABT and a preliminary idea for an architectural program.

Cloud

As a Netlab studio concerned with the topic of mobility, this studio will be the first prototypical studio in the GSAPP Cloud. To this end, students will be expected to maintain Tumblr blogs of their research and to keep up with the online work of other students. All student work will be posted online and aggregated to the emerging GSAPP work site.

Program

Students will be responsible for devising programs for a 21st century PABT. With the scenario plans from the first part of the studio in hand, students will be asked to identify the programmatic direction of the new PABT. Crucial to this will be a balance between city, building, and infrastructure. How can the building maintain its own identity while integrating better with the urban environment surrounding it?

In the wake of an era defined by the attention-seeking strategy of shaping, it is only appropriate to ask if architecture shouldn’t lose its singularity and obsession with performance. Can we develop architectural strategies aimed at producing less individualistic works that operate in a more ambient register, embracing formlessness instead of shaping, works that build intensity more subtly rather than giving it away all at once, works that question the boundaries between the city and the building rather than affirming them?

With regard to the site, students will be encouraged to consider the extension of the PABT into New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel and the dedicated Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) that stretches from the New Jersey Turnpike onto Route 495, underneath the Times Square area through the underground subway station and the subway routes beyond.

Engineering

Students will work with roving engineers from ARUP during the semester to address the immense requirements of the PABT and the prospects for the construction of their project without disrupting the terminal’s operation.

Representation

Ultra-realistic perspective and Photoshop-based montages are banned in this studio. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism,” a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[1] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.

But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[2] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.

Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[3]

We will look at forms of representation immanent to our topic at hand, from schedules to traffic engineering plans, flowcharts, to exploded axonometrics for vehicle parts. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand the topic we are involved in. Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric offer us a carefully and logically articulated system of delineation appropriate for a bus terminal.

Grading:

20% Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.

Group meetings, regularly scheduled once per week allow us to share our research and constantly re-tune our method and approach to the material.

Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).

40% Concept

Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.

Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.

40% Execution and Presentation

A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.

Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.

Work should be thoroughly and represented.



[1]
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative,  (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).

[2] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.

[3] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

Factory Studio Exhibit at Columbia

My students put up the exhibit for the factory studio in the end of year show yesterday.

The exhibit consists of a slit in a door. The space beyond it is bifurcated by a wall that allows view into two separate rooms. The first, to the right, is a factory office from years gone by. The second, to the left is a radical vision of a future factory. The children in the images below are mine.

The show will be up until for about six days. 

With luck, we'll have student work from the studio up in a few days.

Factory Studio, Spring 2011

 Factory
Spring 2011

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Professor:             Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Assistant:              Leigha Dennis
 
Description
This studio reimagines the factory for the twenty-first century, setting out to understand the architect as a builder of not merely physical edifices but also social, conceptual, and technical structures.
 
If modernity is defined by mass production, then the factory is modern architecture’s definitive typology. Early factories were widely understood as sublime, sites of awe and horror that could only be overcome by the exertion of human reason. Spurred by this challenge, from the eighteenth century onward, architects and social reformers envisioned rational and just factories, not merely workplaces but rather centers of human habitation, places of joy in labor, and envisioned societies built around them.
 
Today, the factory evokes images of structures either converted to art museums, lofts, or abandoned to decay. With factories outsourced, design has all but abandoned re-imagining this critical site of human activity, the one truly new building type of modernity. Our interest is to use architecture and the most advanced thinking in network culture to construct new and better ways of life. In doing so, this studio is engaged first and foremost with institution building and shaping of social behavior.
 
The studio topic emerges from research into how we can navigate a landscape defined not by scarcity but by over-abundance. The very model of economy—the management and distribution of scarce resources— is undone by overproduction and overaccumulation. 19 million housing units are vacant in the United States, 345,000 in Ireland, 340,000 in Dubai, 1.5 million in Spain and 64 million in China.[1] Such stark figures call into question the very premise of building. What is the purpose of building—no matter how sustainably—when it means only more excess that must somehow be consumed?
 
The overproduction in housing has been accompanied by the overaccumulation of capital and overconsumption in advanced countries. The result is a bloated economy that cannot easily restart itself. Even as the stock market gyrates upward, unemployment levels in this and many other countries remain at Depression-era levels. Anticipating the current economy continuing its downturn for a protracted period of time, we feel it becomes crucial to imagine a saner economic structure than the current one. Deriving through financialization and conspicuous consumption based on debt is sheer madness.
 
We set out is to ask not only how architecture can continue to function in this condition but also how it can play a transformational role in it. This studio sets out to re-envision productivist thought for the 21st century, aligning itself with earlier projects targeting the relationship of production, design, and society such as the Gothic Revival, the Arts & Crafts, the Deutscher Werkbund, Russian Productivism, the Bauhaus, the Hochschule für Gestaltung at Ulm, and the Counterdesign movement.
 
Against a cynical world in which architects—and even studios in schools of architecture—have unabashedly agreed to serve and authoritarian clients, we believe in a new ethics.[2] Against all hope, we ask if it is possible to produce a new morality of objects. We reject the self-expressive and performance-based models of design that dominate today as incompatible with a post-scarcity society. This studio’s central task is the invention of an ethics of design appropriate to network culture.
 
Students will develop centers for small-scale manufacture and distribution. These centers will eschew a corporate model for a commons-based model, providing infrastructures, enclaves, guilds, or clubs in which individuals and small groups can work. Our intent is to envision such centers as means of reinvigorating local economies even as they provide models for life in societies if and when our current economic system collapses.
 
Beyond the ambitions of the studio at a societal level, we hope to provoke thought about how graduates of architecture can thrive in an economy that is likely will never again provide traditional positions in sufficiently large numbers to employ them. In envisioning the new factory we will look also to new institutions established by architects or artists—like the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Telic, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Temporary Services, and the Public School. We will also look at new cultural forms emerging on the Internet such as crowdsourced initiatives, open source projects, piracy, online help forums, Craigslist, Wikipedia, and maker culture that offer alternative models of social interaction.
 
Where Margaret Thatcher’s dictum about neoliberalism, “there is no alternative,” seems to rule, we say, “no, there is an alternative” and set to envision it in concrete terms. Within the network economy, these our factories are meant to embrace short-run, generally high-technology (although not necessarily or exclusively high technology) production. In alternate economic models—or in a severely protracted downturn—these factories may be repurposed for the purposes of retrofitting and repairing existing products.

 

Site
 
Our strategy for site navigates both physical and virtual space. We begin with a concern for situational ethics while plunging headlong into the problem of overabundance and unequal distribution.
The physical site for the studio is the greater New York metropolitan area. Gutted by high operating costs and decades of city policy that aimed to turn Manhattan into a control center for management and finance, manufacturing left the city, eliminating roughly 80% of the jobs in that sector. Instead, New York has become a “global city,” a key urban node in the worldwide financial network. Finance now accounts for some 35% of the city’s wages. The result is a city increasingly unaffordable to anyone but those engaged in the financial sector, ruled by its richest inhabitant who insists he runs it like a business and once dubbed New York “a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” We believe that this is not only inequitable, it poses serious questions of long-term sustainability.
 
As finance becomes further virtualized while the city’s telecommunicational base ages, and enclaves like Greenwich, Connecticut become home to more and more large investment funds, we question whether New York will be able to depend on financial interests in a decade. Nor are these issues merely local. The decline in manufacturing in the United States and rise of finance is a key factor in the long-term economic downturn we are experiencing.
 
Each student will be responsible for identifying a site.
 
Architectural strategies of coping with overabundance will also be explored in the use of large datasets that will be exploited for the purposes of site selection. Using information from the American Community Survey we will target areas in the greater New York area in need of economic development having potential to act as bases for the sort of institutions we are developing. In a series of tutorials, studio teaching assistant Leigha Dennis, will instruct students on the use of ArcGIS and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as well as how to improve the raw maps output by this software in Adobe Illustrator.
 
As a step toward hypothesizing our institutions, we will collectively produce a large-scale map interpreting the New York City metropolitan area over the course of the first three weeks of studio and continue to use and refine it throughout the term

Program

 
Having identified sites, students will devise programs for 21st century factories, specifically commons-based workshop facilities providing members with access to equipment, instruction, means of storage and distribution, and possibly living quarters and other amenities. These factories will set out to satisfy what Chris Anderson calls “the long tail of things,” employing high technology means such as CNC milling and 3d printing for rapid prototyping and small batch manufacturing. Students will develop process diagrams for the activities that take place within their factory and embed them within visual arguments for their projects.
 
Students will identify a set of possible programmatic elements that fit their factory, which will be roughly 15,000 to 60,000 feet in size (between 50% and 200% of the square footage of the Dessau Bauhaus building). Among these will be manufacturing center, media center, dormitory, common area, storage, shipping preparation, loading dock, and distribution.
 
Students will be asked to consider how their factories engage the megalopolis in which they are sited. In the wake of an era defined by the attention-seeking strategy of shaping, it is only appropriate to ask if architecture shouldn’t lose its singularity and obsession with performance. Can we develop architectural strategies aimed at producing less individualistic works that operate in a more ambient register, embracing formlessness instead of shaping, works that build intensity more subtly rather than giving it away all at once, works that question the boundaries between the city and the building rather than affirming them?
 
With regard to means of distribution, although this is not a requirement, it is plausible that some students may want to envision more complex forms of engaging the city through forms of distribution such as a kiosks, stores, or mobile units that might distribute manufactured goods throughout the city.
 
Structure
Students will be responsible for the structure and cladding of their buildings, deciding on systems that are economically feasible while appropriate to the work being done within. Students may turn to CNC milling, 3d printing, and other systems native to their factories but may also engage existing structural systems. Complexity will not be valued for its own sake. Projects are not limited to new constructions or empty sites but may also involve retrofitting existing structures.
 
Representation
 
This studio’s representational strategies are informed by its ethical ambitions. During the boom, ultra-realistic renderings and Photoshop-based montages dominated architecture studios. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism, a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[3] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.
 
But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[4] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.
 
Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[5]
 
Specifically, given our subject matter we might look to industrial processes, which have produced a vast body of drawings—from exploded axonometrics to cutaways to flowcharts to process design drawings—all more attuned to serialism and reproduction than architecture has ever been. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand the topic we are involved in. Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric offer us a carefully and logically articulated system of delineation appropriate for a manufacturing facility.
 
In addition, appropriate architectural forms of representation responding to the post-bubble condition recession can be found in the representational strategies produced in Japan during the Lost Decade of 1990 to 2000. In contrast to the overly exuberant and formal bubble architecture of the 1980s, post-bubble architectural representation—particularly that by Atelier Bow-Wow—was restrained even as it toyed with the absurd, tending to produce extremely rich drawings that chronicled a proliferation of contextual quirks and impossible conditions as well as drawings embracing a video game aesthetic to explore superflatness and pixilation.
 
Grading:
20% Attendance and Participation
 
Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.
Group meetings, regularly scheduled once per week allow us to share our research and constantly re-tune our method and approach to the material.
 
Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).
Students are expected to maintain a tumblelog of their research at tumblr.com and to keep up with the tumbleogs of other students. All students are expected to mail the instructors with the address of their tumblelog by the second class meeting.
30% Concept
 
Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.
 
Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.
 
30% Execution and Presentation
 
A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.
 
Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.
Work should be thoroughly and completely represented. A brief bibliography of books on design and presentation is appended.
 
 
A Brief Bibliography of Books regarding Design and Presentation
 
Elam, Kimberley. Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.
Hurlburt, Allen. The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books. New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978.
Jardí, Enric Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).
Muller-Brockmann, Josef. Grid Systems in Graphic Design. Zurich: Niggli, 2001.
Samar, Timothy. Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).
The Grid System, http://www.thegridsystem.org/
Tomato, Bareback: A Tomato Project (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press,1999).
 
 



[1] Adam Quinones, “America Has 130.7 Million Housing Units. 18.8 Million Are Vacant,”Mortgage News Daily, November 2, 2010,      http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/11022010_q3_homeownership_and_vacancy.asp, Frank McDonald, “345,000 homes vacant, says report,” Irish Times, March 5, 2010, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0305/1224265631515.html, Vincent Fernando, “There Are Now Enough Vacant Properties In China To House Over Half Of America,” Business Insider, September 8, 2010, “Spanish market will need at least four years to deal with property glut, experts predict,” Property Wire, December 22, 2010, http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/spanish-real-estate-glut-2010122..., http://www.businessinsider.com/there-are-now-enough-vacant-properties-in-china-to-house-over-half-of-america-2010-9.
[2] Kazys Varnelis and Robert Sumrell, “Advanced Studio V: Evil,” Columbia University, http://www.arch.columbia.edu/work/courses/studio/f09-evil.
[3] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative, (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).
[4] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.
[5] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

 

 

 

netlab network culture studio review tomorrow

The Network Architecture Lab for fall 2007 invites you to our review tomorrow, from 2 to 6 in room 114 of Avery Hall at Columbia University.  
 
This review is based on the model of the gallery. Students will display work in a variety of media—image, model, and text—but will present it primarily through brief videos that hopefully will be completed and uploaded to the Internet tonight. Videos willl also be shown alongside finished work in the review. Students will be available to discuss the work in the review. At 4.30 we will hold a round table discussion that we hope you can attend to talk about the trajectory of the work as a whole.  
 
Review brief below:
 
Since the Renaissance, architecture has responded to new sociocultural eras (the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, modernity, postmodernity) with utopian and dystopian schemes (ideal cities, Piranesi’s Carceri and Campo Marzio plan, Boullee’s visionary architecture, Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, Sant ‘Elia’s Città Nuova, Hugh Ferriss’s Metropolis of To-Morrow, Hilberseimer’s Metropolis, Archigram’s Walking City, Archizoom’s No-Stop-City, Rossi and Scolari’s drawings, Koolhaas’s Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, City of the Captive Globe, Lebbeus Woods’s visions, and so on).  Such fantasies have not only served to advance the discipline, they are a means by which architecture can research, analyze, and investigate society.    
 
It is the Netlab’s contention that we are living in a new era defined by the network. During the last fifteen years, the Internet has joined us together and gone wireless; computing has become mobile while applications are increasingly network-based; the mobile phone has become the world’s most successful gadget; virtually any form of publication has become available to virtually everyone. But these technological changes are only part of a broader shift in society. If in Fordist modernity the individual was located in a hierarchical system and in post-Fordist post-Modernism the fragmented individual was in a system of flexible production and consumption, today we conceive of ourselves (and are conceived of) as networked dividuals, composed of a myriad of flows of people and things.  
 
By and large, architecture has failed to deliver visionary proposals for this moment. This studio hopes to remedy that situation. Students will respond to our contemporary situation by studying an aspect of network culture in depth and producing schemes based on an exacerbation of that condition that could be utopian, dystopian, or both utopian and dystopian.      
 

 

urban models

The below image is courtesy of Mimi Zeiger, I'm at the end with head cocked, listening to Reinhold Martin.

I really have to stop trying to explain AUDC's work in 15 or 20 minutes. It just isn't possible. Other projects may work better as sound bytes, but you do what you can. So, you talk very, very fast.

We are planning a full-fledged launch party for Blue Monday in New York around 15 November. To get on the list, send an email to invitations@audc.org.

actar at columbia

Speaking of urban models, Mimi also sent this link… To a very strange xBox commercial.

 


Xbox 360: Water Balloons

Posted Nov 28, 2005

Anything goes in this all out water balloon fight for the new Xbox 360.

the city unplugged

On Monday at 6.30, I will be speaking at a Columbia event that looks at the role of urban models in three recent ACTAR publications.

The City Unplugged

Do urban models still exist? Three Columbia authors present three books on (urban) conditions, tales and trajectories that challenge what it means to talk about the "city" today.

Kadambari Baxi, Barnard + Reinhold Martin, GSAPP
Authors of: Multi-National City (ACTAR, 2007)

Daniela Fabricius (M.Arch 03), PennDesign/ Pratt
Author of: 100% Favela (ACTAR, 2007)

Kazys Varnelis, GSAPP
Author of: Blue Monday (ACTAR, 2007)

Moderated by: Michael Kubo, ACTAR

city unplugged

labor day never ends

I'm exhausted.

I've been tired for days since returning from my vacation, but it's a good tired, the product of a burst of intense work as Leah Meisterlin (my amazing intern, working on the book's maps) and I continue to chip away at the Infrastructural City for ACTAR. Alas, it looks like it won't be on anyone's Christmas lists, but it's shaping up to be a great Valentine's Day present.

Today, I had an opportunity to present the Network Culture studio at school.

I had hoped to show one of favorite videos today, but alas Vista wasn't up to snuff. For anyone who witnessed it and still needs to see the video, here is the human slingshot in full glory.

Two things interest me about this video. First, that this is what you might do in a culture of relative affluence and total boredom and second, that this kind of YouTube production is a successor to reality TV.

While I'm posting youtube videos, I discovered this the other day on Underworld Live

I am really excited about seeing Underworld in Central Park next Friday, although a little sad too, since I would have enjoyed them at the Hollywood Bowl. I've never seen them, and I've pretty much listened to nothing else for years... (not kidding).

Oh and the underworldlive site? It looks like a blog, but it's not. The top posts seem to disappear. (compare with google cache while it is still there) What kind of site is it if it isn't a blog then? Interesting...

Regarding that post… The videos is of a Schneider TM song. Underworld recalls hearing Schneider TM on John Peel's farewell show. That brings up a string of memories for me. In studio presentation, I showed the following image:

kazys in macweek(click on the image to read the text)

Even though I've come relatively late to the impact of computation on architecture (just what was I thinking until 2003?), I have always been fascinated by digital technology and by the Internet.

I must have first accessed a network (Tymnet) in 1982 or 1983, 25 years ago. My first encounter with email would have been in 1983 or 1984 in an army sponsored high school program called CRESS at North Carolina State University (incredibly enough, enshrined in an archive here). By 1990, I kept in touch with some of my friends via email and used FTP and USENET daily at Cornell's University libraries. I remember the day when I first accessed a site overseas, it was in Finland and thought how strange it was that somehow a hard disk was being according to my instructions.

What ties this episode of Connections together is that at the same time I had a purchased a shortwave radio to listen to non-U. S. news (again: memories of listening to the ouster of Gorbachev immediately just two weeks after my first visit to Lithuania and being terrified that it would all end badly and listening to the first Gulf War because NPR was just far too in favor of it, as usual) and had discovered John Peel and his incredible radio show. Even with all the interference, this was a little hint of the up side of the globalized world we would soon live in, as well as the immense richness of the Long Tail. After a hack that I shouldn't have made, the shortwave radio never worked right again and, in any event, the Internet had captured my interest.

I should have gone back to John Peel after he was on the net, but I was preoccupied with other things. Stupid.

Still, two things to carry away from this long post…

1) Although it can be very difficult to tell at the time, your world already contains the future within it.

2) Here's to John.

the city unplugged

Along with Kadambari Baxi, Reinhold Martin, and Daniela Fabricius, I will be speaking at The City Unplugged, a book launch event at the Columbia GSAPP on October 15. (for Blue Monday, Multinational City, and Informal, all ACTAR publications). Michael Kubo, of ACTAR, will moderate. Together, we will be addressing the question "Do Urban Models Still Exist?" It'll be a great privilege to share the stage with these authors, who I greatly admire.

 

Sighted at Columbia

Sited at Columbia's spring 2007 exhibit a couple of weeks ago.

With all due respect to all the fabulous work we saw there, ACTAR's Michael Kubo and I agreed that this was the single most memorable image.

hernan

Syndicate content