Monday, March 3, 2008

light as a sectioning tool

Ok. For assignment Ic, I had trouble identifying what would a sectional animation entail. As far as I am concerned, I think that the first portion of the framing animation already is a sectional experience, so this gave me an opportunity to define the idea of a sectional animation in my own terms. I thought of using light as a source to experience fragments of the model as we move through it, and letting the light reveal the spatial qualities within in.

one spotlight

two spotlights

two spotlights and camera light

three spotlights

four spotlights

five spotlights

frame proportions

The animation above is set at 4:5 screen ratio (would it be considered 4:5 or 5:4?)

The animation above is set at 3:5 screen ratio (Palladio's favorite proportion according to Wittkower, also corresponds to a minor 6th, or relative minor, in music theory)

ok blogspot sucks!!!! it doesnt want to upload the correct proportions! Ill just have to show it to you in class until i figure out a way to deal with this crap

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The following animations is an attempt to describe the spatial conditions in the model. The first set of animations, explores the model in a linear organization mode. I feel that the fragmented dance moves should be reconstructed and then explored in the similar linear method. The next set of animations attempts to move through the same spatial condition in a different way, moving in from below and out from above, through, reverse...etc

This model is without global illumination turned on.

This model has a 2 bounce global illumination setting.

This model is without global illumination turned on.

global illumination turned on, no bounces

lights from below global illumination turned off

white background, global illumination turned off

Friday, February 22, 2008

towards an animated architecture against architectural animation

As architecture students, we all have experience with the seduction of the medium. I remember back in my undergraduate days, spending endless hours rendering a perspective, loosing alot of time and energy that could have been spent elsewhere. Not only that, but alot of the decisions made in the design process seemed to have been driven by what would look good on paper. I was an art major before being an architecture student, and one thing about art majors in egypt is that they heavily emphasize technique over substance in education. While looking at works by Picaso, Monet, Manet, cezane..etc, we were encouraged to look at the quality of the brush strokes and the use of color mixing techniques instead of the organization or spatial constructs of the painting. The latter was considered implicit I guess.
The thing about art is both the technical mastery and the spatial depth of a painting go hand in hand, like two sides of one coin, i.e. one cannot exist without the others. If you are painting a particular scene, you either focus on your line and shading qualities to achieve the depth needed, or focus on the depth needed that then dictates the technique used. One side of the coin maybe further developed than the other, but still both exist
I would argue that this is not the case in architecture representation. The message in this sort of representation is the ultimate goal. Maybe with actual hand drawings this idea of the double sided coin still existed, even with lavishly colored section drawings, the section cut line would still be powerful enough to communicate the message I suppose, although I would argue that certain Perspective drawings Ive seen, and sometimes drawn myself, tell nothing of the story other than "im a pretty building, look at me". It seems that animation is a very seductive and craftsome process that very easily distracts the student from the essence of the whole picture story, focusing instead with the technical craft of the animation, turning it into a work of visual artistry rather than a viable means of architectural representation.
But even then, after reading architectural representation and the perspective hinge, the "distance" becomes an important character in the stage setting, or as Gomez and Pelletier better articulated it "The distance made it possible for space itself to become an object of artistic representation". The inception of the Greek tragedy is a direct evolution of the ritual participations. Spectatorship was born through this transformation, and the act of participation has been redefined. In order for any art form to be successful, it should acquire engagement from its spectators. Any successful artform embodies such acts of engagement and evokes emotional reactions from the observor / spectator. It varies from one art form to another: engagement in portraits is through facial expressions, in landscapes through spatial depth within the foreground - middleground - background, in surrealist / cubist paintings through the nonsensical and odd representation of the figure, in music through the "soulfulness" and attitude of the notes, in movies through the composition of the frame, allowing the viewer to feel as being part of the actual movie.
It is thus important as architects to know, what is the message are we trying to communicate, and elaborate on that on our methods of representation. Whether its communicating to a client, fabricator/manufacturer, coworker, or ourselves, we need to have our drawings reflect what our ideas are and inform us of possibilities we have not thought of before.
An interesting notion brought up in the perspective hinge article is the idea that "architectural conception and realization usually assume a one-to-one correspondence between the represented idea and the final building." Kinda sheds light on the "form follows software" statement made in the first class. Going back to experiences in undergrad, I remember my first year when we had a project to design an addition to an existing Islamic house in older cairo.

Being brought up in an architects home, I always thought of the act of designing to involve the use of a pen and paper. I was blown away when I first saw the plan of the house I was going to use for my project. It just didnt make any geometrical sense to why the shapes of the spaces were the way they were, there were awkward angles, looong narrow corridors, an unending variety of wall thicknesses. My naivety led my to believe that the design was very haphazard, until I actually went to see the building myself. The introduction chapter of Beatrize Colomina's Modern Architecture as Mass Media talks about Le Corbusier's love with arab architecture, where the architecture doesnt seem to stem from any drawing but from the act of onsite design, where the architect/master mason engages all his senses in the act of building; extruding the spaces exactly to where he feels comfortable; building thicker walls in rooms thats require more noise isolation or protection of weather; understanding the issues of privacy, especially with women, in the realm of the house...etc. Even the amazing craftsmen ship of the mashrabeya window, is not a "designed" element per say. It is the solution to the problem of sheltering the interior from harsh sunlight using tiny little wooden leftover pieces, as wood was not an abundant resource in that part of the world, scraps from construction was used to build these windows that has become a symbol of islamic architecture.

The article talks a great deal about the represented idea in both gothic in terms of construction and renaissance in terms of idealized geometries and perspective drawings as methods of participant engagement. What about today's architecture? We can definitely see traces of autocad and other standerdised cad software in the american vernacular architecture of the 21st century. When I take a stroll in downtown washington DC (or in other words, run towards the chinatown metro station), all the buildings being errected there nowadays seem to have traces of the autocad offset command still aparent on their facades. Just vertical and horizontal lines placed upon the facade, looking less and less like the rhythmic lines produced in the renaissance architecture they are trying to emulate

Monday, February 18, 2008

didn't I tell you to get the funk out?!

Alright, so here comes the next set of videos. I tried to incorporate alot of your suggestions from last class; I wasn't able to get old white socks, but I put tape on the shoes to pin point where the exact tip of her foot was. I also drew a line with tape on the front of her leg from thigh to ankle (in retrospect, maybe doing the sides would have been a good idea too). I had her wrap her sweater around her waist. I wasn't able to tape the floor to create a grid like Lin suggested (I was kind of getting excited and anxious to start filming before the camera batteries died, so I probably forgot). I was able to secure 3 cameras (instead of the 5 we talked about).
The first camera captured a frontal view of her, up to her waist. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Get the funk out!

alright, video posting time...looong overdue!
I've been trying to post this video from youtube, but to no avail! I may have to re-edit this later. But for now, I urge all of you to take 5 mins off your time and check out this clip:

The band, as some of you may already know, is the same one responsible for the now infamously cheesy "more than words" song. You would be surprised to find out that "get the funk out" is the style that 90% of their songs follow. The song, as well as "more than words", can be found on the "pornograffiti" album.

My intent is to analyze the rhythms that the song generates through the human body's interpretation of it. So in comes Ms Martiena Schneller, 3 time 2nd runner up tapdancing world champion. I put together a list of songs that include interesting rhythmic grooves, and she picked this one. Using one camera at first, I filmed her dancing to the song while listening to it on my Ipod. This clip is of her tapping to the intro of the song (up until the point where the guitar pick scratches the strings before the vocals kick in).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

warped space = warped brain

Folded forms from Leibniz to Lynn... From reading the chapter, I felt that these folded forms that Leibniz talks about are polar opposites to that what Lynn produces! Maybe I've missed something in the reading, but I got the innate gut feeling that The House of Folds talks about folds as a spatial concept, while Animistic Architecture views folds as a formal concept, thus rendering whatever the space is as residual space.
Starting with The House of Folds, the mind and soul are ever evolving and rely on outside forces to feed this evolution. Man does no evolve from standing in a corner, avoiding contact with the outside world, he evolves through constant interaction with his surroundings. These forces that are continuously fed to him throughout these interactions, are not linear, are not predictable, and are not measurable. Lets observe a man walking down the street, and pin point ten seconds of his journey. What are the forces effecting whatever he is feeling/thinking during the ten seconds? Well there are elements that address all of his five senses (what he sees, what he hears, what he smells, what he feels whether by his feet touching the ground or with his hands, and possible the taste of the air the slams his face), there are also the forces that affected him before these ten seconds (possible in the ten seconds before that, or even the ten years before ) and whatever he is thinking about, maybe his gf dumped him a few days earlier and that is affecting his mood, or a song on his ipod is blasting through his ears and is making him sway to the beat... all of these forces (and a hell of alot more)are affecting whatever is in his mind or soul at this exact moment in time. So in a sense, he does not see the toad hopping down the street as merely a toad hopping down the street; the information that is a toad hopping down the street is taken in through his eyes, yet mixed in and intertwined with feelings like his gf dumping him a few days ago and the relentless sensation of the aftertaste of the chicken  he had at yesterdays lunch.
Head hurting yet? mine sure is. This goes back to the Leibniz curtains (diversified by folds) and Locke's camera obscura references in the chapter. The folds (which are always in constant motion) filter in information (or using Locke's camera analogy, the image): "...Not only do we receive images and traces in the brain, but we form new ones from them when we bring complex ideas to the mind..."
Which brings me back to an idea I threw out in last week's class, and one that claudia touched upon in her reaction towards Lynn's furniture. Let built two cubes, and place one in the middle of a heavily condensed downtown hustle and bustle city in africa, and the other on in a cool chill climax climate like in the bahamas (try finding a spot oblivious to spring break idoitics). Both cubes should be identical in virtual materiality (made out of the same gooey stuff that would allow it to be permeable, the kind of gooey stuff that someone hasnt invented, but what computer models are made of). As time passes, each cube would deform into what the context wants it to be. Each deformation is a resultant of multiple forces filtered through a series of Leibnizian curtain folds, and is an evergoing process, even if these cubes are torn down and replaced by newer ones, the memory of the old cubes still remains and affects the form of the new cube.
In a sense, this happens today, and has happened since the beginning of time. Any piece of architecture is affected by its context, no question about it, and nothing can stop that. Even globalization, that tends to make societies more homogeneous, get affected by the surrounding culture, forming new ideas of what globalization has to offer. McDonalds is a prime example of corporate domination of the world, bet even McDonalds is subject to being affected by its surrounding forces. We all remember the infamous "royal with cheese" combo meal that prefers to put mayonnaise on its fries than ketchup, well to twist things around even more, McDonalds Egypt have come out with a new line of fastfood sandwiches, including the McFalafel, McArabia, and McKofta. 
But its easy to include or disclude something on and off a menu, what if, in a hundred years of now, maybe due a political uprising or something, the contextual deformation of our cube is not enough, and there is a need for a more drastic recubing of our cube. We've seen this issue happen throughout history ALL the time, important buildings need to be reused due to abandonment, destruction, or a simple change in philosophy. Some hire architects, and we get modern installations implanted or attached. Examples of these would the Foster's Reichstag (i would argue that Foster follows Lebbeus Wood's notion of showing the scars, but that is a whole other discussion) , Pei's louvre (the national building could be considered under the same umbrella too, wouldnt it?), and Herzog and De Meuron's Tate (to name a few). Whether these examples, and others like it are succesful or not is up for debate, but the fact remains that these installations are temporary, and solely reflect the 20th/21th century ideology, what about after that? Some dont hire architects, they hire 9th rate architects with questionable licenses. This usually happens to 3rd world countries, where the end result is something worthy of destruction. This is where I would suggest that we find this virtual gooey material and turn this concept into reality, and use if to deform our architecture whenever possible.

The next part of the chapter, Animistic Architecture, provides Lynn's solution to the problem, one that I do no entirely agree with. Over and over again, it mentions that Lynn is after the formal solution of the problem. For me, the beauty of his ideas of  "bloblike" and "viscous" architecture are in the fact that they are malleable. Why is he then solidifying them and creating exactly what he says he is reacting against, everlasting monumentality. I feel that there is somewhat of a disconnect here, and I hope Im wrong (please, if this is a misunderstanding of the reading, let me know). Where I agree with Lynn that prescribe interior spaces offer little for the individual to interact with, and residual spaces provides opportunity to transform it into something  new the user identifies with, but I will say this, all the residual spaces in history evolve through time and interaction, they are residual spaces because of this interaction with it. There is a rational order for them, not one of geometry of mathematics, but one of constant back and forth, addition and subtraction, reaction and interaction.