28 July 2011


cinemetrics from fb on Vimeo.

An extraordinary film visualization tool. What distinguishes this from others is the incorporation of movement. A films dynamic is made apparent and you can compare films, directors, etc.

from the website:
"cinemetrics is about measuring and visualizing movie data, in order to reveal the characteristics of films and to create a visual “fingerprint” for them. Information such as the editing structure, color, speech or motion are extracted, analyzed and transformed into graphic representations so that movies can be seen as a whole and easily interpreted or compared side by side."


13 July 2011

Mode of Representation needs to be Rethought

After outlining modes of representation used during the Renaissance, late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Agrest states, “while new vocabularies are developed in this process generating stylistic changes, the mechanisms of production of form remain untouched, as can be seen in very recent examples of practice” pg. 167. What does she mean by this statement? What in your opinion can be done to change this fact?

In describing the plan in the Carpenter Center, Agrest states, “This building offers a vivid example of the overdetermined nature of representation in architecture” pg. 170. What are your thoughts on the representational mechanisms Le Corbusier used? How effect were they in your opinion?

In the Urban Reading section of the reading, Agrest states that, “the city requires a different approach to the questions of perception and representation”, than previously used pg 173. Do you think Google Map and similar programs are the new version of what Eugene Atget photographing Paris was a hundred years ago? Do you find these new tools to be effective in helping you design better or to see the city from the different perspective?

Agrest says that given the complexities of the contemporary city, new modes of representation are needed. What could these new modes of representations be? How important will it be to use such medium as film and animations to communicate your designs?

“It seems that the computer only operates as a tool in the production of an architecture that in terms of its mechanisms of representation is not very different from previous historical periods” pg176. Do you think that the computer has made us more detached from our surroundings? If architecture played more on the senses, architecture would become less of a flat visual image as it is today.

get to the point.

Tufte criticizes PowerPoint for it insistence on a single model for presentation which fails to adapt to a diversity of information. In failing to adapt, the information is compromised and bullet points substitute for substance. Minutia trumps meaning. How are we as architecture students held to standards of presentation that fail our greater intentions? What is demanded of us regardless of the specific content of our work? How does this work for or against us?

Tufte seems to suggest that the ‘pitch culture’ is a hazard to greater knowledge. He shows, in fact, how the meeting ‘pitch’ sold bad information to NASA executives, ultimately leading to grave human loss. In our experience, presentations are very much rooted is this same ‘pitch culture.’ Buzz words, spin, inflection and performance often times speak louder about our projects then the drawings themselves. Perhaps more prevalent, a poor pitch person can not sell a good project. How have you witnessed this phenomenon? Knowing that this condition is not exclusive to architectural education (it will continue to prevail while pushing ideas and courting clients) how does a mastery of this skill to pitch factor into your own experience? Is this as diabolical as Tufte suggests? What are the ground rules or foundation lessons in our architectural pitch culture?

The relative amount of information included or excluded from a slide, chart or graph bears much of Tufte’s criticism in the analysis of PowerPoint. As architects, we are not fond of overlong written explanations. In fact, we are told many time that architects simply do not read the text at all. They just look at the pictures. What does Tufte’s opinion mean to us? Why do we value brevity and is this at odds with the reading’s analysis? We are all familiar with the phrase less is more in formal reasoning. Is this true of presentation information, as well?

We have already discussed somewhat the notion that images in isolation are relatively less explanatory then comparisons drawn from multiple images side by side. Tufte agrees with us, rejecting the notion of conventional PowerPoint teaching that one idea per slide is always best. Other then showing two images simultaneously, what are ways that we can in our presentation draw conclusions through comparison? How can we relate dynamic information? How do stagnant images communicate to an audience? When are they appropriate? When are they not?

Tufte includes and amusing illustration of a jar of PowerPoint Phluff. These are the add-ons, ‘features’ and other imagery that add pizzazz, but no meaning. They dilute the information, boring the audience, which in turn requires more Phluff to stimulate a drained interest. We surely have out own variety of architectural presentation fluff. What have you witnessed that would fall in this category? How was this fluff received by the class or jury? When is fluff useful and when is fluff for fluff’s sake?

11 July 2011


Notations + Diagrams: Mapping the Intangible

1. How does Allen define the difference between notation and diagram? When is it most effective for architects to use diagrams versus notations according to Allen? And do you agree w/ his points of view on this regard?

2. After Goodman’s distinguishes broadly between two types of art forms autographic and allographic, he goes further and states, “that architecture is neither clearly” either pg. 46. What does he mean by this statement?

3. “If architecture is to work beyond the level of image it needs to invent new tools to work more effectively w/ in the immaterial networks and systems that comprise the city in the late twentieth century” pg. 59. What creative new tools is Allen suggesting that architects develop to address these issues?

4. How beneficial would it be for architects to study or incorporate other forms of disciplines in their work such as film, theater, dance and music?

MUYBRIDGE & MOVEMENT: the body in time and space

1. On Pg.59 Allen establishes a position that architecture has been marginalized because it is not part of the “great three variables: Territory, communication, & speed." This condition has architects reduced to working on the surface of the city. The architect’s lack of involvement in these three variables continues to pave the way for urban erasure resulting in utilitarian neutral environments devoid of meaning. He states for architects to stay relevant we need to be more socially and politically in tune. Allen points to dynamic architectural notations as the a component to the secret elixir. However powerful the notation may be, it does little to engage an architecturally ignorant public and political structure. What current mediums do we have for social engagement? How else might we engage socially and politically to instill the urgency of architecture ?

2. Can you think of examples in which Arnhiem’s studies of movement have been or could be successfully applied to Allen’s Notations: 5 Working Definitions: Anticipation, Invisible, Time, Collective (pg 64.)?

3. (pg. 406 - 408) Arnhiem posits that the delivery of scale and speed is critical semantics conveyed within the physical For the gesticulation of a dancer is equal in power to facial expression of a stage actor. Therefore through proper training anyone can be an actor if trained for the precise delivery method? However, Laban points out an additional variable, Antrieb, the nature by which the actor delivers or shapes the movement. How would you define Antrieb?

4. In what ways might the performance be extended beyond the corporeal? Ig: CGI effects, Stage sets, props? Ammar Eloueini's interactive Stage Set for John Jasperse all.net/core.php?sec=projects&id=7

5. Allen (pg 53) contends that the agency of Diagrammatic architecture of Koolhas, MVRDV, and Ito “undermine the semantics of architecture.” It does so in by reacting to the market forces, and in expediently, and thus the diagram becomes the building sacrificing the meaning of the architecture. Is the diagrammatic architecture devoid of meaning? How might Rem Koolhas defend his architecture?

6. Allen’s states “Diagrams are syntactic and not semantic.” Although, Allen refers to an architectural context, how might Arnhiem counter this statement from his standpoint?

06 July 2011

Research Methodologies & Experimental Architecture

1) Woods (p.22) discusses instability as key to stability. How much instability is necessary or good?

2) Woods p.23 "All designed Space is in fact pure abstraction, truer to a mathematical system than to any human 'function.'" Do you agree with his assessment?

3) Woods describes his 'free-space' on page 27. He speaks of secret rooms devoid of any meaning and filled with electronics for communicating with other 'free-spaces.' Doesn't this give the spaces a function? Can a space ever be totally 'free.' If so how would you use such a space (or would you use it at all)?

4) Does Woods' Twenty Tactics of New Practice (p.28) seem plausible? If a city were destroyed, could this be a viable scenario for reconstruction, or is it just theory?

5) Spiller (p.13-14). Ledoux wanted to bring social order and remove the bad habits of his workers through architecture. Do you think this is an achievable goal? Was surveillance relied upon to much in his plan?

6) How useful is the purely theoretical architecture describe by Stiller? Does is serve a practical purpose other than art?

7) Is it more important to develop a new theory (or set of theories) with every project as Allen suggests on page XII and XIII, or should architects also be trying to develop their own style?

8) Do you agree with Allen (p.XIV) that architecture is a material and not discursive practice? Or is it something of a mixture of the two?

03 July 2011

Avoiding digital pitfalls

1) “Science and architecture often meet in their common attempt to shape or reshape the categories of visual perception” (Picon, 295) In this age of “green” or “sustainable architecture”, how much more important is it for the collaboration of science in the today’s designs.

2) “Architectural form used to appear as the ultimate result of a process of research…….A computer-generated architectural form can no longer pretend to achieve this status” (Picon, 303). So even if said form originated in your sketch book, if the end result is a computer-generated rendering, is it failure? Why? Just because the pencil is no longer present, in the final document?

3) “Part of the problem is linked to an impression of arbitrariness. Why has the designer stopped the process of geometrical transformation at one stage and not the other?” (Picon, 304) I can’t help but think of Revit after this statement. Can the limitations of peoples knowledge of BIM affect the end result of the designs?

4) “these techniques of visualization ignore what has traditionally given architectural representation its particular power of conceptualization, that is to say, its necessary degree of abstraction” (Allen, 75) How does everyone feel about photorealistic renderings? Is there something missing? Is there actually too much shown?

5) Can you have a computer generated rendering that is not exactly photorealistic that still portrays your ideas, and still have a “traditional” feel? ( LTL Architects for example) Or does the fact that you pulled something out of the computer ruin everything?

02 July 2011

Avoiding Digital Pitfalls

1. From Stan Allen's Practice p.72 – “The same Taylorizing impulse at work in early modernism – the elimination of obsolete and inefficient work methods - is still visible today.” Allen is talking about the expenditure for and implementation of computer aided design systems in design and production due to gains in speed and productivity. Do you think hand drawn renderings have/will become obsolete or inefficient?
2. On p73 Allen states, “Specifically this would imply understanding the computer not in utopian terms (turning away from matter and reality), but in more pragmatic terms: articulating a more complex interplay of the real and the virtual.” In the movie 'Surrogates' people live out their lives through clone-like robots, experiencing the real through a virtual presence. Would you appreciate the safety of this kind of presence or would you find that too great a detachment from reality?
Digital Materiality
3. p79. “..it is worthwhile to think about extending the instrumental capacities of the computer to the world of things. ...in architecture, the computer gets much more interesting at the moment it is hooked up to any device that allows it to produce something other than image.” - a printer that produces drawings or contract documents, a machine that cuts material (or even a 'smart building'). This reminds me of McCloud's view that we are pulled into the identity of a cartoon. Would you then consider the computer to be an extension of yourself? - “I created those documents, I cut those boards.”
The City as information Landscape
4. on p81 Allen states, “The Nolli map records the texture of a city that has grown organically over time. ...it is merely a snapshot of an end state.” & “In recent urban thinking...an alternative tendency has emerged: to rethink the city as an 'information landscape'.” And on p82 he states, “- artificially growing the city over time – is one model for the integration of the capacities of the computer in urban design work.” I would argue that we also need to artificially shrink the city over time or at least adhere to demographic shifts (the city center, more hospitals, less single family housing, schools, etc). What is your opinion? from p.83 “Rethinking the city as an information landscape, and taking full advantage of the computer's capacity to model change over time, is proposed here as a provisional and experimental starting point.”
The Digital Complex – Ten Years Later
5. We have gone from the 1980's, (p84) “a time when real access to computer technology was still out of reach for most experimental designers to, (p86) “No longer seduced by its formal effects nor intimidated by its difficulty.” Is this true for you? It seems that our comfort with technology relies on either our coming to understand its processes and actually applying it or on whether or not we've grown up with it in our every day use. Do you find anything 'unsettling' about technology?
6. Allen compares 'Monster,Inc' with 'Waking Life'. Is it more important for an animated movie to portray reality through actions: movement, sound, expression, or through scenes: nature, objects, people? What about a designers computer renderings or virtual walk through? Do we want a client to just experience how the plan is laid out, or do we want them to see rich colors and experience texture?