October 28, 2021
While there have been numerous critiques on the futility of the central vista expansion, on the vastness of its wastefulness, the opacity of its process and the disposition of the state to conduct itself deaf to the concerns of the community; The following is merely a critique on the proposed spatial intervention through the lens of Architecture and Power. Spatial structures through their position of elevation, fortification, ornament, monumentality and cultural context inhabit roles of proxies to power both political and economic. While Architecture can inhabit power through the functions embedded within a space, Architectural artefacts may also form a symbolic relationship between the non-transient nature of the built environment and the transience of power and self. These artefacts are then both a symbolic icons for those who wield power and also the physicality from where power is wielded.
At the urban scale, when viewed through the a lens of power and hierarchies, Cities are a product of social structures and class wars played out at a meta-human scale. Through red-lining, economic investment or disinvestment and infrastructure, the city organism organizes itself to align with social-ideological position of those in power even as it competes with the conflicting needs of its inhabitants. Within the Westphalian structure, capital cities in particular occupy a unique intersection between architecture, global-identity and politics. They are as a symbol of national identity both an expression of the political regime, to mold as seen fit and a result of the peculiarities of the population that inhabit and embody the city organism. Architecture necessarily contributes to political legitimacy and shapes the national identity, it thus makes sense to alter these architectural artefacts when attempting to remold the identity of a nation.
On critique of the new scheme,
Every architectural structure demands gore, it is a violent scarring of the topology, a vast terraforming to acquire steel and stone, unearthed and sacrificed to form these artefacts. It is thus essential to introspect and critique any such venture, more so when one takes place at this scale.
The proposed scheme draws on colonial strategies of axial planning, monumentalism and geometric symmetries rather than strive for a contemperory formal language for democratic ideals. Power and its representation is intrinsically linked with the temporal and spatial dimension, The democratic citizen is corporeal , occupies space and performs democratic rituals on the spatial dimension . These spatial dimensions have been traditionally represented as plazas, public galleries , assemblies and places of protest. Even as the democratic realm has shifted towards the digital space, performed on twitter and blogs, these physicalities of public space for collective performance remain essential symbols of participatory democracy.
An elaboration on the critique of spaces for performative democracy may be viewed through the lens of Volume-boundary relationship. Spatial structures can be defined in terms of occupied volumes and enclosing boundaries as the two essential elements required to define space and ownership. A democratic space invites shared ownership while the converse claims a singular ownership. By extending the fabric of state ownership over previously active public spaces, the state necessarily is dismantling the physicality of the democratic domain.
July 21, 2021
When conceptualizinga fourth dimension volume, it can be helpful to draw analogies to our own 3dimensions and their relationship with the two dimensional world. Theseanalogies are discovered through the lens of fictional narrative of classstruggle in the 1884 novel, 'Flatland: A romance of Many Dimensions'. One ofthe hardest problems of thinking in higher dimensions is how to visualize themthrough our own limited 3-dimensional perspective, reducing the problem to a2-dimensional projection of 3-dimensional object helps. A 3D cube can beunfolded into 2 dimensional net such that the net can be refolded into a cubein 3dimensions. A cube generates eleven possible unfolded 2D nets. It can bemathematically proven that all eleven of these can tile the 2 dimensional spacethrough simple transformation, that is through either moving or rotating ofthese unfolded 2D nets. Here tiling means that the nets can be arranged suchthat they form a repeating pattern that can fill the 2-dimensional space extendedto infinite bounds in its 2-dimensions. This problem scales exponentially whenextended to the 4-dimensional hypercube and its 3-Dimensional nets. This is thequestion that mathematician Matt parker posed, is it possible to completelytile 3-dimensional space with all the 3-dimensional nets a 4-dimensionalhypercube unfolding. The number of possible unfolded 3-Dimensional nets of a4-dimensional hypercube are 261. Through community engagement and utilizinghuman computation, Matt Parker set out to prove that all 261 of these nets cantile 3dimensional space. You can check out the webpage Whuts.org to see all thesubmissions. Find below the video explaining the hypercube unfolding and theproject in more detail.
July 5, 2021
The processes which allow us to conceptualize new ideas are built upon pre-existing complex methodologies, hence it can be said that the generation of model creative ideas, is owed to the ambiguous relationship of inspiration and analogy with their predecessors. New ideas can originate through evolution of existing concepts, Through analogies and/or through accidents.
Through Corruption, mistranslation and misunderstanding concepts mutate and degrade into seeds of divergent new ideas, differentiated in their intentionality to the original.
Conceptualization actualizes itself via incremental leaps in thought, this process can however be structured by defining temporal bounds and organizing the ideation process around these set bounds. That is to say that new ideas form through deviation from pre-existing ideas in small mental steps and this process can be streamlined by setting time-constraints on the ideation process, wherein one may push themselves to make the most logical steps to further conceptual arguments.
In search for novel forms , influence and inspirations can lead to derivative work merely weak dilutions of the original rather than works truly original in their own regard, It is hence easy to sympathize with any rigorous denial of influence over ones thought and its originality. The anxiety of influence in creative works is a nervousness surrounding both the validity of one's idea and the fear of failure to ever having generated anything exceptional or new. These disquieted delusions of originality discourage development of ideas, as one begins to question the validity of pursuing these ideas.
While the mythological genius might never had to encounter this crippling phenomenon, the rest of us drenched in our mediocrity and normality, searching for brilliance to strike us would struggle with self-doubt constantly. But it is nonetheless true, that all creative works regardless of their authorship have fingerprints and stains of it antecedent marked upon them.
June 21, 2021
The following is a polemical critique on the hegemony of the eye and the gaze , and an investigation of the roles of non-ocular senses to generate authentic architectural experiences.
To experience a space is to belong and be part of the space occupied even as the space belongs to the observer. An observer experiences and anchors the self in the spatial dimension through its auditory, olfactory, haptic and ocular senses, it is unfortunate then that the prominent paradigms of placemaking place a disproportionate significance upon the visual. A predominance of a singular sense over the other leaves a distorted representation of the complexities of reality. The suppression of sensory scrutiny bar one, the ocular leads to impoverishment of the architectural environment, these spaces are reduced to disembodied artefacts, mere images rather than spaces to inhabit and experience.
The ocularcentric author perceives architecture as an object of visual seduction, in its blinded bias it is unable to recognize that experiences and memories of spaces are a menagerie of sensory multitudes ,of smell, taste and touch. The surrender of the process to the Cartesian perspectivalist scopic regime of sensual visual representation translates a multi-sensory experience to a banal and flattened reality. These seductive visual representation of artefacts seldom convey the authentic mundane mono-sensory experience embodied within the built space. The process engaged with the multi-sensory ritual leaves behind blemishes and stains that inhabit the tactile finality.
June 14, 2021
Laboria Cuboniks in the Xenofeminist manifesto argues for Political universalism rooted in a structure driven by the needs of every human, cutting across race, gender, economic and geographical position. The manifesto is not so much a reactionary call for arms, staple of the contemperory left but a vision for the future.
"XF mutates, navigates and probes every horizon..."
The xenofeminst demands alienation, an eradication of the idea of the natural and an abolition of gender, race and class. The xenofeminist is radical proposition for the proscription of The injustice of the natural social order and physical condition ,in favor of the unnatural. XF manifesto is a call to disable all forms of gendered, racial and economic discrimination through alienation of the individual to generate a global multiplicity of individuals enhanced by cybernetics and bio-hacking. A cyborg, A Xenofeminist.
"The real emancipatory potential of technology remains unrealized. Fed by the market, its rapid growth is offset by bloat, and elegant innovation is surrendered to the buyer, whose stagnant world it decorates."
XF proposes reengineering and repurposing of techno-scientific innovation towards a progressive political agenda rather than being bloated by capitalistic demands for consumption. This neo-techno-materialism advocates a careful assembly of a rational techno-polity responsive to the risks of technological exploitation and abuse of the weak. The capitalist reality is interwoven with the complex fabric of fiber-optic cables and radio waves, the Xenofeminist demands a revision of this totality, a promethean global techno-feminism producing enduring and substantial change; generating new frontiers for freedom. To merely reject the current hegemony is not enough, XF instead is a subbversive platform to transform it from within into an alien future, untethered from the muck of the present.
June 13, 2021
Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams situate their "techno-fetishist" manifesto for an avant-garde communism based of the backs of a robotic slave force on a critique of the contemporary dominant left-wing and the inability of the small-scale folk-political movement to bring about any lasting change against the capitalist hegemony over the current socio-economic order.
Folk-politics of the post 1960s left-wing strove to address issues at the human-scale by
emphasizing the tangible, temporal, spatial, and conceptual immediacy. The authors argue that the nature of left as a precarious neo-Marxist, reactionary ideology cannot bring about lasting change due to its stagnation and deviation from the ideology of utopian future, big ideas and foresight. They argue that it would require more than mere localized protest driven and resistance by folk-politics and their individualized frustrations with the neo-liberal institutions. These reactionary steps fail to recognize the limits of these folk-politics and the immediate small scale de-centralized structures of protests. The authors argue that the politics of personal and direct involvement over institutional response is insufficient to tackle global capitalism.
Their solution emerge from rational anxiety and eventuality of increasing automation under a capitalist hegemony, leading to class disparity and widening fissures along existing socio-political, ecological, economic and racial inequalities. The success of the neo-liberal structure dictates that increased automation would intensify these existing disparities as those operations which can be automated rarify, minority groups and manual laborers would further plunge into immiseration. The Manifesto then is a move to reclaim the emancipatory and techno-futurist possibilities for a more egalitarian society. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams envision a road-map to enable a complex post-capitalist, post-work economy. This would entail the reduction and socialization of unwaged and waged labor, empowering a welfare state and would have provisions for an unconditional Universal basic income supplementing the welfare state. This imaginary is a post-work pre-capitalist step offering a global better quality of life in a post-scarcity future. In this future, labour is no longer obligatory and production is democratically relegated to an automated infrastructure. For those works that can not be automated they offer a reduced working week and an anti-work ethics.
June 6, 2021
Benjamin Bratton in his phenomenal text, The Stack: on software and sovereignty , puts forth the argument that the planetary-scale computation distorts and dissolves conventional ideas of the nation state and forms new geo-political realities beyond the rigid topological divisions defined by boundaries of nations, instead there now exists stacks of global trade, information and infrastructure systems which work as either proxies of states or have geo-political powers paralleling those of one.
Because the modern nation-state political system is defined by cartographic divisions of a horizontal plane, the standard for sovereignty is defined by these geometries(national borders).These state politics are defined interior to their own geographic partition, and their sovereignty is produced in the fragile image of this membrane's stability. The global machine gives way to a distinct geometry where the space is occupied by multiple overlapping totalities, over the traditional states now exist, non-state cloud platforms and information systems. Benjamin Bratton calls this model of multiple overlapping systems THE STACK.
Stacks are not only a technical computational apparatus but also an administrative model, they are both a way of perceiving a planetary-scale machine but also a way of structuring societies, economies and cultures. Rather than looking at various information technologies as separate entities they should be viewed as a single mega-structure. Parts aligned layer by layer. Bratton describes the stack model populated with the following 6 interdependent layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface and User.
The computational capacity of the world, its energy and its systems feed on a cocktail of minerals, silicon, plastics and fuel. The stack of the global computational system draws from the earth, its host planet. The stacks and cloud platforms are physical, not merely digital and exist beyond their presumed ephemeral nature.
The cloud is a misnomer, the cloud has a very physical geometry carved out from existing sovereignties.
"The immediate geographical drama of the Cloud layer is seen most directly in the ongoing Sino-Google conflicts of 2008 to the present: China hacking Google, Google pulling out of China, the NSA hacking China, the NSA hacking Google, Google ghostwriting books for the State Department, and Google wordlessly circumventing the last instances of state oversight altogether, not by transgressing them but by absorbing them into its service offering. Meanwhile, Chinese router firmware bides its time."
The Stack at the city layer maybe understood as a parasitic add-on to the complex urban condition, simultaneously the city can be understood as digital modules of hardware that form part of mega-structural computational matrix. One is then necessarily nested within the other. Humans equipped with an array of sensory faculty occupy this nest, augmented by synthetic layers of silicon and tracker, humans in this condition occupy a state as both sensors and the sensed. The city today exists as an urban scale AI, a multiplicity of interdependent and independent systems, at the same time interlinked and oblivious to each others presence in their limited form of AI, waiting to be triggered by some preordained threshold event. Some more versatile AI occupy some more complex environment in transit, communication, health and infrastructure. As we interact with the city and move through it we may be registered by them or perhaps be completely ignored, we may be their primary cause of concern or we may be a passing interference in a system in which we are neither the protagonist nor the target.
Any instance of matter or interaction, human or non-human is potentially observed by the stack. It is registered and addressed by massing universal addressing systems. If something is registered by the stack then it must be addressed, its location then is both a mapping problem and a set theory problem. For reference of the granularity of the addressing system, The Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) the most recent version of communication protocol that provides identification and location of user systems, runs on a 128-bit string providing over 1000 0000000000 0000000000 (1e+23) addresses per person.
The interface is the point of contact between two complex system embeded with the rules and mechanics which define the interaction between those systems. It is how we interact with the stack and how the stack responds and interacts with us. The interface then is a diagrammatic summary of all the layers of the stack, to enable end-user comprehension. For a platform, A user is not merely a human user but is instead defined by its access to credential. These qualifying credentials are either something the user has, such as an example, something a user might know, such as a password, or something a user by have, such as a keycard. If the user meets any of these criteria to enable it to interact with the Stack or to trigger a threshold condition it is then a user. It allows for a shift from the more humanist definition of a user to a more complex and inclusive definition of non-human or exo-human composite user. So another AI, a self-driving car, an algorithm, a chemical experiment or a vegetable might be a user.
The ongoing bio-technological emergence that form our humanistic experience of ourselves defines the anthropocene. The stack then is a modular global mega-structure of the anthropocene where these layers within it are the medium of our communication, embeded within our infrastructure and our experiences.
June 6, 2021
The first digital turn marked a revolutionary change in the way of making architecture, characterized by an increase in computational complexity and smooth curving forms that now litter the contemporary architectural landscape. Mario Carpo through his exquisitely woven arguments of historical, technological and anecdotal narratives introduces us to the second digital turn, marked by data abundance, machine logic and a new way of thinking.
Before the invention of the calculator and the modern computer rendered them irrelevant, Logarithms were one of the most effective and successful data compression strategies of all time. To comprehend and propagate information with human logic necessitates compression, even the alphabet which is the most basic unit of language is a data compression tool for the human voice. In 1960s the spline was introduced, however these smooth curves represented as mathematical equations were the reduced representation of the infinite series of points that construct the curve, and while increase in computational power made it easier to construct these they are still engrained with human logic and constraints. A computer with sufficient computation power retrieves information at the same cost and time, Carpo argues that the design of computer logic is that of big data, infinite variation and mass-customization.
With the immergence of mile long data storage centers, global data connectivity and the exponential surge of the computational power of the modern processor, the end of the age of data compression is nigh. The seeds of this data abundant paradigm could be witnessed when google mail services unveiled their moto " Search. Don't sort." Before the algorithm helped to search and fetch mails with tags and keywords, it was required to sort your email into folders, analogous to its real world counterpart. a post-sorting digital environment is possible due to the fact that a machine requires the same amount of time to sort through a list regardless of how the list has been sorted. As the digital and the real world interlink, spill into and blur together, It is inevitable that we move towards a post-sort physicality enabled by the power of RFID and internet of things.
A data-rich computational thought process may profoundly change the way we conduct scientific inquiry and may well render traditional scientific methods irrelevant. If data regarding a subject can be stored at its fullest resolution and retrieved instantaneously, then each reoccurring subject condition is known, this data can then be utilized to predict the outcome of the initial state. Carpo argues that evidence provides certainty and makes prediction obsolete, henceforth translating science as data retrieval rather than prediction. Furthermore making the traditional scientific method of abstraction and theorizing obsolete.
As Data-storage approximates infinity and data-retrieval costs plummet, The relation between form-finding process and resolution are fundamentally altered. A machine can simulate more variations in a fraction of a second than an artisan would in his lifetime. The nature of big-data Makes the mathematical laws for structural calculations obsolete. Simulation and data collection at an increasing resolution also enable fabrication of infinite variations using variable organic materials. A data abundant logic produces design with a post-human logic and post-human aesthetic. This post-human aesthetic is marked by an inhuman detail and tactility, an aesthetic of such dense detail that it is unimaginable with human logic. Such dense outward resolution is the sign of inward and invisible excessive data.