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.