« November 2006 | Main

December 7, 2006

This looks like a cool movie

http://www.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/thearchitect/hd/

December 5, 2006

Fab Labs + Light and Shadow = ?

I must admit that when I started reading Fab by Gershenfeld, I was fascinated, more so than any other reading this year. The whole concept of these mini fabrication labs to make anything for anybody is so interesting. It brings back the whole idea of the craftsmen instead of mass production. Think of all the new products that will be made for personal use. All the products that will only have one actual iteration and be for the most part, unable to be re-produced.
Unfortunately, I found it very hard to connect the idea of fab labs, to Louis Kahn’s interesting interpretations of light, silence and shadow. I also thought the Kahn’s reading was one of the hardest in the course packet.
That being said I did think there were a few very loose similarities between the two readings. There was one quote in Kahn’s article that struck as pretty relevant to the article on fab labs, and that was “What man makes must answer to the laws of nature but is governed in his concepts by rules and choice.? If people could make anything they wanted in small home fabrication shops, who would control the people? Who would make sure that nobody was making guns or bombs or something? The social responsibility would be paramount with these machines, and I don’t think that we are ready for such responsibility.
What implications would this have also on the world of art? Can’t a person consider a unique object made by a single craftsman art? Why are art and industry so strictly separated? If a person can design a sculpture on a computer and then make it with CNC tools, does that make it art or not? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I would consider a piece of well crafted machinery made and designed by one person to be a work of art. The whole idea blurs the line between craft and art. Would there even be line anymore? These are some questions that the Fab reading left in my mind.
I suppose that the two readings are connected, but I don’t think that they are actually related. I find it very hard to connect them together at all really. Maybe I’m missing something. I think it would be interesting if Ozayr went over his opinion and interpretation of this prompt in class.

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A five axis CNC mill

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A desktop CNC mill

Technopolies, the Mother Of All Blog Prompts

I don’t think I’ve ever thought so deeply about technology and its effects on our culture and perceptions of everyday life, as I have after reading Neil Postman’s reading. I now have a view of our modern culture that seems to reflect a near Technopoly state. Unlike tool using cultures, where the tools and technology do not deeply affect traditions and values of the society, and unlike technocracies where technology does deeply affect the cultural and moral values; I believe we are approaching a state of Technopoly, in where technology and tools not only affect are life but control it so that we look to them to authorize and affirm our very existence. Technology has left the realm of being something we use to make our lives easier, to the realm of controlling and mandating how our lives are lived. This can be seen in many ways in technologies such as the telephone and email. There was a time when leaving the house meant that you couldn’t be reached by phone. There was a device called an “answering machine? that kept messages of missed calls. With the invention of the cell phone, people could be reached anywhere they had reception, which not only made the answering machine nearly irrelevant, but also made home phones less useful. With the advent of email and text messaging, people talked on their home computers. People then realized that if they wanted to leave their house, they would miss these important conversations. The new solution: The Blackberry and cell phone text messages.

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Another good example of technology running our lives is the international stock exchange. The NASDAQ stock exchange is not a physical place; it is a computer program that controls peoples transactions of technology stocks. What if this system was to some day crash, or be infected with a computer virus? How would anybody know their amount of stock shares? The buying and selling of futures and bonds is another non-tangible item bought and sold on Wall Street. The value of these bonds is assessed in an immensely complex computer model and valued accordingly. Traders just assume these values are correct and use these values in their own transactions. Technology is mandating their business, giving them information that they just assume to be correct, and therefore technology is controlling their life which is the definition of a Technopoly.

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I believe that if our culture doesn’t change its way soon, that we may face a crisis someday if all of our wonderful technology fails us. We no longer have the skills to live as a species without technology and therefore we are living in technologies stead. And someday technology may just fail us, and then we are really in trouble.

Supplemental Blog - Architecture as Space by Bruno Zevi

Of the many readings we have done for Architecture 1701 and architecture 1281, only on has been included in both courses, Bruno Zevi’s Architecture as Space. Coincidentally, this was also one of my favorite readings in these classes. I especially like Zevi’s definition of architecture as a type of art where man is an interactive participant.

Zevi starts his paper by stating that in his opinion, a satisfactory and comprehensive history of architecture has not yet been written. This is because we as humans have not yet found a very good way to represent space other than experiencing it. When most people think of architecture they think of floor plans and elevations. These are merely representations of a space that we make for someone else to reproduce into an actual 3d form. When a person looks at a plan, they may get a sense for a certain space, but that is not the same as experiencing a space while inside it.

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For example, the plan for St. Peter’s Basilica may seem grandiose on paper, but how can you actually get a sense for the volume, the play of the light on the walls, the form of the dome, unless you actually are inside of the space? I don’t think that you can. Zevi also states that it is impossible to represent a space in a photograph, even though this may seem like a good medium for representation. A photograph shows only part of the space at a moment in time. I think that to experience and pass judgment about any space, a person needs to experience it first hand and move about inside it; get a sense for it.

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All of this leads to Zevi’s primary statements in this paper, which is that architecture, although encompassing many different aspects such as the technical, social, cultural, artistic and spatial conceptions, is mainly the encapsulation and thus creation of space. When most people think of architecture, they think of floor plans and facades. However, a façade, I think, can be considered little more than a sculpture. Of course a façade is important to a building, both in its presentation to the world and to allow things such as light, goods, and people. But a person cannot interact with a façade other than to pass through it into the space which it encloses. If a building has a beautiful façade, but dimly lit, low ceilinged and uninviting rooms, I think it is an architectural failure. Even if a structure has a tremendous, eye catching and aesthetically pleasing façade, the interior space, if not given the proper attention, can make the whole building a failure.

Zevi believes that the reason a comprehensive architectural history has not been achieved is because there is yet no way to document interior space. And if you think about it, that’s pretty true. In architectural textbooks there are drawings of floor plans, section views, and photographs of buildings. But how are these supposed to give us any sense for space, for those aspects that are ephemeral and transcendent of the second hand, and easily biased perception of photography. Until another method for documenting space without experiencing it first hand is developed, it will be very hard to form any impartial and complete archive of space, and thus architecture.

I also found Zevi’s view on dimensions quite fascinating. Some great steps forward in representing architecture, and more importantly space, are the discovery of perspective, photography and, although Zevi doesn’t mention it I think another important advance was made with video. By discovering perspective, artists and draftsmen were able to represent architecture with much more accuracy and proportion, and thus give the space a better sense of reality. With the advent of photography, artists were replaced with photographers to represent buildings. However, a photograph allows a person to experience a space from one view at one specific moment in time. However it did prove to be the most accurate three dimensional representation of space. Then in the 20th century, two artistic movements, Cubism and Fauvism became popular and brought new thought to the concept of space. These two artistic movements were abstract in their representation of time and movement as the new fourth dimension. This idea was transferred into architecture and Zevi realizes in this chapter that to experience space, one must move through a space and experience it through time, which photography does not allow. One step closer to this representation is video. Although Zevi doesn’t mention it in this chapter, video does better to represent space through time. However it is still only a 3d space represented in a 2d medium. It lacks the use of all the senses and the effect that the ephemeral has on us.

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All in all I share Zevi’s view on space and its representation. It has also prompted me to think about ways that space could be accurately represented to form any kind of architectural history. An as of yet, I still have no more of an idea than Zevi did.