People scatter heaps of data to the wind, knowingly and unknowingly, but only a few outside of tech institutions truly understand how data is being used and the simulations that it feeds. Mainly because ‘Computer Simulation’ is a tricky concept, perceived as one of two: either a practical engineering tool such as wind simulators and economic models; or as a copying tool, an agent of digital fakeness – special effects in movies, Google’s Earth and the blue-skyed images made to sell apartments before they are built.
Last year, Felix Madrazo and Adrien Ravon led the ‘Ego City’ research studio at The Why Factory at
TU Delft. It was one of a series of studios that explored the themes of density and desires. Ego City
focused on the individual and ways to claim and create space. In doing so, it questioned traditional
methods of using design to create a better future for all and probed the viability of post-design
Since its early days, the humanoid we call Homo sapiens has always been obsessed with gaining control.
Creating optimal conditions for its safety and comfort is the story of its life. The way Homo sapiens, aka ‘the
human’, confronted this self-imposed challenge was by design.
As recent technological advancement became more and more pervasive and sophisticated, its consequences became more dramatically evident. In this context, design takes on a new relevance, in organizing and managing spaces, individuals, relations and ultimately societies. But if this is clear, several questions have to be answered: Who is driving it, who are the participants, who are sitting around the table? Does spatial design currently have a say in this, and if not, how can it participate and intervene
While working on the theme of V51 we did not only learn new facts on technology, but we were also confronted by the different ways in which technology is perceived, especially from certain architectural communities.
In the last post, we stated our intention to map the field of technology and to dig deeper in certain areas. After discussing possible categories we focused on evaluating the critical tools at hand to craft V51, in particular questioning the efficacy of mapping.
Once upon a time technology was a word to define all those tools that humans used to do things, being them compasses or cranes. As technology became ubiquitous and much more complex the term acquired a much vaguer meaning: it started to indicate the very condition we live in. Perhaps the previous use was too partial, I agree. But when DNA can be edited with a software, Internet is supported by satellite infrastructure, cars can drive themselves and Google knows your routine better than your own friends; where do you start speaking about technology? and in relation to architecture?
Design is, by definition, inhuman. We humans design, yet we do not, cannot really, at least not yet, design humans. Yet the boundaries of contemporary design increasingly encroach upon the real. The design of fleshy bodies, genetics, entire species, landscapes, territories, and even planets are becoming no longer mere fantasies. But do we really know how to design, to think, to be creative, to be careful, to be responsible, to be innovative, to be progressive both at and between such scales?
While the Istanbul Biennial questions ‘Are We Human?’, Volume explores the post-human world of Artficial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It’s not about the future, not about promise, it’s very much about the here and now. Please join us coming Friday (October 28) for an informal gathering at Post Office, Rotterdam to exchange on this life changing topic.
The data-saturated environment we live in today was already there almost half a century ago; it’s just that the nature of data has changed. Data used to be much more spatial, more architectonic, and the means of locating oneself in, and navigating through, such a space could be revealed by architectural theory and critique. With data only penetrating deeper into our cognitive realm by the day, what is there for architecture to say?