Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kit publised in

Insoles as habitats Kit - More DIY How To Projects

Response - Responsive Architecture /Subtle Technologies

The intermingling of space, the senses, experience and the structures that govern all this are explored in a series of articles dealing with all of these in an architectural research oriented way. I was especially interested in's 'grow your own world' philosophy and their transdisciplinary research lab. I've had ideas similar to the groworld project that they explain here. There is an intrinsic beauty in the way movement through space is translated to something like a response from the environment. Making it alive and living in real-time rather than making aesthetically pleasing deadpan objects that simply are there as utility or objects that people can gawk at.

Transforming a space to merge with the surroundings and be pertinent to the reason the space exist have all been the methods by which architecture has been designed all this while. Adding the living dimension to it where the structures move, respond and behave based on actions on it is absolutely magical and will certainly evoke interest in the spaces themselves. Adaptation will also be an important factor for these spaces because designing such responsive spaces means they need to be able to adapt to changes to the environment and actors on the spaces too. The articles provide a nice overview of existing research on such environments and throws light on where they can be improved upon.

Morphogenetic Design - Response

The reading shows that design is becoming more inter-disciplinary than ever before borrowing from biology and nature too along with its old friends, physics and chemistry. Designers, Engineers and architects now are looking at cross-disciplinary subjects like biomimicry which looks natural methods for manufacturing,design and imitating mechanisms found in nature. I remember a story of Tesla as a child where he manufactured a 16-bug powered motor out of live June bugs which if there was a photograph of it would look much like devices we see today in DARPA funded research (except that it was cheaper and did much less than the latter.) Inventors and scientists have always looked at nature to provide answers to questions on improving existing designs and manufacture novel contraptions.

It also gives us a magnificient overview of the process of design, prototyping and manufacturing of large scale structures true to the concepts they are trying to mimick. The advances in technology also help to drive down the costs and time it takes to design such close to nature objects that live symbiotically with nature and invites it to participate and enhance the strength of the design as it lives in the environment. The dikes of Holland being re-engineered to gain strength over time based on the interaction with the sea and sand is one such example. Advances in computing is also improving the designs with new algorithms that work with complex systems, parametric equations which in turn are prototyped quickly with machines that can talk to these computers quicker.

Overall, the reading gave us a detailed overview of morphogenetic design concepts, lots of examples, real building prototypes and engineered structures that have been deployed successfully.

Geospatial Algorithm Application and Instrumentation Kit


Video documentation of the Geospatial Algorithm Application and Instrumentation Kit (Just for Men Kit). The kit is freely available for use online at Computer, javascript-enabled web browser, and Internet connectivity required.

Morphogenic Design :: Reading Response

“A New Biology for a New Century”

The text begins by discussing the human race’s focus historically being strongly dominated by physics. As of the late 20th century and into the 21st, this focus has shifted and biology has “become the underlying paradigm of engineering. It discusses concepts of emergence and self-organization in relation to the discipline of architecture and promising, related, and instrumental techniques for design, manufacturing, and construction.”

I feel that this text and the Responsive Architecture text from last week / this week have a lot in common. Both discuss materiality and the potential to unfold new forms of material environments for living, new neighborhood and city models. I wish the text would have focused less on large architectural forms and more on morphogenic design for smaller works, not that a few weren’t mentioned. Artists seem to be participating in the new synthetic biological paradigm by actualizing new forms for cultural environments and sustainable living. I find the more interesting of these projects and ideas to be coming from artists like Theo Jansen working on producing new material organisms rather than focusing on new architecture. As beautiful, well researched, and executed these biologically modeled architectural structures are (like the photo Andrew Posted), just because it looks like a cell under a microscope doesn’t mean it is build with materials that can grow beneficial cells for our environment. I find a lot of these architectural forms to be pleasing to the eye but not anymore beneficial to the environment. Though as we read in the previous fabrication text, there are architects combining both design and beneficial material functionality (solar power generating ‘skins’ for heating etc), there seem to be more structures focused on the visual appeal rather than the ecological need.

In the beginning of the text, there is a small blip about Dyson discussing the access to do-it-yourself kits. As interested as I personally am in this movement and the focus of biological art, I sometimes wonder when DIY Kits and ‘at home’ garden/plant engineering projects, will change the face of art, be it good or bad. I often find myself struggling with the idea of DIY Kits becoming forms of art, as beautiful as the final products and kit designs are, in the end, I feel like DIY projects, are just that, projects or utilitarian tools. Its hard for me to often couple even the most aesthetically beautiful and well thought out/constructed kits with fine art. It’s a tough reach for me because I think that the movement towards self sustainable and more environmentally conscious living is and should be a large focus of our interests as human’s working towards fixing an environment in which we aided in destroying, but at the same time, I just don’t see many of these works (specifically related to the DIY kit movement) to be (A)rt in many cases. Though, I’m sure a large majority of the art world would disagree with that last statement. Regardless, I think there are a lot if artists coming up with interesting solutions to ecological problems via kit form, I am just concerned that a lot of art will become lost in a group of ikea’d commercial products.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

versatility and vicissitude response - baldwin

Fade in. A estranged love affair between Pepcura, Maya and Ikea... Biology wins. Fade to black.

My first problem with the text is into the section "Renewable Types and the Urban Plan'. The problem is not the update to Le Corbusier vision of a city re-imagined with suburbs added in, but that like all other city models that are supposed to fix or create the perfect city it does nothing substantial to address the inequitable distribution of wealth or the disparity of services between class, race, et cetera. Loose Animal Farm references = Context of social justice? (All Caps)

I'm not at all excited about turning a false magnifying lens on that which makes structures strong - like cell structures, membranes, self-organisational et cetera's - and pretending to scale them in size when at the foundation they remain the same. For instance in the image Andrew included in his response ( the most interesting piece of architecture is the blurred vehicle. With all the advances that is what is missing for me, a connection to "permanent temporalalities".

digital fabrications response - baldwin

This reads as a very nice introduction to terms and concepts as well as great examples of such in the world of production. I feel where the responsive architecture reading failed, digital fabrications succeeds. But... speaking of failure, I would have liked to see more examples of where these technologies failed - we often read in 'innovative places' about how great of a teacher failure is, yet seldom is the failure of ideas learned from, or is a current failure examined closely in an academic setting to find new ideas instead of new iterations of pre-existing successful ideas. So much of this architecture becomes a modern day tanagram exercise where after a few days going over the software demos, access to the right equipment, and funding can put you in what will soon be a too common place in the history of making 'stuff' and can be as boring as hearing an animator tell you they do 'hair' or 'animal skin' in three-d modeling. It will be nice to get to the point in the medium where people are done saying and thinking "wow, you can do that" to "ok, you can do that, but why are you going to do that?"

Responsive architecture response - Baldwin

One of the most interesting questions was posed last week - that is, what's next. I think 'subtle technologies' is the dialectics that will break the bricks of the existing paradigms of aesthetics. To think that the phenomenologicalness of life could break into aesthetics is very exciting because it can push our envelope of knowledge for further understanding materials and science itself. The uncomfortable feeling arrives in the sense that the next paradigm could also, with the current power dynamics, either sit around too long unchecked or worse get skipped over as a trend. I would likely default to an age old comparison one professor taught me, which is that representation (and form) ebbs and flows with time. Case in point, many of the ideas talked about in much of the readings are based in rediscovering early geometry, architecture, philosophies, design, etc - while they are completely complex, they offer relatively easy points of entry for scientists, architects, and other forms of higher learning and mores are grounded in the same power dynamics that enables the status quo to that the technologies become masks or a wolf dressed in subtle technologies clothing. For me I would be more interested in architecture that did more than just create new textures and aesthetics to make the new types of boxes or resupport and reinvent wheels of old.

Skinny People Singing About Architecture and Media

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons, packed up & ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance, I`m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone now, lived in the ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

-Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

The following blog post references two issues of AD (Architectural Design), a periodical journal published by Wiley. The two issues are themetically related. The first, entitled Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design (ISBN: 978-0-470-51687-4, Paperback, 144 pages, April 2008), is guest-edited by Michael Hensel and Achim Menges. It focusses of the performative aspects of this type of design. The second issue, entitled Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design (ISBN: 978-0-470-01529-2, Paperback, 128 pages, May 2006) was published two years earlier, and as the title suggests, concerns techniques and technologies. It was edited by Michael Hensel, Achim Menges and Michael Weinstock. Due to the somewhat varied selections of the specific articles noted, I consulted the Wiley website for a concordance fo the titles, authors, and tables of contents, and also the context of articles that were not in the assigned reading.

AD Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design - April 2008

AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design - May 2006

If you are not interested in the full table of contents concordances, the issue summaries themselves are worth the trip, to give perspective on the nature of the reading.

Given the very specific nature of these essays, I decided to give 'ole Wikipedia a try on morphogenesis. The specific definition helps me understand generally the nature of the readings and the level of detail the authors are going into. Clearly, the publications' editors, and the individual article authors in both issues are a tight-knit group. The shade of meaning between morphogenetic design and morpho-ecological design are not so different and quite nuanced. It sort of makes sense to read them in temporal order by date of publication.

As a meditation on emergence and self-organization, the assigned articles in AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design, namely Towards Self-Organizational and Multiple Performance Capacity in Architecture by Michael Hensel, Polymorphism by Achim Menges, and Self-Organisation and Material Constructions by Michael Weinstock, reveal projects that embody the theories present in the essays. The authors share the view that design of architectural spaces share an ecological relationship to their environment. In addition, they share a relationship to evolution as the exist as part of prior formulations of architectures in a given space. Into this discussion go materials, energy systems, and and other types of organizational systems, all of which can and should be called into question.

The first article assigned in AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design is the introduction to the issue, outlining the various essays and sections. The second assigned reading Achim Menges' Polymorphism, introduces several interesting morphogenetic geometries: membrane morphologies (also referrend to as form-finding and dynamic relaxation), differential surface actuation, component differentiation and proliferation, honeycomb morphologies (or generative algorithmic definition), fibrous surfaces (digital growth and ontogenetic drifts). Of these, I thought form-finding and dynamic relaxation was the coolest, probably becuase of the exploration of multiparametric approach. I found a similar example not in the text here:

In Self-Organisation and Material Constructions, Michael Weinstock explores the boundary between the natural and the manufactured. He examines cellular structures, polymers, liquid crystals, Kevlar, and foam for their unique structural properties.

The first section of the reading, the assigned articles from AD Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design, discuss the performance characteristics of these types of designs. From the Wiley summary:
"a milieu of conditions, modulations and microclimates that emanate from an object's exchange with its specific environment, a dynamic relationship that is perceived and interacted with by a subject. A synergetic employment of performance and morpho-ecological techniques combine to create integral design solutions that will render an alternative model for sustainability. This issue presents historical precursors and precedents for this approach, as well as the current state of the art of morpho-ecological design."
So these authors, namely Peter Trummer in Engineering Ecologies, Michael Hensel and Achim Menges (again) in Designing Morphoecologies: Versatility and Vicissitude of Heterogeneous Space, Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby in Renewable Types and the Urban Plan, Valentina Croci in The Use of the cellular and New Digital Mapping: The Social Call, Michael Hensel, Defne Sunguroglu and Achim Menges (again) in Material Performance and Michael Hensel and Achim Menges (again!) in Membrane Spaces are concerned with the ecology of the architectures with the spaces and their histories. Architecture should be thought of as a life form here, part of the living breathing earth. Of these articles, the one that caught my attention was The Use of the cellular and New Digital Mapping: The Social Call by Valentina Croci. This is because she addresses the architecture of media as part of a space. Very similar to the work we are doing in class this semester at least in terms of creating social spaces and other reading we have done (I am thinking fall 08 readings about augmented reality).

Joe Pankowski; Morphogenetic Design

the beginning of the text states that the twenty first century will be about biology like the twentieth century was about physics. In studying forms in biology using morphology you see that this biology is reacting to physics. Many of the subjects covered in the reading including material performance, membranes, and responsive surfaces are related to how biological evolution has adapted the forms and structures in nature to survive in an environment. When these bio structures are reproduced the most successful are using structures that have the same purpose as they do in nature. The twenty first century may be the time of biology but that biology is linked to these other factors and powers in our environment. In the Responsive Architecture reading the information about cell structures and the ability of the cytoskeleton to respond to external ques to survive and adapt including physical pressures is a technology we should be tapping into. The one example in the text that is more about physics rather than biology is the Water Cube in Beijing. This structure uses bubble forms found in foam as inspiration. The molecular structures of such forms are directly related physical pressures on them. I think using these biometric shapes and technologies will be seen more and more but what must be considered is what they were originally used for in nature and that they do relate to other areas of science like physics.

reading response six | morphogenetic design | jd pirtle

Since this text is fairly large in scope and covers a multitude of areas, I will try to respond to each section separately, but in a way that (hopefully) is tied together through a common thread.

Reading the first section about biology/ecology, I thought many times about algorithmic art. There is a great deal of recipe making in modern computational art, which leads to a virtual product. The potential to grow art, which is being done in a crude manner through the design-to-CNC process, exists--but what about the future of art in relationship to biology? A great deal of post-19th century media art was physics based--and if we can follow the logic of the text--what is the implication of the heavy presence of biology on future media art? Will we be able to properly grow art?

The section about urban landscape seems at odds with the hierarchical nature of our minds, socially. We accept an arrangement of capital and power being located in a physically high or structurally dense environment, and we associate prosperity with large, isolated structures. Can we embrace the heterogenous spaces described in the text with that mind set? Do the nature of our strict building codes prevent modularity and flexibility? Also, considering that the majority of everything built in the USA was completed at the cost of the lowest bid, can these type of “smart” structures be funded and leave the theoretical/academic environment?

It is somewhat interesting to read about the various ways cell phone data is recorded and visualized, but it seems like there is something missing in what is being done with the results. While metadata in the form of user comments and embedded info is useful, it is not very interesting from the point of view of art.

In the section about wood, I was unclear about whether the many amazing properties of wood as a building material were greatest when they remain part of a living tree or only as timber? Related to my first comment, can we program trees to form living structures?

The section on self-organization included a really interesting component, that the entire process, from analysis and simulation to computer aided manufacturing, could be one large process. I wonder about aesthetic concerns--what happens when you add psychology and emotion to the beginning of the process? Will it yield a product that is not only self-organizing, but also beautiful and fulfilling as a structure? Or are they the same thing?

The form-finding aspects seem like the opposite of the initial few chapters--we have returned to physics. While the digital growth concept does change over time in response to changing shape (through the geometric seed and the morphing of shape through reinterpretation of current shape), it remains physics/geometry based.

The entire text, as stressed in the conclusion, shows the power of biomimetics. What we comprehend and achieve through the observation of "natural" phenomena and experimental design may enable us to realize that there is nothing unnatural that we produce; the things we produce through a biology-centered design paradigm could be flexible, modular, self-organizing, healthy, communal and ecologically-friendly in such a way that they no longer merit the term “unnatural.”