Digital Media: Image

Over the past three decades the architectural process has been drastically reorganized by what historian Jonathan Crary calls “a transformation in the nature of visuality probably more profound than the break that separates medieval imagery from Renaissance perspective.” Architecture’s previously stable graphical conventions have dissolved and been replaced with an ever expanding repertoire of computational mediums, originally not designed for the architectural imagination.

If we acknowledge that architecture has for centuries produced new ideas and forms by treating representational media as spaces of visual exploration, how might techniques that belong to computational media—which often, however unintentionally, seem to prioritize “workflow optimization” at the expense of experimentation—be made to serve this same experimental function? Any such inquiry entails imagining and testing methods by which computational image making (or what Friedrich A. Kittler calls computer graphics) might be at times used to disrupt the smooth workflows which presently define digital fabrication culture. It also involves thinking carefully about how the history of form and tectonics—which architectural drawing managed so well for centuries—might be preserved and extended within the paradigm of these new digital media.

Students will be exposed to a diverse set of precedents in computer graphics, ranging from early video art practices to more recent experiments in compression aesthetics. Case studies will be paired with exercises involving technical processes that have generally been regarded as lying outside the domain of architectural practice, but which might now be used profitably as a way of opening up and expanding architecture’s own digital culture. In this sense, the course is interested in an expansion and revision of the notion of “digital representation” in architecture.

There are no prerequisites for this class, and no special software skills are required, only a willingness to explore various media in unconventional ways. Students will be encouraged to hybridize existing graphic and fabrication platforms.