Digital Media: Power Tools

This course aims to leverage collective and DIY-knowledge-building as a representational technique and a tool of power. It begins with the premise that a site – as it is physically and conceptually constructed – is more than a geometric abstraction or geolocation but an aesthetic, sociopolitical, and programmatic provocation. Our ability to read a site via representational tools is intrinsic to our ability to design. This course explores how we might invent and adapt our own tools.

The majority of the built environment is not celebrated in architectural culture. Purposefully exploring programmatic misfits, margins, and in-betweens of architecture while valorizing urban form, informality,  and everyday spatial practices allows us to operate critically from a different center. We will recast the site and building beyond its physical parameters to underline other dimensions of meaning. Privileging the relationship between buildings and inhabitants (as opposed to the building as an object) strengthens a feedback loop between a site, its inherent spatial strategies, and an emergent design agenda. We will draw upon Levi-Strauss’ concept of bricolage, Kon Wajiro’s modernology, and Momoyo Kaijima’s Behaviorology, amongst others. Instrumentalizing time, communality, ritual, adaptation, and indeterminacy may nurture aesthetic instincts and unearth new approaches that are sociocultural, textured, and multivalent.

Students will collectively select a set of sites to record, translate, and project upon. Building a communal repository of knowledge and technique is proposed as a transformative model of self-education and a way to advance new readings of the city. Students may import a site from a concurrent studio brief or research project and export materials produced throughout the course. The semester will unfold around three thematic sections – pixel city, machine city, and collage city – structured around digital presentations of texts, images, and references, weekly internal and invited lectures, and informal pin-ups and critiques. Work is open to revision until the final presentation. Representational formats and methodologies within and outside of architecture will be a primary focus. Students will sample from visual cultures, countercultures, and each other’s work to subvert or extend disciplinary protocols. In so doing, the course aims to expand and enrich the site as a locus for research, design, and establish future forms of practice.