Images as Instruments

In the last three decades, architectural praxis has undergone a paradigmatic shift, precipitated by what Jonathan Crary delineates as a seismic transformation in visuality—a metamorphosis arguably more momentous than the historical divide between medieval iconography and Renaissance perspectivism. This shift has precipitated the dissolution of erstwhile stable graphic conventions within architecture, replaced by an ever-expanding lexicon of computational mediums. In this era, marked by post-digital and post-orthographic sensibilities, designers are increasingly engaging in the opportunistic amalgamation of diverse tools, crafting novel design media and methodologies. This engenders unprecedented modalities of design praxis, redefining the essence of architectural design.

The pluralistic nature of design methods in the post-digital milieu has obfuscated the role of imagery within experimental design practice. Moreover, the proliferation of image culture profoundly influences all facets of our design processes—our methodologies, the outcomes they yield, and the modes of their dissemination, reception, and interpretation. Thus, this course is strategically structured to investigate the notions of the digital image, employing it as a speculative instrument to interrogate broader discourses. This is a critical inquiry into the epistemology of imagery, aiming to forge new paradigms in design conventions.

Analytic Instruments: We explore the transformative potential of digital media in accessing and analyzing information within images. This study explores concepts and techniques from Computer Graphics, Color Theory, and Computer Vision, examining novel applications in design.

Translational Instruments: Focusing on the translational processes between various dichotomies like digital-physical and human-machine, this inquiry examines notational systems developed for design communication. We will scrutinize the legible correlations inherent in post-digital design practice, emphasizing context over convention.

Generative Instruments: This segment speculates on new form-generating processes, using images as generative tools. It encompasses image voxelization techniques, employing pixel values as multidimensional form-defining parameters and materializing designs through numerically controlled fabrication.

Materiality Instruments: Through manipulations of image data and structures, we will explore how images can impart new interpretations to 3D form. We focus on the embodiment of a new sensuality, being characterized by an unusually large number of precisely arranged elements, a sophisticated level of detail, and the simultaneous presence of different scales of formation.

Artifacts: This phase contemplates the image as a discrete design artifact, intertwining representation and realization. We focus on the conceptualization of image object – where both the image artifact and its reception as image become part of one synthetic creative act while exploring emerging methods of imaging, processing, and animating to capture dynamic aspects of the artifacts.

The course employs a combination of lectures, discussions, technical workshops, and design exercises. The workshops will introduce software such as Rhino/Grasshopper, Cinema4D, and various Computer Vision-related AI tools. Students will hybridize workflows to produce dynamic visual representations and physical models, expressive of proto-architectural questions through a semester-long project.