Representation First (!!!), Then Architecture

Current tendencies in the discipline suggest a split between two opposing architectural projects: the easy project versus the difficult project. Primarily related to architecture’s form, this oversimplification of the divide might also be used to identify developments in representation: cheap and fast one-point perspectives with minimal material changes as opposed to laborious photo-realistic renderings oozing tactile interiors. The hourly “swipe”—up/down/left/right—and the way architectural images are posted, pinned, shared, and liked moments after they are created places a further immediacy on the making of representation and the naming of an agenda. Rather than question the easy over the difficult, might we readjust our focus towards the conceptualization of representation first, as a way of conceiving of architecture?

This exhibition presents the work developed in the seminar VIS-2348: Representation First (!!!), Then Architecture, offered at the Harvard Graduate School of Design during the Fall 2018 semester by Jennifer Bonner (MArch ’09), Assistant Professor of Architecture, Program Director of the Master in Architecture II program, and founder and director of MALL. The aim of the seminar was to develop techniques and methodologies through a series of representational experiments. Exercises referenced cake decorating, color-gel photography, food styling, still-life painting, 3D model archives, and YouTube. Not a historical overview, the class was framed by contemporary issues in representation including studies of materiality, color, digital tooling, animations, scale figures, and media. Students were asked to curate references into a conceptual position on architectural representation, to closely read work found in contemporary art practice, pop culture aesthetics, and the visual environment of the “everyday,” and to experiment with a range of visual methods in order to develop novel representational techniques. Results include: pixelated Herman Miller furniture, Honeysuckle-toned kitchen appliances, jelly urbanism, fake towels, fake fruit, real bread, a deconstructed Medusa, Oppenheim’s banana, bananas knolled, bananas made of Starburst, bad meshes, the Earth in a glass, Corbusier x Supreme, many helpings of cakes pleated, piped, or squished.

This exhibition was designed by Malinda Seu (MDes/ADPD ‘17) with assistance from Ed Wang (MArch ’21).

Teaching Assistant, VIS-2348: Alexandru Vilcu

Research Assistant, VIS-2348: Wan Wan Fei