Monday, July 27, 2009


a SWELL project
Gabriel Esquivel .
Team: Ryan R. Collier – Project Manager, Nick Gignac, Matt Richardson, Todd Christensen ,
Jeremy Harper, Mitch Scott Rocheleau, Chris Gassaway.
“Life is nothing but instability and disequilibrium... a swelling tumult continuously on the verge of explosion.” ~ Georges Bataille
“Swell” emerged from the posture of presenting an argument generated from architecture itself. Is it possible to talk about architecture from its own discourse? This project fits within the continuum of architecture through references from works of the classics to early modernists. A significant part of the research revolved around the discussion of classical ornamentation: a layer of architecturalization that was perhaps best articulated by the early modernist Louis Sullivan as seen in his intricate, highly articulated Guaranty Bank corner to cornice detailing. Not unlike the Baroque, there is a sense of levitation and anticipation – a feeling that the swell condition will either a) cause the entire beam to ultimately invade the floor and spread as a viscous fluid, or b) explode under the pressure of the aforementioned systems. Ironically, although the swell condition creates the illusion of weight, the project is - because of geometry, castellation, and material studies - quite the opposite. Furthermore, the form can be understood as an exaggerated moment diagram, as if the weight of the interior is causing deformation about the middle of beam. This project addresses a classic architectural problem of the column/beam or more literally the corner/beam condition, a swelling condition in this case. The space includes a logic of ornamentation through aggregation of apertures and voids about the surface. To the benefit of the whole, two subservient (submissive) systems work concurrently, interdependently to erect an affect of Swell. Arguably, the one system without the other would be beautiful, but without any sense of abjection. Abject then is the state in which the object begins merging with the subject, literally dissolving the boundary between the two; the abject replaces the object. As the two systems invade the other and create such interaction, the composite condition begins to swell under pressures, literally ripping the surface: apertures graze the surface where there were none. The micro condition of the porous appears taut via stretching of certain geometries, ultimately achieving a high porosity the swelling turning into poché. This poché is the condition of the surface against the softbodies, a system beginning to distend: an infinite cleavage, a condition of invaded interstitial spaces. The interstitial space, implied or contained is interpreted as a suppression of the paradox of physics and metaphysics of space that aims for an argument of desire, or that of the seductive void. The void then can assume various shapes/relations. The question is whether or not the void is understood as a condition of interiority or exteriority. Our subjective affiliation to the project could be explained as the classic repression exercised by the superego, exposing another way to look at it in terms of the “other," in which otherness is present within the subject: a condition of abjection. “The interiority of exteriority is not understood until the internalization of absolute alterity disrupts the self conscious subject by revealing the presence/absence of an unconsciousness that can never fully enter consciousness”.(1) Since the outside is always inside, the self is, in some sense, forever outside itself. The seductive “within” is not merely a need that can be filled by the possession of an object: the discourse of the other signifies an insatiable desire. “Swelling” is presented as a disruptive condition that argues emotional possibilities, from its sensual and ominous ornamentation to questions whether it is psycho sexual, an explosion, or simply a disruption of the condition of the surface?
1. Jacques Lacan, Ecrits. A. Sheridan (New York; Norton 19