Wednesday, August 9, 2017

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Residential Panopticon

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Christian Stiles, Austin Madrigale, Ysaac Bustamante, Ozzy Veliz.


In Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish he gives a critique on the American prison system with a particular discussion of disciplinary mechanisms of panopticism. This social theory is named after the Panopticon, referring to Jeremy Benthams proposed prison concept which is an experimental laboratory of power in which behavior can be modified.

New media technologies as well as increased governmental surveillance has created a Virtual Panopticon in contemporary society. In under a decade, free online services like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have utterly transformed how we work, play, and communicate. Our generation has turned into a group of stalkers and exhibitionists, a social entanglement of both panopticon and synopticon. Foucaultian perspective on social media targets sharing as the basic mechanism for how it works. By sharing we make our thoughts, experiences, and feelings transparent, and visible to an always watching digital audience.

This new typology of surveillance has led way to an increase in social isolation. In a similar way that the panopticon isolates the prisoners by disallowing social interaction amongst inmates, our increased technological immersion has led to introvertedness and isolation. The inability to communicate in person has become a growing problem amongst millenials due to a loss in physical interaction and a growth in technological use. Those that work 15-18 hours a day from home, Amazon’s Mechanical Turks for example, also experience a decrease in social interaction because they don’t leave their homes, nor do they need to. Virtual reality has grown more appealing to marketers because of the rare opportunity to capitalize on viewer’s undivided attention, isolating them from reality.

Addressing these problems of contemporary panopticism and social isolation, we began to speculate on an architecture  for solidarity through an environmental immersion of technology in which a synergy of machine and architecture creates a virtual reality through use of programmable screens embedded in the geometry.

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Noise and Negotiating Order

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Jayson Kim, Emily Majors, Anna Cook.


This project begins to establish a compositional hierarchy by negotiating order and disorder through a relationship produced between an ordered grid system and a disordered array of noise that releases figural and striated qualities that play out in different scales.

From elevation, the hierarchy of the grid-based order translates to the interior. On the exterior, noise is established first, then the grid, which organizes the density of color, noise, and fragments in a way that levels and divisions can be read from the elevation. Inside, the poche “skeleton” creates a fixed system against the deployed fragments that mirrors this exterior hierarchy because the placement of these fragments are dictated by the poche. 
The design process for this project creates an interfacial dialogue between machine and human. The machine becomes a departure point for us as designers in the way that it is able to generate form based on its larger scope of intelligence. These generative forms are then interpreted with an architectural knowledge and bias.

In this context, Prometheanism becomes a method of assembling seemingly insignificant elements in a very precise manner to produce meaning.  For example, this could be manifested through the simultaneous creation of poche, column, and wall. All three are indistinguishable from each other because these elements are only what they are ontologically because of the way that they act. The voxel geometries that we receive have no inherent meanings attached to them. A column serves as a column but may fold into the poche, not in a plan typology, but in a superposition sort of way.

Humans see these fragments and assume the function due to experiential bias. For example, this fragment (reference plan) could be seen as a column because of our preconceived notion of what it means to be a column but that may not necessarily be its function. In some cases, these “column-like” elements actually take on the role of wall or poche. These roles can switch based on programmatic requirements.

To further emphasize this, the project operates within a system of fixed and customizable elements. The fixed open-plan shell lends itself to be inhabited in an assortment of ways. We use the fluctuating functions of these deployable fragments to allow inhabitants to occupy the space in a way that embodies their personal or unique preferences. Hypothetically this could be achieved in two ways. One would be through artificial intelligence monitoring of the habits of the occupants. For example, the building might track one’s time spent in certain spaces, observe one’s circulation patterns, or determine spatial division based on occupancy count. The other strategy would revolve more around the inhabitant’s preferences in a real estate sense. In this model, occupants may purchase more space within the building to expand their unit.

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Resolving The Parallax Plague

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Nathan Garcia, Tiffany Orozco, Brady Preiss, Mayra Millan.


In this project, we sought out to accomplish two goals. The first is to remove the plague of the parallax and the second is to establish an aesthetic strangeness that invokes exploration and a critical response of the viewer.
Now the project that you see before you is not exactly the easiest on the eyes. In no traditional sense would your average Joe call it beautiful. However this grotesque quality is not something to be seen as a shortcoming of the project, but rather a strangeness inviting the onlooker to explore deeper. 
In aesthetic philosophy there is you, the onlooker, the world of appearances, and your assumptions of the reality that lies behind these appearances. Now this presents us with a major issue with Humanities receptive cognition is that it is that of a singular cognition. Slavoj Zizek talks about this as the idea of Parallax. Parallax describes the conditions in which the exact same data can be examined by any number of onlookers and completely different conclusions be drawn. 

Whatever could a simple human do to overcome this great shortcoming? I can promise you right now that there is hope. In Benjamin Bratton’s book, The Stack, he talks about how we utilize computational technology, or the script, to produce models as schema in which we can think about the world in geometric terms. These models are not simply divined but are rather a collection of an infinite number of stacked understandings from the design process. 

In order to remove this parallax, the big data must be filtered through three machine cognitions, each equal in necessity and reliance on the other two. The first is that of the machine cognition (the script). The second is the human cognition, and the third is that of the Aesthetic Agency. 

As the big data is filtered through our script machine cognition, new data is formed in the three dimensional form of the voxel and discrete elements. However, this project is primarily being formed by the over commodification and assimilation of these commodities into the structure of the building creating a crusty and ruinesque like quality. This aggregation of commodities and advertisements comes as a critique of today’s society where the populous is constantly bombarded with an endless stream of junk from the mediascape the promethean source of our big data. 

The machine cognition of the Aesthetic Agency is an active agency that has a scalar understanding of data cluster resolution terminating on one end to that of a billboard and to the other end that of the ruinesque. This agency actively taps into our promethean sense of architectural tropes and utilizes these tropes to create a familiarity and ease in developing an onlookers understanding of the space. 

These cognitions are always in flux and are never stagnant. The interior spaces of the building are always moving and changing based on user necessity and desires. As we were tasked with creating a multipurpose building, we further removed the idea of parallax by blurring the possible perceptions of a space and allowing them to be what they needed to be. This is similar to that of cross programing from the deconstructivists but moves beyond as it is not confined to a set number of predefined uses. Like that of a model home or an ikea store, one can imagine living in such a place while it still having retail purposes. 

Through the stacking of many interfaces and processing data upon data constantly we have been able to produce this strange and grotesque building that poses a solution to that of the parallax plague and, in spite of its odd qualities, invites exploration of the onlooker to solve the puzzle of what it truly is. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Totemic Nomos

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Nicholas Houser, Jeremy Harrienger, Jonathan Gonzalez


3 Tiers of typologies were established using different parameters of a script. The outcome of each typology would contain the same inherent aesthetic quality but yield different forms each time.
Through the interfacing of these typologies, a totemic order of differences was established thus resulting in a horizontal hierarchy where one typology does not supersede the next.

The totemic order of differences can be explained through the misunderstanding of Kinship. Inherently we believed that kin identified with an animal because it believes it has characteristics of said animal. However, in a totemic order of differences kin identify as an animal because it is not the same as the other kin. For example, the Smith kin identifies as a whale because it is not the Lewis kin that identifies as a wombat because they are not the Smith kin. Introducing another kin, the Gutierrez kin, The Smith kin now identifies as a kangaroo because it is not the Gutierrez or Lewis kin, and the Lewis kin is now a Gorilla and the Gutierrez is now a newt.

The same way these kin interact with one another is the same way our typologies interact with one another on a circumstantial basis of autonomy.
The Horizontal hierarchy is a result of the relationships between the typologies outputted during the interfacing.

The meshing of these relationships with one another creates the mereological object that now has the relationships outputted during the interfacing being simultaneously expressed.
Had one of these tiers not existed, the mereological object produced would not represent itself the same way since the totemic order would not produce the same differences.

 The mereological object then called for a need to manifest itself in a medium between user and object. We began to speculate on mechanisms that can make the system of totemic relationships accessible to the user.
Understanding that the mereolgical object called for a new order, Nomos, a series of totemic scalar relationships began to take place. OBJECT <-> NOMOS <-> USER.

This Nomos that was applied was a direct output of the pressure each typology began to put on one another, The Nomos agency is to then interpret the space as being both of Object and User.

The Object, Nomos, and User operate under the same ideology as the totemic order that created the object.

This time the relationships that occur between the Object, Nomos, and User are not aesthetic as they were in the creation of the mereological object, rather the roles and agency are the direct output of the interfacing of Object, Nomos, and User.

 Each of the three new tiers can begin to interchange between roles where the nomos can become the new user and the user can become the nomos. The nomos can become object and object can become nomos. This can all occur because of the understanding of the Totemic order of Differences.
The system then becomes ontologically complex in which the relationship that occurs between the Object and the User provides agency to the NOMOS, and the NOMOS provides agency to the building and User because they are all simultaneously working within the horizontal hierarchy of the totemic order established.

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Cronenberg Redux

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team:Collin Stone, Hans Steffes, Luis Romero, Yasmin Soliman


This project demonstrates machine vision as a distorting mechanism that absorbs and digests information to produce the geometry of a building that challenges how far data can be br¬oken down and re-understood. In this case of automated architecture, the sample becomes the bases from which we entrust machine vision with to reconstruct a reality that it rebuilds based off of patterns and information that it has collected from our existence.  This breakdown and re-structuring of information ends up accumulating into a data-scape where we are then witness to a mangled reflection of our own architectural beliefs, and morals as humanity, in the form of our digital traces that have been chewed up and spat out into the project you see here.  While much of the buildings output is beyond a conceivable level of complexity, traces of ourselves and the essence of original samples become readable as an interface between us and a machine.

When data is being processed to create the building, information is being pulled from a data base vastly wider that anything a human could ever comprehend.  By nature of pulling from so much data/information, this creates an architecture through an inherently additive process of repetitive generation.  This manifests in geometry being organized from the roots of an infinitely dense micro grid, in which the scale of elements in the building have the ability to shift deeper, or towards the surface of the grid.  Through its metabolism of data the system removes and negates traditional hierarchy and breaks information down to its baser part, through the use of this universal micro grid.  The infinite density of the micro grid forms a framework for the anabolic process of voxelization, the re-assemblage of data into a cohesive whole. 

The re-assemblage of this data creates a shift in hierarchy that leads to phenomena such as digital misreading, digital imposition, and digital splice.  These re-associative processes result in the usage of imposed objects such as bananas and strawberry as definers of space that carve throughout the mass.  At ­certain levels in the heirarchy, elements such as furnniture become misread by the machine as the splicing of chairs forms walls and partitions.  Traditional objects and discrete parts start to morph and splice together creating dismorphic, but recognizable figure through the process of digital decimation, breakdown, and reformation, much in the way molecular data is spliced in the Cronenburg classic, the fly.  Cronenburg's philosophical assertion that traces of ourselves are still recognizable even through genetic destruction and reassemblage aligned with the assertion that traces of our culture are still readable through the digital sampling of our previous architectural beliefs.  Though this decimation, breakdown and reformation of data and heirarchy would seemingly result in the removal of human authorship, the result is a shift in scale of authorship from the individual to the societal.

T4T LAB Spring 2017. Deluzian Big Data

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Hannah Galbraith, Aaron Rosas, Jasper Gregory, Ezequiel Campos 


In Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack, Bratton explores the idea that all the many genres of computation- smart grids, cloud platforms, mobiles apps, smart cities, automation - can be seen as a coherent whole called The Stack. The Stack is made up of six different layers, each intersecting and constantly informing the other with the Earth layer at its head. Bratton begins to then discuss the inherent computational aspects of the earth and its materials, and its importance of being the physical beginning to all energy and life.

Deleuze also discusses computational aspects of the earth when he describes the natural repetition of the earth found in all things such as waves, heartbeats, and wind, and how these repetitions are always in a constant state of transgression. Deleuze mentions repetition another time however, and this time when analyzing Francis Bacon paintings. He describes the repetition as being the way we can understand a painting using the aspects of structure, contour, and figure.

Just like in a painting, we can use the machine as an interface between the layers of the stack to produce repetition and repetitive geometry drawn out of context images to then begin to organize public and private spaces in the architectural manifestation, creating different interfaces inside and outside the building: public- private, public to public, private-private.

 In order to produce a transition between territories, a spasm is released through the figure, which transgressively becomes more figural as the spaces become more private. As the initial scripting strategies suggested figural geometry, in order to bring in truly figural spaces we began to bring in 3D figural data with the sampling of broccoli. The 3D scanned broccoli had inherent figural geometry and allowed a multiplicity of figures that could be expanded as well as dissected to create and transitory space and encompassing form.
With the introduction of big data and new computational methods, the way we think about “private space” has now been completely transformed. Even though we still desire “privacy”, aspects of the computational age like social media and the internet now drive our desires to constantly be apart and accepted by the public realm. This has created a inverse relationship between our spaces withdrawing from the public eye, and the usage of social media becoming more heavy to return into the public gaze. Things like privacy, self-esteem, and self-worth are now dependant less on your own opinion, and more on the public opinion. This residential apartment in downtown Los Angeles accepts these new truths and provides spaces driven by our usage and interaction with big data. Driven by rules of perception, it allows the user to always feel connected back into the public collective, while simultaneously being in a private space. The use of mirrors and column spacing allow separation of spaces without complete enclosure, thus allowing the user to feel simultaneously in two places at once, while still being able to observe themselves interacting with others. The private spaces in the home like the bedrooms and bathrooms as figural entities can become interactive screens, updating social media content and allowing personalization and mixture across the media-scape. As the user update their own feeds, their data can likewise be mapped on the outside of the building, thus completely the circle of interaction of the perceiving and the perceived.

Monday, August 7, 2017

T4T LAB 2017 Taxonomies and Cranberries

Texas A&M University T4T LAB Spring 2017
Invited Professor: Casey Rehm
Team: Stephanie Almendarez, Roxy Trevino, Gerson Ortiz.


The intent for this object was to create various temporary taxonomies from the items produced by the machine so that they could be used in spatial organization.  The classifications would allow each element from the machine to perform any action, for example as structure or furniture.  Because of this, the component pieces start possessing a vast number of qualities and relations that cannot be reduced to a single simplistic classification.  This vast number of qualities and relations form a network within the machine that allow for the unit spaces to become customizable through one modular component present throughout the whole object. 
Addressing becomes important when the machine tries distinguishing the components from one another and the user desires to customize the unit….
These modular component pieces become a vehicle for the information about the user.  The components are no longer just a column, window frame or a television stand but pieces of data transmitting information to and from places.  In order for these components to communicate with one another, they must map and "enumerate all the elements that can send and receive information, and providing each with an (at least temporarily) unique address, regardless of what the address might resolve" (that being whatever performative action it is being assigned) aids in the intercommunication and assembly of these pieces both physically and digitally. 
The addressability organizes them according to a system within the object that is made up of countless forms of classifications. The numbering of the components is used as a form of organization within the object itself...independent of the different addressing layers of the outside world.
Each component can be traced in different ways by different users for different purposes all of which in turn could be addressed over again leaving a durable marker on the object such that it can reconstituted later.  These ‘markers’ in each unit are seen through spaces that have been booleaned out of from with the component pieces that once existed there.  These markers are left from pre existing occupants of the space, whether it be human or non-human. 
Our building enhances the ability to share and gather information, something operating in one area of the structure could sense or activate or participate with information in some way that is different than its normal capabilities may allow.


Conversation with Patrik Schmacher and Mark Foster Gage.
Moderated by Gabriel Esquivel
April 21, 2017
Rudder Auditorium