Someone once said that we are dust, and unto dust we shall return. But what if we began to recognize that, like everything else that surrounds us, we are always already only dust—meaningless matter, assemblies of imperfect atomic agglomerations, admixtures of elements that excrete foul substances and toxins. Architects are agents of the particulate impurities of the world. The cult of ideal form—not simply those irksome Platonic solids that impose themselves on our digital imaginary but also the misperception of the permanence of human and non-human objects—distracts us to the forming and deforming, the emergence and decline, the unraveling, the unwinding, the disheveling of every hylomorphic condition, of every nonhuman morphology. And yet architecture’s semantic field remains yoked to the phenomenological legacy of the moral ways of working with the stuff of building—from Ruskin to Kahn to Frampton, we’ve been following an elitist map of tectonic propriety that guides us to pre-ordained elegance, prefigured poetics, and an outdated sense of beauty, all while pretending that markets and environments play little role in our designs, and that all our efforts at reproducing the ideal (for the ideal can only be reproduced) end up corroded, incomplete, imperfect, neglected, and left to rot. A focus on matter swerves around the comforting disingenuity of good practice and pretty aesthetics, and instead insists on an approach that looks not at the quantitative “performance” of materials but the behavior and misbehavior of assemblages, practices, and machines. Matter eschews nature/culture oppositions, insofar as matter (both material and immaterial) can be simulated, projected, and invented to create new feedback loops with environmental systems and networks. Animal, vegetable, mineral—you can design them all. We accept that the Earth and earth are already de-natured and inauthentic. We embrace the uncanny effects of engineering a world—or many worlds—for a cynical society that is post-original, post-truth, post-fact…a society that long ago jettisoned its anxieties about substance and instead turned to questions of effects and affects. Today dissimulations surround us: material and aesthetic simulations that preserve the reality principle. They are simulations so artfully engineered and executed that we consider them part of the quotidian and the found because they enjoy an uninterrupted synchrony with their surroundings, which is what imbues them with critical and political potential. The next territory of world of simulations is neither the utopian nor the dystopian, but the unwinding of the world itself as the first step in its renewal as something different. Tectonics reaffirm, but matter satisfies desires, weaponizes fears, plays with memory, and upsets our aesthetics proclivities and our penchant for perfection. Matter absorbs pain and pleasure. Matter releases placebos, toxins, pestilences, hallucinogens, and curatives. Matter is already encoded with politics, economy, geology, geography, genetics, and (deep) history. Matter is always already befouled, stained, sullied, and covered in blood.
We aspire to disheveled tectonics, alt-materiality, corrupted aesthetics, fuzzy connections and unethical assemblages. We look for flaccid strength, weak structures, dirty ecologies, and low-brow logics. We delineate forces, image substances, project failures, and design for cyborgs (you’re already a cyborg, btw). We aim for unprofessional practice, to engineer the organic, and to faithfully falsify. Reject the binary opposition, stop trying to cleanse yourself of your imperfections, stop trying to fix everything, get over your fake honesty, and get with a real that’s better than reality. Matter is what you make of it.
monday, december 13, 10am-5pm, 4th floor atrium and 414 studio
|11:20am||Ivania Rivera & Helna Zhen|
|2:20pm||Emmei Gootnick & Coumba Kanté|
|3:10pm||Chay Phelps & Jason Moline|
|3:50pm||Nahall Ghodsi & Sneha Nair|
tuesday, december 14, 10am-5pm, 4th floor atrium and 414 studio
|10:40am||Karina Corcuera Falconett & MaryKate Krege|
|11:20am||Andrew D’Angelo & Wesley Feero|
|1:40pm||Luis Lopez & Shelby Ward|
|2:20pm||Barry Zhang & Zheng Fang|