[iDC] Beyond the blob

Mark Shepard mshepard at andinc.org
Thu Sep 28 12:52:14 EDT 2006

Dear Christiane,

I wasn't suggesting that anyone (other than myself, maybe) was  
pointing to the starchitects. And I did so in order to attempt to  
highlight the differences between the discourse in architecture over  
the past ten years surrounding the "digital" (which the so-called  
"Non Standard" conferences and "Digital Hybrid" book are products  
of), and what we are looking to address in the upcoming symposium. As  
I see it, there is a big difference between screen-based, "digital"  
design and fabrication environments (the computer as tool) and  
pervasive/embedded/locative/context-aware technologies (computing as  
an environment). The symposium is concerned with the latter.

You ask: "who is to say that evolving mobile and locative  
technologies will not (reciprocally) inform us as to how a building  
is built or permutates throughout a lifetime."

I'd say they would. And when looking at the city, mobile and locative  
technologies are particularly informative. Some threads of the July  
discussion on mobile, networked sociality, and the August discussion  
on locative media and the city touched on this (I referenced Laura  
Kurgan's "You Are Here: Museo" in this context, who, yes, is at  
Columbia now and heading up the Spatial Information Design Lab. Her  
project "Architecture and Justice" is also currently on display at  
the Urban Center). Frank Ancel pointed to the Real Time Rome project  
at the Venice Biennale - http://senseable.mit.edu/realtimerome/ -  
which builds on an earlier (2002) project by the WAAG society,  
Amsterdam Realtime - http://www.waag.org/project/amsterdamrealtime .  
These attempts at mapping the hertzian space of cities are indeed  
valuable in helping us understand contemporary urban dynamics. But it  
sounds like you've been working with these ideas for quite some time.  
Maybe you could share with the list some of your work on mapping?

You also note that buildings already are embedded with a plethora of  
technologies, most notably surveillance and security systems. I'd add  
to that the range of Building Environment Management Systems (BEMS),  
which are becoming more "responsive" to fluxuating environmental  
conditions. An early example would be Jean Nouvelle's southern facade  
for the Institute de Monde d'Arabe in Paris. More recently Wired  
reported on research into Smart Buildings - http://www.wirednews.com/ 
news/technology/0,71680-0.html?tw=wn_index_1 - which is apparently  
still engaged in the (ever fundable) optimization/efficiency agenda,  
a point Michael Fox raised earlier this month.

> So … is it, once again, simply a question of a re-purposing of  
> technologies generated and handed down by the military or corporate  
> America.  Or, as it seems you are suggesting, is it that architects/ 
> artist need to advance these developments ahead of the military – 
> industrial curve?

I'd say definitely the latter. Though not necessarily "ahead", maybe  
"alongside", "against", or "despite".

Best regards,

More information about the iDC mailing list