Tag Archives: Format

A Book

Link to the Draft

I’ve been pondering on the format of my project, how to present it, how to combine the material, and so on, and to make it into a statement regarding my view on how to make a successful project. After considering drawing, video, and (briefly) model, I decided that I want to present all my work primarily in a book. This is because I feel that all important historical (near or far) movements have begun not only with a written account, but also by the physicality of a book. If I want to condense all my efforts this year into one artefact, I want it to be such a book.

Hence, there will be no specific TS book or white book – there will only be one book, one rallying point, one physical testament.

There is another risk here, which has to do with how you present such a thing. I remember a workshop with C.J. Lim we had in Sweden in 2008, where we cut and pasted the story of Romeo & Juliet into a massive tome of 1200 pages. The critics said the project was great, but perhaps not great as a presentation. It was one of those things you had to sit down with, sip on a cup of tea, and turn off the TV for a calm evening in the comfy chair. Perhaps my book will do the same.

I also recall a comment on the OMA book machine at the AA some time ago, where Justin McGuirk called OMA’s books “the residue of a process.” In the same way, my presentation at the tables etc. could be the residue of the book.

At this point the book is split in sections called superlight, Light, Heavy, and SUPERHEAVY. Of course, they hark back to the concepts of gravity and energy, which are still driving the project. Perhaps instead of categorising content according to scale, we do it to weight, mass, gravitational force. Indeed, this fits nicely with my idea of the individual versus the mass.

So far, I’ve put in all the stuff from the recon in these sections. Will add all the rest tonight.

Some thoughts collected yesterday on this idea. (scroll down to “At once fictional and real …”)

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Youtube Tutorial Script

Hi all, this is my script for the youtube tutorial I will be making. I read it out loud and timed myself to three minutes, which I think is too long. Please let me know which parts I should skip. Thank you :)

Hi, my name’s Anouk and today I am going to show you how to make a fake cut marble block look like from the Carrara marble quarries in Tuscany, Italy. Fake rock is an imitation of real rock used in architectural modelmaking, theatrical scenery, film sets, decorative arts or even science projects. It is lightweight and therefore easy to transport. Now, there are many ways in which one could fake marble but this is the quickest technique. So – let’s get started!
The tools you need for making the fake marble block are: bluefoam, glue, a hammer, a chisel, a wirebrush, spraypaint, acrylic paint and paint brushes. The bluefoam is essentially a closed-cell extruded form of polystyrene that is commonly known by the trade name of “Styrofoam”. I use three blocks of 200 x 200 mm x 75 in order to create a perfect cube. Because glues, especially superglues, cannot adhere to foam, it will actually dissolve it. Therefore I use Uhu por , a special expanded polystyrene glue, for gluing the sides of my model together. I apply one layer of glue on the two sides which I then press, pull apart and press back together again. While waiting for the glue to work, I am getting the steel claw hammer. First, I hammer the 6 sides of the cube to take irregular form. I turn the tool around and use the claw to hammer indentations. Second, I place the chisel on the edge of the bluefoam block at a horizontal angle in order to carve out thin strips. These will later imitate the marks left on the freshly cut marble by the chain saw machines. This will take some time so I will fast forward…Once the carving is done, the block still looks quite amateurish. In order to refine the texture I use a wire brush to brush along the grain of the stone, here the direction of the cut. Make sure you vacuum away the small bits of blue foam which will fall off. Now the sculpting process is done and we can begin the fun part: painting! As with the glue, you should be careful about the choice of paint as it may melt the blue foam. I already spray painted my block with two layers of special spray paint from my local DIY shop outside. Please make sure that you read the instructions written on the back of the spray can, spray in the direction of the wind and don’t breathe in the toxic vapours. Back inside, you can use white and grey acrylic paint to fill in the indentations which the spray paint couldn’t cover. Personally, I like to add different grey tones into the indentations in order to improve the effect of depth of the carving. Once you are done, let the block dry at room temperature and you should soon be ready to use it for your own projects!
Ok – well, that’s how you make a fake unpolished marble block look like cut and imported from the Carrara quarries. It was a pleasure to share my tricks with you today so- thank you for your attention. My name is Anouk and if you like this tutorial, please don’t forget to subscribe.

youtube tutorial wip

youtube tutorial wip

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Totems: Positions & Formats

During the Unit trip to Berlin and Basel, I brought a red felt dot on which I stood whenever I needed to find position towards something, both physical or intellectual. As an active tool, I used masking tape in order to unformat certain objects or spaces. I looked for the notions of shape & gestalt, dimensions & scale, materiality and imagined (re-)placing, moving, composing, copying, fitting and cropping. I finally selected the following four photographs in David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum (Museum Island Berlin, 1997-2009) and Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial (Friedrichstadt, Berlin, 2004). Here I am finding position toward the contentless format of the plinth and I am challenging a reference by drawing the perimeter of an absent concrete slab. The images are now ready to find their place on the wall of totems!

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I am currently working on the realization of my storyboard and model tests. I drew a new sheet of questions which I will try to respond to in the project and will upload the full storyboard once I am at home. The first scene is  filmed and photographed and I hope to discuss the materials I used tomorrow. The little fake marble blocks are testing the textures of marble if cut in the quarry or polished for a plinth.



Here’s the scene which inspired me while chisling and painting the bluefoam:

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Animated Mnemosyne


Animation of the Mnemosyne Atlas, A, B, C + 79 panels

Animation of the Mnemosyne Atlas, A, B, C + 79 panels


Animated Palimpsest of the Mnemosyne Atlas

Animated Palimpsest of the Mnemosyne Atlas

I thought that these two gifs could sum up the madness of the Mnemosyne Atlas as a project which would have always remained stuck in progress. Enjoy!


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What I mean when I talk about format.

What I mean when I talk about format, from the point of view of architecture.

I wanted to sort out my thesis a little. After model making later today, I will also try to think about my presentation and book chapter titles before Friday’s Interim Jury.

In order to design the Format Factory, I need to distinguish between different types of format and the spatial norms they entail.

  1. S – Format:

The small format, an interface and/or device, which we can read messages on and communicate messages with. It is both the instrument of advice (a plane consulted to access knowledge) information (an arrangement or sequence of facts). Thus the role of format can be defined from the point of view of content as well as from the point of view of format.

In Format Factory, the aim is to analyse the latter before the former, format before content, in order to define their degrees of difference and avoid equation. The interface is designed in correlation with the device which provides the technical process by which a certain type of content can be displayed. Please note, that this instrument has not yet been emphasized on in my instruction manual for the production of format. In short, the production process and production machine have not yet been designed.

As a starting point, I chose to think about the book, electronically reformatted, and the billboard, its blown up complice. Since format can reformat, physical properties can be readjusted in scale and proportion, a physical format can contain an electronic format. The incorporation of the one in the other, lets us read through a layering of bound and wired up material and structure: paper and ink; screen and electronically charged particles (which would require a technical study of the working principles of electroluminescence).

In Format Factory, there is a glitch in the system of communication and blurrs the content on the screen. Format is thus physically stripped of content. Format is regarded as an auxiliary prop* which serves the formation of our identity by providing the space to mediate messages (*For now, I use the word prop due to the common use of format templates and standards.). Subformats may be arranged in spatial formats, where they are accompanied by mobile elements, such as pieces of furniture, to enter to social domain.

  1. M – Format

The attribution of subformats to a place, such as the location on a shelf inside the British Library, is defined by the overall arrangement and organisation of programs through so-called functional architectural elements within a building. Format accomplishes its task of providing people with a sense of orientation once the black canvas, the blank page, the green screen or the void has been arranged in a compositional and formal language which is mutually understood. However reasoning (in relation to flat formats) and performing (in relation to three-dimensional formats) are two different types of activities. Both actions entail different consequences and thus shift the meaning of format.

Although it is questionable whether the relation of things placed in space can be read as a regulatory device for social interaction due to format or content at all, one cannot deny the fact that space is rendered through delineation. One may say that our spaces are carefully delineated, by accident or by will, for us to find our position. The organisation of space may thus be compared to a physical manifestation of our identity, individual or collective. In case of union the material and immaterial boundaries are mutually respected, in case of disagreement they may be subverted. As an initial understanding, the arrangement and spacing is dependent on function and use but can equally be a mirror of identity in space. In a highly speculative and manipulative context, the space is formatted to accomodate function to information.

In Format Factory, internal arrangement is unformatted. There are no internal walls and no hierarchy of movable elements such as furniture or machines, which people can interact around. The internal walls which end up hiding the formats it immures shouldn’t conceil or compartmentalize a potential relation to a larger set of formats. The furniture or machines currently repeat all over the factory floor. The drifter can thus navigate or enter between the elements but will not be able to identify an ultimate position. Although he can see each single element, the experience of a sequence of different places is undone. Like a mirage, the distance is dissolving infront of him. This is an initial attempt to provide directionality within the unoriented larger format.

  1. L – The Building

Since format provides us with a set of dimensional norms, the dissolving of traditional architectural formats (currently worked out in the building’s plan) may be achieved by blowing up the proportions and scales in relation to the human body (enabled by the powers of ten). The buildings perimeter may be altered to challenge the internal subdivision of space. The elliptical perimeter can open up to allow or deny access, to protect from or exposing the interior to exterior conditions. Pushed to an extreme, the plan may be enlarged up to the point that the perimeter disappears on the paper surface. After countless efforts in trying to find the edge of the building, the drifer gets either exhausted or lost. His focus shifts from the floor plan to the ceiling plan, where format is experienced in its purest form: a grey London sky cut out of white paper surface.

The traditional figure/groud relationship becomes inverted into a figure/sky relationship. It is a short moment of rest in which format is liberated from both form and content and defines itself merely through shape rendered identifiable by color. There are no Saints and Angels painted to suggest a subordination to content, no figures rendered to convey a sense of depth. This is the point at which I find myself in the crater of a volcano clearly distinguishing between the works of the land artist James Turrell and the work of Nancy Holt, Richard Fleischner and Mary Miss.

  1. XL – Questions:

Over Christmas, I intend to rethink my initial arguments about the Atlas of Images and The History of the Image of the Future. To respond to the notion of the factory, I want to think about my product and production cycle as an object or service by relating to Amazon, Ebay and other service-orientated industries and the material and immaterial things which they store, market and distribute. To respond to the notion of identity, I will dive into the zone of publishing and self-publishing as an instrument of formatting ideas. If the factory worker of the 19th century identified with or against the object he produced, does the man of the future identify with the idea, alledgedly the product of the future?


Note: Please comment on my argument/question: The more I think about format the more I come to the conclusion that, although relating to past architecture and life, I cannot see the word “format” used before modernism. I come to the conclusion that the word may be an invention of the recent past. Do you think that format became part of the architectural vocabulary through an increased engagement with a process of digitization or have I just been ignorant?

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White Book_v1

Today I am setting up the structure for my White Book, which will include the Design Brief for the Factory of Formats (title still pending), the Instruction Manual for the production of format and the Code of Conduct for the people involved in the process of production and consumption. The paper format is currently set to A3 which can be cut to a square to potentially remove a sense of orientation. I want to pair up or replace the Table of Content with a “Table of Format”, which may play with Lists of Figures and Lists of Tables.

Anouk Ahlborn's White Book Structure, version 1, Term 1

Anouk Ahlborn’s White Book Structure, version 1, Term 1

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