Tag Archives: thought

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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EDITED: Text Space


Been researching away the day, examining the Biennale (the current as well as those of the past). Got my hands on an AMO image and edited it to suit my counter-proposal.

Link to this day’s gibberish.

EDIT: Now that I think of it, my project could be a how-to-guide of launching a movement – what I do is to provide the *means* for the -ism, while it, itself, is empty. Fill in the gaps yourself. This way of looking at the project is useful because it ties together:

1) The purge of architects and architectural objects with the shadow Biennale; one must first confront the past (and debunk it) before one can fabricate one’s brave new world.

2) The earlier cliché-city; one must identify one’s enemies and catalogue them excessively, mapping the tracks of your enemy, so you know what *not* to do.

3) The house for a house; we move from one point in time to another, we move forwards, outwards, while still being unable to sever ourselves completely from our precedent. (Perhaps we can only hide him.)

What do you think?

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Stereotype Evolved

IMG_1161 copy

A collection of my poems post-jury (the last paragraphs being where I am, atm).

The identity of the cliché occurs when there are too many factors
of comparables converging into the same pattern, maybe even
the same responses. When Instagram vintagizes your photos
and you type a text in Helvetica, you instantly recognize the fatality
of ideas that are rehashed just because they were once successful.
The cliché leaves nothing for comparison, precisely because it leaves
everything as too identical – it lacks a will on its own. It becomes clear
that the game of identity is a crucial balance between what is known
and what is not, what we recognize and what we’re confronted with.
A successful piece of art is a “both”, it fits into a movement, as well
as occupying the edge of that movement, contributing to its fuzziness.

Instead of dealing with built cliché, stereotype-as-form, and diluted conventions
in the construction of our environment, we will deal with the cliché as a person
as a movement, as a social coterie, essentially merging the mainstream
with counterculture, seeing how we become caricatures and bitter satire
of ourselves, a man who doesn’t exist, a home for no-one and everyone
that fits the description, or rather, who is designated by the description
of others to fit within it. Every successful businessman has a suit
he is willing to wear, a tie and a white shirt. Prejudice sets in
when we confirm what we see; we don’t have to see more.
A house for Average Joe, and the many instances
of the man on the Clapham omnibus.

Every space has a clichéd personality, both figuratively and physically speaking
associated with it. Can the space escape its inhabitants, just as they can escape
the fear of being left behind by switching to the right kind of large-frame glasses?

The house of Venice horrors, all the clichés of the city reduced to a theme park
situated in the lagoon. How self-recursive isn’t that, the trite remark becoming
even triter in itself? Ultra-Venice, a city without the need for city-dwellers, or
an architecture show without the need for architecture – we have architects!
An counter-curation, a shadow-exposition. Koolhaas: Fundamentals will be
a biennale about architecture, not architects. Credentials, on the other hand
will be a one-off carnival about the insular world of architects, their hands
on the scalpel, their meetings in the overloaded, humid, unheated offices
where the unpaid-but-fortunate interns hack away on cardboard models
and Rhino rail sweepings. The project: a diametric mono-ennale
with its own puppet-director, its own prizes, its own Arsenale
its own memorabilia, its own legendary cocktail brawls.

Bringing the instant-Shoreditch to whatever small town you’re caught up in;
a taste of London to Birmingham, replacing the hooded drum ‘n’ bass kids
with a hair salon for trimmed beards, a micro-brewery for artisan beer.

The forbidden moves of architecture. All the platitudes, the obvious
the historicism, the gilded columns. Just like no-one wants to get caught
listening to electroclash ten years after its conception, your fixie bike
will transcend all notions of coolness, and you become a true cliché;
to love yourself and your belongings, because you were one with it
you didn’t take it because it was expected of you – you breathed it.
It was inevitable. Bad taste reigns supreme. The truisms and proverbs
are intrinsically naive, unaware. At least Patrick knows that his project
will take time; the only way to change things is to stick with them.
Colour was banished in the 50’s, so now you bring the noise back.
FAT was house-trained po-mo, so now, when it has been disbanded
comes the right time to bring in the dirt and throw it on the carpet.
The stench of the pile becomes unbearable; it cannot be ignored.

Cousins: you cannot define the lack of topos
if you don’t define the presence of the commonplace.
Thus, the discussion on whether object a or process x
is a cliché, that is, a lack of thought, or substitution thereof
for the sake of laziness, is defeated by the act of thinking
and determining alone; whether we arrive at the cliché
when we’ve proceeded through a formal discussion
is not really important; the staging (stating) of the cliché
is more important than its message; the outcome defeats
the imperative. When did the cliché become pejorative?
How did it become a banality?

Instead of wasting time searching for architectural clichés
which no one ever exposes without resorting to the mediocre
we look at the language used by architects, dissect it in terms
of meaning and then serve them their appropriate meal.

“Striking design.” The building has an obnoxious facade
is overly coloured or sculptural, or just simply too big for its site
effectively violating all attempts at reconciliation with the present.
We needed this “punch line” in order to please the politicians, the ones
with the binoculars, eager to be remembered for their great public works
(the East London ego-trip disease).

“Cultural nexus.” We attempt to bring together everything appropriate
(and occasionally inappropriate) under one roof, at one place, because
with the automobile, which everyone in Guatemala owns, we can easily drive
to the location, rather than being offered it by the ice-cream van of history.
Culture implies teatime, thus there is a gift shop, toilets for ladies and gents
and a café serving expensive cups of latte macchiato.

“An aura of tranquil stillness.” We didn’t know what to fill this room with
so we made it a room for standing still in (as a visitor) and admiring the finishing
of the polished concrete walls, which, of course, reflect the surrounding landscape.
One should be grateful to be able to enjoy this scenic view, of an architecture
that “almost erases itself” in order to reveal the hospitality of nature, as long
as we are protected by the roof and the radiators. The panorama is there
without anyone asking of its need. There’s nature, hence there is drama.
Here we are certainly “in harmony” with the existing, and with ourselves.

(quotes cut from dezeen project descriptions by the architects themselves.)

How does one design with the cliché, without becoming a cliché itself?
Should we at all be afraid of the cliché, will it harm us in any way?
One doesn’t represent it, one enters it. One accepts it. One takes it
as part of one’s own being, as the ultimate limit of language
the emptiness of the koan, the emptiness of the haiku.
The architectural cliché is the closest we can get
to real architecture.

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The world does not exist outside of consciousness.
The world is the limit, the horizon where impressions arise.
The “world” is a misleading word; it does not stand for the physical extent.
The world is one-dimensional;
The understanding of its depth is a product of consciousness.
The world is the canvas of the senses; where “something”,
regardless of its origin, is painted.
Consciousness is a consequence of experience.

We cannot know what goes beyond consciousness.
Consciousness is the limit of the understandable world.
Everything beyond this is guesses, patterns, from the consciousness’ point of view.
Patterns can be affected and controlled.
Through the reversal of thought, the dichotomies are erased.
The patterns become visible, the sure becomes unsure.
We return to the world, to the unnameable.
Here is everything, and nothing.

The world is beyond “time” and “space”.
Before they existed the world was both, and more, and individable.
With the construction of “time”, there follows the “now”, “then”, “if”, and “when.”
With the construction of “space”, there follows the “here”, “there”, “over” and “under.”
Or in another order; limits and hierarchy are the foundation of understanding.

The polarization of the world’s one-dimensionality (origo) gives depth to the world.
A thing that is focused is, in fact, translocated further away from “everything else.”
The dichotomy between object and subject is constructed.
It forces itself away from origo.
A state is made of dynamic balance, of unstable equilibrium.

Every conception of an object leads to a conception of I.
“Distance” is built out of a theoretically unlimited amount of in-betweens.
The length of an arm, the double-view of the two-eyed,
mathematical numbers, physical entities.

An event can only occur when “then” has been constructed.
In a system without “then”, memory is cited in the now.
It is dislocated in relation to something-else.
Memory becomes a dynamic, present object – always new, always different.
Memory = object, and can be separated and condensed over and over again.

Memory becomes physical, as physical as the traditionally physical things in themselves.
The memory of a fact is displaced in relation to a situation of non-fact.
Nothingness becomes an actual object, displaced in relation to something.
The world is the only thing that is in absolute balance with itself.

Origo is before time, before space, before subject and object.
It is sheer experience.

Systems which are constructed from origo can be more or less corresponding with origo itself.
I’m not saying that the world I experience is ruled by logical patterns, I say
that logical patterns have a tendency to work together with the world
without contradicting each other.

What is the pattern?
The pattern is a tool of consciousness, used to predict the future.
Pattern reading takes place both in and beyond consciousness.
“Consciousness” itself is a pattern.

The pattern is directed by repetition.
By observation, we register signs which we relate to a pattern that dictates our response.
If the pattern is not recognized, the experience becomes a new pattern.
With every reading there is an exchange between accustomedness and experience.
The pattern is refined.

Patterns are used to make sense of the world, because they have proved their correlation.
The pattern translates the world into a language understandable to the consciousness.
The most reliable language.

We build our world according to patterns, all our culture is based on patterns.
The now is the prediction of the future by the consciousness.
versus the reality that we really experience.
The prediction is weighted against the observed.
The pattern is economical – it makes what’s complicated simple.
Patterns are always directed towards simplifying the world.
Because our ability of thought is limited.

The pattern does not want to describe the world.
The pattern describes our (so far) chosen way of describing the world.
The pattern is the description itself.
As long as we think the way we think, patterns will be central to all human cultures.

The pattern creates expectations.
If the pattern is broken we may become frustrated and confused.
We reconstruct the pattern, or invent a new one.
The pattern mends itself.

The pattern is a way from thought to form, from the weightless to the massive.
A guide, a scheme, a plan, a method.
The pattern is merged meaning.
It is a synthesis, a incorporation.
The pattern assimilates, interacts, catalysts.
It attacks matter, forces it into form, into symbol.
The pattern is archetype, the pattern is the map.
When the pattern is understood, the form can be understood.

The pattern is the key to the form.
Through the pattern, form is related to form, detail to the whole,
the material to the immaterial, the artificial to the natural, the living to the dead.

For every pattern there is a role.
The pattern as a creator and critic.
The pattern as participator and observer.
The role is the pattern of the self.
The self is the pattern of the world.

Truth is the play between pattern and object.
Patterns approach and withdraw from the objects and vice versa.
When pattern and object coincide there is truth in the equation.

Patterns and objects are in a perpetual state of change.
The more stable the system, the more isolated it is.
The stable thought is unconscious, the stable object is a cold universe.
Life is contamination; objects and patterns remain unstable.
Absolute truth is death.

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