The Last Semester Issue
Welcome 2018! It’s not just a new year, it’s the second installment of Knot. To kick off the new semester, we asked a handful of students involved in extracurriculars around the college to report on their experiences. To start, here are some of our own reflections.
We, the editors, had a blast last semester participating in the ASRG and publishing the first eight issues. Because we are in the age of the digital, we were most surprised by the difference in popularity between the paper issues and the website (1 website hit for every 4 paper copies picked up) and how incredibly long it takes to hang grids of paper: 30 (wo)man hours for the exhibition. We were excited by every submission we received, and it hurt less every time we saw an issue in the trash (please recycle). We want to thank every contributor and reader of Knot, and are excited to hear from you again this semester!
Amy Kurtycz - Pork Soda
Being a part of Cloud/Bank,1 the Exhibit Columbus pavilion, has been an enjoyable experience, as our team worked mirroring the playful spirit of the installation. I designed the benches starting in June with a collage and a Pinterest full of pigs and Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet costumes. Suddenly it was August, and we were milling hams, bending spines, and welding ribs.
The four-day installation in Indiana was intense but my favorite part. Few bumps along the way of course… The truck beeped loudly and incessantly on the drive down… Working by headlight and cellphone, we wished we had thought of lights… We were almost crushed by our project… Forgot to account for the material thickness of paint… And the last piece of cloud, which did not fit quite right, just got cut off.
Exhibit Columbus poised an important opportunity to celebrate the design, fabrication, and architectural education of the Midwest by inviting students to participate alongside the designers of the Miller Prize. Cloud/Bank used this opportunity to give a nod to Michigan’s industrial history and exemplified design fabrication prevalent in our college but potentially underrepresented.
Ibiayi Briggs - UPFRONT and Center in Detroit
As the new Director of Michigan Architecture Prep (ArcPrep), Assistant Professor of Architecture Anya Sirota is experimenting with new initiatives and partnerships to expand the program. One of those is FRONT2: part gallery, part gathering space, part classroom. FRONT occupies a section of the Michigan Research Studio in midtown Detroit, where Detroit high-school students are introduced to architecture in semester-long courses taught by Michigan Mellon Fellows Suzanne Lettieri and Julie Pedtke. I have the pleasure of working with Anya, Suzanne, and Julie as the Gallery Coordinator which covers a mix of curatorial and administrative roles. Through exhibits, workshops, and conversations, FRONT hosts encounters between architectural hopefuls, emerging designers, and established architects with the goal of bringing together people at all stages of their research and practice, asking direct questions about the discipline and its capacities to instigate change.
So far the gallery has hosted two shows: Public Storage featuring work from Lecturers Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann, and Seeing Double by Lecturer Cyrus Peñarroyo. As a part of their exhibition each designer teaches a workshop for the ArcPrep students, using their work as a teaching tool for the aspiring high school designers.
In addition to the exhibitions and workshops, FRONT is also the site of UPFRONT, a conversation series probing the motivations, causalities, aspirations, blunders, and conceits behind what architects do. By pairing professors with a student interviewer, UPFRONT aims to loosen up the sometimes stuffy format of academic conversations. Think The Real World confessional booth meets Inside The Actors Studio.
Sam Zou & Naree Byun - Architectural Elements
Here is our ASRG story:
We began our research in the summer. It was a rough beginning because we only had a very vague image of what we wanted to do. Our initial title was “Breaking the Stereotype,” and this was pretty much the only thing that we were sure of.
In order to break the stereotypes of architectural elements, we invented a lot of weird creatures. We firstly tried to add functions to the elements, such as: making doors that work as stairs, making a column out of steps, and making walls that become a column. Although it was interesting to see the results, they all failed!
It was already August after the first approach. And when school started, we moved on to the transformation phase. During this period, doors were transformed into stairs, stairs were transformed into columns, and columns were transformed into walls. We ended up with some mutant babies of different combinations of these elements, which apparently also didn’t work! We then finally realized “shoot, we probably need some help from our instructors.” (Tip: always talk to them before you start)
The conversations with instructors definitely made us more confused, because they asked us tons of questions that we didn’t have answers to. Also, they made us seriously question ourselves about what exactly we wanted to do and why we wanted to do it. That’s when we began to look into some relevant case studies and reading materials that lead us to our final products. The project could be seen as comprised of a series of products between the customized and the standardized. We tried to give more context to default elements hoping it would create some interesting moments in our daily life. It felt like a Rhino exploration tour because we used lots of new commands to make formal operations. Having created all our digital models using Rhino, we developed a strategy to keep our final products consistent. We used the laser cutter to score all the drawings on acrylic and 3D printed all the models. We thought this would be a good idea because we didn’t need to print anything. However, it turned out to be such a pain after we spent 10 hours in the basement just to peel all the acrylic pieces.
The ASRG was definitely a fun experience and we really learned a lot. But we really wished our school can give out more money so we could make more models.
Julie Choe - What is Drawing?
Do we see reality as it is? Does architectural painting, especially a perspective drawing, depict a reality as it is? As we all have been educated through several art and architecture history courses, we learned that perspective drawings have been invented to make use of a particular number of vantage points. The vantage point is created to let the viewers imagine where they stand in relation to the frame and hierarchy of the drawing elements.
However, the conventional relationship between viewer and canvas requires observers to occupy an ideal viewpoint and imagine themselves into the scene. That is, the author frames the view and the audience perceives the given information by standing right in front of it. As long as the drawing is drawn on a flat surface, spatial depth created by vanishing points would still be flat.
To raise the possibility of a three dimensionality in a drawing, we begin to imagine what we could see by giving another glimpse to the same scene but from a different position. Would this be possible if the drawing is not flat and physically or digitally three-dimensional? Could an illusionistic representation with a forced perspective open the possibility to see multiple facets of a scene and generate a new awareness of the limits of vision? The ASRG project, Flat Diorama has been represented with its first solution, ‘Illusion,’ but as I continue to develop this further, I imagine the final purpose of this research would be to seek a way to reinvent the method of representation which we architects typically produce for readers and more specifically clients.
Here, I’d like to open the possibility to rethink what a ‘Drawing’ is: what kind of limits do we face when we begin to choose the representation method of the drawing? I’d like to end with the compelling words of Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist at the University of California: It feels like we’re just taking a snapshot of this room the way it is, but in fact, we’re constructing everything that we see. We don’t construct the whole world at once. We construct what we need in the moment.