Monday, August 23, 2010

Design of Design

"Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera, once said that his method of design was to start with a vision of what you want and then, one by one, remove the technical obstacles until you have it. I think that’s what Steve Jobs does. He starts with a vision rather than a list of features."

Fred Brooks

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Interstitial Mind

A revolution is only interesting in its becoming. The intermediary state of revolt, not the authority state nor the revolutionary government. An interstitial state between events. The negative space. The Void. The zone of not the city nor the suburb, but the street. That of wires that connect nodes, and that of mathematical equations that put two otherwise distinct variables in a relationship. Guerrilla artfare, with no plausible form or taste. The culinary art of preparing ‘water’. An entire movie on the flow of black oil.

That median space is where the DJ usually stands; in-between two decks, twisting reality on the turntable. A circlet or what Deleuze might call a “crystalline ” is formed, resonating the minute reactions of chemical influx onto amplifiers. Palpation of vibrations at a sub-atomic level. Once again it is the body that is the instrument of inscription. It is an infinite loop between an organic battery and the indomitable machine powered by electricity. Electricity that is traditionally produced by burning oil.

Image: Pixel3 Photography 2007

Ecosystem of Bodies

“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on__”1

1- F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power, s.636, Walter Kaufmann transl.
Image: Formation of intensity in Mamatus Clouds. Jorn C. Olsen 2004

Sunday, August 15, 2010


If the role of architecture is to create spaces of superior quality, that of motivation and refinement, then one is to ask why the most effectual conceptions in human culture were initiated in treacherous spaces.1 Many great thinkers flourished and died in deficient spaces. It is possible that uneasy conditions are essential to the path of human nobility. There is something about the 7½ floor and its improbable connection to the head of John Malkovich in the office building that extracted dramatic tension from its actors.2 Rem Koolhaas argues that human beings are species that easily form to their mold. “People can inhabit anything. And they can be miserable in anything and ecstatic in anything. More and more I think that architecture has nothing to do with it. Of course, that's both liberating and alarming.”3 My best work has been so often the result of tormented ulterior conditions. This conditioning might even be interior to the self. It is no secret that many great thinkers have died of terminal illnesses that followed them all along. Tormented conditions that were the result of their containing rather than their container. It was cancer that transfused Sohrab’s body –the late Iranian poet- onto paper in the form of poetry.4
Tormented spaces are often ambiguous. The magic of Koans and fortune cookies lie in their ambiguity. They are almost universal to any situation and everyone tailors them to their individual zeitgeist. Ambiguous spaces have the same effect, they are far from, yet optimally generic. They are specific by being vague and the feat lies in their complexity. You inhabit your ‘place’ not because of your situation (such as affordability and social status) but because you have ‘found’ them. “[Don Juan] pointed out that I was very tired sitting on the floor, and that the proper thing to do was to find a “spot” (sitto) on the floor where I could sit without fatigue…. [He] clearly emphasized that a spot meant a place where a man could feel naturally happy and strong. …[He] explained to me that not every place was good to sit or be on, and that within the confines of the porch there was one spot that was unique, a spot where I could be at my very best. 5

1. A continuum of such spaces are well presented in the ghostly crust of post-manufacturing buildings in the movie 8 Mile (2002, Universal Studios and Dreamworks LLC)
3. Katrina Heron, From Bauhaus to Koolhaas WIRED Issue 4.07 - Jul 1996 [When humans bearing the same physical anatomy dwell in such diverse forms of habitat, it is easy to nullify Corbusier’s universal definition of ‘man’.]