21 November 2012

Memento Vita

The massive digital spectacle is offering us a magic circle than we can escape to that can and will give us more meaningful experiences than the real world. The internet has made the world smaller and denser. The human mind cannot grasp the vastness of the network so we group individuals into communities. In the small online community, we can find our place in the collective, share our view of utopia and help contribute to its virtual creation. Here we can find meaning and create a collective greater than the sum of its parts.

Litany Against Being Transported Into An Alternate Universe

If I'm going to be happy anywhere
Or achieve greatness anywhere
Or learn true secrets anywhere
Or save the world anywhere
Or feel strongly anywhere
Or help people anywhere
I may as well do it in reality.

In the words of Jane McGonigal, games aren't a waste of time. Instead, they are an opportunity to improve the real world. Rather than a "memento mori" or "carpe diem", games and the spaces in which we play these games can be our memento vita.

16 November 2012

Nearing a Brick Wall

This week has so far been the most difficult in this project's history. There is something about being told to link my project even further to the Olympics that has just drained my creative juices. What do you do when you reach that point yet you still have to produce a heavy amount of work?

At the intercrit my tutor suggested going through the route of e-sports and graphene then using that simple, centered concept as an answer to the wider philosophical questions. Probably the best piece of advice I've been given while seriously stuck on a project: make it simpler.

In the meantime, I went to a series of talks at Digibury in which Andrew Jackson explained the act of making. He mentioned the concept of Flow which I had come across when reading Rules of Play. It sparked an interesting discussion between other visitors and myself  in which we discussed the magic circle, our states of flow, flow in video games and the dangers of escapism. Even after the event, it sparked a  conversation in response to Sam Lowe's project where I mentioned that I don't believe there are experiences for experiences sake but experiences to attempt to reach a state of flow. There was one mode of phrasing coming from Jackson that essentially helped me break through the brick wall. He described the sensation of flow as "becoming your environment".

So here it is, the visual statement, simple and concise. Now I can tackle this project with momentum again.


9 November 2012

UK Internet Usage: An Infographic

Quick compilation of data on the UKs internet usage as a way of showing cyberasation is happening.

6 November 2012

Portrait of an Architect

"Modern man fails to realize he is the inheritor of the great march of technology, an exponential progression which, at this fragile point in history, soon become too rapid to predict."

This is the lone architect, wondering the world, looking down at cities that they can no longer master-plan as society has grown too complex. It has grown old and weary, bound by the tradition when it should have adapted to the new. As an architect, it is my obligation to think of the future and with it the rapid increase in technology. We must be philosophers at the same time as we are scientists and constantly ask ourselves: Where is this world moving towards?

This is a collage created by me, inspired by the Futurology Subreddit which I eagerly follow. The original images are Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer by Caspar David Friedrich and Mass Effect 2 Citadel by BioWare.


2 November 2012

Various Modes of Working

Location: Home
Material: Projector rented from the university.
Utility: Graphics, layouting and watching sci-fi films.
Concentration: High (4 hours)
Quality of work: Above Average

Location: Home
Material: Personal laptop, sketchbook and pens.
Utility: Brainstorming and developing concepts.
Concentration: Mediocre (1-2 hours)
Quality of work: Regular

Location: Studio
Material: Model-making materials and conversational possibilities.
Utility: Developing concepts, conversing about ideas, organising events.
Concentration: Mediocre (1-2 hours)
Quality of work: Regular

Location: Studio
Material: Sketching materials and conversational possibilities.
Utility: Developing concepts, conversing about ideas, organising events.
Concentration: High (4 hours)
Quality of work: Above average

Location: Computer Lab
Material: Large computers and conversational possibilities.
Utility: Developing concepts, layouting, graphics, conversing about ideas, everything!
Concentration: Very high (6-8 hours)
Quality of work: Above average

1 November 2012

The Olympics are a Simulation

We've been asked by our head of year to relate our proposals for the Barbican to the London 2012 Olympics. Not being either from the UK or interested in sports (unless it has the word "electronic" in front of it), this new add on stood out to me like a florescent pink post it note on a monochrome helvetica brief. How are the London Olympics relevant to the Barbican, aside from the fact that they are both in London? After an inspiring debate on this issue with the head of year I accepted that this pink post it note was not going to go away and I would have to find a way to work around it. In fact, it might be a way to make my project stronger.

In my last tutorial with Alex and his colleague David, I was criticized for not being convincing enough that a society connected to a simulated utopia was a possible future. I realised that talking to them about gamer lifestyles, internet communities and online worlds was still very alien to pure architects. This is where the Olympics come in. In the words of our head of year: they are a phenomena that everyone has experienced. Question being, how did the majority of people experience it? Standing in the stadium or sitting in front of a screen? Is this image of the Olympics, streamed "live" on your laptop screen from some online website or on your tv screen from a sports channel, not a simulation? And is the experience of watching these not a small, virtual piece of utopia?

I do not wish to make the architecture respond to the re-experiencing of the Olympic games. That would be dooming the project to a very short life span and it would limit it from reaching the richer philosophical questions that make it a more interesting project. Rather the Olympics serve as an anchor for pulling the project back into the real. It helps demonstrate the importance of the screen in our experience of the world; the dominance of connectivity to a network that may or may not be a simulation; those feelings of loss and constriction that occur after you step out from an 8 hour online game or the Olympic show ends.