Drawing a Conclusion

The Critique Broadsheet

Volume 7, Issue 05
February 8, 2022

I enjoyed chasing the texts across their quadrants and fiefdoms. And the formal perversity of that wiggly bounding text (for captions and On the Ground) might be genius. The AI-generated wobble, the bumpy line, and the machinic meander are important figures to which you draw our attention, harking back to the Donkey’s path so decried by Le Corbusier.

Draw me a drawing
Creatures. Kashino’s darling little creature seems quite pleased after his poo, but as to the contraption at the end (the punchline?), I’m drawing a blank. Duan invites us to start filling in the blanks with dotted figures and multiple starting points. Rusinaru confines a lyrical drawing with a frame. But imagine the roots and branches continuing, with thready funghi extending into a terrestrial tangle of roots and fibers. Zhangoffers a sly transformation of dragon spines into shingles: a transmogrification of the wall section and pokes at human hierarchy- imaginative child, self absorbed teen,and practical adult for whom the wall section is devoid of lively creatures. Yiu’s beautiful dragon lacks a mouth, as if indicating the impossibility of survival for most creatures, for whom no uncharted land remains.

Structures. Cheung’s relatively self-similar tapering lines do not describe the varied logics and textures of rivers and clouds: puffy cumulus and wispy cirrus, or the deep cut of headwaters becoming the meander of coalescing rivers. Instead, it takes on the absence of consciousness we might find in Arp’s automatic drawings. Did you mean automatic rather than autonomous? Avanoglu’s Days Trip marshals rather obscure language to describe a foundational archeological site in Kırklareli, with artifacts from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods . Here an architecture without verticals would seem to erase time, which we read in the geological strata, so I’m not sure you can explore a “spatio-temporal knowledge” without the vertical dimension actually. Wong’s AI plan mashups are not buildings; they are stubborn images that could prompt new thoughts about buildings: the title, “Wobbly Poche”, is as productive as its wavering figure.

Drawing a Crowd.
Actants. Golini suggests that this new Domovoy could “prompt [ing] sustainable ritualistic behavior;” rituals seem to channel forces of excess (as per Bataille’s Accursed Share) rather than the parsimony of sustainability.Then again, this new Tamagotchi risks becoming yet another consumer plastic item to landfill. When I tried to picture the puppet (because Karademir drew desserts rather than puppets), I recalled Bruno Latour’s sardonic article “Where are the Missing Masses?” Through the device of a door opener, Latour conjures ghosts (society and technology) and locates the missing masses: “It is that society itself is to be rethought from top to bottom once we add to it the facts and the artifacts that make up large sections of our social ties (254).”

Greens. Bintang links a color prohibition to a local shamanic power structure to the politics of coastline access: yes. Follow up with May Joseph’s excellent book Sea Log, documenting colonial incursions into the Indian Ocean; postcolonial incursions now might include invasive (green) algae. Torn’s offers a pastoral vision of the city unbuilt by some mysterious green force (Krypton?biofuel?) but avoids the logistics: Who does the maintenance and custodial work to get the city through even the single day you describe? Who is mounding the dirt? Where are all the missing managers?

Ghosts. Smiljkovic alludes to politically divisive borders and I agree that the uncanniness of the wobbly text across the pillow finds an unsettling reflection in the bedsheet wrinkles. Xinyu Chen, The Phantom of the Free Plan. I loved these wonderful little ghosts hanging out in the Barcelona Pavilion, freed from Mies’s lapidary gravity and embodying new perspectives for this august precedent.

Draw Me A Line in the Sand.
That expression means to draw a boundary that someone refuses to cross or beyond which no compromise is accepted. Where are some of these boundaries for the contributors to this issue?

Datascapes. The World Turned Inside Out features richly inscribed panels, reiterating that there are few earthly surfaces that are not etched by human activity and extraction; “unclaiming” land might intersect with climate events in which human inhabitation is suddenly washed or burned away. The “wisdom of uncertainty” is captured in these tentative lines, so many as to blur any distinctive boundary. Ghindea’s smart drawing registers the blur of water’s edges over time in landscape. This fuzzy boundary speaks to the temporal dimension of inevitably rising waters. This is productive for architectural representation; in painting, Cezanne had already long ago introduced this blurry line with which the objects of the world withdraw. We seem to rediscover this painterly invention in our datascapes.

Trench. “On the Ground” is a wriggly narrative worth tracing. “ Second year students discover that, per their questioning last year of Core I’s “Appropriated Plan” assignment, the exercise is now called “Reframed Plan”- but still asks students to guilelessly appropriate at will and without thought. Dismay is almost outweighed by admiration of the Core 1 faculty’s shameless rhetorical wiggling.” I have never seen an architectural assignment specifying “without thought.” Is that a surrealist automatic approach? That is so hard to do well. Luckily there are AI discriminators for that as Timothy Wong mentioned. Machine surrealism = anthropocene realism?

Territory. This is a great assignment with so many snares for prior generations of architects. Just because they give you plans without context doesn’t mean the context isn’t there… think of Wittkower strategically excising the stalls, dovecots, and vernacular structures from his Palladian villas diagram. How about introducing the frames of, oh I don’t know, racism in architecture? Unethically sourced materials in architecture? Gender stereotypes in programming? Gentrification and species extinction? And what’s the colonialist history of the land under any (every?) one of these Core I precedents? Read Zakiyyah Iman Jackson’s Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World to see what is at stake in dismantling prior structures of Eurocentric humanism.

Habitat. “11/17. Would-be non-human luxury home designers (i.e. the animal housers) took a scan through the forest this week. New ways of viewing and describing life that surrounds us but unfortunately the presentation offered no new ways of channeling pre-break work ethic.” The new ways of describing life around us bring technology up close, throwing a point cloud across every surface. Vathupola’s Constellations embroider this idea with floral and fauna emerging and receding in fields of dots. There is something important about registering the teeming textures of life. Given my firm Harrison Atelier’s work, I’d prefer to identify, not as an animal houser but as a habitat builder in full appreciation for what landscape architects, geologists, geographers and oceanographers among others tell us about the spaces we humans have so thoroughly colonized. Worry less about channeling a work ethic and more about an ethical regard for other species.

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Volume 7, Issue 05
February 8, 2022

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