I haven’t been on Architizer yet, because it seems like every other week a new social networking site pops up and promises to revolutionize how we connect to each other (remember Friendster and MySpace?), even though in my opinion even the 500 pound gorilla of social sites (Facebook) seems to have changed nothing except for how I kill 10 minutes every day. Somebody has got to have a better idea for something to do with the technology we now have to connect each other. But there’s a great article by Alissa Walker of Fast Company here about architect websites. For the most part, I agree with her. Although I designed my websites (this one and this one) over two years ago and haven’t had the time to go back, when I think of how I would change them, I would strip things away as opposed to add them. I’m certainly not about to add one of those schlocky Flash based websites.
Archive for the ‘web design’ Category
As far as using digital media as an inquiry into space and experience, I think this video by Bartlett M.Arch candidate Keiichi Matsuda is right on the money. Many of you have probably heard of “augmented reality,” a name given to the convergence of wireless media and location-based technologies. In a way, this video reminds me of the work of Thomas Demand (see below), whose photographs of paper constructed environments speak to the uncanny connection between our constructed, physical worlds and the parallel world created by our visual technologies. More information on Matsuda can be found here. What do you think of the difference between this video and the one by SO-IL in the post before this one?
Clouds have always held a certain fascination for architects. This may be understandably unremarkable, because I believe clouds hold a certain fascination for everybody. How many hours were spent as a youth staring at clouds, lying in the grass in a field, through the window of a car on a long drive, or simply through the bedroom windows on a lazy sunday? Diller & Scofidio created their Blur Building (see above) as a deliberate and stunningly literal interpretation of “cloud architecture,” and Wolf Prix’s firm’s name Coop Himmelb(l)au translates to “Blue Cloud Cooperative” in his native Austrian (he also designs slightly less literal physical approximations of clouds–see below).
But cloud architecture has a slightly different meaning today, and this is what I want to draw attention to here. In Tom Vanderbilt’s article in the New York Times Magazine, titled “Datatecture,” he delves into the world of data centers that are silently and conspicuously popping up throughout the country (including many near Portland, OR, from where I’m posting today). Data centers such as these are “like Fight Club; the first rule of data centers is: Don’t talk about data centers.” Accompanying this article are some beautiful photographs by Simon Norfolk (see below). This is what cloud architecture looks like today. Very white, but not as fluffy.
The article begins with an anectdote about the online community of people playing a particular Xbox game (over 60,000 at his precise instant, a number which is equivalent to the size of a small suburb community), and a moment spent wondering about where exactly these people were. In no less reducible terms, they exist in these data centers–these warehouses of servers that worldwide consume more energy than the entire country of Sweden. This “cloud,” which represents nothing less than the future of information, media, and technology, uses 1-2% of all the energy produced in the world and has doubled in the past five years, according to the article.
In a way, what this points towards is a slightly changing idea of materiality (dare I say metaphysicality?). That was what was so brilliant about Diller & Scofidio’s Blur Building (top), which was as direct and confrontational a challenge to architecture as we’ve previously defined it, even though many contemporary practitioners, including by Rem Koolhaas or Lebbeus Woods have attempted to do so in other, various ways. The blunt numbers, facts and statistics about data centers are surprising only in that they begin to illuminate a changing realm of media (the internet) that is beginning to have very physical, material impacts upon our environment. At this point, I can’t help but bring up Keller Easterling, whose writings tangentially approach these non-national, extra-infrastructural, “ecology of interrelationships and linkages.” In many ways, these ideas are in pointed contrast to the awarding of this year’s Pritzker Prize to Peter Zumthor, who works with a very different idea of materiality. Are those ideas mutually exclusive?
Well, I managed to post all of my film notes from my first semester running the Yale Architecture Film Society (only four more semesters to go!). I’m sorry that I’m (and will be) posting out-dated stuff for a little while longer, but I hope to intersperse these old film notes with some new comments on media/architecture/design as well.
There are some other things I’d like to change, as well, but don’t really know how to go about doing quite yet. First of all is the look of this blog. I’m using the WordPress.com theme called “White as Milk,” which is nice because of its simplicity and legibility, but there are so many things I would change about it (if I knew how).
It sort of goes along with a discussion I’ve been having about a friend recently about web page design: my favorite web pages are starkly minimal–the webpage for the graphic design firm 2×4, Hedi Slimane’s photographic diary, or the old webpages for Helmut Lang and Jil Sander (they’ve since changed, are now less minimal, and they’re now Flash based). In fact, I have a hard time thinking of websites that are more beautiful than the ones designed by Hedi Slimane. However, it seems the most popular blogs are intentionally cluttered and chaotic, for example, the websites for the most popular blogs, like Gizmodo, Gawker, and New York Magazine. I don’t know why this is the case. Why do people seem to prefer visual clutter on the internet?