Form_axioms (Architectural Research Path) ARP: “Models and Fictions”
The research path has been set beginning of 2019, established within Singapore University of Technology and Design and develop specifically for Core Studio II, “The Digital Archive”. Federico Ruberto developed a lecture series “Models, Interfaces and the Aesthetics of the New Virtual” that formed the basis of the research path, becoming an active focus of form_axioms lab and an active part of SUTD curriculum.
“Models and Fictions: the Archi-tectonic of Virtual Reality” offers by way of media theory and digital humanities, and introduction to designers to how architecture is sublimating into new forms, requiring alternative aesthetics and processes of narration. The lecture series was designed with a hardwired philosophical core to expose “the virtual and the real” as a relation that requires critical “fictioning” and “modelling”. Three lectures (in two parts each) were so shaped into a series, which was meant as introduction for blending analog and digital domains, for creating speculative narratives bearing “queer” aesthetics and alternative ethics, and so forming pathways towards alternative modes of design and creative narration. Three twofold parts were so developed:
—1-2: “Ontology and Design: Models towards Virtual | Reality”. The lecture touches upon the recent development of augmented reality and virtual reality, it exposes the students to main philosophical figures in order to have them wondering about the question: what is “real”? What constitutes reality —given that we live a contemporaneity modelled by generative algorithms, given how epistemology will be more and more affected by machine learning models? What is to design experiences and spaces in such contemporaneity in which the subject (the subject of design and the subject that designs) is lead towards “its” complete digitalization?
—3-4: “Conceptual Models of Space | Time”. The lecture’s message: we do not utilizes technology to represent our design, but any technology predefines the model (epistemological, aesthetic, ontological) in which we design. It exposes the student to this message by marching through the history abstraction and representation, showing the transmutation how our conceptualization of space (in art and architecture), synchronously showing the development of devices of abstraction and (the development) of mathematics. The lecture touches the main historical thresholds at which thought transformed its form of modellization, how vision and the vision of space transformed accordingly. It starts from Greeks diagrams and architectural compositions to end with architectural experimentations belonging to the “digital” paradigm.
—5-6: “Fiction-Narration-Space: the Ethics and Aesthetics of Virtual | Reality”. This lecture focuses on the relationship between “fiction and reality”, it exposes how such dichotomy is developed in the work of Jaques Rancière. It attempts at showing also the relationship between architecture and fiction. After illustrating the recent work of Liam Young, it introduces the students to the complex knot between literature and space (Ballard, Sterling, Borges, Kafka, Blanchot, Bernhard, Calvino, Poe, Vonnegut). It also shows a diverse range of experiments that play between architecture and the space of narration (that of virtual reality and of game engines), hinting at possible ways of re-learning architecture by analyzing literature and cinema (showing how cinema was remade by the work of Stan Brackage, Michael Snow, Chris Marker and by the recent experimental work “DAU”). The lecture reaches a final apex in which it exposes the student to the question: what of narration and of spatial composition in the age of virtual-augmented reality? By commenting the work of Mackenzie Wark “Gamer Theory”, that of Alex Galloway “Gaming” and by showing the last videos of Harun Faroki (on game/models) they end by asking: what form of experiences shall we design without making design succumb to the forces of the market and the relentless process of commodification?
The lecture series became the material for the paper “Models and Fictions: the Archi-tectonic of Virtual Reality” that has been selected for publication (forthcoming) by, and for presentation (14-11-2019) at, the 2019 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, section “Artificial Realities: Virtual as an Aesthetic Medium for Architectural Ideation” (http://istar.iscte-iul.pt/artificialrealities/)