ARC 404-001 SEM

ARC 404-001 SEM– Design in Theory: Common Errors

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Course Details

Course No.: 23886

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2013 Spring

Location: Crosby – 115

Meeting Day(s):

Meeting Time:

Faculty: Kelley

Faculty: Kelley

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(1) Identify common errors in visual communication related to how we view geometry and type.
(2) Catalog errors into formal genres (i.e. symmetry, proportion, composition, etc.) using three-dimensional digital and physical modeling techniques.

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‘Th ere are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.’
-Aldous Huxley
Being wrong is not measured by the weight of its severity but rather by its distance from being right. It does not cut it to simply claim that something is wrong unless one first comprehends what is right. Th e history of right vs. wrong in architecture falls within a long line of other reductive dichotomies of equals and opposites; usually striking a balance between a positive and a negative, i.e. good vs. evil, white vs. black (or gray), individual vs. collective, public vs. private, repetition vs. composition, etc. Regardless of whether or not the condition in question be political, moral, or logical even, being wrong is by and large a pessimistic and potentially embarrassing undertaking. Th e distinction, however, between right and wrong is different than your standard pairing. It is too fine, too liminal, and its domain of value too shaky; stray too far in one direction or the other and you are as likely to be arrested as you are celebrated. Design is no different. It is an all or nothing, zero-sum style of game. It too has its wrongs and rights, its common tropes (difference = interesting! right!), and its errors to avoid (sameness = boring! wrong!). What we typically perceive as being wrong with design hinges on perceived imprecision or a lack of command over formal logic, material tolerances, construction techniques, and space planning, to name but a few. What if, though, for just a moment, you were able to flip wrong and right? What is the payoff when the wrong is perceived at the same level of precision to that of being right? Like a Jazz player who rehearses improvisation or a sober stage actor practicing lines for a drunken scene, wrongness in design too can be measured and operated on with surgical precision and specificity.

In order to grasp the wrong, however, one must first get the right. Th e seminar aims to mine error, or form-mistake-making, through perception and play with our fickle ability to distinguish between right and wrong formal mechanisms. Using a variety of two and three-dimensional modeling techniques, students will be asked to analyze the limitations, i.e. errors, within a given category (i.e. symmetry, proportion, composition). Research and documentation will consist of designing viewing apparatuses from which to observe and critique form. Th e research will provide students with the tools from which to dismantle and reverse what was once deemed right to exact a novel wrong simply through perception.

*NOTE: Th e spring seminar is part two of a three-part act. Th e first act was held in the fall semester and researched visual communication and optical phenomena through a series of two-dimensional exercises. The spring seminar marks a transition into 3-dimensions with Act II; after which a publication of each semester’s work is to be assembled into a single catalog. Th e third and final act will consist of a performance by the instructor as part of his exhibition work as the 2012-2013 Reyner Banham Fellow. Students who enrolled in Act I (fall) are encouraged to enroll in Act II (spring). Enrollment in either of the two seminars does not require commitment to one or the other as a prerequisite.