Invited Distinguished Professor:
Gabriel Esquivel, Studio Professor
Stephen Caffey, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture History and Theory Texas A&M University
Team: Braden Scott, Ben Schoenekase, Lydia Pifer, Logan Whitley
.obj is a post-digital architectural project that deals with the creation of form through the direct editing of code.
Throughout the semester, we have had the opportunity to discuss with Adam Fure and study how form and space can be created in unconventional ways though the manipulation of objects. While discussing a previous project with Adam, he made a comment that was the initial spark in a chain reaction of ideas that would lead to what you see before us. "Architectural precedents no longer serve as purely referential, but rather they serve as a database that present day designers can pull from." Architects often looks towards successful precedents to begin their design. But, due to the rise of computational architecture, we can now pull parts from several different designs, and assemble them to create a new whole. The database idea really intrigued us and when we sat down as a team, the idea finally hit us. We took an .obj file and, instead of opening it in Maya or Rhino, we opened it in a simple text editor. What we found was a massive database of numbers which relate to 4 things, vertex texture information, vertex normal information and, what would turn out to be most important to our process, vertex coordinates and face data.
This data was never meant to be seen by us, the designers. As it stands by itself, it is meaningless, but once paired with any major modeling software, the computer can translate it into a legible form. We now had the power to manipulate form, without ever looking at it.
We were super excited to discover this, and we were ready to begin designing blind. To really be able to gain an understanding of the process, we wanted to start with the most basic architectural precedents, primitive geometry.
Because this newly discovered process is so expansive, we decided to limit ourselves in initial manipulation. We took vertex coordinates from primitive geometries such as the pyramid and crossed them over with another such as the prism. What was created was a very interesting form that happened to be very architectural. We did this with every primitive to create a second generation of post digital objects. We then crossed those to create a third, and those to create and fourth and finally one more time to create a fifth. Through this ancestral process, 256 objects were created, each with a very unique form. In this box you will find a select few that relate to our larger prints. As you explore them you'll find some simple objects and some with seemingly microscopic details.
The inclusion of software as an architectural medium has permeated our profession as a constant; therein, the understanding of the software as a whole and how the computer interprets this data as a field of simply integers is vital to the new, post-digital architect. Computer modeling software like Rhino and Maya, are rooted in their initial platform of the least complex form, or the polygon primitive. By restoring the geometry to its most primordial state prior to manipulation, the vertex coordinates, face data, and functional normals can be edited to yield variable results.
Our process and series of manipulations denies the inclusion of preference and personality by withdrawing human choice. By combining and recombining object in a simple text editor, we as designers are blind to the outcome until it is translated by a software. A degree of control and authorship is relinquished as conventional considerations such as form, posture, and general aesthetics are disregarded, and the final formal manifestation of combined object code is assembled by a completely autonomous and non-subjective logic.
In endeavoring to explore these objects and investigate their primary qualities, it was first critical to understand our work in the context and scope of Meillassounian ancestrality. We view our objects as existing solely of primary qualities, displaced from human and subject oriented understanding. Our approach was to break open and digitally gut each new form. To scoop out the primary qualities, the raw data viscera, a substrate which can be extracted, converted, and averaged to produce a myriad of digitally born means of representation all of which are in fact still the object (where in the code remains the same), simply manifested and translated though different file types. All data can be reduced to binary; though this translation the object’s specific code based binary image, averaged hex code color, and even .wav files derived from raw data can be produced. Not only does this challenge the depth of what can be considered substance and the Esienmenian “essence” of architectural objects but more importantly it defines a post digital autopoietic system, by which objects can produce infinite manifestations of themselves translated across file types.
Although our objects are completely defined by primary and essentially derived qualities, and there is no subjective relation, we don’t consider these objects as operating as ancestral; our autopoietic process can only exist after the advent of computation. Rather, we have defined our objects as Supracestral, objects which have persisted beyond humanity and subjectivity, objects existing posterior to human cognition. We can only know the object as it is in-itself.
As stated before, these objects were developed without a sense of aesthetic qualities. When viewing the objects after the computer process was completed, we noticed several/most objects held certain architectural qualities which can be attributed to apopitenal. After recognizing these qualities, we put all the 256 objects into a field at varying scales and minimal distortion resembling Campo Marzio. The first iteration of the Campo Marzio was the CMYK color palette. We saw the translation from the RGB to CMYK as the first step of translating the objects from the digital world to the physical. The next versions were developed to create an illegibility as a massing of objects rather than individual pieces. A whole over the sum of the parts relationship.
Each object is seen as ontologically independent of all of the other objects despite containing similar pieces of code. The object is a primary production of the suspension of personality that would yield itself autonomous. Once the objects are then placed into a field, the secondary traits of the object appear that allows for architectural understanding and a discourse of the ontological field as a whole. This allows for games of scale, orientation, and density to be argued strictly through architectural terminology without the need for the primary formation and the ancestral reference of the object.
The object’s pinnacle existence is defined by this point of reliance on the interface to understand the binary vertex coordinates as not only text, but volume. Therein, the object can no longer ever be undefined for it exists, from here on out, in the digital world without the reliance of human interaction. The computer has defined the object as such and allowed a post-digital, post-humanist evaluation of the object through giving validity to the figure in a model while also carrying it far beyond humanity. At this point, the object can now be defined as SUPRACESTRAL.
The supracestrality of the object allows for a digital realm to be accessed and explained in the timeline of human cognition. The supracestral object of the field is evaluated through the autonomy of the individual pieces which now allow a parts to whole understanding of the field.
The Object Oriented Ontology of the field now asks the viewer of its own importance for the weight of the image asks questions to the viewer as well. Does the field exist in the physical world? Can it? For it exists now only above and beyond the human in its ontological timelessness and disregard of humans.
The rendered post digital objects that can be seen in the field now hold scalar agency in the digital world that allows only for architectural relationism in the built environment of the code. The objects can exist at any level through architecture, digital, and physical, but despite their existence in differentiable realms, their ontology is set.