TRACKING TECHNOLOGY SYMPOSIUM
Organized and moderated by Marta Nowak and Gabriel Fries-Briggs
Julia Koerner, Lecturer UCLA A.UD Erin Besler, Lecturer UCLA A.UD Jason Payne, Associate Professor UCLA A.UD Guvenc Ozel, Lecturer UCLA A.UD Greg Lynn, Professor UCLA A.UD Axel Kilian, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Princeton University
Models for integrating technology into architecture school curricula are in a constant state of renovation. In all manner of academic formats— seminars, studios, workshops, labs—the form of technology is subject, means, and speculative object. It is often through the particular use of technology that schools cultivate a stance toward culture at large. The use of certain software is not independent of a practitioner’s position in the field relative to form-making, design, and labor. Emerging tools open up new terrain in formal experimentation, performance, empirical analysis, and material production. Yet keeping track of technology and its effects on the field can easily induce a state of anxiety. Technology has played a role in disciplinary identity crises and exerted immense pressure on practice.
As Michel Foucault put it, technology is social before it is technical. In the contemporary moment, it could be argued that the use of a particular technology or a stance toward it does much to organize and galvanize the field and its constituents. The issue of media is always on hand. It defines the delivery of content and the framing of positions. The particular format of the “Technology Seminar” developed at A.UD is to turn critical attention toward contemporary instruments of production.
Technology seminars examine emerging tools, techniques, and approaches to design: from machines, materials and mechanisms of fabrication (such as the use of robotic arms, composite materials, and 3D printing), to techniques and methods of representation (including projection mapping, and the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality), and finally new modes of interaction through sensing technologies and electronics. The plethora of these new technologies of making, representing or sensing, have both informed and transformed the ways by which we understand architecture. But are new technologies contributing in the production of new meanings or new forms of knowledge in architecture?
In that sense, technology seminars attempt to track or survey the ever-changing technological landscape of contemporary architecture in order to build a foundation of knowledge and expertise within the field. Mediating the multiplicity of tools, software, and media, while conforming to academic and at times scientific research models, codes, and laboratory experiments, technology seminars have escaped their conventional structure within architecture schools in favor of a new model of cross-disciplinary research and investigation. The shift in this pedagogical approach has also influenced the very nature of processes and procedures in architecture. Should these new methods and applications be appropriated to conform to the discourse of architecture, or should they be viewed as mechanisms that can potentially remake the architectural discourse itself?