Course: 289.8 Technology Seminar
Erin Besler, Lecturer, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design

People often say that terrazzo reminds them of nougat or other candies, and there’s a nice connection there between “confection” and

“confetti”, both of which derive from the Latin conficere meaning “to put together”. While the installation of terrazzo in commercial applications generally requires highly skilled re- liable tradesman to put things together so to speak, accurate color matching, precise application and extensive specifications, because of its composition and means of production the most visible qualities of terrazzo, the composition of the aggregate, are actually quite casual and imprecise. This course seeks to bring some precision to the qualities of the surface of the material through the use of industrial robotics.

 With the economic decline that began in the early 2000’s along with the impact sustained by multiple industries, several industrial robots moved out of the factory system, mainly from automotive manufacturing and assembly lines, and into architecture schools. A demonstration of the professed universality of these machines - appropriately suited to industry as well as academia. This proliferation of robots has produced a mounting pressure for critical consideration with respect to their purported status as universal machines and in the performance of precise tasks.

This is a technology seminar. That being said, this course is as much concerned with a critical discussion surrounding the tools and technologies of production and the things being produced as learning new software and hardware. The focus of the course is on the production of passive utilitarian cast objects made from terrazzo. The course will look at the collision be- tween this thousand-year-old, somewhat crude, material process with the purported precision of industrial robotics. Students will work in groups to research, document and catalog the history of terrazzo, its various applications, material processes, colors etc. as well as the his- tory of industrial robotics as it relates to control and precision – focused mainly on the ability to ‘place’ things precisely.

A major interest of this course is in the shifts of labor and the deskilling of trades, the way that certain projects and tasks can shift from the do- main of specialists or experts to the realm of amateurs. For instance, YouTube will be a great resource for us in this course. There is a learning curve to this material but because so many skills and practices are demystified through things like online tutorials (whether for good or for bad) and broad networks of circulation, we can feel less apprehensive about experimenting with means of production that might otherwise seem too esoteric or complicated to take on. We will also make videos in this course, both documentary and instructional.

STUDENTS: Alexander Abugov, Bronte Araghi, Peter Boldt, Wai Ching Cheng, Lori Choi, Hung The Diep, Jesse Hammer, Ryan Hernandez, Rayan Itani, Alicia Jones, Mackenzie Keith, Jeannette Mundy, Sana Nasikwala, Jihun Son, Zhuoneng Wang, Tessa Watson, Baocheng Yang, Yue Yang, Li Yin