Canadian Architect

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Logic Shift

December 1, 2010
by Canadian Architect

STUDENT Jeffrey Ma, McGill University

A decade ago, Alberto Prez-Gmez mapped for us the history of architectural representation in his book Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge (1997). He saw that one of the major shifts in our mode of understanding was derived from the collapse of the image and the represented objects near the end of the 20th century. This thesis continues one of his arguments on the fallacy of neutral techniques regarding the tools of the architect.

Logic Shift uses Photosynth, a Microsoft software application, as a visual tool for Ma’s critique. Microsoft’s intention for Photosynth is to provide a platform in which users around the world can upload photographs of a particular place from different points of view, under different conditions and on different dates, to recreate a virtual scene that resembles the represented place. Ma’s thesis is about reconciling the space of Photosynth, making manifest the space in which the built environment has left traces within the process of Photosynth. Asking the same question that Prez-Gmez left unanswered, can a recording of traces be translated (rather than transcribed) in built architectural projects?

Ma belives that a recording of traces can be translated into built architectural projects, but it requires a strong determination on the architect’s part to dismiss our roots in an object-based understanding. This shift in logic established the foundation for this thesis project.

JC: This is a thorough exploration of the potential of digital media to generate form. The project is very well presented, and it would be interesting to see if some of these investigations could be developed into design strategies.

AK: Somewhat in tension with its radical imagery and compelling mark-making, on first blush this project seems to fall readily into the “representational” bucket, where questions of the relationship between image and methodology drive the experiment. The work quickly moves past the reverentially gathered nuggets dropped from the well-worn satchel of academic discourse. It engages current and challenging ways in which the world is reconstructing itself, taking these tools and asking what architecture can do with them. The work bounces rapidly and radically from nascent virtual construct to the act of making and back again. In doing so, it challenges the discipline of architecture and the schools in which we teach it to keep up.

JL: I always love students who turn an idea on its head and set out to recapture essential architectural ideas, and this is what this thesis does. Employing a clear methodology, the work illuminates another way in which makers of space can use other, more contemporary means for generating the parameters. The design applications are significant and that’s a high note that any great thesis should end on.




Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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