Archive for November, 2009



November 24, 2009

Kozel, Susan.  Closer: performance, technologies, phenomenology.  MIT Press, Spain 2007

From the chapter “Responsivity out of Interactivity”:

The chapter discusses the differences between the two terms, especially that interactivity is purposive and conclusive, while responsive covers other human states and actions.  This means that interaction is largely limited to current modes of thinking about technology, such as the interaction between human and computer.  Responsiveness also continues even when the system malfunctions; interactivity only exists in the proper sense, in that a state of interaction much be achieved, while the failures beforehand are not interactive states.  Responsivity in this chapter is clearly the more useful term and the one which is more complex.  Interactivity is, as described above, limited to specific instances.

“Responsivity is more effective than interactivity at describing the moment of sensory experience within the installation”.

Interactivity has more to do with an interface, with a human input and the wait for a response.  It is purposive, and leads to something in particular.  It is also important to note that it uses a medium within which the interaction occurs, such as a computer.  This is to say that there is a ‘correct’ response in interactivity, so that in the case of failure or incorrect function, interaction does not occur in a sense.  This differs from reponsivity, which does not require a certain response or action.  Responsivity also has no requirement for physical reactions or a sense of decision making.  A final point of the author is that during an interaction or responsive environment of which one is aware of his or her participation, one can only respond in a responsive environment, but the ability to alter the rules is a feature of interactivity.


Transforming the 20th Century

November 23, 2009

Smil, Vaclav.  Tranforming the Twentieth Century.  Oxford University Press: Oxford 2006

From the chapter “Rationalized Production: Mechanization, Automation, Robotization”

Mechanized processes have allowed the Earth to simply become a mass of raw materials, ready to be extracted and exploited.  The numbers presented in the chapter show the clear decline in human activity in agriculture and similar activities which has been possible because of robots, chemicals, and other modern means.

The figures are undeniable and the changes are good, although there are many negative consequences.  What does all of the information in this chapter mean?  How has this changed the nature of society?  Where are we lead to next?


The Age of Automation

November 23, 2009

Hall, George M.  The Age of Automation.  Praeger: Wesport, CN 1995

From the chapter “The Frankenstein Issue”:

6 themes are discussed which cover the Frankenstein issue, which is the idea of science controling the components of living systems.  There is Golem, which is a nonliving system which is given living attributes.  Lucifer is a controlling machine or human which dictates the actions of someone.  Frankenstein and android are the ideas of a creating something that is alive and of which we do not have control.  Prometheus holds the idea that there can be too much knowledge which subsequently destroys.  The final theme, Human automata, suggests that humans are subversive and must be controlled through scientific means.

These themes have existed ever since humans perceived the difference between human and automata.  The fear associated with automata is one which varies by culture and by person, but what are the sources of this fear?  What is the devil behind the machine?

The commonality between the above themes is that something which isn’t, becomes.  And this through scientific means.  Perhaps the fear is of the fragility of humanity, and of the ease with which it could be altered.  Perhaps it is simply the lack of control humans have over their own lives.  Whatever the cause, the Frankenstein issue is a critical idea in the human psyche.


Of Fashion and Architecture

November 18, 2009

Fashion has much to do with making.  In fact it means making. The french word faire means to make.  It also means creating, to accommodate, frame, etc.  Thus, fashion is a creation for the body; it is a dwelling for humans.

The idea of fashion also has connections with interaction, on which this blog is focused.  Interaction is the influencing multiple entities upon eachother.  The creation interacts  with the creator, or at least with the body it was created for.

Architecture is fashion.  It is the result of a making; it interacts with the body or bodies it was made for.  Fashion and architecture are networks for humans, within which we discover new information about others and about ourselves.  This is seen in some of the sources previously discussed: nomadic architecture and fashion are very similar because both cater to a highly mobile society that is based around smaller, more specific spaces.  Layers of interaction exist in fashion as undergarments, outer garments, and outer coverings, as in architecture the interior, exterior, and outer skins sometimes exist.  While the biggest difference may be permanence, certainly modern architecture has in many ways become less permanent and modern fashion has in some ways grown in longevity.


Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture

November 11, 2009

Hodge, Brooke.  Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture. Thames and Hudson: Los Angeles, CA

Despite the differences in scale, materials, or durability, fashion and architecture both start from the human body.  The same ideologies, theoretical foundations, technological innovations, etc. have influenced both; the parallels are the subject of this catalogue, which is from an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.

Recently, architects have begun to pay closer attention to fashion design, because of 1) retailers of fashion hiring architects, which forces them to get to know their clientele, and 2) architecture has looked to fashion for inspiration with the dawn of modeling software.

There is much evidence of a convergence between the disciplines.  Similarities in structure and style have stemmed from similar techniques of construction and the spirit of the age.  There have been fashion designers, like Hussein Chayalan, who have blurred the boundary between architecture and clothing.  Is a table only a table, or can it be a dress?  The creative processes are also similar – both use models, although they are often at very different scales.  Methods of representation are also very similar.  One very good example of architecture and fashion teaming together is with Peter Testa and Devyn Weiser’s work into technical textiles.  The materials, including carbon fiber and prepreg tape are useful as both garments and in architecture.

Fraying the Edges: Fashion and Deconstruction

Deconstruction is characterized by an unfinished, loose look, sometimes appearing as poverty, devastation, or an affront to the normal, recognized appearance of the day.  There is a desire in this style for a break-away design that empowers the wearer to a new strength.

Deconstruction was seen as antifemale and antiestablishment in its premier years, and this is because of its lack of ‘beauty’ in the traditional sense.  Rei Kawakubo, however, finds the power of her designs in their rebelliousness, not in the beauty.  Indeed it is a push away from what many others find safe and normal, including feminists.  This style ranges from protest to poetry.

More to come…


The Fashion of Architecture

November 6, 2009

Quinn, Bradley.  The Fashion of Architecture.  Berg: New York, NY 2003.

The metaphor of clothing as architecture has been an enduring idea since the beginning of design.  There is a reliance on the human proportions for the massing and space of clothing and architecture.  In both there are also layers of underwear, outer clothing and overcoats that define the place of mankind in the world.  There are numerous comparisons that can be made between the disciplines of fashion and architecture, but there are those who dismiss the comparisons as overlap, and not convergence.  This is because of the complex nature of architecture and its perceived transcendence above art or any single discipline.  This book takes a look at the potentials of the congruencies between fashion and architecture.

Chapter 1: Fashioning the Metropolis:

“fashion constitutes architecture’s spatial and ideological equal.”  Clothing is both a boundary and margin, a force in the widening gap between public and private personae.  Both fashion and architecture presume a public that watches and is to be watched.  This is an important focus for many designers; experiments have been conducted to gauge the reaction of provocative fashion, and surveillance is even being built-in to clothing.  This has important implications to what ‘visibility’ means in our society.

Architecture is being created in the form of both ‘place’ and ‘non-place’.  Modern architecture has failed in many ways to sustaining the types of environments people need, but perhaps fashion can alleviate some of the fears associated with non-places.  Clothing can be more than just a garment; it can redefine the entire pattern of architecture, or maybe remove architecture as the only organizer of environment.

Chapter 4: Urban Nomads

This includes the idea that the modern person’s habitat is the body, not the ‘home’.  The author points to sources who claim that fashion will supplant the duties of the architect, because the dwelling will no longer be a building.

Archigram has pushed the limits of thought on fluid architecture.  They opposed the traditional trajectory that architecture was taking; they desired to create a more complex, weaving web of activity and life, thereby enriching the entire system.  Their designs are based on a moving city, enhancing and promoting the fast-paced consumer culture in which we live.

Other innovative designers and companies which have attempted to create wearable, shelter-like clothing for the urban nomad include Kosuke Tsumura, C P Company, and Yeohlee, each of whom have examples of their work in the chapter.

Chapter 5: Designing, Dwelling, Thinking: Hussein Chalayan

Chalayan began his career and continues it with the desire to imbue fashion with the process that created it.  He also says that fashion can be architectural, because architecture is more than buildings and structure.  He explores the possibilities of interaction between environment, architecture, and clothing, the boundaries being blurred.  Humans fit into this system as actors, not only as controllers of the situation but as players.  The role of clothing is potentially enormous; it is the body and the way it can interact with architecture and the environment is limitless.

Chapter 9: Fluid Form

Form in clothing and architecture is being thought of as only accommodating to the human form.  Like architecture, then, fashion is being constructed instead of made in the typical manner.  The future has often been explored through these processes and the results are quite architectural; the space suit was in some ways a prototype for this type of design.  There are new questions regarding style and form in fashion and construction industries.

Forms: Organic, primordial forms appeared in the age of computer modeling.  Blobs, folds, waves, spirals, and twists are tilted forms part of the digital age.

Blurring: Architecture now itself questions where the boundaries of architecture are.  Architects and fashion designers alike are ‘making strange’, a process that reinterprets the meaning of certain characteristics, thus blurring its meaning.  This reinventing of architecture blurs and simultaneously clarifies new ways of thinking about fashion and architecture.

Masking and Revealing: Transparency is a key component of modernism, but fashion has often made use of masking techniques to hide the sensuality of the body.  Now, fashion and architecture play with their roles as revealing or masking.


Table of Contents

November 3, 2009

There has been much discussion and literature review on the topic of interactive textiles.  Most often there are not answers, but questions which arise out of these activities, including (but of course not limited to) the following:

What is a human?  What is machine?

What is real?  What is fake?

What is to experience?

How does human experience differ from the sensory perceptions of non-humans?

How does ‘creation’ affect the nature of being?

Is technology a human creation or is human the creation of technology?

Is technologies’ goal the recreation of ourselves?

What does it mean to interact?

Is interaction a key component of intelligence?

What role does identity play in interaction?

What is the fear associated with interaction?

What are the limits of interactivity?

What role does a medium play in interaction?

What is architecture?

What is clothing?

What is dwelling?

Is the world of static architecture coming to a close?

How is movement reshaping the environment, and will it last?

Can technology address the needs of mankind?

Is the human form the only moderator of design?

What does architecture teach us about ourselves?


In pursuit of a synthesis of such questions and the thick descriptions which accompany them, there will be a table of contents through which a written work could examine these and many more questions.  For example:


Inhuman Nature

In this chapter, it could be explored what ‘human’ means, and if it can be applied to machines.  What does creation have to do with humanness?

A Machine Afterlife

In this chapter, the nature of the human could be explored in deeper terms, such as his or her spirituality, his existential place in the world, etc.

The Limits of Interactivity

Understanding interactivity is crucial to understanding what it means to be alive.  What is interaction?

The Arrival of the Rapture and its Passing

This chapter would address the future and the span of time from the beginning to the end, if there is such an end.  Is technology changing the nature of time?