What prompted the project and the interest in the brief developed by Intermediate 1?
The starting point for all projects in the unit was to collectively dig out each students unconscious relationships to their virtual life. . The strongest methodology throughout the year around the topic of the “Immersive Internet” was that students are designing strategies and systems responding to the brief rather than creating fictions in existing cinematic styles.
In the start of the year, we were asked: “To what degree are you aware of the impact of virtual technology on your perception of reality in your everyday life?”. Perhaps by coincidence, the complexity of life that the internet creates is the most mentioned topic. From virtual gatherings, Japanese virtual idols to internet surfing, the creative and intellectual process involved in trying to analyse those conditions and think of a way to make it valuable in spatial terms was very challenging.
As architecture students, concerns about how people’s lives can interact with spaces is more prior than appreciating high-tech devices or certain progress. Intermediate 1 members are like fresh born babies, greedily explore through topics that haven’t been raised before, and slowly picking up existing architecture knowledge and technology during their journey. Their spirit of making every step of the project an adventure is avant-garde.
How would you define your relationship to the internet?
I was born in 1998, so the internet has been in my life since primary school. Then it was like those newspapers in the Harry Potter books, a media container. My generation naturally adapted to the layout and the way that the Internet operates. But the life-changing place was always social media on the internet, where one is offered a place to get rid of current social identities and find a place to pursue a true interest.
When I was a passive consumer of content of the internet, my parents judged it as a poison that simply messes with ones head. It is quite interesting to see that even though they were highly reluctant to the internet, (which by the way resulted in me surfing the underground internet,) in the end, they accept it as part of their life and work like everyone else.
Until now I understood the internet as my creativity assistant, spending time inside it is no longer considered as ‘doing anything’, but absorbing fresh thoughts from all over the world. Platforms such as Instagram is how we construct a lifestyle to live on the internet which will soon be immersive and inhabitable.
What questions does the project raise?
The project questions whether the basic layout of the internet can be spatialized, and perhaps in a more random, unexpected way than it is now. I extract the quality of ‘randomness’ on the internet based on my understanding of its structure and our surfing behavior. On a daily basis, we now have more opportunities to meet surprising events online than in real life. Not because the internet is random, one can certainly behave more irrational online than in IRL.
If our ‘misbehave’ on the internet have so much potential to intrigue valuable reference, ideas, and learning, how can we have more of the wealth of randomness?
How can creators like architect contribute to the internet world not only as a publisher?
Can we spatialize our virtual platforms that feeds us the experience of unexpected internet content?
What importance do you behold upon the images through which you reveal the project?
Images in my project are not conclusive at all. They are however of crucial importance as a thinking tool for me to retrospectively think about the theme. I portray moments of the immersive internet based on research leading to speculations on how it could possibly be architectural. When those moments are being collaged into a map of my mind flow, I can have an overview of which moment is working and which is not.
In a way, images are used as self-criticism tool for me to reveal more aspects of the topic, and only I can draft a conclusion from them. They are certainly challenging for the audience to absorb due to the large amount and complexity in format. In my images, the scale, tectonic and all crucial architectural element are clashed by its randomness and abstraction, but studying them carefully brings out the core qualities of the project.
What was the most important tool when articulating the project, from research to execution?
The most important tool for the project is the presentation itself. In the culture of the AA, when the work is in progress, it is very important that you can talk through rough demos rather than a polished, finished work. The project is narrowed down from a huge topic that sparks debates, to a certain quality of space that a second-year student can manipulate. In this process, the unit encourages us to try different formats of presentation. For example, films screening, map creating, silent jury, one image jury …. Those activities happen twice a week throughout the year.
All of the students are suffering to prepare for all kinds of presentation material, and we all struggled for a time and hesitated: Why is a project constantly redirected jury members?
But when I look back into outputs in the project, presentation pushes us to translate our ideas into another language, yet remain cohesive. We have to clearly see what the project wants to say and how it can adapt to different audiences. This tool is training us to be able to communicate this huge topic while avoiding to pretend we are specialist.
What is for you the architects most important tool?
I am not an architect yet so I cannot answer this question. After two years in at the AA, I realize no matter how conceptual you are, what you do and share is what defines the role of the architect. Therefore tools are always equivalent to the fruit of a period architecture study that pushes architectural thinking. It’s a bias to regard a tool as something more important than others, architects I admire always have a package of tools that are non-copyable.
What informed the choice of porn-hub as case study and example?
In the stage of trying to interpret the structure of a website into an architectural plan, I selected four popular websites based on the number of users and the interface. They are the British Gov website, Pinterest, Pornhub and Chromosome residence (the strangest fashion website on the internet). Pornhub with countless hidden subpages happens to be the clearest one. The website itself has a perfect balance between exposing its structure and individualized layout for displaying porn.
And it is of my interest to see how virtual architectural space can go beyond the boundary of seriousness and regulation. It is a joyful process to embed the atmosphere of horny body curvature into rigid elements like doors and door handles. Just like how we are addicted to porn, can architecture be attractive enough for us to interact with it in the virtual?
Rational vs. Random how does one go about designing randomness?
Randomness on the internet is like the result from when we go wild in typing words rationaly on keyboard. To design randomness is to design a system that one can both operate logically, but also easily get creative outputs. It is not new for music, film, and photography. But with architecture, space shall not be pre-set as in the physical world. The content offered by architecture should be more dynamic to embrace the random adventures.
Everyone trying to design a space need to know certain dimension for modeling, and it is still important for designing randomness. All I propose to do is rethink features that can be directing choice in space, such as indications, signs, door fronts etc. We can play around with one’s expectations on what’s happening next, to provide a chance for an irrational choice that happened in space.
You describe randomness as the core of internet creativity: could you expand on this idea?
The internet offers me my most creative moments. I start with an idea to find something specific on the search engine but I am constantly being redirected into interesting and surprising destinations. Before I’m trying to produce something, this process always benefits my creative thinking. The core reason is the randomness of content that comes in accepting a new webpage in a very short amount of time, every piece of information we encounter online are not completely related by logical relationship. Access between web pages is according to an analysis of click number, keyword similarity, advertisements which are the invisible factor that can be complex enough to result in the link presented in front of the screen. It is random because the human mind can’t figure out how we found this when we search for something else.
The whole process is an adventure dependent on frequently interacting with choices and access. New ideas and inspiration often come with a strange correlation between facts, and randomness on the internet is a catalyst.
What do you define as the digital room? How can we talk about architecture as the infrastructure of the internet?
A digital room in my project is an enclosed space for displaying internet content and enable users to interact with it. The key word is sharing the experience of surfing the internet. Every action of surfing such as clicks, bookmarks, type in the link, are all operated as human behavior in architecture such as opening a door, breaking a wall, and shaking a door handle.
Infrastructure is the closest definition of architecture on the internet but not exactly. Architectural elements can be function everywhere in a different enclosure, but it will change its appearance due to different web page environments. The arrangement of that element has more flexibility for the sake of increasing functionality of the room. The Internet is a place with a huge difference in scale but all compressed on-page, its structure does not allow for housing of enough amount of people but highlight its content.
Therefore to create a digital room functions as part of the internet is facing enormous challenges, it is better to test it on individual websites like pornhub first, and then adjust the overall system.