October 19, 2018

For Your Consideration: Apprehensions

I found this video via a recent Quite Frankly podcast, an interesting look at what might be in store for us in the near future. Check it out.

Here's Keiichi Matsuda's website.

And this is a behind the scenes look at Matsuda and his process for creating the video:

What to make of this?

First, I'm impressed by Matsuda's skill set, I'd like to know more about the applications he needs to pull it off.

Secondly, as for the anticipated future, it reminds me of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The set design for that movie was a landmark achievement in apprehending a potential future scenario. Snipping Wikipedia:

Ridley Scott credits Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks and the French science fiction comics magazine Métal Hurlant, to which the artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud contributed, as stylistic mood sources.  He also drew on the landscape of "Hong Kong on a very bad day" and the industrial landscape of his one-time home in northeast England. The visual style of the movie is influenced by the work of futurist Italian architect Antonio Sant'Elia. Scott hired Syd Mead as his concept artist; like Scott, he was influenced by Métal Hurlant. Moebius was offered the opportunity to assist in the pre-production of Blade Runner, but he declined so that he could work on René Laloux's animated film Les Maîtres du temps - a decision that he later regretted. Production designer Lawrence G. Paull and art director David Snyder realized Scott's and Mead's sketches. Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich supervised the special effects for the film, and Mark Stetson served as chief model maker."

As you might conclude as I did after reading this, that Scott's and Mead's achievement was a monumental synthesis of history and collaboration. While it is unfair to diminish Matsuda's feat by comparison -it is laudable after all to stand on the shoulders of giants -- Matsuda's contribution suggests a virtual version of Scott's 2019 Los Angeles (¡yes, 2019!) overlayed on Medellin, all that was imagined to be physically built is instead built via augmented reality... either by screen mounted contact lens or a method of projection onto the retina itself or if Elon Musk capricious imagination comes to fruition, some kind of direct merger with AI via a brain/mind/machine/software meld.

My third impression watching Matsuda's HYPER-REALITY, I thought that such a virtual environment would impoverish the real one. At the dawn of modernity, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan coined the famous phrase Form Follows Function. What I learned in architecture school was that Sullivan limited ornament only to the parts of the building where people would directly experience it. He set the stage for Adolph Loos to advocate the elimination of ornament altogether when he wrote Ornament and Crime. Curiously, the fulcrum of Loos' thesis was that (...snipping Wikipedia once again...)

Loos introduced a sense of the "immorality" of ornament, describing it as "degenerate", its suppression as necessary for regulating modern society. He took as one of his examples the tattooing of the "Papuan" and the intense surface decorations of the objects about him--Loos says that, in the eyes of western culture, the Papuan has not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, who, should he tattoo himself, would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate.
Well, that's mighty white of you, Adolf. I wonder what Loos would make of our contemporary condition, tattoos everywhere and soon, the whole world tattooed cybernetically? Does it necessarily follow that the physical world would be impoverished? Or would we live in a more streamlined form-follows-function aesthetically modern environment as we toggle online and offline? Either possibility finds me apprehensive, especially for the latter because it would render the development of architectural history at a standstill, the state in which I had found it as a student so many decades ago.

A fourth impression. Virtually annotating the world isn't the only possibility. The world could also be edited, parts of it erased, cloned, stamped, blurred in a live action version of Photoshop. We could each be living in our own best possible world, blissfully or tragically unaware of the best possible worlds of other people around us. Another kind of dystopia. A sugar coated one.

Posted by Dennis at October 19, 2018 1:28 PM

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