Digital Media: Composition

This course proposes a conceptual opposition between “filter” and “fill” to investigate the ways image analysis techniques augment topics in architectural composition. In the context of this course, “filters” consist of processes designed to subtract data from images to render information legible, and “fills” are processes that add data to create content. Unpacking the inner workings of processes—such as segmentation, seam carving, and deconvolution—reveals intellectual and aesthetic dispositions behind popular design practices.

While “filters” and “fills” are similar to existing analytical methods, they are seldom used to think critically about architecture. For example, the palimpsest, instrumental in Peter Eisenman’s work, is similar to the figure-finding “filter” because it also problematizes boundary indeterminacy. The palimpsest is productive for seeing and thinking through formal, historical, and contextual questions because drawing mechanics are widely understood. In other words, knowing how drawings work makes the palimpsest a perceptual and a conceptual device. The “filter,” by contrast, is predominantly an aesthetic device because image mechanics are obscure.

Course format:

This course covers a wide range of methods and theories, and thus is not oriented toward the mastery of any particular tool. Rather, our objective is to swerve from established definitions for form. Over the course of the semester, a set of five terms common to architecture and computer graphics frames the investigation. Readings and short writing assignments draw upon the fields of architecture, philosophy, history of science, and engineering. Exercises experiment with raster imaging tools. The final project is a small publication consisting of speculative drawings and texts.

Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on the depth of critiques, formal and representational invention, and craft.

Prerequisites: None.