Digital Media: Models

Pre- and Post- is an introduction to fundamental concepts, techniques, and methods in digital design, with a focus on the processes of translation between digital media and artifacts. Beyond an exploration of novel form and its reading, this course is a critical inquiry into how digital tools can extend beyond visualization and fabrication to change the way we view architectural projects from the past, present, and future.

Today, digital representation and fabrication methods are primarily used in the production of new projects, rarely finding application in the analysis of historical precedents. Restriction of contemporary tools almost exclusively to contemporary architecture limits the knowledge these methods can help us glean from projects built before the digital era. By analyzing pre-digital precedents through a post-digital lens, we can begin to reconceptualize these precedents and situate these new tools within architectural history at large.

Within this context, the course focuses on digital image as a speculative medium and its epistemic and communicational implications. Beyond typical end-process output used in everyday practice, the course conceives digital image as instruments for conceiving and perceiving architecture, which invites multiple interpretations and modes of engagement. The course is organized into three sequential areas of inquiry. As these different approaches play into different epistemic questions about architecture, it explores new possibilities of feedback between image and architecture, revolving around the processes of design and representation.

 In the first phase, each student researches architectural precedents, considering how new digital tools could allow us to reconsider the project’s design and representation. We will reconstruct analyzed information in the form of digital data, drawing, and imagery.

During the second phase, each student develops a critical stance towards the precedent’s forms and suggests a radical modification/manipulation of it. The material from the first phase will be sourced and re-assembled into three-dimensional form-making through methodologies by deploying images as a generative instrument. In this process, inherent values of images stored in pixels are taken as variables for three-dimensional form defining processes. The reciprocal processes of manipulation between image and formal artifacts investigate the latent design opportunities embedded in each one with a focus on the capacities and limitations of select computational processes. This study will involve recursive developments of proto-architectural objects.

In the third phase, we speculate on the capacity of digital technologies to assign new or alternative readings to form. Through a series of imaging, processing, rendering techniques, and animated projections used against physical models, this phase explores how time-based modes of two-dimensional representation can activate and manipulate three-dimensional form. This framework allows the conception of a variable architecture and the line between physical objects and digital creations blurs as projection mapping alters architecture in real-time. In this series of design exercises, the course explores how new processes of manipulation—namely, techniques in digital design, fabrication, and representation—can facilitate new ways of thinking about architecture, both pre-digital and post-digital.

Course Format – offered as a single, weekly 3-hour session. Each session will be divided into a lecture half and a workshop half. Instructor-led workshops will include a rigorous introduction to Rhino/ Grasshopper scripting (pre-modeling tools) for analyzing and modeling, and Processing/Cinema4D/MadMapper (post-modeling tools) for the advanced representation of projects.

Prerequisites – None.