Off: On a Tangent

An art professor once told me that in composition, elements should either overlap or there should be some space between them; that it produces discomfort when things were tangential. He called this phenomenon kissing….”- John Baldessari
The chair went one way, she went another and the keyboard headed off at a completely different tangent.”
First, the writer needs to get his facts straight before he goes off on a tangent like that.

The tangential inherently implicates the expression of how two things touch. In a moment where touching has become complicated, a formal exploration of this expression is similarly charged.

Mathematically, a tangent is expressed as a straight line that touches a curve at a point. In some of the earliest writing about infinitesimal calculus, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz defined a tangent as “the line through a pair of infinitely close points on the curve”. This course uses the tangential as a formal, rhetorical, and mathematical framework to interrogate the relationship between the part and the whole, between the thick and thin, the complex and contradictory. Working with forms like cones and cylinders (amongst others), we will investigate formal tangential relationships and their implications on bringing programmatic spaces closer together or farther apart.

Conceptually, a tangent implies the permutation of an existing idea into a completely different line of thinking. A tangent articulates a moment where one thing diverges into two or, inversely, where two things merge into one: the moment they kiss. In Kissing Architecture, Sylvia Lavin teases out this tension between the discipline of architecture and new types of art practices. We will focus our exploration within the discipline at a more intimate scale: two mediums, two masses, two surfaces, or two curves. This tension — a version of are ‘they’ or aren’t ‘they’—is further activated by moving between the precise and the imperfect. This seminar will explore the role that image creation plays in articulating these tensions. We will engage in a rigorous investigation of rendering and drawing techniques to study the material, tectonic and spatial implications of tangential forms. At what scale does the tangential relationship build excitement?

Coursework will include weekly readings, digressions on technique and form, presentation asides, rendering, and precedent

Prerequisites: Working knowledge of Rhino/some knowledge of Vray.

Evaluation will be based on class engagement, design exercises, and the final.