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RESEARCH STATEMENT - Isomorphism 10/27/19, 9)21 PM



The discipline of architecture has readily assimilated digital design technology and unconditionally accepted
the terms dictated by computer-assisted observation and the digital interface. This fundamental reliance on
technology in the perception and conception of architecture marks a shift to a post-digital paradigm. The
post-digital in architecture implies a reevaluation of digital design tactics as well as notions of surface that
have pervaded architectural discourse in recent history. This critical disposition has raised questions about
the coherence of the architectural object and how its boundaries are defined, provoking a return to
metaphysics to recuperate architecture’s formal and disciplinary distinction. Considering that the digital
paradigm defines reality in terms of media (image) and simulation (repetition), valuing the virtual
(appearance) over the real (existence), it is propitious that architecture should direct its critical response of
the digital towards the ontological. My research engages the post-digital as a constructive and theoretical
apparatus that facilitates a reevaluation of the physical (formal) and conceptual (disciplinary) boundaries of
architecture. I have concentrated this critical response into three current and emerging research projects,
which reposition architecture’s formal, representational, and tectonic affiliations.


Previous engagements between architecture and metaphysics have been the impetus for multiple
formalistic and stylistic expressions from the Renaissance to Modernism, from the Baroque to the Digital.
However, for architecture to continue to be productive in its ability to project new forms of reception, these
philosophical underpinnings should be reconsidered. The resurgence of metaphysics today is being
approached as an ontological status of reality, rather than an epistemological question of presence.
Epistemology has forced the architectural object into extreme positions, dismantling it to reveal deeper
meaning or dissolving it into a contingency of external relations. Ontology contends that architectural and all
other objects always hold something in reserve and cannot be fully consumed or comprehended through
empiricism or subjective experience. If our realities are entirely mediated by the virtual and we have
capitulated to the commodification of culture, then the fundamental nature of architecture and its relations
have become estranged, indeterminate, irresolute, or otherwise speculative.

The Commonplace, Forms of Estrangement

Recent ontological claims assert that architecture and all other objects are already invisible to experience,
because they so thoroughly make up the fabric of our existence. This thinking locates the status of objects
within the realm of the commonplace – that which is simultaneously ever-present yet largely escapes notice.
The commonplace does not radicalize the architectural object; on the contrary, it may provide insight into the
usual and everyday interactions of diverse things.

Commodity: Commodity as a concept undermines the status of objects by erasing all heterogeneity and
qualitative differences among things. Architectural contingencies (representations, mechanical production,
nature, etc.) have in a similar way become the commodities of our discipline, validating architecture as a
consequence of its relations to other things, rather than by its own autonomous qualities as a discrete
object. This research contends that contingencies are external relations that instead compel the interactions
of autonomous objects.

Estrangement: The recurrent theme of art-as-commodity in the work of Andy Warhol was significant to this
inquiry. In Warhol’s early works, everyday objects and their representations maintain their status as
commodities through appropriation. His later works exhibit a deliberate, but subtle act of transformation or Page 1 of 3
RESEARCH STATEMENT - Isomorphism 10/27/19, 9)21 PM

defamiliarization, producing a tension between the appropriated object and its qualities. This tension or
estrangement signals the commonplace, which elicits a delayed reaction to something surprising or
significant after an initial failure to notice anything unusual.

These ideas were investigated in a series of design studios, in which everyday objects were physically and
digitally transformed through techniques of defamiliarization to develop the formal, spatial, and material
qualities of the building. Unlike appropriation or abstraction, which negates or exaggerates aesthetic
experience respectively, these forms of estrangement instead only elongate, intensify, or emphasize the
initial moment of their engagement.


The Profligate, Representations of the Unfinished

The non finito or unfinished is a term referring to a work of art that is seemingly incomplete. These
provisional implications have been the motivation for numerous modes expressions throughout the history
of art. Architecture’s temporal, entropic, and indeterminate dimensions have a distinctive relationship to the
unfinished, which may be just as and at times more potent because of its ambiguous affiliation with
metaphysics, its status as an object and a representation, and its literal and speculative realities. This
research outlines an alternate trajectory of theory and design that challenges the pervading immutability and
permanence of the architectural object.

Materiality: Rather than elucidating an original creative impulse or methods of making, a more enigmatic
idea proposes that an unfinished work is instead a finished work that is not seen. This phenomenon is
related to Aristotle’s notion of the profligate. The profligate is an indeterminate state of an object. For
example, a chunk of marble that is not cut, is also uncut or yet to be cut. Similarly, concrete is both solid and
liquid, natural and artificial, ancient and modern, base and spirit, etc. Correspondingly, architecture has
immediately perceivable qualities as well as a diversity of qualities that are not perceived at a given moment
depending on its external relations, contingencies, and forces. The profligate not only acknowledges
architecture’s irreconcilable status as both building and ruin, frame and mass, solid and void, but more
importantly suggests that this quasi-materiality registers within the object itself. Architecture’s
indeterminateness, therefore, is not motivated by subjective engagement or critical interrogation, but rather
acts within the metaphysics of presence where its reality is only partially revealed through illusions of its own

Representations: The profligate can also be defined as the disposition that keeps a body in a state of
constant irritation or still-less-ness. Perspective or projection drawings are always considered “real” because
they provide a “natural” way to depict the mechanics of space and have a one-to-one relationship between
drawing and building. However, examination of the unfinished art-work that appears out-of-focus, in a state
of decay, or otherwise incomplete may liberate architectural drawing to explore alternate dimensions and
contrive new realities.

The Irresolute, Tectonic Expression of the Virtu-real

According to Kenneth Frampton, tectonics is first an act of construction, and therefore fundamentally
ontological, rather than representational. Detail need not be simple, standardized or repeatable. Instead,
detail emerges as something over and above its relationship to the whole, while also withholding itself from
relations with other parts.

Scale: The hegemony of the digital interface enables the limitlessness of virtual space and unimpeded
powers of magnification, preventing any possible reconciliation of human scale with the infinitesimal and the
immense. Furthermore, the proliferation of GPS software, Google Earth, and Retina Displays has shattered
the subjective frame of reference and with it the antiquated notion that architectural ideas unfold at
standardized scales. These technological circumstances suggest that the idea of scale be approached as
an artificial construction, rather than a natural one.

Detail: Detail does not necessarily occur at isolated instances (Modernism), nor is it necessarily ubiquitously
distributed (Parametricism), legitimizing architecture by its relations to smaller parts or larger systems.
Resisting the tendencies of classical holism and modern abstraction involves new diverse relations between
parts. Instead, detail may occur at multiple scales as heterogeneous and incongruous tectonic resolutions.
Rather than discovering “truth” in the details, tectonic expression may reveal an entirely different fiction. Page 2 of 3
RESEARCH STATEMENT - Isomorphism 10/27/19, 9)21 PM

I intend to enhance these initial ideas about scale and detail with associations found between tectonics and
textile production. These textural considerations will solicit incongruities between the scale of the detail and
that of the body, producing eccentricities between textile patterning and overall tectonic expression. The
implications for future research and design confronts conventional architectonics and antiquated notions of
part-to-whole relationships, provoking a return to the structural unit as the domain of architectural authorship
and intense speculation.

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