VICARIOUS CAUSATION AS METHOD FOR ARCHITECTURE
Jose Luis Arias Reynoso
Staedelschule Architecture Class (SAC)
The Master Thesis is a deep research about all the references (daily objects, art, texts, buildings, projects, nature, etc.) mentioned by different Authors, that interact in an active manner on the development of a project, and how their properties operates processes of interchangeability to produce an specific architectural object (The Olympic Archery Range Barcelona 92 Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos).
By speculating the design strategies of these reference objects, extracting their properties and testing their interchangeability I have tried to experiment an alternative method of design based on ‘transposition of properties’. This concept has its origin in the philosophy of the Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) by Graham Harman, specifically its ‘Vicarious Causation Theory’ that presents the objects’ properties as a ‘transferable matter’.
Jose Luis to start could you give us a brief introduction as to who you are, where have you studied, what stage are you in your architectural career?
I am a Mexican Designer and Researcher that holds a Postgraduate Master’s degree from the Städelschule Architecture Class SAC in Frankfurt, Germany (2016-2018) and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes UAA in México (2001-2006).
Since 2006, I have acquired professional experience in México and Germany, working in a wide range of projects and scales, including Health, Educational, Cultural, Commercial, Residential, Institutional, Infrastructure and Integral Urban Projects. From 2015 to 2016 I had the opportunity to work as a Professor and Tutor in the Architectural Studios of the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac UNIVA in México.
My personal agenda is aimed at the research and development of innovative approaches towards architecture, urbanism and design. The next step is to start the PhD specifically in the exploration of alternative methods of design to the essentialism and reductionism of the Modern Method. Having as a main tool the exercise of transposition of visual properties of different objects to generate Hybrids and speculate on the new possible aesthetical effects that can be produced in these nonlinear alternative processes, leaving behind the methods of preconception and exploring the unexpected implications of combining objects from distinct ontologies.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
I decided to study Architecture because since I was a child I have always on mind to become an Architect, I was interested in how the physical surrounding was formed and how architects have interacted with it. I have spent many hours playing in my hometown El Salvador, Jalisco building different structures and imagining different stories about them, and after studying architecture was in consequence a natural process on me.
Could you give us a brief description of your project “The interchangeability of Objects’ Properties in: The Olympic Archery Range Barcelona 92”
This experimentation is focused mainly in formal exchanges (Form, Composition and Geometry) between all the objects that someone have read as references of the Olympic Archery Range, this with the aim of generating an alternative method by replacing the original strategies of design in the project with the strategies and properties of the reference objects, exploring the properties in order to evaluate which ones must be abandoned and which ones must be retained to assure by their transposition a certain degree of linked matter between the source object and the re-originated Hybrid object.
Then the question was: which were the essential formal features of objects that were capable to transpose the morphologic identity from the source and produce the aesthetic effect on the new one? Differently to the essentialist-reductive Modern Method, where the functional features were considered as the essential identity properties of objects and the rational devices of design were the point and the line, in this proposed methodology, the essential properties of objects are their raw shapes (silhouettes and profiles as starting point), proposing a hybridization between these essential shapes of objects and performing in an accumulative-multiplicative methodology.
The proposed strategy was to employ different silhouettes and profiles of the objects to execute operations of orthogonal projections in parallel and curved planes to test how these 2D figures interacted in the 3D space. Resulting this in a kind of hybrid volumes that retained the identity features of the original object and transpose its aesthetic formal effects. The aim was to transfer the 2D fusional effect of figured figures observed in the drawing of Lina Marmore House by Mario Ridolfi (1966) to the 3D operational system. Not in a design process based in rationality and instrumentalization (like in the Reductionism of the Modern Method) but rather in the play of the emergence, 1+1=3 (the emergent object). The figures perform not as parts to the whole but rather as the agents that generate the initial compounded volumes while performing Boolean operations in a sort of post digital-analog process where as making a craft the new object was produced. Later, other reference objects come to the scene to provide other objects’ properties (materiality, composition, geometry, function, discourse, sign, etc.) not in a lineal process but rather in an intermittent movement forwards and backwards to test the level of success in the transposition of the aesthetics effects, discovering unexpected results and working more in the field of the emergence than in a systematic rational process.
What was the inspiration behind your very unique brief for the project?
In the last years before starting the Master Degree in the Städelschule, when I used to see the projects around me all of them seemed to have their development based on the Modern Method, it did not care that the offices were in favor or against to the essentialism of the Modern Architecture, this was always the starting point. For this reason I have always asked myself which others possible methods of making architecture could been developed.
In the Master I have explored different methods of design, in the first year 2016 with my tutor Damjan Jovanovic experimenting and combining different Mediums like sculpture, painting, 3d scanning, digital drawing in non-architectural software, programing in Unity and using the transposition of effects as the main tool to maximize the multiplicity of aesthetics that all together could generate.
However was until the second year 2017 when suddenly the OOO (Object Oriented Ontology) appeared in my life when our tutor Peter Trummer explained us the brief of the Master Studio and its relation with the philosophy of Graham Harman, I remember how exciting was to listen the methodology of the studio in his words and how something that I have never had as a possibility of design (interchangeability of properties and the multiplicity of ontologies) appeared in front of me to be a tangible option of an alternative method of design.
The project explores ‘transposition of properties’. which is linked to Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) by Graham Harman, is this an area of study you have always been interested in?
As I have explained in the previous paragraph, in 2017 my tutor Peter Trummer presented the brief of the Master Studio and its relation with the OOO. Then I became immediately interested on it because it represented the possibility of an alternative and nonlinear method of design, where the properties of different objects were seen as a transferable matter that could be used to produce Hybrids that tried to reproduce in a multiplicative manner the aesthetical effects of the original objects with the aim of originating alternative architectural aesthetics.
Your work is very experimental which provides a unique aesthetic, how do you feel architectural design will change and adjust in the future?
I think that in the last couple of years and probably starting in 2017 new Hybrids projects have appeared around the globe, a particular mixture between sectional objects (volumes that seems to be a section or a part of a larger element) and parametric architecture (that serves mainly to develop the surface and details) have been the trend in the most famous firms but also in intermediate growing offices, this tendency together with the employment of non-architectural preconfigured software like ZBrush, Unity, Houdini, etc. are going to draw the future of an architecture based in the multiplicity and variety of Mediums.
You based the project in Hudson Yards, New York, was there any particular reason for this location?
First of all the site was selected by the tutor of the Master studio Peter Trummer, however in reference to this location I can say that this site is particularly special because this context contains all the typologies that exist in our contemporary cities: the urban block, the courtyard, the gigantic block, the tower, and of course an interesting mixture of them, in summary an excellent space to speculate new ways of making architecture. In this site with this diversity of typologies and architectural aesthetics, speculative proposals are more feasible to appear and relate by correlation in the proliferation of multiplicity.
What do you feel you have learnt by undertaking this project? And is there anything you would change about it if you could?
This project allowed me to learn a lot from different fields and not only from architecture, but more important to realize myself how every element and field is strongly connected to each other. Each object emerged from a different field like literature, music, painting, land art, design, nature, daily life, etc. then can be thought that these objects with different properties and origins come from distinct realms, however if we explore the relations and track all the references that give birth to them, in the final, all of them are connected in a huge matrix of ontologies that interact in an unique world, that means that each single object represent the very world.
If I had the opportunity to change something in the development of the Master Thesis Project I would probably explore more other technics of form making, trying to find other interesting properties in the objects that could be transpositioned to produce other architectural aesthetics and work more in the small and medium detail scale of the project.
If you could offer one piece of advice to those architecture students reading this interview what would it be?
The unique advice that I can give them is that in architecture nothing is already ended. We must always speculate what is The Next, the architecture should be alive, breath, burn, die and be reborn in an infinite loop.
If you could go back in time and tell young Jose Luis who was just starting out in his architectural studies, what would it be?
I would told him that he should always keep searching and trying new forms of making architecture, that in the final all the effort would find an amazing reward. And also a very important advice: he should rely always on himself and his instincts, and of course smile more, since architecture should be based on honesty, audacity and fun.
Where can people find out more about your work?