The clairvoyant spirit of the designer to represent godlike spatial proportions has moved to a new ethos of instant aesthetic. Architectural education has a huge appetite for this instantaneous progress serving as a primary faculty aiding fabrication of fantasy. Pleasures of beauty scrolling on hyper accessible platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, we witness the living spectacle of beauty records every day. These aesthetic endearments result in different encasements of millennial pinks and greens.
The accumulative precedent studies that used to make up our conceptual thinking is not just a starting point anymore. These studies now casually strip off the political, cultural, social, spiritual, philosophical or even horrific baggage’s of form and function. Stumbling across a collage of a “Barbie Showroom” that looked exactly like “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, except instead of the grey slabs resembling rows of coffins in the showroom, there were assorted Barbies encased in the grey and pink slabs. We get desensitized to forms sitting in our studios ; over exposure penetrating through our ideas - moving, feeling and breathing forms of a distorted, enhanced reflection of the archive from within.
Tech companies today capitalize onto our digital footprints not just in terms of our social engagements and object / food preferences but also shape our visual palette. Surveillance in the art of image making can be an advantage or disadvantage for the art community. The pedagogical aesthetic trails of each professor and young architectural practitioner take us down the rabbit hole of various speculative architectural chronicles.
Our speculation that the day is close when Pinstagram or any of these visual platforms start extracting data by the way we look at each image on our phones, how exactly our eyes travel through each image / graphics / paintings we see, what image proportions engage us more than others, how many minutes do we take to look at a particular image, how many organic or inorganic likes each image receives, was the image saved in any format by an individual - eventually these platforms start controlling our visual senses. The digested matter that comes out of an individual after this image consumption and the contribution that’s fed into the system again because of this visual gymnastics is in a way a kind of aesthetic cannibalism. The Panopticon reflecting within itself.
Heatherwick’s vessel as jarring and empty it may look definitely possesses these values, representing the void of the hyper commodified aesthetics. The vessel of architecture looks down to itself, its nakedness. Does this mean that visual simulation is making beauty more provocative? Or overburdened? Is late PoMo and onset of tinder architecture preparing us to think faster or in a more informed way. Is Fantasy accumulation a thing now? But who is the author of this fantasy? Who is the author of this global aesthetic? I wonder what Fantasy archives you hold?
Author : Swati Vimal Jain, Ms.AAD, Columbia GSAPP ;
Illustration : Himil Ramani, B.Arch, Mumbai University