weeknote 21

It’s been very productive month in Princeton, even if I am channeling John Nash in my organizing of little slips of paper in pursuit of the big arguments for my dissertation. I’m interested in what Katherine Hayles refers to as “how information lost its body” and how it gets rematerialized, not in bodies (which is her focus) but in architectural objects and spaces. Ultimately, I’m looking to explain how these broader theories and explanations might be bounced against Christopher Alexander’s design processes, Nicholas Negroponte’s Media Room, the Architecture Machine Group’s Spatial Data Management System projects, and Cedric Price’s building-sized information systems.

Is this where I’m headed? (From A Beautiful Mind. John Nash still lives in Princeton, so it’s not that far a stretch.)

In the course of last week’s reading frenzy, I’ve blown through books by Katherine Hayles, John Johnston, Friedrich Kittler, Donna Haraway, Niklas Luhmann, and Lev Manovich (and more that I can’t remember right now), as well as a bunch of shorter articles. It was an intense amount of material to not just read but parse enough to quote. I then cut up the quotes, recategorized them and put them into new piles. The piles all reside in envelopes, with titles like “embodiment/disembodiment” and “media/medium” and “processing and code” and “modes and operations.” This project isn’t dealing with my archival material or the historical material I have on cybernetics, artificial intelligence and the history of computing in architecture — that’s separate — but it should give me some perspective on the project. Finally, I’m not feeling blocked but rather driven to write, if only to not lose the train of thought I’m following that the hundreds of scraps of paper encapsulate. Unless I go crazy in the process. That’s also possible.

Also up this month: writing a lexicon entry on the computer in architecture for Joan Ockman’s book on the 300 years of architectural pedagogy and writing a piece for the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians  (JSAH) on Papers 2… and that’s in addition to the adventures on which I’m embarking, the subject of my next post.