Decoding Archives: Architecture and Hypermedia.
Fieldstation Master Dissertation 2021 – 2022, Ghent
Promotor: Dr. Corneel Cannaerts, Co-promotor: Michiel Helbig
Fieldstation ADO is an Academic Design Office exploring the agency of emerging technologies and their impact on the environments we inhabit. We have built up body of work modelling the complexities of our technology saturated environments, through addressing specific topics such as hacking, shifting borders, platforms, automation, luxury and precarity. We have developed several research and design strategies and media: fieldtrips, fieldguides, data hoarding, scraping, modelling, visualisation, computational design, time-based and interactive media, speculative and narrative architecture. The studio explores the impact of digital technologies on the culture and practice of architecture, questioning its habitual modes of operation.
Digitalisation and the emergence of the Technosphere, an accidentally and planetary infrastructure of networked technology, has revolutionised how we acquire, organise, store and consume information. Information is no longer bound to physical locations but can potentially be accessed globally, exactly and can be endlessly duplicated. Digitalisation has led to the emergence of new forms of centralised power fuelled by the abundance of data, in the form of surveillance and big tech companies. However, after online platforms have democratised production and publishing of data, blockchain technologies are promising new forms of decentralised ownership and archiving of information. Computation has not only vastly increased the amount of information that can be processed and archived, but also how this information can be utilised and made projective, i.e. digital information is not just representing our world, but actively producing it.
For this master dissertation the body of work developed by Fieldstation Studio is the starting point and framework for developing a personal project and interest. In addition to the work published on the website, students will get access to the Fieldstation archive, a collection of hypermedia consisting of texts, images, videos, models, scripts, databases and metadata… The topic, nature and scope of the dissertation project is open, and will be specified by the student during the first semester. Although the project is individual, Fieldstation studio operates as a collective, sharing skills, workshops and reviews, and is working towards a collective exhibition and publication. The studio will run in close collaboration with the Fieldstation master studio on Projective Archives in the first master, that investigates what contemporary notions of archiving, resulting from increased digitalisation mean for architectural culture and practice.
In this master dissertation archiving will be used as a technique, students will be introduced into various means of storing, organising and visualising data; as content, the archive of Fieldstation and the addressed topics will serve as the starting point to determine personal focus; and as a medium, students will develop their own archive reflecting on how the medium and format influences the design outcome.
This master dissertation addresses the notion of archives through critical reflection on and hands-on experimentation with digital technologies and a collection of design projects. Students will define their own section through the FIeldstation universe and a extended focus by compiling a personal archive. The way these archives are compiled and used to develop a design proposal, is part of the speculation, project and critical thinking exercise.
Students need to have excellent design skills and have an interest in the critical and practical application of digital technologies in architectural design. Prior knowledge of technologies, certain techniques or software is not an absolute condition to participate, but the will to explore them critically is.
Results of last years master dissertation on Algorithmic Vision and Umwelt, can be found here:
Image credit: Fieldstation Studio, Decoding Affinities, 2020, Risquons-Tout exhibition, Wiels