And so we find ourselves today connected to vast repositories of knowledge, and yet we have not learned to think. In fact, the opposite is true: that which was intended to enlighten the world in practice darkens it. The abundance of information and the plurality of worldviews now accessible to us through the internet are not producing a coherent consensus reality, but one riven by fundamentalist insistence on simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics.James Bridle
As new technological developments blur conventional boundaries between the physical and digital, between public and private spaces, and between representations and realities, online technologies are increasingly interwoven with the design of physical spaces. Everyday life is increasingly reconfigured, hybridized and facilitated by its connection to the network.
While we commonly imagine the online networks embedded in modern life as eternal, intangible and universal, they are in fact located in physical space, comprised of physical infrastructure and embedded in architecture. Additionally, they are products of the social/political context in which they were created, and are implicitly embedded in the dominant ideologies, where the blind spots in these networks reflect larger hierarchies and power structures of the world.
FUTURE ARCHAEOLOGIES proposes that by examining the physical spatialities of the internet, we can further understand our present world through its contradictions and connections to the technological extensions of ourselves.
The studio will invite students to draw on their own experiences of the social, political and spatial implications of online networks, thinking about the interconnections between physical and digital space. Students will work on possible ways to draw, diagram and represent large scale networks through their material forms, developing possible ways to make unseen spaces visible, while also extracting concepts from the examined spatialites.
Investigating how these ideas are explored in both theory and fiction, students will collectively read James Bridle’s “New Dark Age,” and Tim Maugham’s “Infinite Detail” as two key works which deal with the spatial, political and social implications of a hyper-connected world. Extracting artefacts from the texts, students will dissect a spatiality of the network that connects to their own personal investigation. The analysis of these artefacts will produce concepts, themes, and critical observations which will become the basis of an architectural project.
The studio will then ask students to explore how their depicted network is materialized, or could materialize, in a chosen site, narrowing the scale of investigation from a network to a site, to explore how their ideas manifest in a specific local context.
Finally, students will further develop their concepts into a piece of architecture, to be positioned within both the selected site, and the larger spatial/technological network. This architecture will investigate the potential to both communicate their prior investigation and research, as well as being capable of acting within the critical conceptual framework they develop.