BairBalliet (Kelly Bair, Kristy Balliet)

Architectural Beast, 2019

Avec Atelier Manferdini (Elena Manferdini), Hernan Diaz Alonso, Florencia Pita & Co, Griffin Enright Architects (Margaret Griffin, John Enright), Damjan Jovanovic, Alberto Kalach, Ferda Kolatan - su11 architecture + design, Fabian Marcaccio, Lucy McRae, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S (Marcelo Spina, Georgina Huljich), Casey Rehm, Ruy Klein (David Ruy, Karel Klein), servo, Testa & Weiser Inc. (Peter Testa, Devyn Weiser), Tom Wiscombe, Liam Young

In every process of evolution, there is a period of extreme contamination that lends the possibility for the trajectories of species to begin mutating. In the last thirty years, design has experienced multiple paradigm shifts generated by an eruption of new methodologies. These were derived mainly from new technologies, but also from a series of cultural changes, each prompting a reorganization in the culture of design, architecture, and art, and violating an old order, rendering it historical, obsolete.

Today, perhaps as never before, we share a technical language that flows from discipline to discipline, altering the paths of previously discrete branches of knowledge. Many practices—art, architecture, fashion, film, music— explore similar ambitions, ideas rippling across and among them. The notion of authorship itself is in flux.

This exhibition acknowledges and propels this phenomenon. It seeks to carve a path through a jungle of aesthetic and conceptual similarities to provoke contamination. Through artificial intelligence, the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind.

Each participant is asked to present a project, primarily represented through a single image: not their finest or most successful piece of work, but the most strangely speculative, uncomfortable, and unresolved work—the one that haunts their practice. This is an exhibition of the irksome.

Projects may represent the future of the practice, the future of our world, an alternate future of either, a possible future (potentially best to be avoided), an unexploded bomb, a false start, or a truly terrible idea that refuses to desist. These projects represent the moment of contamination when a freshly minted paradigm finally becomes identifiable in the act of its alteration into something new—and as yet unidentifiable—a sampling of the orphaned drafts for what might still turn out to be a successful mutation.

These works, represented in the simplest possible way, are one half of the exhibition. The second half will then contaminate these contaminations with an alien technical logic, producing further mutations and intimating evolution as a stage rehearsal: unpolished, invisible, in process, and normally not meant to be seen. Here we exploit contemporary models of artificial intelligence to produce continuously evolving architectural speculations based on these projects. Two neural network models will be locked in a continuous game of comprehension and generation, utilizing machine learning to engage the selected works. The first network is designed to read and understand architectural intention purely through image. This model will explore the ability of nonhuman systems to find novel commonalities or architectural classifications between disparate design projects. This happens through direct formal analysis and thus in the systematic absence of traditional theoretical discourse. The second network will leverage the synthesized agendas of the first to generate new architectural provocations and imagery. In short: the first understands, the second designs. Over the course of the exhibition, these two inhuman partners will endlessly evolve new forms, oscillating between expressing the curated works’ underlying content (as understood by a nonhuman actor), and spiraling into mutated imagery that challenges the human observer’s understanding of meaning and form, while withdrawing the work from traditional concepts of authorship and intention.

In this exhibition, a radical set of unresolved and dissimilar contaminations of accepted practice will itself be contaminated through the irruption of a single cross-disciplinary technical language, AI, in the hopes of gleaning a fleeting glimpse of evolutionary outcomes stranger than anyone could have expected; indifferent to our desires and far from eugenic fantasy, the product neither of adaptation nor of “intelligent design,” a beast; but ideally at best, and after many failures, in some sense, life.

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