BioPower Transmutations

Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA
"... each portion of matter is not only infinitely divisible, as the ancients observed, but is also actually subdivided without end, each part into further parts, of which each has some motion of its own; otherwise it would be impossible for each portion of matter to express the whole universe. Whence it appears that in the smallest particle of matter there is a world of creatures, living beings, animals, entelechies, souls. Each portion of matter may be conceived as like a garden full of plants and like a pond full of fishes. But each branch of every plant, each member of every animal, each drop of its liquid parts is also some such garden or pond." Leibniz, Monadology

There are two key questions or themes driving this studio, which seem to me to be the critical issues we need to deal with today in architecture. The first investigates the relationship between architecture, Empire [cf. Negri & Hardt] and Geo/Bio Politics, searching for points where architecture and urbanism might usefully participate in this relationship to create a world with more freedom. The second question seeks a more robust conceptual model for both politics and architecture, a model for design which suggests the superimposition of bodies coexisting and interacting with each other. There are many examples of this superimposition: viruses living in our human bodies, waves of flow passing through bodies in stadiums, human bodies living within cities, cultures thriving within new technologies, new technologies emerging within economies. Discovering the optimum relation between the more fluid bodies- what we could describe as the more temporalized bodies- and the more stratified bodies- will be the larger goal of the studio. Others have attempted to bracket conceptual work in architecture in the past decade. Kipnis suggested around the heyday of 'Folding in architecture'- the point many [re]discovered Leibniz through Deleuze's book 'The Fold'- that we could break contemporary architectural thinking into the informational and deformational. Illustrative of this was his definition of Tschumi as an information oriented architect- 'program', not 'form'- and of Eisenman as a deformation oriented designer- 'form', before 'program'. More recently Karl Chu has revisioned this by framing these tendencies in our thinking today as either morpho-dynamic or morpho-genetic. The dynamic variant responds to external forces, and 'senses' them with its 'body'; whereas the genetic variant responds to an internal 'code' or DNA like instruction set and 'expresses' this code in its 'body'. Chu positions himself more towards the morphogenetic end of the spectrum, and architects like Greg Lynn in the morphodynamic end. Chu's own work is oriented toward the morphogenetic- perhaps because he senses an oncoming technological revolution which will impart a radical new intelligence to matter, permitting us as humans to both shape AND communicate with it at an unprecedented level.

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

Given all these binaries, I would hope to present a synthetic model which doesn't overemphasize either approach. The MorphoGenetic taken to an extreme could be seen as an 'anti-matter' strain of Gnosticism; similarly the MorphoDynamic taken as its face value can be typified as a sort of license to design at will- going far beyond what Greg Lynn called some years ago the 'anexact'. The whole argument - and perhaps our architecture culture at present- might be best contextualized in a humorous vein by a passage from the film 'City of Lost Children', where an arcane group of Gnostic cultists theorizes about the true sight they can gain by submitting to their technological augmentations. As a response to this complex discourse of heresies, I suggest that the constant co-presence of both the interior codes and flows of matter, and the external forces to which it is subject, should be simultaneously modeled and studied. Closer to the program that we are dealing with in the studio, I suggest that in this studio the concept of superimposed bodies can be modeled as a "pathogen to host" relationship, whether we are dealing with infectious diseases, global revolutions, or urban design and architecture. To get at this idea, our specific program will be to design a headquarters, network model, and tactical response team with equipment for an international organization that handles events at a truly global scale. This organization will be a hybrid of groups such as NATO, the UN, the World Health Organization, Medecine Sans Frontiers, and the Center for Disease Control [CDC]. We will consider other NGOs, global entities, corporations and technologies as candidates, such as Monsanto, Earth First, the NSA, and CARNIVORE. In the performance of organizations like the CDC or NATO, it is crucial for information to become actionable immediately and impact the way that both global and tactical responses take place. Architecture has traditionally operated very slowly as a large scale cultural memory mechanism. How can its performance model now be revised to acknowledge immediately actionable information?

SOUND BITES: A series of breaking news stories from the near future
"... Crisis Control Architectures: Rapid Response Teams build a new body for 'EMPIRE'" "... Geological Drift, TransNational Business, and Nanotechnology: Designing the Headquarters for Our New Geopolitical Institutions" "... Global Bio-Power and your desktop DNA synthesizer. Actions you can take!"

The danger we're facing, of course, as BioPower mutates and grows, is a total state of war- as Werner Herzog said on location in the Amazon jungle during the filming of 'Fitzcarraldo': "Taking a close look at
what's around us, there *is* some sort of harmony- it is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder..."

War in this case can be understood in its literal sense- humans striving against each other in mortal combat. I'd like to redefine it in a more open-ended sense as the interaction of organic and non-organic life to generate novel forms of behavior, and growth. Unfortunately for us today, our technological progress is making it more and more likely that a single person could release a genetic or nanotech apocalypse, reducing the promise of growth and paradigm shifts to simple disaster.
BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

"The parts for a DNA synthesizer can now be purchased for approximately $10,000. By 2010 a single person will be able to sequence or synthesize 10^10 bases a day. Within a decade a single person could sequence or synthesize all the DNA describing all the people on the planet many times over in an eight-hour day or sequence his or her own DNA within seconds. Given the power and threat of biological technologies, the only way to ensure safety in the long run is to push research and development as fast as possible. Open and distributed networks of researchers would provide an intelligence gathering capability and a flexible and robust workforce for developing technology." Rob Carlson, Originally published in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science Volume 1 Number 3, August 2003. Compounding this very complicated techno-political situation, the 'bodies' of contemporary geopolitical institutions are more complex than those economic and political bodies we've been accustomed to dealing with historically. Many thinkers- including, e.g., Jameson, Harvey, Sassen, Easterling, Boeri or Appadurai- have struggled in their work to apprehend the full scope of this body and assemble a taxonomy of its behaviors. One could say that our world- call it a post capital world, a post human world, a world nearing a clash of civilizations, or just this "best of all possible worlds"- this world is one where the relevant site for architecture, urban structures and events is the location where a more shifty and evasive network comes into contact with older channels of migration, communication and territory. No doubt, global economies have existed for centuries, but the power of the individual to affect them has changed radically in the past decades, and is changing ever faster. Foucault foreshadowed this when he identified the three variables of contemporary space as speed territory and communication. I would identify some mission critical areas for us as tech savvy global architects: __ the technology of desktop DNA synthesis and hacking; __ Agribusiness PHARMING [the use of Genetically Modified Organisms {GMOs} to produce drugs; __ Emergent NanoTech problems [from unforeseen toxicity of BuckyBalls to Grey Goo scenarios]; __ Emergent Diseases- either natural and exacerbated by global air travel, or synthetic and rampant; __the deployment of modernism into the third world through culture, technology, economy, religion and infrastructure [an urban precedent for this was, for example, Corbusier's Obus Plan for Algiers] - and ultimately, across all these disciplines, the Hacktivist in relation to networks and Empire. So, to reiterate- our PROGRAM will be to design a headquarters, ORG Structure and tactical outposts for a near-future incarnation of an organization like the CDC. To do this, we'll be designing an institution which is actually more like an ORGANISM- we'll be building a body which is deployed across many scales. This will be no 19th Century Frankenstein, with arms and legs of mortal clay- it may have almost no recognizable physical form at first glance. For the CREATION of a BODY, an ORGANISM: we'll need parts of a BODY which are necessary for complex behavior, intelligence, what some call life. Let's say that this can be modeled, to start with, on an ORGANIC BODY, with fibers, nerves, electromagnetic impulses, sense organs, response patterns and behaviors, preferred environments, reproductive strategies which determine future capability, populations, relationships, etc.

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

This endeavor will deal with the THE OVERLAP of subset BODIES. These overlaps are the ones I have referred to above. They are made of the co-presence and superimposition of the real and the virtual, of many strands of time. Another way of looking at this would be to draw the concept of coherence from contemporary physics. In quantum theory, a coherent system is one which has multiple states- multiple futures- superimposed. When this system 'decoheres', it 'chooses' one of those superimpositions as the single future it will follow. Likewise, we could say that any architecture, any institution, or any design process is the constant balancing of possible outcomes- coherent, overlapping futures. Our design process will work with this idea and attempt to find the CATALYST moments which choose future paths for a body- whether that body is a single individual living in a building, or half a million immigrants using a new technology in an urban Special Economic Zone, or a new NGO devoted to monitoring emergent pathogens.

PROGRAM: The design of a near future NGO level organization fusing the capacity of the WHO, the CDC, NATO and Medecine Sans Frontiers; with headquarters, outlying facilities, rapid response teams, etc. • CDC scale headquarters, global crisis plus tactical response team unit design. • Pharma- development research center and BioTech research center: or with distribution via hacker networks • Earth First/Greenpeace headquarters, global organization As an added option for some: we have an invitation from Steven Starr, one of the founders of Freenet, to propose a new headquarters for his current 'change.tv' project, as a BASE with ADDITIONAL INSTITUTIONAL affiliations.

WORKING METHOD: "What creates the illusion of classical mechanics is our inability to keep track of every aspect of a quantum system. If we can't observe the whole system- if it's too large and complex in itself, or if it's coupled to its surroundings, making THEM part of the system- we lose the information that distinguishes a genuine superposition, where alternatives coexist and interact, from a classical mixture of mutually exclusive possibilities..." Schild's Ladder, Greg Egan As a handshake project in the first week each student will immediately choose a program and design a local outpost, tactical response team and strategy with equipment, philosophy, etc. This will be a trial run, and projects will not be restricted to this initial test of program. In the first 4 weeks there will be a series of seminars covering a set of core readings and film screenings with group meetings each Friday. We'll be doing an intensive and simultaneous analysis of several source materials: films, locations, disease outbreak / meme propagation morphology, and institutions.
BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

This analysis work will be done as line diagrams in Illustrator; FILM SUPERIMPOSITION + REMIX techniques [in Premiere, After Effects or Final Cut] to identify moments of coherence and decoherence; and digital modeling in Maya and 3DSMax. Film viewings over the first four weeks will be a central part of the initial work and will provide material for analysis and alternative precedent models for new scenarios and programs. Scenario writing will be used as way of identifying key evolutionary factors in the program (cf. www.gbn.org & www.wired.com). Students will choose a final program/site/scale to work with by end of fourth week. Each student will present a brief report on the site and program they have chosen, outlining 3 scenarios developed during the first 4 weeks. At this point each project will be developed from the program motors + scenarios. Instead of attempting to design a building by analyzing an existing entity- a film, a city, an institutionand then projecting that analysis onto a receptive body- we'll be simultaneously designing, embedding partially completed analytic results, and extracting the analysis in a revised form from the project. In other words, just as in the real world there are many systems which overlap and feedback with each other, we'll be maintaining that the DIAGRAM components of our initial work continue to exist- to live on as a para-site of time within matter within time, inside the project.

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

SCHEDULE: Studio Intro Friday : Introduction to material + program. Class discussion. Screening of Lars Von Trier's KINGDOM, assign first readings [Serres, websites], films WEEKS ONE-FOUR: Handshake, Seminars / Research, Mapping + Analysis / Site WEEK ONE : handshake + film screenings begin handshake, scenarios, and film analysis Mon/Weds. desk crits, review on Friday WEEK TWO : analysis work + scenario writing + site documentation + seminar select abstract models and modeling tools (computer, physical models) (refine program[s] and 3 film clips) program documentation analysis and film analysis continues desk crits WEEK THREE : analysis work + scenario writing + site documentation + seminar abstract models and modeling tools (computer, drawings, physical models) site analysis , film analysis continues desk crits, review on Friday. to present scenario and program research, film analysis WEEK FOUR: FIRST MAJOR REVIEW Mon, Weds, Desk Crits. Friday: Review: present program, site maps, diagrams, film and site analysis scenarios to propose scale of project and site(s) WEEK FIVE - WEEK SIX: analysis wrapup Simulations/diagrams/scenario visualizations + initial design Design at various scales: Global to urban to personal. WEEK SIX: MID REVIEW, Friday WEEK SEVEN - WEEK ELEVEN: Main design work; presentation Work proposal into site. Plan/section; animations, video, models. Final design development End of WEEK Eleven: FINAL REVIEW

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

READINGS: ___Websites, linked on studio Time for Revolution, Empire , Negri & Hardt 1000 Plateaus, Deleuze + Guattari WIRED magazine Scenarios issue [online archive] and on scenario planning: GBN.org "Urban Economies and Fading Distances", Saskia Sassen Schild's Ladder, Greg Egan Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson Shockwave Rider, John Brunner Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis The Invisibles, Grant Morrison Watchmen, Alan Moore The Dormant Beast, Enki Bilal "Possible Urban Worlds", David Harvey ___excerpts from seminar, give lectures in first 3 weeks Hermes: Literature, ... and The Parasite , Michel Serres The Geopolitical Aesthetic , Jameson 'Inorganic Life', ZONE 6 + excerpts from 1000 years..., Manuel DeLanda Critical Art Ensemble, “The Electronic Disturbance” excerpts from SI journals and monographs: www.nothingness.org Neuromancer, Gibson Smart Mobs, Rheingold Collective Intelligence, Pierre Levy FILMS: Lars von Trier :: The Kingdom, The Element of Crime David Cronenberg :: Crash, Videodrome Jean Luc Godard :: Alphaville David Fincher :: Fight Club Todd Haynes :: Safe Mamoru Oshii :: Ghost in the Shell Robert Wise :: Andromeda Strain Werner Herzog :: Lessons of Darkness Alan Pakula :: Parallax View Steven Soderbergh :: Solaris William Friedkin :: Exorcist Wolfgang Peterson :: Outbreak Caro + Jeunet :: City of Lost Children Coppola :: Apocalypse Now, The Conversation Danny Boyle :: 28 Days Later Olivier Assayas :: Demonlover Po-Chih Leong :: Immortality Emir Kusturica :: Underground Antonioni :: Blowup, Passenger, Red Desert, Zabriskie Point Woo :: Mission Impossible 2 Stanley Kubrick :: 2001 Godrey Reggio :: Koyanisqatsi Chris Marker :: Sans Soleil, La Jetee Richard Fleischer :: Soylent Green Ridley Scott :: Alien, Blade Runner

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

LOCATIONS: Duty Free Zones, Special Economic Zones Jungles: Amazon, Subsahara: Kinshasa Highway Biotech research facilities, Academic or Institutional Deep Ocean: new BioVector sources SubGlacial Lakes: Old BioVector sources PATHOGENS [outbreak and propagation morphology]: Existing BIO factors: HIV, EBOLA, etc. Existing NonOrganic Factors: Radiation, chemical Existing MEME Vectors: Capitalism, Communism, Net, CelPhone, etc. Emergent diseases: New organic Pathogens, or synthesized NANOTECH: Grey Goo scenarios, etc. Global Industry Air Travel, Ocean Travel Pharming INSTITUTIONS: Existing institutional Vectors: pick a Global NGO, institution, or company. CDC, NIKE, NATO, IMF, WHO, MONSANTO, etc. NB: The FILMS, LOCATIONS, PATHOGENS, AND INSTITUTIONS lists are partial, and each designer should expand on them.

TIMELINE:"BioPower Futures"
A partial and highly speculative timeline by Juan Azulay and Ed Keller, from a source timeline by Ray Kurzweil 2006: Price deflation, which had been a reality in the computer field during the twentieth century, is now occurring outside the computer field. The reason for this is that virtually all economic sectors are deeply affected by accelerating improvement in the price performance of computing. This seems to increase the gap between rich and poor. 2007: Communication between components uses short-distance wireless technology. 2008: Pocket-sized reading machines for the blind and visually impaired, "listening machines" (speech to-text conversion) for the deaf, and computer controlled orthotic devices for paraplegic individuals result in growing perception that primary disabilities do not necessarily impart handicaps. But the UK’s Guardian disputes the figures that support this growth, speculating that they are tainted. People with no legs still want their legs back. 2009: A $1,000 personal computer can perform about a trillion calculations per second. Personal computers with high-resolution visual displays come in a range of sizes, from those small enough to be embedded in clothing and jewelry up to the size of a thin book. Cables are disappearing. Also ubiquitous are language user interfaces (ULIs). Most routine business transactions (purchases, travel, reservations) take place between a human and a virtual personality. Translating telephones (speech-to-speech language translation) are commonly used for many language pairs. 2010: The Gulf of Mexico and the Caspian Sea become the first bodies of water to include an Orange City: massive low density offshore immigrant housing, funded by Home Depot, modeled after Lake Titicaca dwellings in Bolivia. Its uniqueness lies in that all the dirt used to fill was stolen from Iraq, as a result of the massive invasion that it underwent in 2003. OPEC countries ban the importation of goods from oil consuming countries. As a result, oil becomes unbearably expensive. The leading automakers and aircraft manufacturers roll out a contingency plan that consists of hydrogen engines. This produces an economic growth spike as much as another round of corporate crisis at the BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

level of management, since this could have been done a decade ago. Although traditional classroom organization is still common, intelligent courseware has emerged as a common means of learning. Bio-engineered treatments for cancer and heart disease have greatly reduced the mortality from these diseases but have greatly multiplied the frequency of the disease. On a general basis, medicine keeps making life uncomfortable for an ever-growing number of people. Some activist groups, like the neo-Luddite movement, point to a conspiracy that makes people suffer longer, and defers the closure of this suffering (death). Jack Kevorkian, still in prison, becomes a figure of mythic status, equal to Fidel Castro, who passed away in 2006. 2012: The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition. 2013: Human musicians routinely jam with cybernetic musicians, substantiating the claims that the epidemic in venereal disease was fueled by euphoria, similar to the occurrences of the age of disco. So much so, that the new strain of AIDS is named A54 (or Agent 54, allegedly a reference to the golden days of Studio 54 in New York City). AIDS remains to be conquered, still mutating and adapting to new medicines and charms. 2014: Massive earthquake in San Francisco. The $3 billion “Dot Com Museum”, built in 2009 and designed by Rem Koolhaas, collapses, unleashing a sell-off in Wall Street. The brokerage houses call it a crisis in financial memory, according to the argument that security markets have short memory when it comes to greed. Psychic stocks rally. Numerologists gain more credibility than ever. 2016: Computers are now largely invisible and are imbedded everywhere--in walls, tables, chairs, desks, clothing, jewelry, and bodies. High-resolution, three-dimensional visual and auditory reality and realistic all-encompassing tactile environments enable people to do virtually anything with anybody, regardless of physical proximity. Deaf persons read what other people are saying through their lens displays. Paraplegic and some quadriplegic persons routinely walk and climb through a combination of computer-controlled nerve stimulation and exo-skeletal robotic devices. Needless to say they are still socially marginalized. Since they have to put their newfound human abilities to the test, they have formed paramilitary forces. Most of them are used as peacekeeping forces abroad. Haiti becomes a Caribbean powerhouse. 2017: Political stability is increasingly meaningless in terms of a country’s ability to govern itself. 2018: 40% of the world’s land is covered in either concrete or asphalt. But most importantly, and almost unknown, is that 18% of the world’s land has an underground (below 6’). This has deep cultural ramifications, largely unaccounted for and under-studied. Other say that the nuclear arsenal was larger than we could dare imagine. That makes that 18% a potentially low figure.

BioPower Transmutations Designing Contemporary Architectural Organisms ED KELLER, Critic GSAP AAD STUDIO, Summer 2004 Jose Gonzalez, TA

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