Digital Poetics

Digital Poetics: An Enquiry into the Properties of ‘Mimetic Intrafaces’ and the ‘Twoandahalf Dimensionality’ of Computer-Aided Architectural Design
Marjan Colletti, 2008.
Published in:

Bartlett Catalogue 2008. UCL London.

Thesis Description
The written and pictorial work discussed and presented in the PhD ventures to grasp the properties of ‘Mimetic Intrafaces’ and the ‘Twoandahalf Dimensionality’ of computer-aided architectural design (CAAD). It attempts to bridge the gap between architectural theory and the built environment by providing a phenomenological alternative to the understanding and the production of CAAD, hitherto less theorised, discussed and taught than contemporary educational doctrines built upon strict, methodological, linear design techniques.

Throughout the thesis, the concept of ‘volution’ is adopted in order to spiral around (advolution), away (devolution), and back towards (evolution), to penetrate inwards (involution) and egress from (revolution) a designer–digitality interaction and feedback system. Multiple viewpoints of observation are thus proposed in order to reveal, or at least approach, Digital Poetics. A second main prerogative of the PhD is constituted by the principle of ‘convolution’ – blur, superposition and interference – being applied to a plethora of apparently binary conditions. Hence the thesis endeavours to reconcile the actual with the virtual/digital, the technological with the poetic/intuitive, the mathematical with the artistic/blissful, the gestural with the figural/figurative, the intermediary with the medium/mediated, and the symbolic with the social/reflexive. This synthetic approach pursues an organic spatial and strategic vision of design that includes materiality, atmospherics, and use. Nor do technology and progress exclude the intuitive and poetic freedom of designers as truly creative thinkers.

In order to enlarge the digital architectural vocabulary, a multitude of arguments beyond the domains of technics, techniques and technologies are involved and invoked: performance (as staging and as task), (re)production, (re)presentation, as well as psychic projection, digital mimesis, poetic automatism, and symbolic bliss. Constructing a possible intellectual, intuitive, and intimate feedback system that allows intrafaces to thrive, the PhD criticises objectivity as invariance, evolution as method, users as observers. The concept of the computer as soft toy is brought forth in order to overcome feelings of alienation and estrangement, as well as to annihilate any residual gender-specific concerns and master-slave relationships during human-computer interaction. From the narratives of digitality emerges the figure of the ‘CAADemiurge’: author of spaces, places, images, things and words that may come within reach of the poetic image – vessel of digital properties – and of Digital Poetics.

The subject matters of the PhD have been researched in a threefold manner: as text, as design experiments focused on establishing an immediate 1:1 relationship with the digital domain, and as architectural proposals. These attempt a transfer of digital experiences and properties established in the text and in the experiments back into the realm of human evaluation, interaction and inhabitation. The design output results from the understanding of digital architectural avant-garde as the merger of (analogue) parameters and (digital) properties. The projects are developed through 2D and 3D software and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC), Rapid Protoyping (RP), Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technologies.

PhD Architecture, awarded 2007
Principal Supervisor: Professor Jonathan Hill
Second Supervisor: Professor Philip Tabor