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Adaptive Landscapes
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Design can be adaptive, demonstrating a potential for change, as the conditions and context within...

This bibliography includes the reading material that was influential for the development of my...

My thesis begins with several opposing concepts: the ideal and the empirical; order and disorder;...

Modular Systems
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In the early 1930s, American type designer William Addison Dwiggins began working on a ‘roman’...

Phonetic alphabets came from the necessity for clear communication over radio lines, and are...

Self-Organizing Networks
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Warchalking exposes wireless Internet networks through hand-inscribed chalkmarks in urban...

A series of postcards is lasercut with haikus, written by the participants of an online forum, in...

In Rimbaud’s ‘ville’ of ‘Les Illuminations’, flows are structural, and steady-states are ephemeral....

Swarms, consisting of independent agents, exhibit spontaneous expansive and contractive macro...

Programme & Mutable Form
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I am interested in exploring program and mutable form within the urban environment, both as an...

Markets are becoming global, while transitory population segments are growing. Cities are becoming...

A process book summarizes my early thesis direction involving computation. Formed around the text...

Computation & Complexity
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This piece appears as a 16-page section in Multi-Purpose, a book produced by the graphic design MFA...

The similarity between language and landscapes is expressed through ‘linguistic’ mark-making within...

The Club of Rome’s famous 1975 article predicted, based on a computer simulation, that the world...

Globalization may encourage the homogenization of cultures, by accelerated processes of selection...

The statement “You Can’t Fall in Love with a Growth Curve” originated as a piece of graffiti, the...

Entropia is a typeface that responds to sound. Entropia can be set to various states of...

Urban Artifacts
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“New York Places & Pleasures” by Kate Simon, published in 1959, is considered among the best...

Ten of the most familiar utopian city grids—from humanistic plans, based on proportions of the...

My proposal for a new railing along the pedestrian and bicycle walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge...

According to Aldo Rossi, urban artifacts are stable moments in the constantly shifting composition...

The site of the MTA Hudson Yards is located at the Hudson River terminus of the 34th Street...

Programme & Mutable Form

I am interested in exploring program and mutable form within the urban environment, both as an object of study and observation, as well as a model for creating work.

Form is the result of two basic tendencies in the world. On the surface, a Mondrian painting can be seen as a representation of complete order. [1] A Jackson Pollock painting, on the other hand, seems to display complete disorder. [2] These same tendencies can be observed in the form of the city.
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[1] Piet Mondrian, Composition (Blue, Red, Yellow), 1930
[1] Piet Mondrian, Composition (Blue, Red, Yellow), 1930

[2] Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, 1950
[2] Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Spiro Kostof shows the gradual transformation of a Roman Colony into an Islamic City [3], and, vice versa, of an Islamic settlement into a medieval Italian town. [4] A city plan of Barcelona shows a modern, grid-based development surrounding the historic city center. [5] In Toulouse, France, an organic city-plan was realized for a suburb outside the medieval city. [6]
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[3] Spiro Kostof, Transformation of a Roman Colony
[3] Spiro Kostof, Transformation of a Roman Colony

[4] Spiro Kostof, Transformation of an Islamic town
[4] Spiro Kostof, Transformation of an Islamic town

[5] Spiro Kostof, Barcelona expansion planned by Ildefonso Cerd
[5] Spiro Kostof, Barcelona expansion planned by Ildefonso Cerd

[6] Spiro Kostof, Organic city-building extension plan realized in Toulouse, France
[6] Spiro Kostof, Organic city-building extension plan realized in Toulouse, France

Order/Disorder
The relationship between order and disorder is complex. Scientific theory states that matter and energy can only be exchanged in one direction, that is, from order to disorder. Furthermore, any attempt to create order will invariably generate more disorder in the world.

Entropy is the tendency towards disorder, randomness and flat hierarchy. Architect Reinhold Martin writes: “Entropy is the shadow of all organization; it is the background noise from which all dynamic patterns emerge.” He goes on to say that the use of entropic principles in his work is “not about ‘inventing’ new forms, new programs, or new sites as such. It is about reinventing them [].”
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In his recent book “A New Kind of Science,” Stephen Wolfram explores cellular automata, simple rule-based programs, which generate surprisingly complex, even chaotic results. Conway's ‘Game of Life’ is such a program, simulating the behavior of living organisms. Wolfram’s findings, which he regards as fundamental to understanding the organization of matter in the world, show that complexity and disorder can be the result of simple parameters. [7]
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[7] Stephen Wolfram, Cellular Automata
[7] Stephen Wolfram, Cellular Automata

In 1948, Eliel Saarinen likened the urban fabric to cell tissue. Like organisms, healthy cities exhibit high functional order and low concentration. [8] Unhealthy cities, characterized by poverty and congestion, exhibit low functional order. Both organisms and cities, display their program simultaneously on a macro, micro, even molecular scale.
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[8] Eliel Saarinen, healthy and unhealthy cell tissue
[8] Eliel Saarinen, healthy and unhealthy cell tissue

In his 1964 essay “Organics,” William Katavolos envisions architecture literally grown from polymers. [9, 10] He suggests a scenario in which programs could be designed to grow furniture, buildings, even cities.
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[9] William Katavolos, drawing of an organic city grown from polymers
[9] William Katavolos, drawing of an organic city grown from polymers

[10] William Katavolos, drawing of an organic city grown from polymers
[10] William Katavolos, drawing of an organic city grown from polymers

The British artist Andy Goldsworthy creates sculpture from natural materials found within natural environments. [11, 12] His pieces, often ephemeral, represent a human interruption in nature, an intentional organization of random matter.
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[11] Andy Goldsworthy, Broken Pebbles
[11] Andy Goldsworthy, Broken Pebbles

[12] Andy Goldsworthy, Pebbles Around a Hole
[12] Andy Goldsworthy, Pebbles Around a Hole

Entropy/Optimization
Entropy stands in close relation to the evolutionary process of optimization.

The study of typology in architecture illustrates this concept. Architectural types evolve based on a fitness function, and, over time, tend to reflect the most suitable organizational forms within a specific context. As Aldo Rossi points out, the type, a constant within a changing urban environment, becomes a generator of form for the city. [13]
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[13] Paris, Champs-Elysées
[13] Paris, Champs-Elysées

Architect Greg Lynn uses algorithms interpreting changing environmental data to design animate buildings that respond to the context of a site. Lynn defines animate design as “the co-presence of motion and force at the moment of formal conception.” [14]
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[14] Greg Lynn Form, Crystalline Mango
[14] Greg Lynn Form, Crystalline Mango

Haresh Lalvani is a self-described architectural morphologist. His work is based on genetic algorithms, which he uses to enable the bending of metal sheets into complex forms. His Column Museum, for example, demonstrates the amount of possibilities his approach provides for various styles of column covers. [15]
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[15] Haresh Llalvani, Column Museum
[15] Haresh Llalvani, Column Museum

In this computational experiment, I tried to determine the outcome of an object by using an algorithm. The object was modulated by randomly changing its parameters. [16] Various types started to appear with every modulation—the most successful outcomes were used as a basis to generate further iterations. In allowing the computer to determine form based on an initial rule set, the designer—in acting as an editor—chooses the most appropriate results for the design problem at hand. [17]
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[16] Christian Marc Schmidt, computational form based on a Lorenz-Attractor algorithm
[16] Christian Marc Schmidt, computational form based on a Lorenz-Attractor algorithm

[17] Christian Marc Schmidt, selection of types based on a Lorenz-Attractor algorithm
[17] Christian Marc Schmidt, selection of types based on a Lorenz-Attractor algorithm

Objectivity/Subjectivity
Objectivity, or transparency, has been a particularly dominant idea in design, starting with Beatrice Warde, who in 1956 argued that typography should be non-expressive and essentially invisible.

Edward Tufte, the widely recognized information design advocate and theorist, argues for an objective formal language in the presentation of information. [18]
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[18] Edward Tufte, Napoleon's March
[18] Edward Tufte, Napoleon's March

Recently, information visualization has taken more expressive directions. This can be seen in the work of Benjamin Fry, who uses large, dynamic datasets such as the human genome to produce form—information becomes pattern. [19]
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[19] Benjamin Fry, Chromosome Studies
[19] Benjamin Fry, Chromosome Studies

Casey Reas uses computational algorithms in his work to generate complex forms, which often resemble living organisms. [20]
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[20] Casey Reas, MicroImages
[20] Casey Reas, MicroImages

[21] Casey Reas, MicroImages
[21] Casey Reas, MicroImages

Kevin Lynch explored mapping subjectivity in the 1960s. In his book “The Image of the City,” he features maps based on studies of individual city-dwellers’ recollections of their urban environments. The results seek to explain the importance of a city’s imageability. [22]
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[22] Kevin Lynch, sketch from The Image of the City
[22] Kevin Lynch, sketch from The Image of the City

In a typographic study, I mapped a text onto the surface of a face. Though the original content of the text becomes obscured, the piece creates a semantic and temporal relationship between typography and the complexities of a surface. [23]
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[23] Christian Marc Schmidt, study of typography and surface
[23] Christian Marc Schmidt, study of typography and surface

Generative psychogeography is a contemporary variation of a movement rooted in 1950’s Situationist urban theory. [Image 31 Using genetic algorithms—programs that include a variable for containing information carried over from other programs—participants follow a set of instructionsan algorithmto determine their walking course through an urban environment. These algorithms gradually lead to the emergence of ‘fittest’ walking paths within the closed system of a city. [24]
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[24] Guy Debord, The Naked City, 1959
[24] Guy Debord, The Naked City, 1959

[25] Atelier Rijksbouwmeester, Psychogeogram of Dordrecht, Netherlands
[25] Atelier Rijksbouwmeester, Psychogeogram of Dordrecht, Netherlands

TextArc is a program, which analyzes texts based on their syntactic structure. It maps every word within an oval shape, according to frequency and location within the text body. Turning a linear narrative into an interactive map, TextArc provides a sideways look at familiar works. [26]
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[26] Brad Paley, TextArc
[26] Brad Paley, TextArc

I reconstructed the text of my summer letter by distributing the words randomly onto a surface. An exploration of paths and nodes, the piece creates connections between words based on their frequency. Depending on the input source, the program creates results that vary in complexity and density. [27]
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[27] Christian Marc Schmidt, Exploration of Paths and Nodes, Fall 2003
[27] Christian Marc Schmidt, Exploration of Paths and Nodes, Fall 2003

Directions
Eliel Saarinen once said that style should be an expression of the age. The forms of our age are computational, informational and programmatic. Looking forward, I intend to explore these contemporary forms through the notions of deliberate disorder, subjective mapping and program, understood not only as a method, but as a concept.
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