What is that thing???

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 13.43.58

This contraption was parked in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights. I was driving; one of my passengers said “look” and took this photo. It looks like it was parked, like it had been driven there sometime after the morning sweepers came through—come to think of it, it does look like a cross between a car, a street sweeper, and a submarine. I am interested because it reminds me of the theoretical/poetic concept of bricolage (Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva). Bricolage is the assembly of a unique object in a non-engineered way, like this contraption appears to be. Its value, the value of the bricolage operation, is how it taps into mindsets needed in the creative process: spontaneity, dealing with uncertainty, on-the-spot evaluation, flexibility in changing the direction of development, divergence.

But in my own design studio it’s hard to find a way to introduce this process of bricolage. I discourage my architecture students from using easy-results methodologies or materials because I want them to develop disciplined systems for formal development. The problem then is the one-trackness of it all—the production methods have become so technology heavy that it becomes the sole source of ideation. Is it possible to marry the tectonic-based results of Joris Laarman with the architecture of ideas James Wines asked for at Vito Acconci’s last architecture review (in the fall 2016 semester)? Yes.

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