Some threads worth tying together…. Thingsmagazine.net recently covered the plight of MVRDV, who appear to have unwittingly (?) upset a lot of people (again) by designing a pair of towers complete with their own explosion of structure billowing out from their mid rift. Things magazine cuts through the possible conceptual justifications by suggesting Minecraft as the possible source for the low-res, pixelated aesthetic.
Others have also been noticing this aesthetic appearing with increasing regularity and attempting to interpret it. James Bridle, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Laptop and Looms event earlier this year, covers it extensively in his recent talk at Web Directions South. Beginning with a subtle critique of the imaginary society my profession portrays with our ‘render ghosts’ (a topic I gave the lightest of touches to a while ago in a comment about the spineless deference inherent in the world of Sketchup figures), he moves on to examine the representation of data in building surfaces (my emphasis):
Minecraft has a lot to answer for here. Minecraft is awesome. What’s so strange about it is the creator knew, as a small project, that he could go a long way with gameplay and interaction without worrying so much about the graphics. But people have taken to the graphics to this extraordinary degree. And again, making these things come through in the world, giving the real world the grain of the virtual.
This building I am completely dangerously obsessed with. It’s a building in East London, and I literally stumbled upon it while out walking and saw it, and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since, and frankly it’s to blame for all of this. It’s a data centre, which is incredibly significant, because if you know anything about the architecture of data centres, they’re usually very anonymous structures. They’re usually big sheds. We have this notion of the cloud, like the cloud is some magic faraway land where computing is done, and it’s not big sheds on ring roads filled with servers. The cloud is a lie. The cloud looks like sheds. And that’s a terrible thing, because the network is awesome. And yet we’ve never figured out a way to – we sort of try to hide it away and tidy it away.
Meanwhile, over on Archdaily:
MVRDV spokesman Jan Kinkker stated, “We’ve had quite a lot of calls from angry Americans saying it’s a disgrace. 9/11 was not the inspiration behind the design, the inspiration was a real cloud.”
The cloud, it would seem, is a territory fraught with dangers for the architect; be they clouds that look like sheds or, in the case of MVRDV, sheds that look like clouds.
Shocking, insensitive cock-up aside, I think I welcome MVRDV’s return to a lower resolution aesthetic. I’ve seen the opposite and it looks like this:
That’s a small part of Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. It’s a high resolution idea expressed in a CAD curve of many segments modeled on a state of the art piece of technology, ultimately built with a few low resolution sticks by some guys in a desert who haven’t seen their family for months, all so that Ferrari could host stadium size concerts in their front porch. Mind you, it at least gave me something to think about when 15 minutes later Kings of Leon came on stage and sent us all to sleep – despite the fact that the sex was supposedly on fire.
Who’s for a low resolution resolution in the New Year?