From the drawer of an old drafting desk on the third floor of an architecture school building, to my the closet of my first solo apartment, managing not to get lost in the transition from Milwaukee to Munich this little USB drive I hold in my hand is lucky. As am I for a chance to peer back into my college days and share them with you.
I graduated the architecture program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in Spring 2016. The following is an archive and analysis of a flash drive I found from that period, untouched.
I extracted all the file extensions with a shell command. Resulting in:
3dm, ai, aspx, blend, css, dae, dat, dll, eot, exe, fbx, fla, html, ico, ini, jpg, js, json, jsx, md, mdb, mov, mp3, mp4, mtl, obj, ogg, pdb, pde, pdf, php, png, psd, scss, sketch, skp, svg, tga, thm, tif, ttf, txt, woff, woff2, xml, xmp
This translates to:
In my last year of University I was a research assistant for a visiting architecture fellow/professor. The flash drive had working files from the research I did as well as photos of the gallery exhibition I helped put on.
The topic was agency and anonymity in modern age of surveillance and how design interacts with that.
Two of the three waffle plastic models I created were featured on the exhibition poster. I remember these as some of the most challenging models I created while at SARUP (School of Architecture and Urban Planning). Starting from simple 3D models I applied a one of my Grasshopper, Rhino3D parametric architecture plugin, scripts to create the waffle pattern. From there I exported the line work to AutoCAD and packed the shapes in 2D. After some trial and error working with thin plastic in the laser cutter I got it to cleanly cut 100+ odd pieces without melting everything.
The third model was an arm part of a work about finger print tracking. After painstakingly gluing 1000s of joints with liquid acrylic the models held up well. The 3D printed fringe prints and black stands I believe were created by another student and also turned out well.
Points marking data-centers dot this globe comprised of CNC milled panels. Following the theme of surveillance It shows where the data that tracks us physically resides. This piece was I want not involved in but I think it’s amazing.
Besides highlighting surveillance the research sought out ways too subvert it. We studied camouflage as a strategy to conceal and deceive forms of tracking. The brief has precedences created by other artists and designers. Things like make up to escape facial recognition or a outfit to conceal ones legs and evade gate recognition.
In this vein I studied shadows, as can be see by this duck sculpture I made. Starting with a 3D model of a duck I again turned to scripting to programmatically find the negative space left behind by the absence of the animal.
My duck was paired with a Dazzle camouflage study produced by another student. Dazzle is a crazy solution to a war time problem, worth a read. Designing against similar constraints in a modern context really captures the spirit of our research.
We looked at google street view and how it photographs houses and how the houses may try to avoid that. This 3D model of a row house with camo applied pushed my modeling and printing skills to the limit. I remember being so happy it didn’t break coming out of the printer.
The study of shadows was also applied to houses.
I also produced an animation fly through showing how the modern house itself tracks us. Smart thermostat, fridge, air quality detectors all relaying information about how we live.
Being involved in this exhibition was a lot of work but I remember it fondly. My path after college steered away from the professional and academic architecture world but the competitive and creative nature has helped my in my software career. Maybe someday I’ll find my way back to putting on exhibitions.
I also found some TV shows and a movie on the flash drive. What did I watch back then? Have I changed in this regard?
What a fun exercise in nostalgia. There is still a lot of content on this drive to through. I’ll stop here for now.
Thanks for reading.