Architecture – the Art of Situations

As discussed in the last article “Architecture – the “ART” of Drawings“, the traditional medium of architectural representation might be problematic for discussing the actual situation. Apart from the tool, situations created by architecture might serve as a medium of imposing rules on everyone, potentially serving as an instrument for art discourses and conflicts. As in most circumstances design is defined as “solving problems”, which might be under the mindset of optimization and enhancements, and art is defined as “revealing problems”, which is hardly about enhancements in most situations – in the situations created by architects, design still solve problems for optimization while the ultimate goal might be non-optimization like art.

Architecture is about the art of situations, where constraint and freedom can be curated at the same time. Not like other design, where “bad design” are only considered as “failures” that users cannot access, architecture stands at a unique intersection, of which the response to an issue, could be defined as both positive and negative. The positive response could be an optimization or aesthetic advancement (i.e. structural optimization or formal studies), while negative response could be a forced way of accessing the space by intention (i.e. closed exit or forces routine in a public building). Where the magic happen is, when people are placed in the context and , limitations and accessibilities are both considered as, just like how space is defined by the boundary of walls. As there is an intention, it can be defined as part of the situation other than a “failure” – which is similar to art discourses, especially modern arts where imperfections and “ugliness” can be defined as part of the narrative.

At the end of my journey through traditional architecture, or last-gen architecture, I want to redefine my relationship between myself and the methodologies of architecture, as well as the relationship between ethics and abused advancement of technologies. Architecture could be an instrument, for revealing power and outlining violence in a specific context or situation.

To me, technology is not a way of enhancement or optimization and the advancement is not a linear development towards a bright future, but a means of revealing issue and public discourses, which further revoke social awareness. I value the impact of innovations, and under the mindset of contemporary art, I seek for more critical interpretation of, shedding lights on ethics, justices and self-explorations. But I doubt the culture of design and engineering, which is mainly about aesthetics and optimization. Now in the area of “art and technology”, this mindset becomes subtly fashionable, as everyone is pursuing “fancy dressings” on their works. Most artists, including myself, are influenced by this mindset, producing beautiful but cheap arts or design.

In my recent experience, I’ve been feeling lost in my practice, surrounded by extremity of density, complexity, saturation, fidelity…… Being overwhelmed and bored in this age of messages, I’m starting to shift my focus from one single category to the mental wellness of human in technology advancements. I was trained to make beautiful things or optimize shapes – paintings, generative arts, musics – most of them are superficial. What do we need? Nothing but just “cool”? What is our belief?

Now I prefer the imperfections, failures and disturbances, which put people in a situation, just like how architects impose the experience on people. I was entangled by the conflict between “sounds good” and “looks good” while trying to redefine the sensory priority, but such question ends up in nothing essential but pushing the quality into a higher and higher level. Aesthetics is violence enforced by power, weighted standard of beauty between senses is a form of these unspoken rules. a I’m feeling at a point of transition, where from a designer to an artist.

What am I designing? A beautiful piece serve for beauty? A useful tool for solving a problem? Or a beautiful piece that serve as a tool for trouble, just like beautiful high heels bringing constraints and torture? If you ask me in 2021, I might be the former ones, but if you ask me now, I might be the last one – I discovered the weakness of mere BEAUTY.

If the, what is the situation of a live performance? People are educated to hear music on seats in audience.