Visual studies project at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), instructor Eric Carcamo with ATs Dale Strong and Baily Shugart, 2014

with Zhenyu Yang and Lucy Zhou

Through a sizable swatch of both Western and Eastern ornamental tradition, a deep focus has resided on the employment of order and magnitude in the differentiation of elements across gradated geometrical operations. Repetitious systems of formal geometries have long exemplified this claim in aggregations, arrays and accumulations patched atop existing forms. This project surmises that the removal or intentional eschewing of this “host form”, atop which the ornament is to be applied, allows for the productive exploration of the generation of a dialogue on the ornamental.

Pivotal to the explorations innate within these formal exercises is the relationship between the orders, their synthesis and their arbitrating element, which itself was manifest in several ways and through a set of various representations as the project evolved. The syntheses of these formal means produced a dichotomy between the base and the objects in the project, encompassing two geometrical resolutions and interpretations of the same underlying geometry.

Explicated by the scheme, a supple set of eerily bubble-like surfaces protrude, as if under pressure, from a flat plane. This itself implies a series of ordered geometrical moves, which suggest the fundamental principles at play. The plush surfaces blend between one another while revealing a myriad of circumstantial overlaps in their crests, valleys and smooth sides. These perceptual differentiations would protrude conceptually in the representations of the project as rather crucial to the interpretation of ornamentality. At the furthest level of resolution, an overlay of regulating geometry organizes the seams of this effect, at once facilitating a pattern of tessellations and ensuring a constant reference to the original ground.

Of constant interest both formally and representationally in the project is the gradated relationship of the ordered geometries and their formal legibilities from the perspective of spectator to the form, harping back to the aforementioned phenomenal entanglements between the surfaces. Preliminary studies in animation revealed an interests in the notion of a Ramp Shader as the technical explication of this investigation.

Computationally, by referencing always the angle between the viewer and the surface, a dialogue emerged between the compromises necessary to balance a clear perception and a phenomenal basis of understanding when approaching the project. This was explicitly dealt with in animated form, while, rendering studies on shadow and hatched linework augment this as projections onto a physical model, alongside rendered exploration in colored estrangements of the surface’s properties.

A persistent question of part and whole is encompassed in the optical evaluations the viewer is to assume having encountered the form. While the logic of its surfaces is rather straightforward, their intentionally eschewed qualities, particularly those of shadow and reflection, enable a typological confusion of the overall form.

When one considers the highly comprehendible massing, their preemptive presumptions about the project’s geometry are set. Thereafter, they are to interrogate what they believe to have perceived, arbitrated by the constant repudiation and augmentation of the surface from the model-based projections or rendered materials. These engage a perceptual instance that the overall surface quality cannot be comprehended at first sight, hopefully challenging the unquestioned relationship one might have assumed oneself to have about geometry.

These investigatory ends combined, the project surmises an Ornamentism which is both contingent upon the legibility of an order (or eschewing thereof) and the modulation of its magnitude so as to produce a variable set of elements which can respond by their own typological characteristics to conditions predefined by their geometrical situations, whether these be atop a primitive geometry (as the bulbous sacks on the pyramidal geometries as objects or the puffing of the seamed surface as base). The intentional engagement of these terms at both high and low resolutions in the representation and construction of the project furthers the degradation or intensification of these geometrical elements, purporting a deepened blur between the ideology of a geometry and its ornament.