I’m at the very excellent Research Through Design conference up in Newcastle. Unlike many of the events I go to, this one is very focussed on the things that people design. All the speakers have had to submit an object, which they are then talking about during the sessions during the day. There have been some beautiful objects, and some great discussion.
I’m dumping my notes from the event here with very little expansion. I hope they may be useful to someone, but I suspect actually that they will be quite opaque to everyone but me. Ah well.
Day one opened with a great keynote by Rachel Wingfield from Loop.pH. She showed a LOT of cool stuff. I’ll try and cover the best of it below.
A new year, so time to go through the 4,400 shots I’ve taken this year to pick out my favorites. I was surprised to see that this is the 7th year I’ve done this. 44 images this year, which is pretty much in line with last year’s 42 images + 1 video. It’s a totally random process. I’ve felt a little flat about how focused I’ve been on this activity, despite the new camera I mentioned (and still love) last year. So I’m happy to find that I like the results. Lots more people than normal, and a few shots that are a little more “snappy” than I’d like, but I’m quite pleased.
Lebbeus Woods, the architect, has started a series of posts on his notebooks. It sounds like this was a practice he went through and “finished” at some point, before moving on to other ways of working. That’s a little disappointing and goes against what I see as a lifetime practice. Still, I guess that depends on what activity replaced this form of sketching. Probably another form of sketching.
I loved this quote:
“Notebooks are portable. They can be kept secret, or published. Technically, they are simple to make. Pen and paper. The hand, eye, and thought. Freed from any sort of burdensome apparatus, thought becomes more agile in confronting itself.”
Lebbeus Woods has started a series of fantasy entries on his blog, tied to his beautiful sketches. The first is about a city built into rocky crags, the City of Earth. His prose style reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft, for some reason, creating a slight atmosphere of foreboding, that I’m not sure was intended. Maybe this is because I imagine the city he’s describing as vacant, abandoned for some reason (the sketches seem to support this). Anyone who’s played Bioshock knows this feeling.
“The particularly mountainous region I first encountered was certainly inhospitable to building. Jagged, rocky ridges were separated by steep chasms rather than welcoming valleys. Yet many large structures had been built. Clinging to the cliff faces, or cut into them, or set into almost inaccessible promontories, the structures were built largely of concrete with much the same color as the rocks. Adorning them were more delicate armatures of iron that were rusty, in much the same manner as industrial buildings I knew well from my own country. From these aspects I reasoned that this was a mining community, one in which the people were primarily engaged in cutting and digging into the earth to extract its hidden mineral riches. As I was to learn, this reasoning was only partially correct.”
“Here, in strata upon strata of volcanic rock, were spaces inhabited by a community of people engaged in some sort of industry. There were dwelling spaces, hollowed out from the dark earth masses. There were machines that captured an eerie form of light different from that far above. There were vast caverns in which I saw entangled, monumental forms that were like fragments of the lucid geometric volumes I had seen in the city above, but here broken into disparate parts and linked together by tendril-like passageways and conduits, creating a vast, indeterminate network, rather than a geometrically coherent form. All of this was revealed by an inner-earth glow, amid a constant, throbbing heat. It soon became clear that the harnessing of heat energy, as a source of motive power, I imagined, was the industry of this underground community.”
I’ve done my annual favourite photos Flickr set. Not sure if my standards have dropped, or if I’ve just taken more photos this year than last (a total of 5,454), but the set has 43 shots in it, compared with 28 in 2007. It’s possible now that Maddie is more mobile I’m just taking more shots as we visit interesting places like Egypt.
I really loved this article on folding bamboo houses, designed for use after a natural (or not) disaster. What I liked was the sense of the potential different uses of the space under the shelter through the change in its geometry. By opening and closing the shape you could create open spaces, or discrete ones.