eWRe <home> Off-the-planet
Architecture & Design Studio 5 + Interior Architecture & Design Studio 3/5. Project 2 of 3. Semester 1 2003.
The School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia

Facilitators: Steve Loo, Linda Marie Walker, Teri Hoskin, David Cooke, Matt Rumbelow, Darren Fong. html design - Teri Hoskin. javascript - Ali Graham.

Home is any place of existence or refuge. It can be the heart of the matter, whatever that matter might be.[1] You can'strike home', that is: get to the mark or point aimed at. You can have a home away from home. You can be home and hosed. You can home in on. You can be home on the pig's back. There might be nothing to write home about. It can be said of someone: "who is he/she when he's/she's at home". You can be home-and-away. How do you find a'home' for something, a gift for example, or a beautiful stone, or an art or craft object. "Andre is waiting to leave his house in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. He has always carried this house around in his head as an image of home; and for the lasttwenty-five years he has actually lived in it."[2] Words: homebody, homebred, homecoming, homecooked, homegrown, homeland, homeless, homely, homemaker, homespun, homestead, homestrip, homework, hometown, homesick.

Client: The Electronic Writing Research Ensemble (are they (for) real?). They are (in) http://ensemble.va.com.au/
The eWRe are unhomely (as in the German unheimlich, meaning uncanny); therefore looking for (a) home (perhaps they are already in one)

Resources: The Anthology of Art website, http://www.anthology-of-art.net/inside/index/html; these words electronic, writing, research, ensemble; two other people (working in trios).

Methodology: A sound work: The Site
1. Choose one text from the Anthology of Art website. 2. Choose one of the words to research. Eg. some of you will do research on'research'. 3. Use the sound work as an'image' of the site. 4.Work in groups of three. 5. Use Gregory Ulmer's'antimethod steps' as a guide[3]: (1) Any starting point is fine; no matter how absurd the idea, do not judge it. (2) Take the problem as a whole; treat it as a gestalt; cast it in the form of an image. (3) Juxtapose this gestalt with other images at random. (4) Assume that any given part suffices, that completeness is not necessary.

With the resources and the methodology make a for the Electronic Writing Research Ensemble. This will be 'housed' on the eWRe website (there will then exist on the 'homesite' of the eWRe a home for the eWRe itself). The eWRe is therefore the home/place/gallery for your project. You are once more working toward an ensemble effect. There will be approximately 25 components to this ; and this will have four'themes' or'programs'. We cannot determine what this home might look like or finally be for: we welcome the stranger.

Presentation: On the web only

Media: Electronic submission: combination of text, images, computer models and AVIs suitable for translation into the web environment.
To be included in the mix:
Plan, sections (and other) diagrams which demonstrate your moves as commentary on and with the resource. Use appropriate scales and line weights for clarity.
A 300 word theoretical exegesis. Your text must include includes possible functional propositions for your'scheme'. Note that the functions you propose for the site reflect the depth and relevance of your experimentation. Include at least 4 footnotes with proper referencing.

[1] "Thinking about strangers is not an intellectual luxury, or an occasional option, but a necessity of everyday life. [Julia] Kristeva also suggest that the representation of the stranger requires a new writing practice. Strangers exist in a diversity of forms and there can be no single typification which covers all experiences. The question would then turn to who is not a stranger these days." Nikos Papastergiadis, "The Stranger Revisited," Broadsheet Adelaide: Contemporary Art Centre, vol 29, no 1, 2000: 5.
[2] John Berger, "A House Designed by Le Corbusier," Photocopies London: Bloomsbury, 1995: p. 53. (LMW has a copy of this story.)
[3] Gregory Ulmer, Heuretics: The Logic of Invention, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1994: 13. (available in library)


Introduction [to the course 1 + 2 + 3 } Tentatively, we begin …
Tentative means to hesitate, to be hesitant at the beginning - as if beginning an experiment. But to begin anyway, and straight away. Hesitation involves an attending-to, a minute fleeting pause in the face of indeterminacy before we step (out). This occurs because we are about to leave what we hold secure (inside); our home. That is, we hesitate because we have safe ground from which to leap, we are tentative about 'leaving home.' We are also tentative because it is possible that when we return, our home will have been transformed to no longer give us security or make us welcome; not owing to itself having changed, but our journey having changed us.

We begin anyway, and straight away. If we fear the indeterminate, the fleeting pause of hesitation atrophies into incapacity. Or into the act of 'designing' (other homes) to merely fill up the abyss of indeterminacy. The latter act of 'designing' does not create homeliness - welcome - but exists as ruined attempts of an impossible task.
We wonder if we should impossibly ask, pertinent to this digital age at least, what it is to be at home in the abyss, how do we dwell in the face of indeterminacy?

In this studio we head for home … for the home-site, for the site of home. We scatter. We attend. We make: we bring home into sight: what appears appears momentarily, but appears nevertheless, and remains forever as having appeared. Design here is no longer a designing-in-order-to make a home, either to stave off or allow indeterminacy to occur. Design becomes a different attending to indeterminacy, that which is always already out-there (exteriority, or what we suppose a new home can be), as well as in-here (interiority, or what we remember as home). Design also attends to what appears, the shape of things, as appearance: we do not treat what appears as monuments, or monumentally significant, but something left as trace.

This studio seeks 'welcome' in, and as, liminal spaces; spaces at the threshold - of both in and out (architecture and interior), belonging and outcast (decorum and vagrancy), real and virtual (human and digital). Luce Irigaray identifies this zone in/as a portico, "set-before" the home, but open to an unconcealment (a showing, an appearing) of indeterminacy (the other); the scene of an impossible meeting:
"The portico would be passed through at every step, without ever being passed through. It will always refer the next step to the step before, the future step to the step past, suspending in this coming-and-going that which sets itself forth - does not set itself forth in the present. … The portico would de-limit the passage between two places even if the place set-before [i.e. the home] is, apparently, the only one. This delimitation will open indefinitely on a meeting that will never take place: a meeting that will be recounted without taking place, that will take place only in the saying."[1]

Language, how we 'say', how we imagine and talk and write of space, is how space comes into being (Irigaray writes portico into existence), how we make it appear in the world, and call it 'exterior' or 'interior'. We can ask: when we are outside, what sort of 'interior' are we in; when we are inside, what sort of 'exterior' are we in; and who or what are these 'interiors' and 'exteriors' for?

Liminal spaces exist in-between - perhaps they've been abandoned or ruined, perhaps they are a set or constellation of surfaces, perhaps they are named 'waste', perhaps they are 'condemned'. These spaces do not 'function' as we might think 'function' functions - as meaning. These spaces do not do as they are told. (This is a sentence to imagine with: place an emphasis on 'do' and 'told', for example.) That is, they do not serve or operate "the kind of action or activity proper" to their form, shape, (original) intention.[2] While they function, the functional cannot have an exact relation to design as these spaces are marked by the yet-to-be.[3]

Nikos Papastergiadis calls these spaces 'parafunctional spaces'. This term, he writes, "refers to zones in which creative, informal and unintended uses overtake the officially designated functions. In parafunctional spaces social life is not simply abandoned or wasted; rather it continues in ambiguous and unconventional ways."[4]

Michael Tawa writes: "In two hours, between the front door of the Ahmedabad post office and the busy street, I counted eight activities, eight businesses. Eight businesses were being conducted in a space no more than six metres wide. Learning to wait, I also learned to notice. These were the eight businesses, gathered around the business of postage at Ahmedabad: minders of cars; minders of bicycles; shiners of shoes, runners bringing tea or cigarettes; packagers; parcel wrappers; string tiers and wax sealers; persons selling paper, cotton, pens and string. The businesses operated out of minimal premises. There were no structures or stalls. No walls, roofs or counters. There was nothing permanent. It was all makeshift. Places had been made on outside steps, in the recesses of the boundary wall, either side of the front gate, around trees in the courtyard, on stair landings. The Ahmedabad post office made room for these activities in and around its edges, its borders, its limits and its thresholds."[5]

What about using these ideas (parafunctional, makeshift) amidst spaces already functioning in known (programmed, determined) ways, e.g. foyer, website, gallery, 'home'. How do we think about the word 'vague'? Can a space be 'vague'? Is the scene Tawa describes a type of architectural vagueness - here where the 'exterior' can be an infinite number of 'interiors'?

"Discarded objects and the refuse of an earlier mode of production [gather] in these [parafunctional] sites", writes Papastergiadis.[6] He tells stories about how regulating bodies (state and council authorities) try to keep specific spaces to their specificity: seating is changed in railway waiting rooms and on platforms to discourage sleeping by the homeless (UK, USA), just so they do not 'sink' into a parafuctional state of ambiguity and contamination.

Michael Tawa writes: "What took place exceeded the program. It was over and above what the steps, ledges, recesses and grilles of the boundary wall were meant to contain, to circumscribe, to define, to limit. What took place there came to pass at the limit of architecture. It exceeded the architecture, and in supplementing it, supplanted it. And architecture of the surfacing of what contests and exceeds the architectural as such: form, mass, volume, space, function. Architecture as the taking place of place, there where architecture withdraws. Makeshift stalls took place because the architecture was made in such a way that what it made in fact unmade the architectural in it."[7]

"The parafunctional uses of spaces reveal the instability in objectives of design processes and threaten to confuse the monofunctional designation of urban spaces."[8] Herein lies architecture's intimacy with language: Marc Aug#&233;: "Every itinerary, Michel de Certeau says, is in a sense 'diverted by names which give it 'meanings (or directions) that could not have been predicted in advance'. And he adds: 'These names create non-place in the places; they turn them into passages. We could say conversely that the act of passing gives a particular status to place names, that the faultline resulting from the law of the other, and causing a loss of focus, is the horizon of every journey (accumulation of places, negation of place), and that the movement that 'shifts lines' and traverses places, is by definition, creative of itineraries: that is, words and non-places."[9]

Here we have to say: in architecture there must be a love of words, a love of the materiality of language. There are words which can set things going (see the beginning of this Introduction: "Tentatively …"; it starts the whole idea of what will be written here). These are called by one writer 'choral words': "The choral word … sets a series going [in your work we call the series 'design'], a movement or passage through language [we talk, write, sketch, etc], a spreading memory, drawing to itself an associated range of meanings. The choral word produces the … combinatorial of possibilities, from which the inventor [designer] selects …"[10] The architect Peter Eisenman says of the word 'choral': "There is togetherness. For me it means corral as enclosure, coral as stone and coral as color, choral as a group musical work [ensemble], and choral as of chora [in philosophy, the space of infinite 'welcome']."[11]

You will notice that the love between architecture and language is sustained by vagueness. We are not speaking negatively here, the matter does not concern clear descriptions of architecture by language, nor language's architectural structuration. Vagueness involves ambivalence, that is, both language and architecture 'supplement' each other. And in their supplementarity, they are disruptive to each others' complacency, in what Derrida would call an "inventive" relation.[12] Invention involves improvisation. "… to improvise is to join with the World, or meld with it. One ventures from home on the thread of a tune. Along sonorous, gestural, motor lines that mark the customary path of a child and graft themselves onto or begin to bud "lines of drift" with different loops, knots, speeds, movements, gestures, andsonorities."[13]

We cannot escape liminal space through digital technology, or through thinking digitally … tentatively, eyes squinting so as to see the in-between, the floating world: in the end we tell a story, we make something 'appear' … As one author says:"Digital diagrams, in their appearance, reveals both in design, and in method. That is, in their revealing or taking-place, they concern themselves with the liminal zone between representation of design, and the design of their method. Digital diagrams force architecture to be aware of its continual be-coming …"[14]

[1] Luce Irigaray, The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, London: Athlone Press, 1983: pp34-35
[2] The Macquarie Dictionary, 1999: p.859
[3] Andrew Benjamin, Architectural Philosophy. London: Athlone Press, 2000: p.75
[4] Nikos Papastergiadis, Traces Left in Cities, in 'Architectural Design, Poetics in Architecture', no 156, 2002: p. 45
[5] Michael Tawa, Makeshift Stalls, in Broadsheet, Adelaide: Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, vol 28, no 4, 1999/2000: p6
[6] Papastergiadis, ibid.
[7] Tawa: p. 7
[8] Papastergiadis, ibid: p. 48
[9] Marc Auge, "From Places to Non-Places" in Non-Places. London: Verso, 1995: p. 85
[10] Gregory Ulmer, Heuretics, The Logic of Invention, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1994: p. 227
[11] ibid.
[12] For Derrida's 'invention' see Jacques Derrida, "Psychˇ: Invention de l'autre" translated as "Psyche: Inventions of the Other" in Lindsay Waters and Wlad Godzich (eds.), Reading de Man Reading (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989): pp. 25-65. See also John Rajchman, "What is New in Architecture" in Andrew Benjamin (ed.), Philosophy and Architecture, London: Academy Editions, 1990: pp.32-37
[13] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, quoted on the eWRe website http://ensemble.va.com.au/about.htm
[14] Loo, Stephen. "Languaging: Digital Diagrams and the Impossibility of Design" in Architectural Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy: 2002 ANZAScA Conference (Deakin University: Geelong, November 2002): pp.277-284

[E] Electronic ensemble
[E1] Milos Vajdic . Halim Wahab . Kia Ly
[E2] Zeph Field . Scott Duerden . Taryn Farnell
[E3] Dyilon Sia . Caleb Tang . Tuong Vi Nguyen
[E4] Tessa Buentipo . Kirstie Waters . Rachel Munro
[E5] Simon Dyer . Van Nguyen . Peter Harding .

[W] Writing ensemble
[W1] Emma Wood . Sally Hart . Jordan Darsie
[W2] Annika Bowker . Trent Burns . John Lewis
[W3] Mike Sheidow . David Scarman . Lisa Lee .
[W4] Sean Humphries . Matt Irvine . Katie McKiernan
[W5] Lauren Burgess . Kendall Peake . Jess Atkinson
[W6] Michael Waters . Oliva Harnden . Michael Willis

[R] Research ensemble
[R2] Erin Wilson . Chris Rowlands . Dylan Sara . Ricky D'Andrea A
R3] Lincoln Nielsen . Soojung Yang . Lyda Kheng . Michelle Vuong
[R4] Sasha Radenovich . Matt Pieterse . Razica . Kasia
[R5] Kelly Miller . Sarah Kowalenko . Tamara Watson
[R6] Jackson Polley . Joe Wilkinson . Elia Mavrou . Bianca
[R7] Adam Kretschmer . Emma Markham . John Eng . Michaela

[S] Ensemble ensemble
[S1] Jasmine Dawson . Alexander Hall . Ellen Olsen
[S2] Melanie Scragg . Louise Dewis . Jason Skinner
[S3] Mel Parsons . Katie Cornish . Melissa Sopel
[S4] Michael Marjas . Eva Lau . Sophy Sok
[S5] Michael Tayoma . Jo Sangster . Matthew Alvaro
[S6] Meagan Cox . Laura Forte . Emma Buckseal
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