The term formalism is frequently used with negative connotations to imply an imbalanced obsession with external, ocular aesthetics often to the detriment of a deeper content. However, the formalist does not deny content but chooses to represent the formal (logical or mathematical) structure instead of its content. This formal structuring implies both a depth and integrated relationship between different internal elements. Although claiming a lack of meaning, these elements and the relationships between them exhibit a form that has potential performative applications and phenomenal effects.
Rather than work with an appliqué of meaning and content, the actual arrangement and manipulation of physical elements can produce material and spatial conditions that have the ability to enhance certain phenomena. The unit will attempt to work within a ‘blind’ formalism; challenging the ocular preference for form with the performative aspects of the form in relation to the other senses. For example forms that are seen as different will usually ‘sound’ different as well. If sound (or other sensual effects) becomes a determining factor, than designers can unashamedly work on the form of a project to produce and refine the desired effect. If the effect is carefully constructed and tested, one may even achieve certain emotive qualities.
Working with spatial effects has become increasingly possible with the continual evolution of our ability to simulate rather than represent phenomena of space, material, light and sound. A ray-traced image demonstrating the actual radiosity and colour bleed of light in fact becomes more of a simulation than a representation. It is now also possible to ray-trace the actual sound of a space and create an exact, predictive simulation of the effect within the space. The simulation surpasses both the virtual and the representation and becomes a more projective activity that attempts to predict aspects of the behaviour of a system by creating approximate (mathematical) models of it.
The unit will work on locating, customising, mastering and/or creating special purpose simulation techniques and will experiment with these simulations in an attempt to design effectual and emotive phenomena within a formal structure. The intention is for the student to unleash the simulation as a powerful design tool for understanding complex relationships as opposed to merely describing an existing condition. Although the other senses will not be ignored, this year the unit will be working with sound and light simulators and respective specialists.
Urban Future Organisation are Steve Hardy and Jonas Lundberg