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Generative Design v. Generative Design (or: Spy v. Spy)

August 17, 2010

Hark! Posts shall be slow this week as I prepare for the GRE. Alas! And ahoy.

Though most of my brain is occupied with remembering the algebra and geometry I haven’t really used since high school – comparisons between the two following generative design projects has been banging around in the space between isosceles triangles and word problems. The first design process results in some really beautiful jewelery and the second results in…what, again?

No. 1) Jewelery by Nervous System.

Photo from Full Moon Series, created by Nervous System's "diffusion limited aggregation" applet.

This generative design experiment has unambiguous, beautiful and useful results. Nervous System says that their method “explore(s) a design approach that relates process and form in a context of interactivity and openness”. Okay, I dig. Your products are gorgeous and the applets on your site are fun, fun, fun!

Nervous System achieves their goal of interactivity and openness employing playful forms and inviting the audience to participate in the creation of their own objects which, because they are personal jewelry, are simple to understand and use. Open. Inviting. Good.

And then…

No. 2) United Nude – Lo Res Project by Rem Koolhaas (of OMA), Iddo Zimmerman & team.

Made possible by 3D scanning technology, the following photographs depict low-resolution versions of familiar objects such as shoes, a Lamborghini (*chortle*) and the Statue of Liberty. Check out Dezeen’s post for a fuller run-down (this post is also the source of the following images).

Lo Res shoe. I kind of love this shoe and wonder how awesome I would feel with these puppies on my futuristic tootsies.

Another "familiar" object made Lo Res; the Lamborghini. Um, there is definitely a super-villain driving this car.

Oh, hai, lady!

Look! It's the Statue of ... hm.

Frankly, I can’t decide whether I’m fascinated or creeped out. Suffice it to say, I’m uncomfortable.

There is something extremely unsettling about the results of United Nude’s reduction of objects’ resolution. While the shoes hold some interest as objects, I don’t know what the point of dumbing down the statue of liberty is. I certainly don’t think that the end results are very beautiful, inviting or open as forms. These are, of course, only my opinions…naive little student that I am.

I think that with the exception of the shoes, United Nude’s project produces objects and forms utterly devoid of humanity. While Nervous System’s (ahem) system results in playful forms that will invite the user back repeatedly, United Nude’s Lo Res experiments remain largely out of the reach (desire?) of the audience.

Some questions my brain has been asking (and yours can, too!):

Why do I feel that personal fashion items are more attractive and successful products of generative design than other objects? Does it matter that I can’t wrap my head around the United Nude project? Is it my fault that I don’t really get it or is my understanding United Nude’s responsibility? Is it sacrilege when an undergraduate architecture student questions a Rem Koolhaas project? Is it an accident that Nervous System’s applets result in jewelery? What else could they be? Is it true that Rem Koolhaas never has to buy a plane ticket because he can fly wherever he wants under his own power?

Okay…so maybe not that last one…

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