An Atlas of Experiments in Materialized Information

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nformations is an arts-based research cluster of architects, artists, designers and engineers, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), located at the University of Applied Arts (Vienna). Within the field of generative workflow of contemporary design, a collection of strategies, methods, tools and prototypic models is being developed. The research project focuses on the dissection, reinterpretation and documentation of contemporary digital production practice by means of serial experimentation. An interactive atlas of correlated aesthetics, entities and formulations shall contribute to the growing community of open source design practitioners and makers in the digital chain.


Today, designing characterizes itself rather by manipulating digital systems than determined articulation, and the question of the ‘how’ has become as big as ‘what’ we design. Parametric modeling and open systems allow a simple formulation of intricate generative processes, though a model’s ability to adapt to changes is limited by its own complexity. There is a desire to be designing with systems of simple rules, which are able to temporarily stabilize but stay open to changes of any kind, to be capable of reflecting any unforeseen state.

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Modern parametric modeling bears great potential in the research of novel interfaces, representations, their flexibility, and the theoretically unlimited pool of formal languages waiting to be described. We want to fundamentally question the ways in which parametric design platforms are used and rethink modes of operation – smart representations will foster flexibility and persistence of a model. A series of experiments serve as means for synthesized innovation to establish a knowledge base of components, forms, formulations and dependencies. The main aim is to go after the ‘fabric’ of design(ing) that is orchestrated by systems and based on computational processes that are ‘self-organizing’ and can flexibly react on change.  Emerging abilities in dealing with articulated complexities lead to new possibilities in the perception and production of space.

Within the context of digital production goal of the research project is to interface more immediately between intuitive associative concepts and numeric control. Currently the underlying structures of semi-automated and automated processes in geometrical compilation resemble characteristics of a closed system that fully operates on chains of measurable numerical values. But architecture, art and design in the sense of an aesthetical organizational system, require an openness, imperfection and blur because in the process of making not all ideas and decisions develop equal nor linear. Aspects of a digital design workflow should be investigated that help to translate and evaluate early conceptual aspects that cope with the discrepancy of seizing slowly solidifying design ideas.

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Through simulation processes that implement in a parametric design model, the making of design decisions accelerates. That kind of information can be evaluated spatially by perception but also measured numerically and so allow for an additional level of design evaluation. The exploration of design assisting processes leads to new insights in behaviours of form, structure or shape, and results in exploitation of those internal logics. By evaluating specific effects or performances, geometric organizations will gain a level of additional intelligence, which helps to develop smarter configurations or geometries. Within the research project, interfaces that allow intuitive input and feed-back of design relevant data should be developed and applied as case studies. This may lead to starting points for new performative and morphological design vocabularies. Based on personal notions and an interdisciplinary context these conceptions can fuel artist’s, architect’s or personal innovations. Open source plug-in tools are about to establish a new collaborative design society, where the seed of new methods and profound reflection of the existing is greatly needed.

As a cluster of media artists, architects and computer scientists, we aim to fuse varying academic resources to an open productive process of creative and innovative research in the field of ‘art based (in)formation design’. With the support of our international partners the interdisciplinary team aims to dissect and intertwine contemporary concerns and concepts of all contributing disciplines, with the goal to create an articulated understanding regarding a rapidly transforming culture in the making of digital and physical space.

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