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Recap > Spring 2011

2011/09/22

100% Analog – The future of paper

Through 100% Analog, we created two spaces to explore and question ideas regarding the communication in architecture and design. Especially, we focused in the book as central object of physical documentation and dissemination of content. Firstly, through a conversational space among experts with an extensive and close relationship with publications, Lars Müller (Switzerland), William Saunders (United States), Uriel Fogué (Spain) and Ana María Durán (Ecuador). Secondly, through an exhibit space at the Graduate School of Design to share independent publications from different groups of designers in Latin America. This second space was the result of the editorial project “the block”. During the development of the aforementioned editorial project we became curious about other independent initiatives.

The conversation among Müller, Sanders, Fogué and Durán was inedit. This combination of experiences and positions was extremely interesting; on the one hand, about the editorial responsibility, and on the other, about the value of the book in such a media-oriented and global context as a communication tool. Among the most relevant reflections were the function of the book in emerging markets, especially in the Latin American context; the constant (misunderstood) competition between printed and digital media, and the value of each ones of these for different purposes and experience in their use; finally, regarding the accessibility of books as a tool of communication in a context of limited resources and informality.

Müller insisted about “the digital is created to be forgotten; the analog to be remembered and referenced”. The premise for this statement is that “the book always implies a minimum level of quality, as well as a continuous and structured reflection of its content”. The work developed at Lars Müller Publishers constantly questions the quality of its own projects. Rigor and detail both in concept and content are aspects that Müller works very closely with his team.

From another standpoint, Saunders argued about the difference between digital and analog media; Firstly, in terms of the quality of the information provided and the assimilation process by the receptor; secondly, on how this information is organized, archived and eventually conveyed by the editor. Saunders works parallel medias directing the Harvard Design Magazine, and as the founder of the magazine is constantly questioning how this two means can complement and benefit from each other according to its different features.

Among the interest of Fogué, there is this idea of “constructing an object of desire”. His work at UHF, an independent publication in Spain, has been an excuse to address this perspective and evidence the act of reading as a mode of consumption. From a more social focus, Durán questioned the abundance of self-publication as tools for advertisement for designers, y and very little to contribute to an agenda to design as a practice or discipline. “The infrastructure of information that Latin America has the potential to create could be a very powerful tool to contribute to the intellectual development of the designers that are ‘making’ the city”, Durán emphasized. She also argued about the necessity to establish shared networks to exchange of information, and not solely to act as receptors.

For the exhibit, we call for submissions to compile editorial independent publications. Eight publications (including books and journals) responded to our call sending us a hardcopy of their work: PLOT, UR, Fragmentos de Arquitectura (Argentina), Mapeo (Uruguay), Archipiélago de Arquitectura, Equipaje de Mano (Colombia), UHF, Diagonal (España). Thanks to everyone!

One of the most remarkable conclusions of 100% Analog has been to understand that the function of the book has not been replaced or is endangered. Nevertheless, we will have to continue working in projects evidencing that books should not be reduced to market tools.

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Archroulette: you can talk here

The last of the chapters of Borderless was an experiment to create a virtual space where architects and designers could talk about their work and thoughts about the discipline. Additionally, they could know about other’s work in distant geographies in order to foster new social networks in a radically open and democratic environment. Archroulette was launched at the GSD having Andrés Jaque (Spain) as in-site moderator, and Ariadna Cantis (Spain) and Edgar González (México/España) as remote guest facilitators.

Archroulette was an event where architects from every corner of Iberoamerica and the world willing to participate in the ‘game’ could be chosen by a random mechanism. They would have 5 minutes to participate in this conversation linked to the proposed topics through a interactive we platform, and where GSD Latino Collective members would act as respondents. The interventions could be followed live at the GSD, through the web at the GSD Latino blog and edgargonzalez.com, facebook and twitter. Architects and others interested were invited to participate and create a simultaneous forum of discussion through voice or text.

Once the participants were online via skype, and they were on hold to be selected live randomly through another website available for online lotteries. The selected participants were contacted and established a conference call that included the audience online and the one at the GSD. As Jaque was conducting this dialog and process, Cantis and González asked questions and contributed to the active discussion during ‘the action’. Over an hour of the ‘game’ there was also a conversations among the organizers about the performance of this Archroulette 1.0 and the improvements and/or changes to make in further versions.

Archroulette was conceived as an open source action; the instructions and rules of the game are public and can be replicated in other geographies.

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Less borders or borderless?

It makes us uneasy the fact that there is not a single word in Spanish to describe the absence of boundaries (or the borderless). We believe that design implies more collaboration, and therefore the development of networks and means of exchange will be critical. Likewise, it will fundamental to document all these processes and reflections as a means to contribute to the design culture.

And speaking about collaborations, we would like to extend our greatest gratitude to the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, especially to Marcela Ramos; to our Dean at the GSD Mohsen Mostafavi and Professor Michael Hays; to the Harvard Mexican Association of Students; thank you for your confidence, motivation, support and funding of these ideas. Your collaboration has been fundamental to the development of all these projects.

 

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