21 September 2015
Architectural Association, London
London is supported by a wealth of infrastructure that is deliberately designed to be an invisible driving force for the city and its inhabitants. In Unit 3 we saw a parallel between the way in which infrastructure is experienced and the occult. We set out to explore London’s eccentric infrastructure taking inspiration from the occult in our approach.
In Occult Infrastructure we started by teaching basic Arduino electronics and programming to develop devices that would react to the signals emanating from the city’s infrastructure. Our aim was not to develop precise surveying tools but rather to foreground the city’s hidden forces in order to produce reinterpretations of them. In the weeks that followed our students, working in groups, developed concepts and artefacts around their understanding of infrastructure and the paranormal; influenced by examples from aural photography, stage magic, time travel, divination and communal rituals. Their projects included a subjective measurement of time, a proposal for a new worldwide infrastructure that displays people’s emotions, a piece of urban furniture that blocks Wi-Fi signals, an illusion to disappear the Thames Barrier and a machine powered by people’s spiritual energy.
The development of these devices invited us to think of the architect as a medium or illusionist that can divine and reinterpret the environment to produce meaningful spatial interactions.
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