This project proposal for the Seoul Biennale 2021 is part of an ongoing doctoral research investigating the meaning of ornament in the age of the postdigital. Here I rely on Alina Payne’s hypothesis of what if modernism ornament crisis was a shift from ornament as a surface to the ornament-as-object. Within this framework, I rely on the incommensurable creativity held in the Japanese Katagami patterns -used in Kimono and Yukata textiles- in order to translate them into architectures. This research aimsfirst to redefine the meaning of ornament and to explore new design approaches differentiated from the systemic usual space configurations. While many designersare diving in the algorithmic design world by developing new personal methods, I recycle the existing production of Katagami Patterns into three-dimensional objects, perpetuating the artists work and making their design go beyond time, borders and scope of applicability, all the more the current digital shift has given us new fabrication strategies and new methods to explore, produce and stock geometry and Data. For this, I rely on agent-based algorithms to study the architectural potential of Katagami patterns as a top-down clean and simple initial topology to make them emerge, self-organize and generate spatial forms. In this research, I argue on the importance and the power of ornament and patterns to create a bound betweenusers and their environment when well codified within society; for this I considerJapan as a terrain of action. Then, I showcase how Japanese katagami patterns become a host for human activity based on the latin word ‘ornamentum’ and that has a common etymological origin with the verb ‘ordino’. The latest means to organize and to order. When translated to a three-dimensional object and scaled up, this ornaments achieve both a structural and an architectural function enabling the human body to engage directly and haptically with the new monolithic, large mass architectural object. The ornament becomes architecture volume, not a mere multi-layered surface outer-shell at the periphery of a building. Proning soberness, I reject architectural ornament meant to produce a continuous stream of sensations and affects. Architecture should not be a monument for consumerism. Especially how the contemporary world only values how fast we can absorb new information. For this, I would like to argue for a return to the roots of space experiment andaesthetics, making architecture deliberately difficult, inefficient experience, forcingthe visitor to slow down and think, avoiding instantly consumable spaciality. In this theory, ornament is taking over the mediation role, inviting the user to reconnect withcultural heritage, reflection and knowledge. For this proposal, I invited Siqin Zeng, an artist and textile craftswoman working with traditional Japanese techniques (Yuuzen, Katagami and Katazome) and implementing a spatial notion in her installations. Zeng is not only invited to exhibit her recently created silk art works, but also to collaborate on the production of a central ornamental piece that I will later transform into a three- dimensional speculative architecture thanks to the theoretical tools developed within the doctoral investigations.
The exhibition configuration is thought to enable the visitor to enjoy the content both aesthetically and intellectually, offering different layers of insights depending on the relationship of the visitor -general public, architect, researcher, artist- and its curiosity toward architecture and the exhibition content.
The visitor can enter the exhibit space from any direction as there is no boundary or indication on the floor. The exhibited material is divided in two parts: Standing on the floor and hanged from the ceiling.
The standing work displays three drawings showing three case studies of Katagami patterns used to host architectural functions, and three drawings showcasing the generated output as a three-dimensional architectures. On another display stand, a physical SLA 3d printed model depicts the materiality of one of the drawings and allowing the visitor to enjoy the space quality of the speculative architecture. On the other hand, the display stand (n*3) offers the possibility to read the exhibition and theory framework’s manifesto (about 4000 words), along four others transcription texts of not yet published interviews-discussions with specialists (Frederic Migayrou -Curator, deputy director of The Pompidou Center, director of the Bartlett School-, Rafael Balboa – architect, senior researcher of the Kengo Kuma Lab at the University of Tokyo-, Ebrahim Poustinchi -Architect, digital craftsman, professor of Kent State University-, on the topic of the postdigital, ornament, aesthetics, technology – distributive systems and crafts. The visitor has the possibility to read the curated texts while sitting on two available stools, or to scan the QR codes to download the texts for a further time.
On the upper part of the space are hanged from the ceiling eights Yuuzen (acid dyes on silk) artworks by Siqin Zeng, depicting her visual drawings and aesthetics, with sizes varying between 40 to 80 cm in width and 40 to 120 cm in length. Furthermore, Ghali Bouayad and Siqin Zeng will collaborate on a new Katazome on silk artwork to be created especially for the Biennale (hanged, ~200 x 200 cm), and that will later be translated into architecture and physically fabricated by SLA technique.
Finally, while sitting on a cushion, the visitor can watch a 10 minutes film explicating the general design process, the ornamental silk art work in the making by Zeng, and the translation into architecture -digitally and physically- by Bouayad.