After Hyper-Representation | ATINER 2013



Image Credit:

Studio Instructor: Joyce Rosner + Michael Leighton Beaman

Graduate Students: Garrett Jones + CJ MacQuarrie

Course: Re-Approaching Mechanism

University of Texas in Austin, School of Architecture


The conceptual leap that allowed architecture, and later other design disciplines that emerged in its wake, to substitute representation for the actual material manifestation they represent, has had lasting effects on these disciplines’ ability to conceptualize, integrate, and utilize data. The dislocation of material and spatial information from its physical referent, along with the rationalization of that process into methodologies and conventions of representation has been a powerful framework for the transfer of information between individuals, institutions, and disciplines. Powerful to the point that it has become the primary mode of operation for these design disciplines.

Even though many attempts have been made over the last thirty years to loosen the stronghold representation has had on design, breakthroughs have been slow to emerge and even slower to take root. This is evident when examining the primary exploration and implementation of digital/computational models within the current representational regime, which overwhelmingly manifest as hyper-representation. The same condition can be found in academia, where conventional methodologies are seen as a basis for educational development, and thus are rarely questioned.

Could we formulate design processes that do not rely on representation as the primary mode of operation, while addressing these fissures through a more direct relationship with material information? This paper will examine the formation of four failures of representation, and four interdisciplinary approaches to pedagogy and practice, which demonstrates the incorporation of digital technologies as computational/material explorations which move beyond Hyper-representation.