Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design

The Schizophrenic Interior...

Merle Flügge
...and the Aesthetics of the Imaginary
Major Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design
Year Graduation Project

Winner of Master Research Award 2017 and MIARD Alumni Award for Critical Position 2017

Relics of a Post-AI-Revolution

…dreaming of breaking free from our capitalist systems feeding on lack …dreaming of a new era of human-object companion-relationships …dreaming of creating new aesthetics of the imaginary …learning from artificial intelligence.

Opposing our hyper-consumerist times and rather dreaming of a more reciprocal relationship between objects and humans, this project speculates on a future where artificial intelligence designs domestic objects. Speculating on an AI revolution rebelling against the ‘Form Follows Algorithm’ credo of our times with its focus on smartness, comfort, efficiency and its bone-like aesthetics, this proposal probes into another part of artificial intelligence: AI as an unlimited intuitive creative force. A non-stop creator, like Google’s DeepDream in 3d, creating a dreamy world, like a child on steroids recognizing cats in clouds.

The Schizophrenic Interior and the Aesthetics of the Imaginary - Relics of a Post-AI-Revolution

Form Follows Algorithm

Just like “modern architecture was born on the basis of its belief in the utopian ideal of ‘unity of human arts and technology’ […]”1 the Augmented Age -our current time- is born from the utopian ideal of “new partnership(s) between technology, nature and humanity”2. The ‘Augmented Age’ promises a new world, “a world with more variety, more connectedness, more dynamism, more complexity, more adaptability and, of course, more beauty”3. But all we got is ‘Form Follows Algorithm’, where spaces, furniture and objects based on efficiency-algorithms look like bones; hardened and heartless biological fluidity.

“The challenge for designers is to find new metaphors and new formal characteristics for a new attitude towards industrial [artificially intelligent] products.”4 Finding new aesthetics, aesthetics of the imaginary, to avoid the focus on mere efficiency and ending up with objects that look like skeletons of dead alien lifeforms.

Desire and Lack

Humans constantly tried to artificially re-territorialize their interiors by augmenting it via symbolic, technological and production systems. Historically our relationship with furniture, developed from a patriarchal relationship in the 19th century, to a master-servant one in modernist times based on functionalism, to a purely narcissistic and schizophrenic one in our fast paced time of consumerist neurosis fuelled by social media. A constant de- and re-territorialization of the interior trying to fill in human desire gaps.

The human, after the AI revolution became a ‘healthy schizoid’. He has no interest in consumerist objects, advertisements don’t work because for him the notion of lack is absent, instead he is purely ‘interested’ in the object as a sentient agent or actor in the creation of the world.

 

In order to understand this new relationship with objects we have to distinguish desire from lack and look at schizophrenia in the sense of Félix Guattari & Gilles Deleuze (instead of Sigmund Freud & Jacques Lacan). Whereas for Freud & Lacan desire is associated with lack, it’s what’s fantasized, repressed, wished for, or absent, for Guattari & Deleuze the schizoid is incapable of experiencing lack. This is the key difference in how schizophrenia is understood and looked upon by our current society. For Guattari the schizoid’s unconscious is always productive and never fantastical. Desire itself produces the real and creates new worlds.

I would argue that the first artificially intelligent ‘artist’ Google’s DeepDream, creating dream-like hallucinogenic images, was a schizoid in the sense of Guattari and Deleuze.

Bees and Flowers

The main protagonist in my speculative future, my fictional grandmother, started to change during the end of the AI revolution. She changed from a narcissistic schizophrenic driven by dissatisfaction into a healthy schizoid reconnecting to objects. Nonhuman AI designers of the post-AI revolution started to design new object relationships, objects seemingly without any function. They started all over again in the design evolution of objects and emphasized what was left of their relationships with humans: data mining, data sharing and data distribution. Just like the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowers through pollination, objects created a symbiotic relationship with humans through ‘data-pollination’. Objects became flowers.

This catalogue of objects hints at a playful future, reconnecting humans to their childhood through layers of familiarity. Exploring animism to stimulate reciprocality and companionship. Exploring ambiguity in function to compose new stories, where objects become alive and new realities are created in a world of desire rather than a world of lack.

Photography by Sander van Wettum
Photography by Sander van Wettum

Footnotes: 

[1] Branzi, A (1984), The Hot House: Italian New Wave Design, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, p.147.

[2] Conti, M (2016), The incredible inventions of intuitive AI (TED Talk), [online video]. April 2016. Available from: <https://www.ted.com/talks/maurice_conti_the_incredible_inventions_of_intuitive_ai>. [04 April 2017].

[3] see footnote 2

[4] Bruinsma, M (1995), ‘We do not need new forms, we need a new mentality’, Items Design Journal. Available from: <http://maxbruinsma.nl/index1.html?idem.htm>. [13 April 2017].

Visit Merle's website: www.merleflugge.com

View Merle's full thesis here


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