Withdrawing Inspiration From Flash Tattoo Culture
Patrick JA Massey
Transire In Scientia: An Association of Energy Technologies Guilds
This project draws inspiration from images of tattoos in order to generate new experimental forms of architecture. The playful built forms and colours stem from an experimental drawing series based on tattoos. The premise of the project brief begins with the bizarre notion that knowledge could be stored in coded tattoos on the skin of the University Faculty and archived in human-like statues covered in coloured, leathered human skin. This somewhat gruesome story is counteracted by the playfulness of the forms and bright comic colours which reflects the nature of a tattoo: a macabre practice, a beautiful colourful image.
Hom.Sac Island: Science, surveillance and the culture of control
In order to provide a large team of scientists and laboratory technicians with suitable subjects for their research into late stage dementia, early stage sufferers are presented with the opportunity to sign a ‘Homo Sacer Consent Contract’. The patient who signs this contract accepts that in the late stages of their condition they will be regarded legally as Homo Sacer (A Hom-Sac), which strips the patient of their human rights. This patient accepts that they will be the subject of radical research carried out on Hom.Sac Island and observed by the research scientists operating in an on site laboratory called ‘The Panopticon Dementia Research Facility’. (commonly known as PDRF-01). The Hom-Sacs live out the remainder of their lives in a physical space of intense sensory experience where they are subject to radical medical, psychological ontological and societal experiments. This space is called the Potemkin Deceptive Reality Field (commonly known as PDRF-02) which is subject to persistent observation by the research labs. PDRF-02 is the only reality that the Hom-Sacs are aware of, they can not recall or relate to the everyday world outside of this space. With this in mind, PDRF-02 has been designed purposefully to not resemble the outside world in any way but instead be ‘aesthetically unfamiliar’ using coloured light patterns, chromo-saturation, projected photography and film techniques to present an embroidered and manipulated reality in order to support leaps of the imagination and cognitive responses. Like the Hom-Sac inmates, modern urbanites navigate the metropolis in a state of distraction, to which they subconsciously consent, but in a culture of subtle control, to what extent is our humanity debased?
Valhalla: A Monument to Egoism.
This monument does not embody any political, social, national or religious ideals. The monument stands simply for the pursuit of individual glory. We must not live for anyone except ourselves. It should inspire in the subject the egoist ideology of forthright and excessive confidence in one’s self. The visitor to the tower embarks on a journey to the pinnacle through a series of key moments, their preconceptions and expectation continuously subverted. The visitor moves from a conventional view of an obelisk, to a subversion of foundations and ground, then a period of sustained focus on the object as the visitor circles the monument for 30 minutes, one mile, to the bottom of the 100 m deep hole in the ground where the object is observed unharmed by the aesthetics of the world moving or changing around it. Instead the monument is viewed from the narrow constraints of a subjective architecture, unconventional to the subjects expectation of elevation, skyline, silhouette. Looking up the monument blocks out the sun, an apt metaphor for egotism. Inside the monument one’s expectations of solidity and monumental-ism are again subverted by the thin translucent marble skin supported by a complex system of thin steel elements. This is a spacial analogy of an individual attempting to rewrite their history as one of complete independence; a rejection of the notion of convention, an outworking of a complete megalomania that exists in the present but re-represents the individual’s past. The journey culminating in a view out over London suggests that the rejection of personal history is counterpointed by the incontrovertible reality of external glory – a consciousness more embedded in the norms of its society than is necessarily realised. A lusting for a glory that must co-exist with a recognition of the value of the world it inhabits and the merits of success in that world.
Who influences you graphically?
The strong lines of the flash tattoo style of drawing and the typographical block shapes of Robert Indianna’s LOVE were the direct inspiration for these two projects. Roberto Burle Marx’s drawings had a strong effect on me whilst I was at University, especially the way that his drawings so clearly express playfulness. I like to think the more fun you put into a drawing the better the result.
Your ‘Transire in Scentia’ images seem strongly inspired by the graphics of Archigram and specifically Plug in City, could the tattoos you mention be analogous of the modules and modeular structure Archigram speculates about?
In a way, Plug in City is a good analogy for the way I drew the master-plan for Transire, However, conceptually, the two projects share little more than a graphical resemblance. It is an experiment in using an aleatory method of drawing, based on an almost arbitrary external image, to not simply represent, but to inspire architectural connections.
What role does colour hold? And what is the effect of using flat colour with no texture? What is the effect of a black and white image when compared to a coloured one when it comes to drawing experimentally?
Finding a new experimental drawing language is always, I find, best done in black and white. Sometimes images suggest colour, other times they do not. Perhaps those that cry out for colour are the more successful ones. I find flat colour is less suggestive, which is important when exploring a design. Once you add a texture, you close off certain material and textural possibilities.
In ‘Monument to Egoism’ you talk about a journey through which an individual attempts to rewrite their history as one of complete independence. The proposal as such appears as something mystical and extremely atmospheric, however you chose to only represent it physically through technical drawings rather than trying to explore the true quality of the spaces and passenger experience through perspective views, why so?
It is a very particular and special skill of the Architect to be able to design and represent their ideas through traditional methods of 2D drawing. The drawing that will determine the quality of a place will inevitably be a technical one, as these are used to build from, therefore perspective views and photo realistic renderings can be seductive, but misleading. Also, similarly to using block colour, 2D drawing, for me, offers a greater wealth of possibility.