This year the Royal College of Art will present its graduate show, titled RCA 2020, online through a digital discovery platform. Within RCA 2020 the School of Architecture will showcase 6 Curated, Computed Collections. This digital transition marks the first time the work of the RCA students will be presented as a machine-readable dataset, which has resulted in a curatorial collaboration between the School of Architecture, corporate forms of artificial intelligence and six invited critics. 6 Curated, Computed Collections presents the fruits of this collaboration. Using network analysis techniques, critical reflection, and machine-learning models, the show explores different ways of looking and the limits and biases inherent in this.
The School of Architecture can be understood as a semi-enclosed system. Within any given academic year, ideas, techniques and histories enter, recursively circulate, and concentrate into different agendas, aesthetics and propositions. 6 Curated, Computed Collections presents six unique paths through the School of Architecture’s pedagogical process and registers its control-flow diagram. What is visible within each path, is the most emblematic expressions of the school’s pedagogy presented in images, texts, and videos of student work. Experimental research and practice-as-research are equally important; new cinematic techniques informed by automation logics sit alongside traditional stop-motion animations of physical models. What is also shown across all paths is the relationships between these individual media data-points, and the institutional patterns, trends and tendencies that have informed their production, and ultimately structure the RCA2020 School of Architecture dataset. An interest in colonial histories is aided by experiments with remote sensing technologies. The color purple and iridescent spectrums feature as frequently as human figures and new forms of urban infrastructure.
What is revealed in this collecting, sorting and plotting of student work, is not that the internet has become architecture, but that architecture has met the internet. As architecture becomes more digitally mediated – and as networked cultures increasingly become the subject of spatial research – this exhibition further propels student work into a creative and critical encounter with a computational world. Student works offer examples of this encounter through precise representations of the apparatuses of image making – not just what is framed by the camera, but also the setting that frames the camera – in a sense the students have produced images of the ways in which images are constructed and how they rhetorically operate. 6 Curated, Computed Collections adopts and adapts the contemporary techniques of information extraction, classification and circulation to reflect an image of the School of Architecture being imaged, right now.
Curation and Computation: Farzin Lotfi-Jam
Technical Infrastructure and Development: James Turle
Graphic Design: MTWTF