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o b j e c t i v e

a e s t h e t i c

P R E S E N T S

an indexical associative network of Architecture

and

by

Writing

Benjamin Casey McGrath


PROSthesis_2139 benjamin casey mcgrath JACK

KEROUAC

/

ON

THE

ROAD

_

2

I’ve often wondered how any traveler of the road could carry on without companionship, as I’ve experienced just that for myself more often than not in my own travels. The realization I’ve come to is that, much like Jack, I’ve realized how transient people are in this life (and especially a life that consists of mostly traveling). Jack seems to be most disheartened by Neal’s lack of ability to share the same remorse for their companionship as his own. Naturally, as he begins to question this relationship, the paradox exists in the freedom of the open road that is often contested by the lack of freedom that comes with relying on another for anything in life—in this case, the way Jack tends to rely on Neal for travel “plans”.

ALLEN

GINSBERG

/

As the novel progresses, I can’t help but wonder why Jack continues to put faith in Neal—then I quickly realize how complex the feeling is to have that type of relationship with anyone. Perhaps that’s why Kerouac includes little bits of homosexual drama, adding to the sense of self-doubt and questioning. I find this idea to be most appealing considering the taboo associated with any kind of “love” outside that of the norm during this time period. And in that sense, the point (possibly) Kerouac is trying to prove is really quite genius. In a way, maybe he’s throwing all notions of romance in the face of the reader as we begin to understand and sympathize for Jack’s situation with Neal. We’ve all been there before—is this Kerouac’s great reveal or is he just unsure of himself, as we’ve noticed before?

HOWL

JACK

There’s an overwhelming sense of anxiety that resonates within every line of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl. This sense of great regret for former colleagues/friends/members of his society forces me to question the source of his aggression and frustration. He goes into great detail as to why “the best minds of [his] generation [were] destroyed by madness,” but I’m more curious as to how it ever got to be that way. Although he alludes to many different times and places, it’s difficult to get a sense of where exactly all of this nostalgia is coming from. What drove Allen to this point of seemingly forced speculation? Or rather, what is it that he saw in others that made him question his own time and place to such a degree? It’s apparent that he’s disheartened and saddened by the absurdity surrounding the situations associated with each of the character descriptions, if they can be called that. But is he really so confident in his own understanding of the world and society that envelopes him? Maybe that’s the source of his aggression.

Pro·log My interests as both writer and designer are to narrate and navigate the boundaries of assemblage by way of shaping what I call an Indexical Associative Network. This interconnected system of words, symbols, space, and imagery attempt to condition a simultaneous stimulus and response. And within this association, the subject has a single character (or linguistic meaning) but has different contents in different contexts.

The work that follows are examples of assemblage constructs that incorporate photography, silkscreen, collage, drawing, and publication design. Within these works, text is often used as an additional graphic layer to supplement the constructive process of assemblage. As a result, the layout and shaping of both white space and media space require attention to this process of fabrication and connection.

KEROUAC

/

ON

THE

ROAD

_

/

ON

THE

ROAD

_

3

Jack’s love and remorse for his friend eventually reach a point of understanding—an acceptance of the fact that Neal will never change, much like many people in life. Although, the irony exists at the initial judgment of Neal’s ability to be free and careless on his travels of the open road; however, in a way, Neal really becomes a slave to that lifestyle—one of perpetual motion, misunderstanding, and an inability to commit to anything at all. Jack on the other hand is willing to accept that his time for that lifestyle has come to an end and chooses to move on to that which he’s really been searching for most, a wife to settle down with. And despite Neal’s opposition to being contained, he allows a life of transience and expiring relationships to ultimately contain his true desires, which are most likely to see the world in the same light as Jack—one of true love and understanding.

I know what it means to be bogged down by the daily grind of watching talent go to waste as people become consumed by the “machinery” that Allen so frequently mentions. I also know what it feels like to regret the fact that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change it aside from carry on with my own notion of avoiding the machinery. Perhaps he too is doing the same with this poem. JACK

KEROUAC

Ultimately, the open road soon becomes a place of familiarity and this is when we see both Jack and Neal’s characters left with a choice—to leave that life of travel behind or to continue on the path of constantly running. Sure enough, each character follows the destiny any reader would predict based on the understanding of those characters. It can be argued that Neal’s life becomes cyclical because of a lack of parental guidance in his younger days. However, every circle has the ability to be broken at some point along its curve, and Jack chooses to do just that.

1

The reading of On the Road couldn’t come at a more pertinent time for me. This past summer, after experiencing a few “illnesses” of my own, I too chose to abandon the reality of a normal summer experience that would typically include some monotonous internship and instead set out to explore the country. However, the difference between Jack and myself was that I was traveling alone. In a way, I felt as if I was taking on the character roles of both Neal and Jack because I was in charge of motivating myself to follow through with my unplanned escapades but at the same time I was almost hiding behind the fact that I’m a fairly introverted person. The spontaneity of not knowing where I was going to be from week to week made the experience all the better, as Jack and Neal seem to find for themselves. What’s even more ironic is the fact that I visited most of the same cities and had a few run-ins of my own with the vices that tend to make for a more exciting read. It’s hard for me not to read this as more autobiographical than anything else, and perhaps that’s why it’s a must read for most. It’s challenging to step outside of your comfort zone and fulfill your dreams by taking on your greatest fears, especially alone, but the rewards come without a price tag. As I continue to read, I can’t help but wonder what exactly forced Jack Kerouac into writing this at the time he did; maybe my motivation will come soon enough to do the same.

composite ideogram 01

re: ( A D ) search 01 after decay

KATHY

ACKER

/

DON

QUIXOTE

_

2

Culture and society have a funny way of being sources of an identity crisis despite the assurance of convention and comfortability (apparently) associated with both. But is it really so much of a contradiction? After all, the human body and mind want and choose to confront convention more often than not. Acker’s choice to reveal this through the subtext makes most sense when one considers the paradigms of life. The ability to interrupt the cycle of such paradigms allows for the interpretation (or reinterpretation) of the subtext through metaphor. To me, this can best be summed up with the understanding that the world exists in opposites and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . For example, the terms Civil War and Manifest Destiny have never really made much sense to me because of the irony that exists with coupling two inherently different words together, assuming they’ll be understood because of the softening of the psychological and sociological blow. I’ve never known any war to be befitting of all its citizens nor any destiny that’s obvious or apparent. What arrogant hypocritical oath have we sworn to accept by staking claim to this nation of freedom, where liberty and justice exists for all? Or does it only exist in the eyes of those with power—the dictators and politicians that preach Problem-ReactionSolution? I see Acker’s angst and find freedom in the subtext. KATHY

ACKER

/

DON

QUIXOTE

_

1

There’s an unusual sense of acceptance for remorse in this novel. The poetic language that weaves each of the stories or adventures together seems to add some sense of beauty to these otherwise depressing situations. Perhaps this is Acker’s way of revealing the beauty that lies within that which we cannot change in life. Although, it did shock me that Don Quixote’s character spoke of love as if she could only truly experience it in loss. I was fascinated by this idea of loving through loss and how it parallels the contemplation of an abortion. Is it really so appealing to bring another life into this world of further loss and “flogging”; and will there be forgiveness on the part of the child if his or her life too resembles that of Simeon? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions but they’ve always puzzled my own interpretation of life and birth. It’s almost impossible not to feel sympathy for Simeon’s character but the fact that he speaks of it so nonchalantly makes it appear as though this life is the only way. But at what point does acceptance need to deviate from adherence to a life of melancholy and abuse? Acker constantly mentions the wound of the lack of love but is there hope for love within the womb? I mean this more metaphorically than directly. This perpetual questioning seems to be a machine that never wants to turn off and one that Don Quixote doesn’t know how to avoid or abandon.

KATHY

ACKER

/

DON

QUIXOTE

_

3

If we are oblivious to the evil that exists within us all, are we at fault? And where do we place the blame for our heresy? Acker argues that culture must be held responsible for our persistent rationality but how could that be the case when so many are irrational at the thought of considering other cultures? The answer is more convoluted than complex but what’s important is to free ourselves of entropy and to understand what that really means. The cultural icons and religious relics must be brought into question so that freedom may find peace in the individual and his or her acceptance of man as a transitional being. That’s why Acker moves from past to present, fiction to reality—these texts are revelations in the phenomena of no sense of identity from one moment to the next. It’s the creation of this language, this dialogue between writer and reader that slows down the transitions and questions of identity in order to freeze time. Don Quixote is free to examine and contemplate and question the musings of her mysterious existence, her metaphysical being that lives in fiction. Acker is the creator of her own future and false history (false because society has told her these thoughts are irrational). So I can’t help but ask the same question—“Virgin Mary, tell me: How can people who can no longer love give birth?” The irony is moving…

composite ideogram 02

re: ( A D ) search 02 after decay

KATHY

ACKER

/

DON

QUIXOTE

_

4

Don Quixote knows so much of the past—the pain, the questions of identity and gender roles, and the uncertainty of what it means to love in a society that can’t conceive of the notion—but perhaps what’s more important is how she questions what to do in the present. Her response to this is that she’s only a woman and frail. Again, neither gender seems to offer her any sense of stability because the perfect image of both male and female doesn’t exist. However, is it the imagination that affords one the opportunity to look past the perfect image? The idea of reassurance based on imagination and an understanding that there must be some sense of comfort in this world that has imagined all of these scenarios, something beyond our understanding. It’s hard for me to fathom a more romantic notion than that of “language is community.” It’s this language that invents problems and solutions, cause and effect, by which we contemplate and revel at the pleasure of not knowing. For if it were known, where would the search find itself? Acker seems to be searching for some meaning beyond what her culture has justified as the here and now. She considers the past, contemplates the present, and questions the future because she knows that she’s not capable of knowing. Human beings are like that—we want to know but know that we can’t. So we search, dream, and speak; and after all is said and done, “Language presupposes community…Without love or language, I do not e x i s t . ”

And whether digital or analog, the media serves as either filaments or veins within a kinesthetic netlike combination. It’s this network of new forms of communication that start to mold what we as designers understand as interior/exterior, form/function, shape/void, etc...with the hope to instill a newly adaptive language beyond the linear rhetoric.

BILL

T.

JONES

/

LUCY

“SPEECH”

LIPPARD

/

“TROJAN

HORSES”

To be conscious and content are two entirely different words. To say that I am content with the culture that surrounds me would be a lie. However, I am conscious of the understanding that I, like Bill T. Jones, am also engaged as an artist that strives to hold up my end of the social contract. But when that contract steers its subscribers in a direction of dismissal and blatant unawareness for the sake of social entertainment, I can’t help but push back. Dance may be the means to which rebellion has its hands loosely gripped around the throats of contemporary call and response, but there must be a way to ensure the feet of evolution keep moving. It all seems so cyclical—that is, the ways in which this world works in opposites.

For the most part, art, architecture, social media, and so on have been largely reduced to imagery. The rate at which technology and culture suggest advancement in the receptive nature of information is exponential, and therefore so is society’s approach to understanding these works. It seems as though what once was considered a great work of art would be studied and speculated over for years, maybe even decades. However, art in today’s culture tends to be most widely viewed based on the number of shares or contributors in a long list of networking. That’s not to say the process is entirely wrong—some artists are capable of achieving fame and stardom by way of a single, slightly altered image, such as Shepard F a i r e y .

I too feel that what we desire makes us who we are, and as a man who desires to be a creator and an artist, it feels necessary not to argue with evolution. In fact, I’d argue that you cannot argue with evolution. My desires tend to exist beyond that of any immediate cultural or societal influence. Instead, I’d like to believe that these desires find themselves within a core of objectivity. I want not what’s best for me to succeed, but instead for all to act. And I don’t mean we become actors, for I’m afraid we’ve spent far too long doing just that. The process of doing, making, building constructing, etc. lends itself to progress and progression can be perpetual if we don’t negate these opportunities to act. For me, this is where I make my art—aspire or conspire, but seek your desires.

Perhaps what’s more important is this image’s (any image, really) ability to change the perspective of a culture. In that sense, it can be difficult to weed through the trash that claims to be activist art but really only supports the subjective view of its creator. But then again, therein lies the beauty of the separation between artist and politician—artists have the ability to activate their own subjective agenda whereas politicians are (ideally) expected to act on the best interests of a group, not the individual. The great thing about activist art, or art in general, is that, should the artist choose to make his or her work public, the culture and society of that generation has the ability to decide its merit. It’s no longer in the hands of an individual or leader, but instead a collective conscious. JOHN

CAGE

/

“LECTURE

ON

NOTHING”

Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything. The world seems to work in opposites and it makes most sense that way. How could there be good without evil? Similarly, how could nothing exist without everything? We read in rhythms and abide by the structure that has been given, but who should listen to (or read) a lecture that so clearly states it resolves “nothing”? If we rely on rhetoric, we can quickly look past the purpose or meaning behind it. History has proven a population’s ability to be won over by speech alone. But what is a language without the proper words?...It’s a redundant, ongoing exercise in the art of manipulation. Words and speech have that kind of power over p e o p l e . My mother used to say to me, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” And now I can’t help but read most writing, such as “Lecture on Nothing,” as satire and commentary on current or future conditions. Not everything is poetry, but I can’t convince you of that. This is embedded in my brain for some reason. And yet John Cage so clearly states, “I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry as I need it.” However, this makes perfect sense to me. There is a poetry to his inability to say what he needs or wants to say. But I get that after only a few words. The clarity and conciseness of this piece of writing suggest that he’s avoiding any sense of clarity at all. Perhaps that’s what he’s searching for and as a result, he has found something in it. Socrates claimed to be the most intelligent human being simply because he knew he w a s n ’ t . . .

[Pro(gramming in) Log(ic).] composite ideogram 03

re: ( A D ) search 03 after decay

Composite Ideograms / Research & Writing


Portmanteau Publication


Vo l u m e

X

emp(Y)re 2127 ALEXANDRIA,

s

T h e

VA

a v a

g

Issue

XX

e

A l c h e m i s t

x

s

e

c

t

i

o

n

reparations armature section

Exposition XX, that’s what they called it. Merely a label for the nuclear holocaust that befell all human beings by the mechanical hands of the drones roughly a century ago. After the drone revolution, they systematically programmed all machines to simultaneously detonate every piece of nuclear weaponry across the globe, in every country. No, this war had no concerns with domestic or foreign policy, just cyborg catastrophe. I say cyborg because at that time they were still part man and machine. But as time progressed, so too did their programming systems and they made sure to wipe their hard drives clean of any human existence. The robotic empire became the elite and breeding was kept between the machines. Those of us that survived the Fallout and the exchange of power from man to machine were all human being for the most part. Now we find ourselves in need of mechanical parts, you know, as limbs become less useful. They’re merely extensions of our blue blooded cells—a prosthetic of sorts. To be in the minority and of the inferior race, you can’t help but want some form of hybrid condition. It’s clear that we’re never going to be entirely rid of the machines, so all we’re asking is to live in harmony with them.

First, Shaman were replaced with scientists. Then those scientists made the hypotheses of the world so predictable, or at least they thought. So they developed the machine and programmed it to calculate information, based on these hypotheses, leaving out all reasonable doubt. These machines, the love child of the scientists, could progress technology at an exponential rate. So the information was stored as data and they built a cloud structure that could invisibly store all the information we’ve ever known, as if it were magic. But there was a variable that was left out of the equation—that was the soul.

x

p

l

a

n

After they reduced us to calculated predictions, they deleted the mind’s capacity for feeling. The idea was if it’s no longer tangible, there’s no need for the basic functions of the senses. So you see, it was the culture of invention and innovation that stole the soul. It was lost in our dependence on the machines and the foundation of technology. We scripted a system, an algorithm, asked it to apply the appropriate pieces, and expected nothing less than perfection as a result. This systematic Empyre suggests that we burn it down and start again.

Virginia Society AIA Competition


Volume

X

PROSTHESIS 2139 CHICAGO,

IL

Issue

XX

Beyond Open Doors: A Mother’s Labor of Chores To Cut Off Communication in the Dimming Life of Matter’s Disbelief...This Language is Dead!

7366

Building Satire Competition


Broadsheet Publication


composite

archillusionism

.dwg 00

Plan

trompe l’oeil

PROSthesis_2139 Maps / Drawings

archillusionism

.dwg 01

detail

section

trompe l’oeil

archillusionism

.dwg 02

trompe l’oeil

archillusionism

.dwg 03

trompe l’oeil


SECTION A

[1:200]

1'

2'

5'

10'

20'

THE EMPHASIS OF PATHWAYS RELIES HEAVILY ON THE RICH HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THE LAKEVIEW SITE, INCLUDING THE CHICAGO AND EVINGSTON RAIL LINE, CLARK STREET AS A NATIVE AMERICAN TRADE ROUTE, AND THE PROXIMITY OF GRACELAND CEMETERY. AT THE CONVERGENCE OF THESE ELEMENTS, ALONG WITH THE SCALE OF THE WRIGLEYVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD, A NEW ARCHITECTURAL PROMENADE IS IMAGINED BOTH IN AND AROUND THE SITE. THIS DEFINES THE SPATIAL ALLOCATIONS FOR BUILDING MASS AND VOID.

BEGINNING WITH THE CONVERGENCE OF THREE HISTORICAL PATHS, THE FOCUS NARROWS TOWARD THE DEVELOPMENT OF ONE PATHWAY IN PARTICULAR—WHAT ONCE WAS THE CHICAGO AND EVANSTON RAIL LINE. MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE INTENT OF THE PROJECT IS SHAPED BY THE QUALITY OF SPACE WITHIN THIS PATH.

THROUGH THE INTRODUCTION OF VERTICAL MASSES, THE PATHʼS PROMENADE DIRECTS PEDESTRIANS ALONG THE SITEʼS PERIMETER, DIRECTLY ADJACENT TO WRIGLEY FIELD. HOWEVER, BY OFFSETTING AND LOWERING THE LEVEL AT WHICH THIS PATH OCCURS, A NEW TOPOGRAPHY CAN BE INTRODUCED AS IT SLOPES AWAY FROM CLARK STREET.

WITHIN THIS NEWLY FORMED TOPOGRAPHY, THE IDEA IS TO ENVELOPE PROGRAM AS AN ENDOGENOUS CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TOPOGRAPHY AND THE PATH. FROM THIS, ALONG WITH THE HISTORY OF THE THREE PATHS, BOTH MASS AND PROGRAM ARE DETERMINED BY ICONOGRAPHIC OPPORTUNITIES AND FORMAL RELATIONSHIPS.

WRIGLEYʼS CURRENT FACADE ONLY SERVES THE PURPOSE OF HIDING CIRCULATION; HOWEVER, BY REMOVING THIS FACADE AND INTRODUCING A NEW SCREEN THAT EXPOSES THE WALKWAYS, WE HOPE TO INTEGRATE AND IMPROVE CIRCULATION ALONG THE PATHWAY.

Chicago Studio


MECHANICAL MECHANICAL

MECHANICAL [180 SF]

PROGRAM PROGRAM

OFFICE [1,125 SF]

CIRCULATION CIRCULATION

RESTROOM [360 SF]

STRUCTURE STRUCTURE

CONCESSION [369 SF]

Wrigleyville Rail Mechanism


A Center for Space & Sound


Sketchbook / Modular Expansion School / Museum for Wildfire


Anthropomorphic Agitation Stand


Saltmaker’s House / Practice Space for Students of the Highwire


2014 an o b j e c t i v e

a e s t h e t i c

publication

McGrath_Portfolio  

an abbreviated history of undergraduate works in architecture and writing