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CCCP Theses

Abstracts of 2024 CCCP theses are listed below followed by a comprehensive list of all theses published since 2011.
A Failure Index: The February 6, 2023 Earthquakes
Selin Ciftci
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

Two major earthquakes that occurred in Turkey on February 6, 2023, left behind a long-lasting devastation with effects that will span years. The impact of the destruction was expanded geographically and magnified in dimension on account of malfunctioning, non-functioning, and broken legal, administrative, and physical mechanisms. Non-functioning mechanisms left people grappling with a collective grief, a situation wherein they couldn’t find time to mourn, and left them marked by a profound sense of helplessness. This research positions the earthquake beyond a simple “natural” disaster ve questions what turns an earthquake into a disaster.

While it points to an area far beyond the aesthetic concerns of architecture, it aims to make visible the inherent structure of architecture’s dependence on individuals and decision-makers who hold and wield its power. While proposing a multidimensional discussion of the earthquake’s severity, this thesis seeks to delve comprehensively into the failures that occurred before, during, and after the earthquake and interrogate a set of underlying claims surrounding those failures. This interrogation is staged around four key points in the earthquake’s timeline: Before the earthquake, the first 24 hours, after the earthquake, and the long-term implications of the earthquake. The thesis traces the failures associated with the earthquake through various discursive, political, economic, legal, and structural claims, like earthquake taxes, construction amnesty, expert warnings, telecommunication, chain of command, etc. at these key moments. The research draws upon mainstream media, social media, interviews, and a visit to the region as research instruments. By curating a series of claims from different sources and perspectives, A Failure Index aims to demonstrate that this earthquake represents not only the collapse of buildings but also a collapse of intertwined political, economic, and media mechanisms.

Unearthed: Gold, Curses and Architecture
Clarisse Figueiredo de Queiroz
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
This thesis walks upon the ruins of an idea of a country. Between the 1970s and 1990s, within the milieu of the Cold War, the Brazilian Amazon witnessed the opening of its forest to the massive migration of thousands of men reenacting a new and muddier type of El Dorado. One of the stages of what became known as the Brazilian “gold rush” of the twentieth century occurred in Roraima, on the border with Venezuela, in an area occupied by the Yanomami people. Supported by the state apparatus of the US-backed military dictatorship regime, many agents, media, and discourses facilitated a neocolonial process, which continues to find ramifications in the present day. This thesis deploys the architecture of a monument, commissioned by the military regime and positioned in the center of the political and economic power of Roraima, as the structuring device perpetuating an extractivist and genocidal ethos in the region. Monuments are typically erected to honor the “winners.” However, in the case of Roraima, the ones whom the “Monument to the Garimpeiro” represents are not necessarily the monumentalized labor force—the garimpeiros—but rather the dominant political, economic, and inherently colonial powers behind the engines that keep illegal gold mining activities operating. The unresolved struggles, disputes, and conflicts continue to influence the fate of Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous peoples, and more-than-humans in Roraima. At times moving “through the realm of the colonized into the dreamed reality of the decolonized,” and at other times engaging with both simultaneously, this research attempted to weave a tapestry of historical and officially archived accounts and documents along with orally shared tales and glimpses into the dreamscape of various communities—of Yanomami people, of the sertanejos of Northeast Brazil, of the garimpeiros in the Brazilian Amazon—into a comprehensive tour of Roraima’s political and ecological space. Thus, by considering alternative versions of official histories and reading through other ways of apprehending metals, ruins, curses, toxicities, and temporalities, “Unearthed: Gold, Curses, and Architecture” exercises sensitivities that consider architecture’s complicit role in the construction of landscapes of extraction in Roraima.
A Smart City Trio: Kenya’s Tatu City and Konza Technopolis
Yidan Karel Li
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
The African Smart City wave carries with it the hope of forging an alternative identity and future. Smart cities, as depicted in international development theories, embody a unique opportunity for growth and are hailed as miraculous solutions to urban crises. In the brochures of technology providers, they are portrayed as cutting-edge technological marvels that benefit humanity. On billboards for real estate developers, they promise an enviable lifestyle for the upper-middle class. These homogeneous and ultra-optimistic narratives surrounding the African Smart City can easily overshadow the geopolitics, massive international investments, and the numerous stakeholders involved. This thesis extensively explores two prominent smart city projects in Kenya: Tatu City and Konza Technopolis, both strategically located near Nairobi and designated as flagship projects under Kenya’s Vision 2030. The research navigates between the two projects, situating them within a broad sociopolitical narrative of Kenya from precolonial to colonial, and post-independence times, investigating their construction sites, transnational stakeholders, policies, politics, and the prevailing struggles and ongoing reforms of Kenya’s postcolonial nationhood. It posits that “smartness” in a Smart City possesses rich ontological, material, and epistemological rationalities. The current wave of proposing and constructing Smart Cities in Kenya (and largely Africa), although is rhetorically and visually presented as radical or disruptive interventions, is far not enough to push forward Africa’s decolonial project. It has been mild responses and adjustments, and even reinforcements to Africa’s ongoing and unresolved struggles over land politics, knowledge systems, and development discourses.
UNDOCUMENTED SPACES: RAIDING homes, jobs and the streets
Karla Andrea Pérez
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
The United States defines undocumented immigrants as “foreign-born non-citizens who are not legal residents.” They are also called illegals, aliens, irregulars and unauthorized. To be undocumented is to live within the in-between, where the everyday is seemingly normal while living in “violation” of the law, knowing you cannot exist here, where you’re constantly told to “go back to your country, go back home” as if this can never be your home. Beyond border militarization efforts deployed by the U.S. government to “deal” with “illegal immigration” there has been a push towards interior enforcement that holds a double meaning. Interior, in the sense of the geographic area between our borders, but also, interior, in the sense of our buildings, our structures, our homes, our spaces. Raids form a part of this “enforcement,” conducted by agencies like ICE and DHS that refuse to use the word ‘raid’ preferring terms like “targeted arrests” and “enforcement operations”. This thesis aims to look at these raids through three different kinds of spaces: the home, the workplace, and the public space in an effort to understand the sort of spatial intelligence utilized against the undocumented immigrant population in the United States. The thesis recontextualizes various kinds of legal government documents, institutional reports, newspapers, and ample amounts of research by generations of scholars advocating for immigrant rights into an architectural perspective as it pertains with the exteriority and interiority of raided spaces that target the undocumented population.
Insect Circuitries
Aaron Smolar
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
One widespread media fixation in 2017 pertained to the sudden discovery of a so-called “insect apocalypse,” the steep decline in global insect populations over the last several decades. This emerging ecological consciousness marks a drastic shift in how people perceive insects, from discrete, autonomous entities to multiplicities of interfering processes that weave these creatures—with other organisms, objects, protocols, or practices—into emergent, open-ended wholes. Through their integration into these circuitries, insects are stripped of their natural existence and coded with social significance. That overwriting implicitly mediates how people perceive and comport themselves toward these creatures. Thus, rather than passive objects of one-way operations, insects are simultaneously objects and subjects of these processes. Programming is being programmed, and circuitries are the medium through which this interference unfolds. From this perspective, the distinction between organism and mechanism—the existential condition of rational society—dissolves, and disclosing how the normative, instrumental mode through which people ordinarily perceive insects is socially constructed, merely naturalized. In this thesis, I examine three such instances of insect mobilization: Imperial Japan’s entomological warfare program during the Second World War, Banksy’s Withus Oragainstus (2005), and the “RoboRoach” by neuroscience company Backyard Brains (2013). I consider the implicit circuitries upon which each of these programs rests—specifically, the insect’s reciprocal agency in programming, producing, these larger wholes. Whereas insects typically figure into architectural and media-theoretical discourses in terms of their social behaviors, their morphologies, or the structures that they build, I take these organisms as active participants in exchange networks, as communicators and transducers, of time, space, and information. Insofar as this project describes how such flows are organized, connected, and transformed, I understand this concern as “topological.” Through interpreting such descriptions, this fluidity of subject and object reveals itself on a multiplicity of registers, challenging both passive technological determinism and social constructivism. This hermeneutical imperative is isomorphic with the thesis content: making these circuitries explicit.
The Politics of Belonging: Tracing the Hercules of Perge
Cemre Tokat
Jordan Carver, Advisor

In late 2011, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey received an important inquiry from the Geneva authorities regarding an object that was thought to be looted from Turkey. The object was a sarcophagus that depicts the twelve labors of Hercules, and is believed to have been stolen from the ancient city of Perge in excavations during the 1960s. Six years later in 2017, after a lengthy trial, it was decided that the sarcophagus be repatriated to its homeland, to later be exhibited in the Antalya Museum, right by its excavation location, its birthplace.

As the discourse around repatriation becomes a normative intellectual activity for not only museum researchers and academics but also the general public, the provenance of most antiquities still remains obscured. The Politics of Belonging: Tracing the Hercules of Perge follows the path of the stolen antiquity, through the cyclical process of looting, discovery, and repatriation, to investigate larger patterns around ownership and cultural heritage. This thesis aims to scrutinize the cultural and political value that the afterlife of the antiquities brings forth and how that affects the contemporary reading of the object. Exploring the sarcophagus will act as a starting point to unravel numerous phenomena surrounding cultural and political dynamics and controversies in the international art world as well as the current Turkish socio-political scene. Through this research I aim to paint a narrative that places not only this object but also its repatriation timeline into a historical context. Tracing the lifecycle of the ancient Roman sarcophagus will shine a light on the intricacies of the political boundaries regarding a shared heritage, and by doing so, touch on a number of problematic relationships between wealth, value, and history.

The thesis will produce a set of illustrations that will support a body of excavated truths uncovering the geographical and political adjacencies, whilst taking the reader on a journey across continents to reveal the actors and relationships that have played a role in the repatriation process of the Hercules sarcophagus. The research will be finalized by imagining a new narrative for the future of the object and understanding the value that the afterlife of this object holds.

Visions of the Necropolis: ACT UP and the Spatial Politics of Death
Zachary Torres
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

In the 1980s and 1990s, mourning and protest were inextricable poles of sociality that defined gay and lesbian life and helped to establish queerness as a political mode of resistance to the state’s necropolitical mismanagement of the AIDS Crisis. In this context, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) emerged as a central player in the fight against AIDS—a fight strategically framed as a war against genocide. ACT UP was also an erotically-charged site of solidarity that brought together not just living bodies but the dead and dying, too.

This thesis is an investigation into ACT UP’s mobilization of death as a space of queer performativity in which solidarity was enacted. Rooted in a reading of Achille Mbembe’s necropolitics, I examine how the “necropolis,” broadly understood, was manifested during the AIDS Crisis through the radical activism and coalition building of ACT UP. Reading ACT UP as a queering of necropolitics, I propose that through performances of death, rituals of mourning, and political solidarity, a new type of queer space was inaugurated. Calling this the “necropolis”—a term which I leave open-ended—I read death as a site of queer resistance to the normative frameworks of life and to the necropolitics of the state.

Understanding queerness as a political and worldbuilding initiative, and the erotic as a force of performative relationality, this thesis excavates the history and politics of ACT UP’s spatial practices as they emerged in New York City and other key national sites. In doing so, I explore to what extent this worldbuilding can be read as an intentional project in queer relationality, as a manifestation of a queer utopia in which solidarity was activated as an intimate mingling not only of living actors, but, as I hope to demonstrate, also of the dead in a struggle for recognition and valorization. At the same time, I grapple with ACT UP’s internal contradictions.

To make these claims, I look to the way ACT UP mobilized the rhetoric, iconography, and spatial logics of death in its direct action tactics. I work to uncover the transition from practices of apolitical mourning to a discourse of militancy, seeking to complicate unidirectional narratives and offering a more nuanced understanding of ACT UP’s emotional, sexual, and coalitional spaces as they intersected with its contentious identity politics. Framed as a series of visions, I illustrate the complex entanglement of bodies, emotions, temporalities, artistic practices, and spatial politics that defined ACT UP. I focus on three “sites,” the parade, the die-in, and the political funeral, which manifested episodically from 1987 to 1995, considering each a unique manifestation of the “necropolis.” It is only when these visions are understood together, not as discrete episodes but as archival unfoldings and stereoscopic visions, that the nuances of a queer political resistance rooted in erotic relationality can be glimpsed.

Finally, I position this thesis in a genealogy of ongoing activist work. Through intimate engagements with ACT UP’s archive, I am haunted by its ghosts. I write these visions through their voices, seeing them as blueprints for a queer world-building—or world-undoing—practice.

The Guest
Jason Ahuja
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

Having renounced his typical creative production for political action in his twilight years, canonical French writer Jean Genet was invited by both the Black Panther Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization to their decisive sites of struggle in 1970. During his time with the BPP as well as with the PLO, Genet both documented and sparked documentation: from his detailed account of these revolutionary days in the posthumously published Prisoner of Love to the myriad images, moving and otherwise, that his attendance occasioned. ‘Saint Genet,’ as Sartre dubbed him, became a visible comrade and compatriot to those engaged with the foremost liberatory struggles of the time.

Yet do these mediatized moments and rhetorical flourishes constitute action or artifice? Through reading Genet as a scion of revolutionary cosmopolitanism, situating his textual and mediatic production within the PLO and the BPP’s larger media strategy, and considering the shortcomings of such deterritorialized approaches to fights for territory, this thesis contends with limits of contemporary solidarity through the late life and work of Jean Genet.

Extended Release: The Pharmacological and its Environments
Molly M. Brandt
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

This thesis seeks to offer an account of the pharmacological as a mode of American mid-century modern design. Through an exploration of media published by the field of pharmacy, a visual study of pharmaceutical design, display, and distribution yields an understanding of a sequence of effects and interactions with consumption. Starting with the pill—an object that dissolves into us—we encounter new systems and regimes of mass production and its psychoactive futures that shift us toward new modes of perception, which are in turn shaped through the invention of corporate identity, public exhibitions, and new heights of marketing. These social and technological assemblages attending the pharmacological are a lens through which chemical effects become perceivable on the scale of design. Atom by atom, the pharmacological summons us through limitless molecular allure, reframing the “self” and its environment for our current pharma-society.

The extant history of pharmaceuticals, in many ways, is a history of use—of the functions and abilities of consumable products and their role in our domestic or professional lives. Twentieth century pharmacy histories primarily revolve around successes and failures in the domains of discovery, marketing, and mergers. By contrast, through an investigation of the pharmaceutical industry not solely as a medical field, this thesis examines a mode of consumer design. Attendant to the pharmaceutical product, its receiver as well as interior architecture. The industry’s effect on the built environment and daily life is considered by focusing on the pill at different scales—the manufactory, the drug store, and the consumer—across a case study of the pharmaceutical manufacturer, Upjohn from 1946 to 1961. Looking at these sites of interaction, this thesis attempts to trace the technical aesthetic history of the pharmaceutical from the creation of the physical pill to the proliferation of the field’s graphic representation, and to the behaviors which have given rise to the pharmacological as a realm of design.

Soiled Doves: Extractive Labor Economies in Late Nineteenth Century Nevada
Luna Eaton Sharon
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

The complexities of sex work in the United States are deeply enmeshed with the county’s relationship to morality and control. While our collective cultural understandings of sex and work are tied to complex histories of labor economies in the US, their commercialization has been central to the mythology of the American dream. False associations between frontier freedoms and sexual liberations were birthed in the boom towns of the West, where the sexual labor of women became the “backbone” of an emergent urban landscape that is spatially entangled with a new form of libidinal economy.

This thesis interrogates the physical and imaginary formation of the American West through the reading of Virginia City, a late 19th-century mining town in Nevada, and the extractive industries that played a central role in its formation, namely sex work and mining. Through the lens of exchange, the thesis examines the urban and economic formations of Virginia City and its close associations with the mythologies of the West and their deep associations with the town’s literary origins. Built on industries of extraction and tourism, boom towns in Nevada actively used myths and stories of the West to create and maintain a workforce and a prospering economy. Excitements of what could be in these towns were weaponized and spun into a complex web of gendered relations to labor.

Shooting and Crying: Constructions and Translations of (Para-)Jewish Subjecthoods
Max Goldner
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

A naked game of tag in a former Nazi gas chamber. IDF combat training within a Palestinian cemetery. Captivity training and simulated interrogation. Imagining a golden shower, sex, and suicide with Hitler.

“Shooting and Crying” examines mediatic environments of enactment that destabilize categories and constructions of subjecthood as a means of working through past and present trauma for Jewish and para-Jewish subjects. In order to detect and read structures of complicity and victimhood, this thesis stages an encounter among three projects that perform and document scenes of genocidal enactment: Roee Rosen’s art installation Live and Die as Eva Braun (1997), Artur Żmijewski’s film Berek (Game of Tag) (1999), and Yishai Sarid’s novel Victorious (2022). Staging together embroiled and transdisciplinary histories of psychoanalysis, memorialization, curation, and military training in this thesis activates these practices, in turn producing synchronous and diachronous resonances among them. At the core of this research are two genocides, the Holocaust and ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, both intimately bound to one another beyond history and through their practices of identity and memory. The trauma these structures produce and resurrect form relational identities vis a vis Jewish and para-Jewish subjects, relations this thesis unravels and re-tangles. Reading environments which work through victimhood and memory uncovers a complex, boundless network of theories, histories, and practices of psychological conditioning and preparation. To engage in these discourses is to voyage to unexpected places—film, museums, literature, military training—where trauma oozes, escapes, and constantly jumps mediatic and temporal registers. As an interrogation of discomfort and its manifold projections, this thesis looks to practices that suspend, if not supersede, cultural sanctions to actively confront and challenge the viewer: the museum visitor, the historian, survivor, and you, the reader of my thesis.

Architecture & Leisure: Heterotopia, Freedom
Nick Roseboro
Mark Wigley, Advisor

This thesis examines the tensions between labor and leisure in the post-World War II period, which led to radical utopian projects of the 1960s and 1970s. This period presents various conditions and authoritative strategies that led some in society to react to the crises of their time, dreaming of change and the means to better themselves. This project collects, retells, adjusts, and sets forth elements of leisure, labor, the spaces of imagination, and otherness created under these conditions, allowing for the investigation into modes of collective isolation, imagination, and tensions under a tripartite conceptual framework of comparative binarism, concrete utopia, and heterotopia. By understanding various movements, technological innovations, and socialpolitical crises, this project theorizes heterotopic and utopic projects and cyclical events to bring forth questions about how society manufactures leisure, how cultural production aids its proliferation in connection to labor, and where freedom exists within the realm of necessity.

As a primary case study, a platform in the Adriatic Sea—Rose Island—exemplifies otherness and exudes the power to spark governmental action against it within the tensions of emplacement, land, and placemaking. The geopolitical tensions blur our vision of what labor and related leisure took place on the platform, and more questions arise as the project unfolds to look at, into, and through the space of reality and the imaginary. The interrogation of the tensions between labor and leisure, how labor’s significance persists in its entanglements with leisure through the analysis of heterotopia, and the forces that drive society toward collective isolation in the name of freedom allow this thesis to become a launch pad to clarify the notion of leisure enmeshed within utopian impulses, dreams, crises, and labor. Architecture & Leisure: Heterotopia, Freedom deploys techniques of adjacency and inquiry to expand a base setting for social-political ramifications of building a heterotopia for a claimed freedom and argues that leisure and labor’s hidden attributes are tethered with standard society even today.

The Performative Meal: Nixonian Dinner Theater
Johnny Tran
Ateya Khorakiwala, Advisor

You are cordially invited to join a night of toasts, good cheer, and gourmet delights.

What makes the dinner party? This thesis investigates and dissects the operations—the physical, political, and social constructions—of the dinner party, by tracing the iconography of the Presidential State Dinner. Recognized as the “People’s House,” the White House embodies a representative force for the American people. Thus, White House State Dinners set an example as the cultural tastemaker for the country and their allure is used to affect politics at home. The Nixon Administration, in particular, employed the imagery of State Dinners and diplomatic travels of the First Family to influence the American domestic dinner party, most notably the Nixons’ trip to China. Here, the Administration’s use of changing media technologies and even censorship shifted the narrative into a crafted viewpoint. Utilizing the theatricality of the dinner party, the President performs at the table and in front of the television camera to infiltrate American domesticity and diplomacy, influencing the choices at the dinner table and the ballot box.

So how are dinner parties produced? The Performative Meal: Nixonian Dinner Theater attempts to seek out new imaginings of the dinner party and asks how these subjects, brought on by the Nixon Administration, of social, media, and gendered politics situate around the dinner table. The thesis examines the usage of the dinner party through the White House during the Nixon Administration, where new strides in television and media technologies enabled the dinner to become a more performative experience. By focusing on the welcome and reciprocal dinners thrown in Beijing, the thesis marinates on what makes the dinner party through the event’s archival documentation. It whets the appetite through investigations of printed and visual media to complicate the palette of dinner norms, uncovering the underlying political minefield the President and the First Lady staged through dinners and their relationship to food more broadly. The Performative Meal traces the usage of the dinner party and food through this era of representation in the changing media landscape, constructing a performance of this gustatory event.

Dinner will be served. Regrets only, please.

The Architecture of Dairy: Milking Spaces and Their Political Afterlives
Catherine George Weilein
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

This thesis presents facts on, and interpretations of, spaces and systems of dairying in the United States. It focuses on both the built infrastructures of 19th-century dairy farms as well as on federally-funded dairy dissemination programs of the 20th-century. I argue that those earlier spaces facilitated the later development of the nationwide dairy surplus, transforming dairy’s status from agricultural to institutional.

The purpose of acquiring such knowledge is manifold, though three points are especially critical. First, this thesis uses the dairy industry as an example of the long-term role architecture plays in socio-political relations. The built environment does more than simply mediate ecologies in its immediate vicinity, but it plays an indispensable role in the production of consumable goods at every phase. Second, this thesis serves as a counter-history to positive narratives regarding the efficiency of mechanization. Rather than finding freedom through technological advancements on the farm, hyper-efficient dairying practices instead created an overwhelming burden, oppressive subsidization laws, and, ultimately, radical inefficiency. Third, this thesis intends to reveal an insidious mode of United States governance, socially and fiscally. Dairy, something outwardly simple and seemingly insular—a commodity branded into the U.S.-American subconscious (think “got milk?”)—is an industry that extends beyond milk, cheese, and yogurt to impact environmental policies, race relations, spectacle, health standards, and beyond. Reading the production and dissemination of dairy, this thesis posits, helps to reveal techniques of deception, exploitation, expropriation, oppression, and extraction at work within U.S. culture; these techniques are read, that is, as symptoms of the United States.

My thesis argues that these strategies should be examined in the wake of an overwhelming dairy surplus born of technical and economic decisions. The central investigation of this thesis, then, is architecture’s role in creating such a surplus. It studies how modes of dairy production were constructed through architecture’s limitations and abilities, and how architecture itself was constructed as a tool for efficient means of dairying. This thesis sheds light on both the individual and entwined political ecologies of architecture and dairying, as well as on logics of capitalism and nationalism more broadly.

Guiding Thomasson
Chisato Yamakawa
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

A stair that leads nowhere, a chimney without its bathhouse, an imprint of a sealed-up door—doorknob still intact. These were just a few of the architectural relics, or Thomassons, that were captured by conceptual artist Genpei Akasegawa and his students who took to the streets to carefully survey the neighborhoods of Tokyo in the late 20th century. Akasegawa claimed them as an example of Hyper-Art, an unauthored artform rooted in discovery and whose only method of production can be its own recognition and registration—a self-perpetuating archive of photographs and data. Formally published as an artistic concept in the magazine Photo Times in 1982, Thomasson-hunting became a niche pastime for many across Japan. Collecting submissions through a detailed report form (including space for general information as well as personal accounts, hand-drawn maps, and photographs), and categorizing them with witty names, these street observers were able to assemble a wide-spread documentation of Japan focused at the margins.

Centralizing a particular Thomasson—a chimney from a demolished bathhouse—this thesis excavates all sorts of deviant sites, characters, and histories within postwar Tokyo and around the artwork itself. It follows the chimney through multiple lenses: as a vestige caught up in the politics of urban redevelopment, as a trigger for the revival of a fieldwork-based ethnographic study, and as a record exposing the inefficient, un-commodified underbelly of the city. Through this evolution, a complex assemblage of architecturally-based narratives begins to appear. “Guiding Thomasson” offers new techniques, documents, and contexts to read the Thomassonian construct, historically dependent on diagrammatic imagery and accounts written by Akasegawa despite its collectivist foundation. Departing, moreover, from the shadow of his purely aesthetic lens, the guide emphasizes assistants to the Thomasson project—subjects such as the Mori Building Company, Bigakkō art school, and Iimura Akihiko—that helped form the practice as it is known today. Tracing Mori company histories alongside residential maps and personal narratives, I reveal how this particular chimney-turned-accidental-obelisk embodies grand urban transformations related to the 1964 Olympics and 1969 New City Planning Bill. I then follow a Hyper-Art hunt involving the chimney alongside Akasegawa’s syllabi at Bigakkō to theoretically frame within the project the notion of the architectural uncanny and a pedagogy called “Modernology.” Alternatively, through an analysis of the chimney’s visual record in prints, paintings, and fish-eye photographs, I demonstrate its primacy in Thomasson history through the figure of Iimura and within an exhibitionary history. Through the selection of significant “sites”—a play on the typical tourist itinerary to monumental “sights”—the guide extends new ways of looking—at a peculiar artistic practice, at the problematics of a city in a fragmented modernizing state, at the architectural lifespan, and at seemingly unexceptional everyday objects.

Andrea Comair
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
At a time when Audio-Visual technique had already revealed its effects on conditions of viewing, ELIZA, a computer psychoanalyst software produced at MIT’s department of electrical engineering in 1964, constituted an interruption pertaining to the problem that display poses. ELIZA simultaneously encapsulates three categories constituting a logic of display: the commodity, the screen, and what it reflects/presents (and what I am naming the automaton). The story of ELIZA’s scripting (as trick) and subsequent staging (as magic) shows that there is an elusive, aesthetic, and auratic register that persists, despite its unmasking. This apparatus presents an uncanny moment pertaining to the magic of technology. It is the ultimate fetish which obfuscates an existential lack and obscures its failure from the user. The staged apparatus functions within its illusion, enabling affective identification, desire and enjoyment, a trick that surpasses attempts of demystification. With the advent of the digital screen, the thesis departs from ELIZA to grapple with three categories of objects that construct the nexus of relations between the agents at play within display, namely, the subject/object, the staging apparatus, and the screen providing their mediation. I contend that the three instances are gendered attractions entailing a script, a commodity/ woman and commodity/screen that conjure forth the elusive spectrality of the aesthetics of display.
Andrea Molina Cuadro
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

Anthropogenic carbon is everywhere. Currently, carbon not only circulates through infrastructures where it continues to be mined, extracted, burnt and emitted, but also through another emerging complex encompassing a vast network of operations where it is observed, measured, regulated, capped, traded, exchanged, offset, captured, transported, sequestered and re-utilized. An endless sequence of processes resulting from the anxiety to control its gaseous accumulation in the atmosphere are producing new territories where carbon circulates today.

This thesis deals with those territories. But also with a problem: the complexity derived from the variety of scenarios that conform the new territories of carbon, which vary from remote places where carbon dioxide is being captured and geologically sequestered, to conventions where intergovernmental treaties and protocols regulating the functioning of carbon markets are produced. It entails grasping complex networks of scientific observation and CO2 measurement techniques in the air and the subsoil, and identifying the territories where the emerging carbon capture and sequestration industry’s architectures, infrastructures and machines are being deployed. Throughout, it also involves identifying the production of discourses, ideologies and imaginaries mobilized and enacted by a whole new set of experts, institutions and corporations that the gaseous carbon economy creates and interconnects in various and complicated ways—an intricate spatiality of carbon that this research unpacks.

Consequently, the task of this thesis is also to capture carbon, but otherwise. Conducting a process of semantic engineering on the (technical, violent) connotations of the term within the carbon capture industry, I instead understand capture as a research tool. This thesis is an exercise of locating, indexing, mapping and spatializing carbon and its new territories from the aboveground to the underground, as well as the new forms of labor, property acquisition, dispossession and scenes of exploitation that emerge on the ground. Through this process of compilation and analysis, this thesis (naturally) came to be an Atlas of (emerging) Carbon Territories, a means for seeing what otherwise seems ungraspable, elusive, or is even obscured.

Ariane Fong
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
As a format of international art exhibitions, biennials have proliferated since the 1990s, gathering together artworks, installations, performances, screenings, workshops, publications, and symposia. Often taking the name of their host city, they are expected to bridge local and global, national and international scales of exhibition. Established in 1998, the Taipei Biennial has negotiated these antinomies, speaking to and from the political context of Taiwan. As a cultural proxy for otherwise impossible diplomatic relations, the Taipei Biennial was initiated in response to an absence of representation for the island and increasing political tensions. Since, it has become a platform from which to display Taiwan’s culture and consider its political ontology, featuring artworks which begin to subvert established notions of cultural identity and political belonging. Comprised of three essays, each which takes as its subject an edition of the Taipei Biennial, this thesis looks at how such practices, as visual and spatial forms of knowledge production, can serve as forms of cultural diplomacy. The research engages with archival photographs, correspondence, catalogues, and other publications of these past editions, asking how curators and participating artists have understood the archetype of the nation-state as an “imagined and negotiated construct.” Especially within different historical and geopolitical contexts, it asks how the biennial might complicate seemingly concrete global relationships and in what ways it has contributed to new social imaginaries for Taiwan. This thesis considers the questions raised at the Taipei Biennial and how the event has become a platform for international visibility, decolonial critique, and even resistance.
Caroline Cadieux Maxwell
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

Agnes Denes, a Hungarian-born American artist, was one of the first to address the intersection of environmental concerns, artificial intelligence, and interdisciplinary studies in her practice. To highlight Denes’ foundational role in broadening contemporary discourse on interdisciplinary research, this thesis analyzes her concept of “eco-logic.” Denes developed eco-logic as a method to bridge her ecological and logical modes of working—between thought and life and theory and praxis. One of Denes’ first projects exploring the concept of eco-logic was her seminal text, Book of Dust: The Beginning and the End of Time and Thereafter. The book provides a critical lens into the acceleration of environmental concerns, information technology, and specialized disciplines in the late 1960s. In the book, Denes posits dust as a material and conceptual vehicle for understanding the tensions between biology and technology that emerged with the information age. She explores these themes by cataloging the corporeal, conceptual, and cosmic dimensions of dust between 1972 and 1989.

Through analyzing Book of Dust, this thesis outlines the tools, methods, and models that shape the infrastructure of Denes’ eco-logic. The framework for this field guide consists of three parts. Part one, Research Tools, explores Denes’ use of numbers, containers, diagrams, and images in both the book and her practice. Part two, Research Methods, examines how Denes employs interdisciplinarity, paradox, fiction, and visualization strategies in her process. Part three, Research Models, situates eco-logic in conversation with ecological epistemologies put forth by Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, and Bruno Latour. This section examines how each scholar aims to reconcile science with ecology and how these ideas map onto and build tension within Denes’ notion of eco-logic. The conclusion looks at how Denes’ notion of eco-logic opens up new avenues for understanding the stakes of interdisciplinary research, artificial intelligence, and ecological concerns today.

Najia Fatima
Ateya Khorakiwala, Advisor

This project explores the creation of the artisan in the space of the village in the Indian subcontinent as a product of colonial modernity. It investigates nineteenth-century theorization of the village, its spatial reorganization and reforms meant to support the aesthetic and political economy. The relationship between artisanal work and the village was drawn through historic narratives of ancestral and religious ties as well as the native’s instinct towards craft. Studies were conducted on the artistic behavioral patterns of the villagers which were then documented in various reports and publications of the time.

These written documents create an episteme that justifies violent interventions on the bodies and spaces of native communities. Exhibitions were also implemented to present an ocular demonstration of the impact of colonial rule in this successful transformation. These Reforms were meant to subjugate the communities and render them productive to the economic framework by creating cycles of dependency through financial reforms and artisanal training.

I explore these reforms through journals and reports in an attempt to re-examine the violence of the document through a series of pamphlets. This format was used by resistance movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in their struggle to fill the gaps of history left by the dominant narratives.

Nur Jabarin
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

The ‘Codex of Revolt’ is a parafictional archival collection. It aims at resituating the colonial knowledge -knowledge produced by official records and anti-colonial materials controlled in formal archives- for the purpose of constructing counter-knowledge about the history of interwar Palestine, with a specific focus on the Palestinian Revolt between 1936- 1939 and the practice of violent resistance. It seeks to bring to light questions about the revolt and the practice of sabotage that have long been in the shadow of colonial narratives.

While seeking to question the genealogy, ontology, and epistemology of the practice of sabotage, the question of the archive and its capacity to control indigenous knowledge and its reproduction through fiction figured prominently in this project. In that sense, the fictionality of the archive is not limited to eradicating the Palestinian position and its perspective. In fact, the codex does not argue for the phinomythology of the archive. On the contrary, it seeks to demonstrate that official colonial and Zionist records controlled in the archive, in the majority, are facts. However, through a developed methodology for reading colonial facts-that consists of a practice of photo-text montage through which official colonial records are supplemented with the subaltern voice of the revolt-the very fact of archival fiction is materialized through the presentation of the facts and their interpretations. Against this backdrop, the codex comes to problematize facts and argue for their employment in an ideological framework that is often methodologized to serve the agenda of colonial forces.

Spenser A. Krut
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

This thesis attends to the desert: a terrestrial biome named for its inhospitable conditions and defined by what it lacks. Despite the inherent association of desolation, the desert has inspired a myth of an abstracted and unspoiled landscape. To challenge both the etymology and imaginary, my project surveys physical objects, rhetorical accounts, and mediated references littered across a singular region, the Mojave Desert. This named landscape is at once the smallest American desert and the bearer of multiple superlatives: from holding the records for the hottest surface and air temperatures ever recorded on Earth and lowest point in North America to containing the largest national park in the contiguous USA and more endemic plants per square meter than any location in the country. Moreover, the Mojave, according to the World Wildlife Organization, is classified as roughly half-conserved and half-altered by human settlement. This classification, indebted to the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, provides artifacts of wilderness and of a productive landscape.

Numerous systems of knowledge exist in the Mojave which together paint a fractured and complex picture, and codify our understanding of the desert. This list includes federal histories provided by the Mojave’s dominant proprietors: the Department of the Interior (National Park System, USGS, and Bureau of Land Management) and the U.S. Armed Forces (Air Force and Navy). Against the backdrop of these multiple epistemic and governing frameworks, and against the impulse of romanticism or conservation, my thesis proposes an investigation of a series of artifacts that illustrates how federal authority and legislation are prolific forces through which the desert’s ambiguity is conserved and sustained.

Tianyu Yang
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

This is a project about the spatiality constructed around the human body and the crime scene. In contrast to superficial readings of the crime scene as a static space, Scenographics of Crime seeks to uncover the instability and temporality of the crime scene—a scenographic space charged with opportunity and danger for judicial narrative-making in its reclamation of power.

In the late 19th century, police detectives and examining magistrates, who used to mostly write and only occasionally draw, suddenly found themselves holding a shining new camera. Faced with a new media tension between drawing and photography, early criminologists invented a new set of judicial-visual rules, under which spaces, bodies, and their intermingled biological residues (blood) were not simply captured by a forensic way of “seeing,” but dissected, distorted, and re-distributed.

Scenographics tracks the emergence and evolution of crime scene documentation into the twentieth century, as well as the impact on the manipulation of spatial evidence by competing media—particularly drawing and photography—which inflected and to a degree determined the meaning of crime, its interpretation, and implications. By returning to the original question of vision and spatiality at key scenographic moments in the history of crime media, my thesis addresses how criminal spatial evidence at the crime scene gave rise to a range of secondary spaces and situations—from police photo studio to crime museums. In turn, the work generated by these spaces and institutions has contributed to the mediatic tension between drawing and photography. Lastly, the thesis seeks to expose the mechanism of power behind the production and dissemination of crime media knowledge, made explicit by the Scenographics of Crime.

Tracing the Carceral Experience in America
Caitlyn M.S. Campbell
Noah Chasin, Advisor

Upon the first recorded forced transverse of Black slaves across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, the exchange of these bodies and future generations to the Environment was fundamentally upturned and exploited. From the holds of the slave ships to the cells of modern prisons, this pattern of inequity, loss and slow violence persists today as millions of men, women and children of colour sit in jail cells coast to coast.

Akin to the study of geological stratigraphy, the stratum of carcerality in America’s history that has led us to the state of mass incarceration can be read through lines of systematized racism, inequality, and myriad forms of injustice. These oppressive systems are not only upheld but, they are built of, upon, and through them.

This thesis begins to unearth this compounded material through the development of an expansive prison abolition framework which executes a tracing of Black Bodies in America from its Middle Passage origins, to its legacies of incarceration lived at Angola, Louisiana’s State Penitentiary, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to the creation of an active, community-based clay arts program for formerly incarcerated persons in Brooklyn, New York under the title Wedging Forward.

The project is defined by the ways in which secondary, non-hegemonic, Bodies have been produced through centuries of subjugation, systems of containment, and different forms of enslavement lived in the wake of a collective history of unknowing and fragmented ways of being. Equally underpinned in theories of criminal (in)justice and racial justice, this work sheds light on the complex, entrenched relationship of carcerality to race and discrimination in the United States over time, through a curatorial perspective.

Spanning chronologies and geographies, the three distinct carceral moments visited in this work constructs a collective model to investigate the praxis of prison abolitionism in America today in response to the residues of slavery and inter-generational injustices of incarceration which have long-defined the Nation, producing a lens to understand the historical legacies of being locked in, on the outside of society. This conceptual document is positioned within a larger discourse of knowledge that directly works to construct alternative narratives surrounding marginalized, vulnerable, and forcibly confined people through new forms of critical engagement and creative encounters.

Documentary Image Drift
Nadine Fattaleh
Felicity Scott, Advisor
My thesis formulates a documentary image drift theory told from the perspective of the Arab World. Image drift tries to deal with the rapidity with which images are produced in our contemporary world through juxtaposition with earlier forms of documentary practices. The drift displaces the temporal pace and speed through which images and their informational traces move and spread towards predetermined destinations, leaking outside these confines in the process. Drift carries with it a sense of the constitutive relationship between photography and travel, indeed many of the stories I tell are of documentary images that simulate the itineraries and sensations of voyaging. But drifting can be dangerous and destabilizing. Ideas and discourses drift beyond their intended epistemic horizons, producing collusions and coincidences that disrupt boundaries between different forms of knowledge and exchange. The drift is not confined to material photographs and their digital reproductions. Aesthetic codes, cultural values, page layouts, viewing instruments, organizational principles and image interfaces also travel outside of their prescribed spaces and form the infrastructural substrate for other types of perceptible flow. Drift is not just the nature of spatial and temporal circulation of material, it is also my performative way of seeing the syncopated construction and appropriation of the documentary gaze from and about the Arab world.  
Techniques of Restoration, Traces of Resistance
Lucia Galaretto
Felicity Scott, Advisor
This thesis addresses the entanglements between mid-20th century techniques of documentation and preservation of ancient cultural artifacts in Central America, and the manner in which these techniques touched down upon two sites: the Mayan murals at Bonampak in Mexico and the Mayan ruins of Zaculeu in Guatemala. The transformations involved in the excavation, reconstruction, and display of these sites were at once distinctly material in nature and caught up in a larger media apparatus serving the operations of the United Fruit Company in the area. To tell this story the thesis traces a range of actors, institutions, forms of expertise and media systems: from photographers, artists, archaeologists and preservationists, through agricultural infrastructures and corporate magazines, to UNESCO training manuals and conservation centers in the region. By attending to the frictions the various mediation processes encountered on the ground, the thesis will argue for an understanding of heritage as an unstable site for contested epistemologies and worldviews.
Total Recall: Retracing the Steps of Romaine Lettuce
Benjamin Goldner
Anna Puigjaner, Advisor

What happens when the food we eat breaks?

By focusing on food recalls — the moment where a process meant to seemingly flow endlessly in one direction is suddenly (and voluntarily) tasked to reverse course — this thesis will explore how within such a phenomenon our food transforms: it becomes news, it becomes trash, it becomes corporate risk. Our food becomes the record of overproduction, monopolization, and exploitation. These are more than just media moments, however, as with each recall one is compelled to look in the fridge to see what was recently bought and from where. Has my food suddenly become non-food? Food recalls remind us that we exist at one end of a chain of mass production that is not only prone to fail but is often, in fact, expected to. This thesis will focus on the specific mechanisms surrounding recalls of romaine lettuce. Within a package of romaine lettuce, traces of an entire agri-industrial chain can be excavated. A recall allows us to follow that chain backwards, stopping at each station of production along the way as we search for the culprit of the product’s contamination. At the same time, through its exploration of romaine lettuce, this thesis will act reflexively in an attempt to understand a recall as a methodology in itself. In other words, by referring to the thesis itself as a recall, issues of memory and circularity, for instance, will be evaluated as critical tools of exploration.

Toxic Residues of NASA’s Apollo Program
Hilary Huckins-Weidner
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
This thesis considers the complex histories and environments of NASA’s spaceflight program by examining mediatic and material-rich episodes from along the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission. Looking closely at the rocket launch, moon-landing, lunar sample collecting and handling, as well as the splashdown and subsequent anti-contamination architectures of the event, this project offers insight on how NASA has historically, and perhaps continues to, conceive of and design their dialogue around contamination. The moments collected in this publication exhibit how NASA has employed media for the construction of this dialogue, and also how media has served the public in understanding their formulation and deployment of contamination and toxicity. The Toxic Residues of NASA’s Apollo Program further puts forward that the highly spectacularized nature of the Apollo 11 mission, including its theatrics of protecting against possible toxic lunar materials, worked to obfuscate NASA’s own technological residues and toxic agents.
Waters Irresolved
Ricky Ruihong Li
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

The early twenty-first century has witnessed heightened conflict of territorial claims in the South China Sea, a stretch of waters known to be half-enclosed by an auditorium of sovereign lands: the south shore of China, Malay and Indochinese Peninsulas, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Bangka Belitung Islands, among many others. On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal at Hague concluded the tedious dispute between China and the Philippines in hope of settling belligerence in the Spratly Islands. Under the auspices of the United Nations Convention of the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), the final award ruled in favor of the Philippines, refuting China’s unilaterally claimed historic rights to the water regions encircled by the “nine-dash line.” Even though the tribunal was a compulsory instrument authorized by the UNCLOS, of which China was a ratifying member, Beijing refused the arbitral process which jeopardizes its sovereign pretense. The case remains irresolved.

Setting sail from the juridical unsettlement of the South China Sea, this thesis proposes to read this maritime zone as a space of irresolution, for not only the persistent agitation of its jurisdiction but also the ever-profound unsettlement and displacement of the hydro-ecologies indigenous to the Austronesian waters. Accounting a history of technologies and media, it argues that the development of seismological exploration in the early twentieth century ushered into being the seismic aesthetics, a sensibility of the sedimentary which was brought to proliferation by the industry of offshore drilling after World War II. This thesis contends that the arrival of the seismic aesthetics has exacerbated the prolonged process of the territorialization, if not terrestrialization, of the ocean, which was manifested in the Truman Proclamation of the Continental Shelf in 1945 and codified by the United Nations in 1982.

Notes on Slave Play: Metonyms, Blackness, Ecology, and Architecture
Emmanuel Olunkwa
Mabel O. Wilson, Advisor

“How do we create an alternative future by living both the future we want to see, while inhabiting its potential foreclosure at the same time?”

“Listening to Images,” Tina Campt

“While questioning such received notions as the organic unity, autonomy, and purity of the modernist work of art, the Duchampian paradigm—inserting a readymade object within an art context—exposed the legitimizing function of the institution, its crucial role in the definition of what should be considered as art. At the same time, it also revealed its own discursive limitations, since the significance of the readymade was entirely dependent upon the institution as a context.”

“Michael Asher and the Transformation of “Situational Aesthetics,” Claude Gintz

The task at hand for my project was to be less recursive. I’m not interested in the more contemporaneous stagings of Blackness or the banal politics and the “discourse” and performance of what we have come to know as “representation” over the past three decades. My thesis specifically names and deals with challenging the presupposition of what the performance of race (Blackness) should look like conceptually, linguistically, and visually in an institutional context. For my project, I wanted to displace (remove) the body and body the material. I’m trying to deal with the philosophical aesthetics of architecture which permeate and manifest in the form of language, in visual material, the archive, documents, and performance and better understand our relationship to it. I wanted to think through the production of knowledge and the varying infrastructures that further produce and recontextualize the possibilities and beingness of a person. Architecture to me isn’t about the past necessarily (and our understanding of it, which we know as History) but is about a commitment to practicing a presence/present and produce scholarship and criticism that’s reflective of our time. Knowledge shouldn’t be exclusively produced in a canon or a specific field, it should be engaged cross-field and culture, and move past occasionally self-permitting itself to look upon a past and engage itself in a staging of the performance of criticality. I wanted to live in and further expand this hypothetical third space that utilizes what I know, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going by melding it into something that can serve as a tool or tunnel to further siphon someone else’s desires, that challenge the legibility of a prescribed selfhood and the performance or enclosure of it. I wanted to search for a freedom and I’m close to finding it.

Ultra-Clean: Architectures of Contamination Control
Marco Piscitelli
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
This thesis centers contamination control as an overlooked and underdiagnosed element in architecture history to develop the invisible connection between building technologies and the body. This embodied subject is constructed through regimes of indoor air management which find their apex in the architecture of the cleanroom, a controlled environment where microscopic airborne particulates like bacteria, skin cells, and aerosols are filtered out to produce the cleanest space possible. As the fullness of the air drifts into view, techniques for imaging the invisible become critical; epistemic models frame the application of a microenvironmentality, a biopolitical milieu through which operate apparatus of control. The prosaics of filtration standards and best practices which shape the cleanroom conceal these disciplinary technologies which order relations between a simultaneously vulnerable, mutable, and contaminated subject, and a historically contingent, artificial airscape. Cleanroom Architecture, the spatial-material locus for these ordering operations of filtering, ventilating, and regulating, is a distinct type which nevertheless emerges without form. To locate an aesthetics of the Ultra-Clean, this thesis investigates the sprawling media economy of trade literature, generic HVAC systems, tyvek bunnysuits, and scientific visualizations which explicate the microscopic entanglement of air, bodies, and machines.
Environments of the Self
Alex Tell
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

This thesis investigates spatial concepts of the self in the realm of popular psychology in the 1970s. As ecological, financial, and political insecurities prompted a retreat inward, a culture of seeking cures for societal ills in the self emerged. The spaces collected in this thesis are once psychical and psychic, contained by architectural boundaries of walls and ceilings, but reliant on the sensory as a form of ambient spatial control. Beyond the forms of atmospheric climate-control of the well-tempered environment, in these environments of temperament, affect and behavior become the primary spatial concerns.

Environments of the Self is formed around three main case studies across disciplines and media: a body of psychology experiments, a series of ambient sound recordings, and an architectural exhibition. Each case study foregrounds a particular setting (the laboratory, the home, the museum, the city), a perceived subject (the test subject, the consumer, the urban public), tracing practices where the mind becomes a space of negotiation between individual and environment, from scientific studies in environmental psychology, through popular psychology, into forms of entertainment. These episodes of environmental mood alteration and behavior modification are test cases for thinking about the thresholds between body and environment, interior and exterior. Through the figure of the self, I endeavor to ask where apparatuses of power emerge in a complex of bodies, spaces, sensory engagements, and architectures of mood.

On Frontiers of a Vertical Dimension
Jumanah Abbas
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

On the 8th of February, 1985, the first geostationary communication satellite, Arabsat-1A, was launched with the Ariane 3 flight from Korou, France. The 1A communication satellite would then support an array of projects centered on advancing a Pan-Arab terrestrial telecommunication network, and would operate using C-band frequencies for its two-way communication: 4 GHz for reception and 6 GHz for transmission. The application of automated transceivers coupled with the international administration of satelitte bandwidths, invisible forces centrally encoded within technical standards, were rendered visible in juridical-political practices, and echoed in conflicts over ordering territories of the Arab region

This thesis departs from an examination of the Arabsat-1A launching to rethink the political strategies considered for extracting, managing and ordering unfamiliar frontiers. In process of interrogating vertical spatial dimensions, my thesis, which takes the form of a book, consists of three sections that visit different strata of infrastructure spaces bound within the politics of verticality. To do so, each section acts as a cartographic device to navigate across different sites of mediation that channel the vertical domain. These ubiquitous sites, in their technical and invisible characteristics, vary to include the satellite orbit, the electromagnetic spectrum, down to the air space around us. While each has their own legal definitions and histories, in this book, each is brought into existence through a specific event, tracing the lines of governing institutes and the narratives of the individuals who were entangled, but also disappeared from visibility, within these lines. These protagonists and their experience were crucial –although excluded from official institutional narratives– in the operations for and against the state exploration of invisible frontiers.

A Line in the Rainforest
Jose Luis Villanueva
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

This research pays close attention to the Marginal de la Selva, a colossal 1,500-kilometer highway imagined by Peruvian president and architect Fernando Belaunde in the 1960s. Cutting through the Andean eastern margins, Belaunde envisioned this project to promote the geographic, politic, economic, and social integration of South America’s tropical territories, while establishing a continental-scale infrastructural connectivity network.

Though academic architectural studies about him mainly focus on his years as professor and designer, this research deals with the intersection between his modernist and nationalistic ideologies and his fascination with the Amazonia. By using the Marginal de la Selva as the core of analysis, the thesis suggests how infrastructure, development, nationalism, and governance became rooted in landscapes and bodies, consolidating new social and political subjectivities while producing extreme changes in the Amazon’s ecology.

A line in the Rainforest explores how Belaunde’s line drawn into Peru’s map became a symbol of his administration and ideological imperatives. Once it hit the Amazon, it accounts for how the line expands and contorts when challenged with the difficulties of imposing the very logic of development, making the Marginal a complex site of negotiation between different political, territorial, ecological, cultural, and social regimes.

Traveling Dome
Fernanda Carlovich
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

This thesis draws inspiration from a woman walking over a concrete dome. Alia Farid’s work for the 32nd Sao Paulo Art Biennial was recorded on the Rashid Karami International Fairgrounds, in Tripoli. Those watching the video on the occasion of the Biennial have experienced the feeling of an estranged familiarity, for the dome in Tripoli is in direct tension with an important form of the Brazilian architecture imaginary—one that not by accident also appears instantiated right outside the same Biennial pavilion. Farid’s video explores the semiotic resonance of those two sites through close-ups and carefully positioned shots that make one question whether that scenery is familiar or not. The walking over the dome incites a familiarity to those who already know by heart the curvature of that architecture.

Farid’s video returns to Brazil a form that traveled to Lebanon in 1962 together with the architect Oscar Niemeyer. Between temples, museums, theaters, and political stages, the spaces created by these domes are endowed with an uncanniness from their form. These semiotic resonances establish a connection between them—a horizontal dialogue that arises from architecture and surpasses it. The dome’s travel, I want to argue, can be read as a symptomatic episode of the post-war developmentalist agenda in the Global South. Taking the Experimental Theater in Tripoli in conversation with the Palace of Expositions in Sao Paulo and the National Congress building in Brasília, this thesis understands travel as the repetition of a formal solution and its mediatic dissemination, which allowed this architecture to reach territories beyond its original locations.

Niemeyer’s Brazilian and Lebanese domes are, therefore, interconnected by ideas of progress, modernity, nation-building, and failure. While in Brazil, the fiction of democratic consolidation with the inauguration of Brasília in 1960 was postponed by the 1964 Military Coup, in Lebanon, the national sovereignty and cultural emancipation represented by the Fairgrounds was suspended by the Civil War in 1975. In the promise of infrastructure as a guarantor of development, architecture has been entrusted with a central function, closely tied to a powerful state constitution. States change faster than constructions, and the gap between the fluidity of ideologies and permanence of buildings allows that certain spaces produced through specific claims ended up being occupied with conflicting goals. 

Place Setting
Emma Macdonald
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
The meal is an architect of shared space. Through its participation in vast scales of production and consumption, food is able to create both global systems and environments that are deeply personal. This project situates itself around this claim and amid a context of precarity and experimentation within the built environment of 1970s New York, examining practices including the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), guerilla community gardening on the Lower East Side, and arts spaces such as FOOD restaurant and The Kitchen itself. While these experimentations may have been progressive in their intentions, they each bring to the table the complexities of agency and inclusivity that are necessarily present in community-focused practice. Borrowing from a theoretical framing of community as implying shared vulnerability and an “ethics of cohabitation” (following Judith Butler), these histories take stock of the connection between conceptions of sharing space within an urban environment, and the desire to share a meal. Through the use of instructional formats such as the score and the recipe within its text, this project attempts a format that invites participation in its consumption—even at a distance.
Beyond Tradition and Modernity: the Formation of Chinese Architectural Discourse, 1928-1937
Chenchen Yan
Reinhold Martin, Advisor
This thesis investigates the formation of Chinese architectural discourse in the so-called Nanjing decade (1928-1937) in the Republic of China—a period of relative political stability after years of internecine warfare following the Chinese Revolution of 1911. It traces how the concept of jianzhu (the Chinese equivalent of “architecture”) shifted from a craft to an art, a discipline, and a profession, as the young nation-state underwent tremendous socioeconomic and cultural transformations.
The main figures studied in this thesis are known as the “first generation of Chinese architects,” those who received their architectural training in the USA, Europe or Japan and founded China’s first departments of architecture after retuning home. The thesis examines the colonial conditions underlying the emergence of Chinese architectural discourse, that is, the cross-cultural circulation of aesthetic concepts, technologies, information, ideas, and ideologies made possible by colonialism. It explicates how architecture played a crucial role in the making of Chinese nationalism in the wake of the violence of imperialism, and how Chinese architects negotiated the definition of “Chinese architecture” amidst the dichotomy of tradition and modernity.
By examining the architectural practices of three major professional organizations—the Society for Research in Chinese Architecture, the Shanghai Architectural Society, and the Society of Chinese Architects—including their research, publications, designs, and exhibitions—the thesis offers a two-fold challenge: 1) to the historiographical binary of “tradition versus modernity,” and 2) to the conventional narratives of foreign impact, colonial domination, and anti-colonial resistance that have been used to explain the “modernity” of Chinese architecture. It argues that the notion of “Chinese architectural tradition” is itself a modern construction, while maintaining that modern Chinese architecture defies the essentialist understanding of modernity as a radical break with tradition. The formation of a specifically Chinese architectural discourse allowed Chinese architects to reflect on and appropriate their objectified image under the Western gaze, and to claim a subject position in a field that had long been dominated by Western and Japanese Sinologists.
How to See the BRI
Isabelle Tan
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
In the last decade (since 2013), China has been at work, building and funding the literal pipe dreams of ‘world peace and development’ through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI generally refers to what feels like an ever-growing number of infrastructure and investment projects in an ever-growing list of countries—from neighboring Pakistan to the G7 Nation of Italy. This thesis probes at the fictions and frictions of the BRI through the format of a handbook. Its chapters assemble relations among finance, land, and labor, culling moments of convergence and disruption, as they emanate from and coalesce around a high-speed rail in Indonesia and 5G infrastructure in the UK. Infrastructure, the object of the BRI, locates a conceptual knot tangled in a world of relations—one that refuses any easy separation between seemingly atomic categories: visible and invisible, material and immaterial, human and non-human, past and future. This thesis offers a method for ‘seeing’ the BRI through a concept of mediation. This method rethinks the technical systems binding us to the world, unsettles an understanding that technological domains operate far from political institutions, and presents a different view: one in which the BRI’s governance and power are seen not at a distance but with the intimacy and immediacy of rails, pipes, and cables. Complexity is found at every level of the BRI’s magnification—whether you are zoomed-in or out. As it turns out, the simple question of how to see the BRI is not so basic at all. The principle aim of the handbook is to offer moorings, critical bottlenecks and turning points, for traversing the dizzying field of the BRI.
An Accidental Archive 
Zoe Kauder Nalebuff
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor

An Accidental Archive catalogues material from Frank J. Thomas’ commercial career as an insurance photographer in Los Angeles from 1950-70. The publication makes meaning of the photographer’s archive, and considers what is at stake in the large collection of images of stairs, floors, ramps, and landings. These images— records of sites where accidents took place—anchor a broader inquiry into the spaces of slipping, tripping, and falling. In the catalogue and accompanying text, this thesis traces my experience of researching minor accidents and their mysterious absence from the American historical and cultural record. 

To make sense of the insurance images and the scant scholarship on minor accidents, I highlight fragmented moments of American national concern over domestic accidents and home hazards in the period from the 1910s to 1980. I examine the rise of cultural and government projects incorporating injury prevention into the canonical knowledge of the model American citizen, spouse, and worker. I argue that programs intended to tackle accidents from the National Bureau of Standards, the National Safety Council, and the American Museum of Safety ultimately fail to adequately address the everyday reality of minor accidents in the built environment. Instead, they leave behind a thick soup of anxiety around bodily accidents and personal safety. Conflicting ideas of culpability in slips, trips, and falls highlight the risks attached to being a modern and productive body, as well as the social instability contained within those risks. As a collection of material that hasn’t quite fit in elsewhere, this thesis makes room for accidents within the architectural imaginary, and invites you to fall in. 

Xylaria: Archives and Economies of Wood
Francesca Johanson
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor

In universities, natural history museums, and government departments across the world, xylaria occupy an unusual and often overlooked space where science, industry, and colonial legacies intersect in an archive. Derived from Greek — xylon for “wood” and Latin — arium for “separate place” — xylaria are collections of wood specimens cut from trees and shaped into blocks or sectioned for microscopic slides. They range in scale, design, and ambition, from the Baroque, book-like collections of Enlightened German foresters, to the utilitarian, climate-controlled storage rooms of London’s Kew Gardens, to the jungle-enclosed cabinets of Yangambi research station, an ex-Belgian agricultural outpost in the DR Congo.

Xylaria register a wealth of anatomical information about woody environments and are commonly used by archeologists, paleontologists, forensic scientists, forestry researchers, wood chemists, and lately, climatologists and geneticists. But they are also sites where the production of scientific knowledge has been, and continues to be, enlisted in service of governmental regimes. Conceived in eighteenth century Europe, when the systematic production of knowledge about the “natural” world helped empires expand–– enriching understandings of new subject landscapes––xylaria remain sites where research, tools and forestry products are leveraged to exert control over access to natural resources.

There is a paucity of critical literature on wood collections, even in the history of sciences, perhaps because their modern iterations appear so prosaic (so wooden). How might we appraise the work they do for different actors at different levels of government? This thesis zooms back and forth from the cellular to the macroeconomic. It will focus on three aspects of xylaria: archival practices, architecture (including landscape), and the operationalization of wood science. It will trace how wood collections and their attendant spaces have registered, or been mobilized in support of, imperial ambitions of European colonial powers, specifically the British and Belgian, focusing on The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, U.K., and the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium. The weaponization of wood in the USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin, is the third case study.

Building Information Modeling: A World View
Amelyn Ng
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
This thesis examines the world-making impulse of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in an increasingly complex global construction landscape. Soon to be the de facto design medium of our times, BIM refers to a “7D” modeling ethic that aims to fully know a building, through a single data-rich model that generates drawings, schedules costs, detects clashes, produces objecthoods, and coordinates global teams. BIM constructs a fluorescent “systems realism” of total integration, in which parts add up to a calculable whole. While not conceptually new, this engineered world-view is being increasingly adopted (and accelerated) by conglomerates of Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (AEC). Yet its outwardly airtight circular logics present aporia that raise questions about their operation. As pipes outgrow and outsmart their physical enclosures, so do the exigencies of integrated management. What is the ontology of this multi-scalar engine of production, traversing bolts to buildings, and supply-chains to entire cities? Between technical imaging and its public-relations image, what are the social and political stakes of BIM media? By beginning in medias res—in the middle of things—this research probes the frictions, facticity, performativity, and visual economy of our advanced drawing machines, and materialities attendant in the digital making and managing of built and yet-unbuilt worlds.
The Guggenheim Museum after Bilbao
Chang Liu
Mary McLeod, Advisor
The opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997 marked and helped generate the reinventing of Bilbao from being a typical post-industrial city to a world capital of art and culture. Soon after the opening, the city of Bilbao became an obligatory stop for millions of visitors around the globe. As the role of a museum changed gradually but dramatically in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and many other museums around the world went into a frenzy of growth. Within this context, the expansionist agenda of the Guggenheim, begun under the directorship of Thomas M. Messer, was further developed by his successor, Thomas Krens, who is largely credited with the concept of a global museum. This thesis examines the history and development of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the museums that it operates, focusing on its global ambitions in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first century. It aims to explain the challenges and opportunities of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in a global context today, two decades after the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Some primary questions that this thesis deals with are: Why did Bilbao succeed in the first place? Is it replicable in the future in different places? Is the expansionist agenda of the Guggenheim based on a cultural imperialism? Does the idea of a global museum still make sense today? If not, are there potential alternatives? And, more generally, where does the future of the museums in the U.S. lie in a global context?
Fire Finder, Viewfinder, Drip Torch
Daqian Cao
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
This project is about the histories and transformations of fire policies in the American landscape in the 20th century. By exploring key actors in the transition from fire suppression to prescribed burning policies, this project follows the camera as the protagonist. The camera was not just a documentation device—more importantly, it provides a critical perspective into the relationships between the bureaucratic infrastructure and nature, between fire practices in different regions, and among various government agencies such as National Park Service and Forest Service. Several archives are located for this project, including the archive at Yosemite National Park, California; the National Archive Still Pictures Collection in College Park, Maryland; the various Forest Service archives in Seattle WA, Missoula MT, Vallejo CA; and National Park Service’s main archive at Harpers Ferry WV. First, by tracing the formations of fire suppression policies, the project focuses on the series of panoramic photographs produced in the 1930’s for fire detection. Following strict protocols and guidelines, these panoramas were taken from lookout points in the forests and parks, and were used as an important communication tool for coordinating forces on the ground when fires were detected. The panorama was transformed into a technical document, mirroring the transformation of the American wilderness into a practice battleground in preparation for World War II. Second, the project finds consistencies in the seemingly drastic policy shifts from one extreme to another. During the decades of field testing and lab experiments, the camera remained the protagonist, and continued to depict a parallel relationship between National Park Service and Forest Service. It took on an active role in the training of vision and regulation of landscape. In this process, the project aims to illustrate the paradoxes of land management in the form of fire management, and raises new questions about the bureaucratic infrastructure and the knowledge infrastructure still dominating fire policies today.
Indifferent or Ambivalent, but Not Whatever: Posturing in a Cadre of American Architects, circa 2016
Douglas Hartig
James Graham, Advisor
Contemporary architectural discourse, in its diffuse media, favors those with strong values and emphatic modes of participation. However, a group of architects today- mostly younger and American - claim to defer subscription to any ideological camp, although they do not withdraw entirely. These architects rebel against singular and grand ideological narratives and are against heroic expressionism. This thesis studies the ambivalence this group of architects enacts, who, while sidestepping commitment to emphatic modes of participation, harbor ambitions to lead an avantgarde. Their ambivalence in a milieu rife with uncertainty was described in Michael Meredith’s 2017 essay “Indifference, Again,” in which, besides naming indifferent practices, he links Moira Roth’s observations of 1950s artists exhibiting a similar coolness during the McCarthy era. Though Meredith’s essay is the galvanizer, this thesis critically historicizes the forces that led to the current posturing of indifference and accompanying ambivalence. The thesis also examines the aesthetic aspects associated, such as the generic, the bored, the pathetic, misfits, failure, freedom, flatness, and entourage. The group’s disciplinary hyperawareness is framed as ambivalence quite the opposite of detachment. Using theorist Patrick Jagoda’s concept of ambivalence described in Network Aesthetics as a “mode of extreme presence,” the architects are recast as fully opted in and using various means of wayfinding. Their resetting of architecture mirrors development stages, from the pre-social in those working with toys to rebellious teenage apathy, boredom, and awkwardness. Rebelliousness was found to often link with a reluctance to identify with labels and a desire to be familiar with all. This thesis focuses on the two most well known architects, Michael Meredith, and Andrew Kovacs, but uses a cast of others via interviews. Besides a long-form essay, this thesis includes select interviews for a podcast series of five themed episodes.
Performative Spaces: Nationalism and Decolonization in the Royal Architecture of the Ninth Reign in Thailand
Jane Chongsuwat
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
The thesis will be looking at the spatial implications of nationalism and decolonization in the royal “architectural gestures” during the Ninth Reign in Thailand under King Bhumibol Adulyadej (r. 1946-2016). “Architectural gestures” refer to the action performed through, in this case, the spaces of the palace, to create, express, and disseminate the new identity of the monarchical institution, state representation, and form of sovereignty, hence forming a new nationalism. The King and I, a musical based on Margaret Landon’s novel Anna and the King and the memoirs of Anna Leonowens of her time as governess in the Siamese court of King Mongkut in 1862-1868, will serve as the entry point to the research, as it allows us to look at the curious censorship of its narrative, including all its forms of adaptation, in the Thai local media in the 1950s, as well as its chronological setting during the Westernized reforms of early modern Siam in the 1860s. The censorship and refusal of The King and I, as this thesis argues, is not only due to its disrespectful, inaccurate, and “humanized” representation of the monarch figure, but also its historical claims for the westernized origins of the nation’s modernization, therefore the censorship could be seen as a form of decolonization in order to rewrite a new Thai modernity and sovereign identity during the early reign of King Bhumibol, when the monarchical institution was at the most critical state. This erasure of western influence, a postcolonial critique known as “Post-Westernism,"1 will be critical to the new form of power regime as the nation shifts from an absolute monarchical government into that of constitutional monarchy following the 1932 coup "d'etat.” By starting with the nation’s popular image of its turn towards the West, the thesis aims to illuminate the stakes at which its turn away from the West reveals. The thesis will disguise itself in the form of a commemorative book - a medium that is very ubiquitously used to propagate this particular royalist nationalism in Thailand. Consisting of three non- sequential, but interconnected parts: “The Craft of Kingship,” “Spaces of Mediation,” and “Audiences, Spectatorship, Participation,” the thesis will explore the royal spaces in and around the Dusit Palace, the Chitralada Palace, and the Grand Palace in Bangkok as the main sites of architectural performativity in order to expose the role of these spaces in the construction of the new nationalism. The main text component- “Audiences, Spectatorship, Participation” - will look the mechanisms in which spectatorship and participation is redefined in events where sovereign power and its spaces intervene, as well as how the cult of the leader and the architectural gestures he performed developed a new nationalism for the country. The architecture gestures performed by the figure of the king through the royal spaces not only resulted in the reestablishment of a preeminent monarchical institution in the collective consciousness of the people, but it has also demonstrated how this performativity of the spaces activated a particular mode of nationalism of citizenship and participation.
Thuto Durkac-Somo
James Graham, Advisor
This thesis studies the contradictions and freedoms of simulated cities—fictional worlds governed by real rules. Computer-aided design produced a space where play functioned as an organizing mechanic of the city. And today computer games exist as playgrounds of pedestrian life, producing alternate urban plans. This history intersects with the production of first-person perspectives in computer games, and considers the ways in which how artists, architects, and players have produced digital assets, narratives, and performances that transcend proscribed rules of play. Commercial 3D modeling tools and computer game technology standardized the human body, reinforcing a built environment designed for a fictive demographic. Yet these worlds have a tangible logic missing from an ethnography of a real metropolis. Patterned behavior of non-playable characters, idle animations, and texture mapping define a politics of computation. Working between narrative fiction, computer art, and gameplay, this thesis explores the history of simulated cities and the formation of player-identity in digital space.
Economies of Citizenship
Joanna Robinson Kloppenburg
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
Economies of Citizenship explores the commodification of citizenship in the globalized neoliberal economy by examining the numerous citizenship-by-investment schemes-popularly known as “golden visa” programs-which have proliferated in a number of countries over the past several decades. Identifying these programs as indication of the increasing entrepreneurialism of the state, I argue that the contemporary state apparatus plays a major role within accommodating the capitalist logics of market expansion by positioning the nation-state, itself, as a institution for investment. Oriented around a series of “sites” attendant to the economy of investor visas, this thesis maps its aesthetic ordering-both spatial and mediatic-demonstrating how it not only facilitates economic stimulation and the international mobility of a group of ultra-wealthy individuals, but also functions as an affective economy reproducing the hegemony of neoliberal ideology. Locating investment in real estate as the prime mechanism both propelling and sustaining the citizenship economy, this thesis also examines how the commodification of citizenship contributes to the production and redistribution of space, promoting architecture as a vehicle for financial speculation. By employing particular case studies, this thesis explores how real estate in the citizenship economy not only maintains asymmetrical conditions for various tiers of migrant communities, where wealth becomes a qualifier for citizenship, but also perpetuates inequality within the national domestic context. In addition, these case studies provide a framework for visualizing how the commodification of citizenship functions in relation to issues of race, gender and class, how bodies and subjectivities are organized in order to position and control labor power under neoliberalism.
Tech Giants: Ambitions and Anxieties behind a Two-Headed Architecture
Leonardo Tamargo Niebla
Felicity Scott, Advisor
Over the last decade, some of the largest Tech companies in the West Coast — Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon — have built their first custom-designed, large scale buildings and facilities. One the one hand, they have erected their new campuses in the middle of consolidated cities. On the other hand, they have built their new data centers in remote rural locations. While the campuses stand out for their romanticized landscape features and techno-environmental imagery, the data centers are characterized by their hyper-utilitarian management of natural and social resources. This thesis claims that the two-headed architectural agenda of these Tech corporations seeks to secure techno-economic ambitions and channel socio-environmental anxieties, both reproducing and challenging the historical tensions described by Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. In their path towards technological domination, corporations use pastoral imageries to placate the anxieties around them: they invade cities to compete for their dynamic workforce, and then appease their neighbors with seemingly undisturbed landscapes; they protect their sites with militarized security, and then seduce their employees with promises of free environments. In order to reveal these tensions, this thesis uses a variety of lenses: politics, geography, environment, technology, security, etc. As entry points to these themes, it looks into original written, graphic, and audiovisual materials on the projects — borrowed from official websites, blogs and other online sources — and tests them vis-à-vis on-site experience and historical precedence. The format of the thesis is twofold: a written and visual report, and a pseudo-corporate PowerPoint presentation.
Antonio Raimondi’s Cartographies for Progress: Envisioning Peru as a Productive Landscape
Maria Alejandra Linares
Mabel O. Wilson, Advisor
Between 1850 and his death in 1890 Antonio Raimondi, explored, drew and pursued the publication of a detailed description of the Peruvian territory, synthetized in the Map of Peru, which was printed between 1887 and 1897 in Paris by the Erhard Frères company. It became the first detailed map of the new Republic of Peru, after its independence from Spain in 1821. Inspired by Alexander von Humboldt’s journeys, Raimondi, an Italian explorer, arrived to Peru in 1850. He spent twenty years exploring the Peruvian territory, collecting with scientific rigor information on the nation’s geography, geology, populations, flora, fauna and other observations that he would later translate into essays, drawings, and collections. In a context of modernization and economic expansion from Peru—especially after the Pacific War where it lost territory and access to important raw materials— and from European powers as Great Britain—seeking to intervene economically in the newly open and independent states— Raimondi’s cartographies portrayed Peru as a land filled with natural resources waiting to be exploited through the use of machines and technology. Likewise, in Peru, the transformation of land into productive landscapes was at the core of the governing elite’s national project. This ideal was based on territorial connection, extraction of national resources and the homogenization of society by means of modernization, progress, and the displacement of indigenous populations. In this way, Raimondi’s map and writings reproduced a neocolonial identity. By unpacking Raimondi’s archive and reading it against Peru’s context, my thesis seeks to (1) analyze the politics embedded in the map and its influence in shaping the nation’s landscape and identity as a Republic; (2) determine the map’s role as instrument in the extractive economies at the turn of the century; and (3) contest its neocolonial nature by revealing the silences of the archive, while presenting other forms of Andean and Amazonian cartographic knowledge.
The Production of Krupp: A Neo-feudal Factory
Maur Dessauvage
Reinhold Martin, Advisor
This thesis takes up the Krupp steelworks in Essen as a case study through which to explore the relationship between industrial capitalism and neo-feudalism in late-nineteenth-century Germany. Among the numerous paternalistic industrialists at the time, Alfred Krupp continually reconciled the organic ideology of community with the mechanistic factory system and the centralized bureaucratic state. I argue that, in the Prusso-German world where Krupp made his home, there was no complete substitution of modernity for the outmoded social arrangements, but a dialectical process of modernization on feudal terms and feudalization on modern terms. Each chapter traces a particular form of production in the Krupp steelworks: chapter one describes how steel was made by following the production of a Krupp cannon from the mines to the foundries and workshops; chapter two examines the production of factory buildings, with a particular focus on the organization of architectural work and the aesthetics of industrial architecture; chapter three asks what kind of workers were produced in the Krupp steelworks by considering the company’s welfare program, social regulations and educational institutions. In spite of the ever-increasing rationalization of work in these three areas of production, I argue that the ideological conception of the factory as a house persisted as a form of “socially necessary appearance” (Theodor Adorno) that represented the industrial complex as a unified, organic whole. In view of the twentieth-century perspectives on the factory, both as a building type and a form of social labor, the discussion insists on the profound modernity of Krupp’s neo-feudal ideology with the hope that by complicating the one-sided narrative of modernization as a teleological process tending towards unitary rationalization, this work contributes to a more adequate understanding of the fundamental asymmetries in the development of industrial capitalism.
The Uses of Decorating
Nicholas Korody
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
The Uses of Decorating comprises a collection of four essays that investigate a set of normative representations of non-professional home decorating ar:id their instrumentalization within diverse economies. A central claim of the project is that decorating is labor-at once material and immaterial, productive and reproductive-rendered invisible as such, and therefore exploitable, by its widespread trivialization, disregard, and denigration within both popular and academic discourses. Concomitant with this devaluation, decorating is invested with a cluster of often incoherent promises that legitimate its erasure as work, structure its practices, and furnish its utility within contexts seemingly far-removed from that of the home. The naturalization of these representations facilitate the economy of use within which decorating operates and is constituted, as perceptions of use or uselessness are themselves put to use for diverse ends. In particular, decorating is identified as both a product and mechanism of processes of primitive accumulation, or accumulation that is not a result of a specific capitalist mode of production but rather precedes and enables it. These dynamics are explored through an introductory essay that provides a conceptual framework and historic background alongside three contemporary case studies, each of which is accompanied with visual documentation.
Haunted Real Estate: A feminist re-visitation of the U.S. Victorian landscape
Paula Vilaplana de Miguel
Felicity Scott, Advisor
The emergence of Spiritualism in the late nineteenth century situates the Victorian house at the core of its practice. The presence of ghosts is tied to the performance of the (often) female medium during the Spiritualist séance, a spectacle that transforms the parlor into a public stage for the radical performance of political, social, and sexual claims. This first type of haunting differs from the familiar depiction of the haunted house presented through film, literature, and even historical landmarks which serve today as haunted attractions. There is nonetheless a consistency between the historical and fictional representations: the juxtaposition of Victorian dwellings and troubling women. What, I would like to ask, triggers the transition between these two interrelated but discordant understandings of haunting? Drawing on recent studies in film, economic theory, sociology, and gender, Haunted Real Estate explores the architectural dimension of haunting, reflecting on the intersections between gender, real estate, and the occult that such spaces articulate. Through the study of archival material and visits to historical locations throughout the US, this thesis inspects the role architecture plays in supporting the complex and bewildering mechanisms behind the assimilation of nineteenth-century domesticity and the spectacle of spirit communication, unveiling the cultural, political, and spatial strategies that this nexus implies. This work takes the form of a multimedia research, combining visual and textual productions in order to address the different stages of spectral occupation of American houses, from the radical spirits of the nineteenth-century séance rooms to the speechless spectral bodies of contemporary paranormal attractions, stressing the specificities of these venues as disciplinary case-studies first, then delving into their curatorial strategies as mediated experiences, to finally explore contemporary practices that perform as resistances before this pervasive imagery. By paralleling the media construction of these houses in popular culture with historical accounts, we will expose how the transitional haunting of the house takes place, the agents implied in this change and the significance of assimilating Victorian architecture to haunting as both a pleasurable and morbid spectacle. And we will inevitably wonder: is another form of haunting possible?
The Juliana Codex
Meitha Al Mazrooei
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
“Dry a wolf’s penis and pound it, then mix it with musk, cloves, and saffron of pure filaments. That is my advice, should you sense the need for supplementary aid,” he said. “Make sure to prepare it yourself, the scent will help. Swallow the compacted powder before the sun sets.” The context is 13th-century Iraq. He was Ibn Al-Jazzar, a renowned perfumer. She was an anonymous woman in search for a recipe to help her conceive.
This thesis takes recipes that were compiled in the 13th century as a form of trade and reads them as a reflection of society and its governing structures. Recipes serve thus as a device to unlock a territory, wherein the narrative that emerges begins to articulate a regional history. It attempts to bring forth moments that are often overshadowed and to render legible the voices of figures that participated in the formation of a region. Territory refers in this instance to the multiple sites in which the recipes were translated or rewritten, here focused on the area between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and bounded by Iraq in the north and Yemen in the south.
In this process of editing out and rewriting recipes, different registers of knowledge become embedded in and manifest a form of temporality. This thesis attempts to bring to light narratives that imply a form of sensory labor enabled by women and their language of expression—narratives which typically sat outside the written document. The female protagonists were fundamental, albeit undocumented agents, in facilitating the perfume industry, an industry manifested as a trade network and as knowledge across this territory. The thesis is an experiment in gathering ingredients that inform the texture of a place; it is a gathering of women, scents, and accounts.
Objective Epistemology and its Dissolution: Seed-Collecting Expeditions in the Eastern Himalayas, 1847-1851 and 1899-1947
Yujia Bian
Reinhold Martin, Advisor
Seed-collecting expeditions, undertaken as ambitious scientific endeavors, were often not innocent in terms of their implications. These expeditions, products of knowledge-gathering processes undertaken to advance imperial science, or byproducts of industrialization and progressive narratives, nonetheless engendered enchantment and spirituality, forming the theology of “the modern.” By following the invisible seeds naturalists desired and chased, this thesis explores scientific epistemologies based on visible material evidence of these expeditions—illustrations and photographs—and traces their variation across several expeditions: the Himalayan Expedition of the late 19th-century naturalist Joseph Dalton Hooker, to that of the early 20th-century naturalists Ernest Henri Wilson, George Forrest, and Frank Kingdon-Ward, to the emergence of other native collectors along the way. The thesis examines these materials as conceptual representations of the seeds and explores the enchanted scientific epistemologies and the corresponding scientific selves implied.
The Media Object: Shaping Narratives of Empire
Jake Cavallo
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
In a modern capitalistic society full of mega-corporations and marketing campaigns, the Media Object surrounds us at nearly all times. But the Media Object is more than a simple advertisement. The Media Object is a communicative tool used to shape a new narrative or re-shape an existing one. The narrative it shapes becomes the most prominent depiction of any given empire. Thus, it is the Media Object that serves as a messenger between the empire and the public. To effectively communicate its message, the Media Object relies on interaction with history. The Object operates in one of four ways—reproduction, integration, substitution, or erasure. Depending on the operation, the Object might align itself with a grand historical narrative or conceal information from an unsavory historical narrative. In either case, the goal is to maintain or increase the influence and power of an empire. This thesis will take the form of a Handbook, which will look at five case studies ranging from British Imperialism in India to SpaceX Imperialism on Mars, each focusing on different Media Objects and their operations. Each case study will serve as a foundation for understanding the importance of history in shaping a narrative. A sixth case study will take the form of an original screenplay. The screenplay will be a science-fiction work about the speculative Martian colony Ares I—a colony living under a Media Object aristocracy. The screenplay is at once a realization of the information provided within the Media Object Handbook and an example of a narrative that employs the operational strategies of the Media Object.
The Mass-Observation Catalog: Productions of Collective Perception and Aesthetics of Identification in British Mass Culture, 1936-1949
Andrew Nolan Davis
Mark Wigley, Advisor
Mass-Observation (M-O) was a British social research consortium established in 1937 by several avant-garde artists and scientific practitioners who sought to incite social transformation within an emerging mass-society by anthropologically and psychoanalytically studying “everyday life in Britain.” The group took critical stances against what they saw as homogeneous control of information feedbacks by the British government, a sympathetic press, and social elites, claiming that these entities used their exclusive infrastructures of knowledge production to anesthetically circumscribe the identity of the masses in a rapidly fracturing and disillusioned Empire. The group believed that the British people were being denied facts, forcing their collective imagination to be “gripped by fantasy and superstition,” effectively causing a repression in their ability to perceive the world in objective terms or else to gain access to instruments of identity formation and articulation. The group collected diaries, questionnaires, popular ephemera, and art objects from its network of amateur observers that when synthesized had the purported effect of revealing unseen social truths hidden in the mass consciousness of the British people, what its founders called “dominant images” or “mass fantasies.” With these “images,” M-O generated dozens of publications, official reports, events, and publicity strategies through which the mass could visualize itself and self-consciously incite structural changes to its everyday environment.
This thesis proposes an institutional critique of M-O itself which, as it grew in both content and outside influence, inevitably institutionalized, leaving the structure of its organizational histories and a vast archive of material susceptible to the same critical analysis on which it was founded. Using the repressed “images” found among the documents in its archive, The Mass-Observation Catalog attempts to simultaneously understand its institutional logics and reflexively apply its uncanny economies of observation to itself—a mass-observation of Mass-Observation.
Sensory Loci: Mnemotechny of Urban Rituals in the City of Bombay
Aastha Deshpande
James Graham, Advisor
Buildings, towns, and cities are much more than physical artifacts; they are a reflection of human aspirations, ontology, and the permanent nature of their evolution. The study of cities (and inadvertently also civilizations), in addition to architecture and urbanism, requires parallel and associative interdisciplinary readings spanning history, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, psychology, and philosophy. This project focuses on intangible, sensory, and unmappable ingredients derived from citizens and their activities, which together make up a city. More specifically, it decrypts the city of Mumbai, India by investigating the “collective urban rituals” performed by its inhabitants. The concept of a ritual is treated as a symptom of the city—either religious or ordinary activities performed repeatedly, regularly, similarly, and congenitally. Hence, rituals become a set of complex events, sacramental and ordinary in nature, and their dualism, intersection, and co-existence qualify them to be a pertinent urban phenomenon.
The highly complex nature of a densely populated, immensely diverse, extensive, and long-standing city as a microcosm of India, a country that is all of the aforementioned, requires a study such as this to be perpetually evolving and augmented. This project is an addendum to experimental studies indicative of the host of possibilities that await one while studying the “moving elements” (as Kevin Lynch calls people) of a city in order to truly fathom it. The “sensory loci” begins as conventionally identifiable with the city on a global scale with respect to architectural monuments, recent news, and portrayal in popular culture’s various forms of media, and then develops further into lesser-known (and hence) just as significant ones.
The study takes shape as a collection of short stories featuring myself, an academic and citizen of Mumbai (Bombay) for twenty-five years, as the primary narrator alongside secondary characters, also inhabitants of the city. Kevin Lynch’s voice is frequently featured throughout the text in the form of direct speech as well as in derivatives and inferences of his seminal book The Image of the City. This project attempts to create constructive agitation in the void of declaratively universal urban studies and perhaps begins to propose a structure to the deficiency. It also attempts to generate tension in its relationship with long-established works, specifically the Image of the City, and to reiterate the recognition of blank spaces apparent in Lynch’s studies, their complexities and the challenges they pose, especially in the context of a city located in the world’s eastern hemisphere.
An Ecotone: Alternative Space for Discourse and Practice in Art and Architecture
Gabriela Etchegaray
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
Specialized institutions have rapidly changed over the last five decades, evolving into platforms that have renewed the significance of multidisciplinary fields. Such institutions have been catalysts in the development of more imaginative ways of understanding and approaching spatial, territorial, and cultural analyses that may address professional audiences as well as the general public. This thesis presents the structure and design of an alternative space in Mexico City that aims to influence discourse and serve as an impulse for architectural practice to operate within a heterogeneous field that intersects both art and architectural concerns. The space responds to a determined site and context and aims to provide a unique stage for critical thought to reach contemporary issues through new forms of knowledge. Operating as a hinge between local and global cultural exchange, it allows international forces to influence, nourish, and impact local concerns.
Floor-Life in Contestation
Jean Im
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
Upon entering a home in Korea or Japan, visitors are immediately confronted with a modest step. Unworn shoes neatly arranged, or scattered around, communicate to everyone that they too must remove their shoes before stepping onto the next, shoeless level. Koreans refer to these spaces as HyunGwan, which derives from Genkan 玄関, a Japanese term for a traditional 17th-century entryway to a Japanese home with a no-shoe policy. Both words now refer to modern counterparts that exist in all domestic environments and some public facilities such as schools, public baths, offices, and restaurants.
The Korean HyunGwan, however, is more than just a transitional space that leads to a level with a no-shoe policy. It marks the point at which the body reorients itself towards the Ondol—a traditional Korean underfloor heating system, which nurtures a particular sensibility towards heat and living culture identified in this thesis as “floor-life.” Intertwining with various traditional customs developed since the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897), floor-life refers to the organization of domestic and public life along shoeless surfaces. Floor-life is supported by “soft furniture”—mobile domestic objects—such as short tables and bedding—that are designed for floor functionality. Today, as Korea undergoes vast transformations, soft furniture is slowly becoming obsolete. The thesis examines the exertion of historical and social pressures on floor-life and how these factors have shifted bodies, habits, and customs until, and throughout, the 21st century. The research collects and compiles text-based and visual documents as information and evidence of the theorization, habituation, and alterations of floor-life. The format follows that of a visual essay accompanied by spoken and written texts, which provide narration for these documents and elucidate the forces that act on and through the floor.
A Politics of Disassembly: Al Qaeda in Iraq
Jarrett Ley
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
Under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda in Iraq applied the organization’s institutionalized paramilitary practices to an extensive campaign of unconventional urban warfare aimed at U.S. Coalition forces, Iraqi forces, and Shi’ite civilians. The targeting of Shi’ite civilians marked a new formation of Al Qaeda doctrine, as Zarqawi posited their destruction as a strategic maneuver intended to provoke retaliation from Sunnis and thus induce destabilizing sectarianism. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s well-coordinated car bombings weaponized buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure against their targets, redesigning U.S. Coalition-occupied Baghdad into technologies for the production of somatic and architectural carnage. These operations were carried out in coordination with the newly formed Al Qaeda in Iraq Media Department which recorded, spliced, and broadcasted its violence in a series of videos distributed through online media networks. A Politics of Disassembly examines Al Qaeda in Iraq’s car bombing campaign as part of an expanded apparatus of architectural and mediatic production in which Iraqi civilians were entered into a destabilizing secretion necro-economy. The text probes the intersections and discontinuities of the Al Qaeda in Iraq apparatus, as well as the instabilities and contingencies of its historical archive, as structuring conditions of its power and critical terms for historical analysis.
Inhospitable Architectures Against Tourism
Marina Povedano Revilla
Felicity D. Scott, Advisor
As a tourist in Barcelona, one can expect to encounter elements and spaces that imply one is no longer welcome. Three in particular—the bench, district, and cycle rack—can be perceived as lenses through which one can insightfully read an emerging problem in the city: tourism. The impact of tourism on the city of Barcelona became a major issue during the summer of 2017. Tourism, which has transformed the way in which locals use the city and live inside of it, is now not only a social problem but also a political issue. Barcelona seems to be subtly refusing the kind of tourism it had previously longed for, and this shift is apparent in its physical environment.
Some architectures—elements which architects and urban planners deal with every day—can be described as inhospitable because their form physically conceives of the tourist as an intruder. They illustrate that inhospitable “public” spaces exist and that these spaces exert inhospitality not just toward “strangers” in the sense of refugees, migrant workers, internally displaced persons, etc. but also tourists. These elements can be read like mirrors, reflecting not only local protests but also implicit hierarchies and social inequalities. On a larger scale, they raise questions regarding authenticity, a sense of belonging, and the right to public space. On a local level, immediate responses take the form of protests and vandalism, but also imply economic and political forces that extend beyond the city. The current Catalan independence movement has accelerated the debate since tourism also plays a role in the definition of national identity. However, these three architectures show, through three different narratives, that the reinforcement and diffusion of a distinct Catalan identity have been affected and conditioned by tourism.
The thesis reads the layers of complexity revealed by three seemingly generic architectures. These three examples of on-the-ground evidence are read as spaces of intrusion to render visible the imaginary limits, ethical borders, and economic factors that converge in forms of inhospitality directed towards tourists: the bench, the cycle rack, and the district.
The Tower of Learning and the Architecture of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe
Laurel Frances Rogers
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica (1503) is recognized as being one of the first printed encyclopedias of general knowledge, bringing together in one volume of all the subjects considered mandatory for a liberal arts education. Reisch’s inventive compendium sits at the forefront of a maelstrom of pedagogical handbooks and treatises produced by 16th-century humanists, which undertook to reform education both in and beyond the walls of the university. In addition to being comprehensive as well as concise, the widespread success of Reisch’s inventive compendium can be largely attributed to the abundance of eccentric woodcuts, which illustrate and metaphorize the various lessons to be found throughout the text.
Among the many images incorporated into its pages, the Tower of Learning is undoubtedly the most striking and iconic among them, functioning as a visual allegory of the primary subject matter covered within the text, whereby both the organizational and pedagogical logic of the book are given comprehensive, topological form. However, the Tower does not merely present the contents of the Margarita Philosophica but structures our relationship to the text and influences our interpretation of the contents. The mnemonic function of the Tower proves highly effective as it lingers in the reader’s mind as an after-image, casting its distinctive shadow upon the remainder of the text, where suddenly every element of design or scheme of organization seems to read like a building.
Beyond the pages of the book, the Tower of Learning can be read against the emergence of a multi-mediatic economy of representation in early modern Europe, which circulated between architecture, text, and image. By deconstructing the logic and symbolism at play within the Tower and by reading the Margarita Philosophica as a work of architecture, we can begin to elucidate the ambiguous relationship between the book and the building and the influence of architectural forms upon the structure of the text as well as the organization and production of pedagogical knowledge at both the conscious and unconscious level.
An Archaeology of Containment: Exhuming the Perpetual Architectures and Territories of Nuclear Waste
Gabriel Ruiz–Larrea
Mark Wasiuta, Advisor
The concept of containment arises from the idea that isolation leads to stagnation, and has been central to North America’s political policies, materialized also as a set of strategies and design techniques to avoid losses in storage facilities, usually of toxic, radioactive, and harmful materials. In this context, the project analyzes nuclear disposal infrastructures—postnatural architectures designed to confine radioactive waste and built to remain intact for thousands of years. These eternal monuments are the result of the political economies of a selection process centering on territories where the nuclear and radioactive history of the U.S. could, if not disappear, remain almost invisible, safe, and controlled. As an alternative archaeological approach, in terms of both material depth and temporality, this thesis reveals tensions that have always been implicit in such containment strategies—between the physical and the invisible, between the material and the ethereal, between security and toxicity, between containment and expansion—and raises discussion around issues such as political ecologies, critical archeologies, and the dissolution of the nature-culture binomial. The complexities that derive from these conflicts and contradictions are related to the political agendas that these sites have mobilized throughout history, and also to the technologies, protocols, and legal frameworks that have been built around them. Through a constellation of archival documents, trips, photographs, and research materials, this project exhumes North American territories of radioactive waste, dissected as contemporary geologies and analyzed in the context of the Anthropocene. The thesis then becomes not only a material archive, but a critical tool that investigates how fixed and binary categories such as visible and invisible, technical and cultural, and safe and toxic, loose meaning, destabilizing the concept of containment linked to these territories, its political agendas and institutions, and claims that in the context of nuclear waste, the containers of modernity seem to lose their capacity to contain.
Woven: Manufactured Social Texture of Textile Factory in Taiwan
Chi-Chia Hou
Advisor: Reinhold Martin
This thesis expands upon a series of persisted labor movements in Taiwan initiated by job lost workers of fraudulent bankrupt and relocated textile and clothing factories since 1996. The vast constellation of distressed instances compelled the interrogation of the backdrop of the incidents – the factory. Taiwan does not have the climate condition for cotton production. Cotton textile is neither native developed nor evidently fulfilling geographical conditions. In spite of all the evidences that dissuaded the industry’s development, it was implemented by colonial regime and sustained from a global trading network. The industry itself was a production; it produced the environment within the existing socio geographical context. To build a physical architecture volume is far less a concern than the construction of a operational network.
I have inspected the role textile factory serves throughout different political stages in Taiwan, from the planned “ideal” factory model in the early 50s which served government control purposes, to the full-blown development of capitalist factories in the free market era. Yet the focuses on the manufacturing territories and the formulated network within the consolidated geographical, national or economical entity can neither extend beyond the delineated organization, nor answer the reason why the incidents happened at that very moment. As the example of Taiwanese textile and clothing industry has shown, the accumulation of capital by manufacturing operation led not to the well-being of the whole participating parties but to the industry’s own decay. Hence, the last presentation seeks to dismantle the focus on the consolidated entity, to zoom out to the macro scale, and to retrace the development of the industry along with the post WWII global economic development, in order to understand beyond the movement of raw material and products, to understand the movement of capital.
Sacred Land
Daniel Cooper
Advisor: Reinhold Martin
In the wake of the war in Vietnam and the subsequent economic fallout tens of thousands of people left Vietnam on boats headed to ports around the South China and Celebes Seas. In 1978 the first boat landed in Hong Kong carrying some 200 people. Migrants continued to arrive and while some were resettled in Hong Kong the majority remained in refugee camps throughout the territory. Over the course of the next two decades nearly 100,000 migrants arrived in the colony. Many went aboard to host nations but the majority remained on the island, some for as long as fifteen years, entirely within the walls of semi-permanent internment camps.    This thesis focuses on the camps as a means to unfold the colonial government’s management of the land’s scarcity and population. The internment camps continued the government’s development of social housing and focused their efforts by becoming a laboratory for using hygiene as a means of governance. This thesis examines how the camps were caught up in management projects while also being a pointed means to understand the agency of architecture principally as a site where architecture was most conspicuously inadequate. The refugees were kept in little more than rapidly recommissioned factory and industrial buildings, detention centers, and military barracks turned ad hoc camps. Issues arising from the longevity of contingent relationships, a result of the surprising number of refugees arriving over so long a period of time, help shed light on colonial architectural practices articulated principally through land management and hygiene. A focus on these threads and the latter in particular help unfold the stakes raised by this thesis.     Focusing on the camps has lead me to look more in depth on the collections at the Public Records Office in Hong where inter-agency discussions about the inadequacy of architecture of the camps is brought to light by The Housing Authority, the primary managers of housing conditions for the refugees. Material found in the collection there shows proposals to use the Vietnamese as promoters of hygiene at the same moment that The Urban Council developed a well-known campaign to use posters and graphic means to spread the word on the value of hygiene in the city at large.
Walled / Off Beijing: Restore the Ancient Wall Brick By Brick
Ruishi Ge
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott
This thesis traces the ancient inner city wall of Beijing and its ruination, survival remnants, and recent reincarnation—the Ming Dynasty City Wall Relics Park, through documentation and visualization. The research interrogates how the wall, with the public’s wholehearted participation, was saved from obsolescence both physical and social and appeared relevant as it is framed and reframed by preservation as culturally significant. The scattered bricks donated by local communities engaged and created a mode of displacement within Beijing in the name of preservation, becoming enmeshed in the nexus of social relations, media representations, and political agendas. The bulk of the thesis is structured in two major sections, providing different lenses that inspect the Inner City Wall’s transformations at two distinct scales: one micro scale of bricks and the other spectrum of cityscape. The aesthetics of the wall became part of political spectacles that both local community and the Chinese government contributed to, creating an unprecedented understanding of cultural heritage at the moment Beijing was experiencing an endless metamorphosis of its urban landscape, a metamorphosis geared towards staging itself as an Event-City with high international prestige. Preservation redefines architecture, presents a novel comprehension, a philosophy, of the city. This is especially intriguing in the context of modern China, where preservation practice coincides with the development of modern architecture, in a sense, they are both arenas subjected to the external influences from technologies, economy, national sentiments, and international recognitions. The research destabilizes the rhetorics of preservation; it argues that the wall has been multiply appropriated, mobilized, and transplanted. With a capacity to renew itself, the ancient wall reappears as a picturesque reminder of a continuous urban history among residents.
Mixed Realities and Architecture
Chloe English
Advisors: Steve Feiner, Ted Krueger
Institutions of architectural education have a call-and-response relationship to architectural discourse and practice. It is both the incubator for experimentation and replies to changes in the world beyond the walls of the university. This thesis proposes a new two-year master’s of science degree programme within GSAPP that responds to developments in computer science, electrical engineering, and developments in human behaviour that operate in the digital and virtual realm. This programme is designed as a place for experimentation in designing interfaces for perceiving, orienting, and functioning within virtuality with an architectural approach and design perspective. This programme posits that digital and virtual information and data is a kind of hostile environment, in much the same way as extraterrestrial space and the Antarctic tundra are extreme spaces for inhabitants. As it is true that architecture is a kind of interface that mediates hostile environments into habitable environments, this programme is built upon the idea that digital interfaces are at their core architectural, and provide the framework to spatialise and temporalise virtuality such that users can perceive and interact with data. Interfaces are an architectural strategy to transform virtuality from the unfavourable to the agreeable. The master’s programme core consists of studio, technical, history, and theory courses that provide the opportunities to develop a framework through which to understand architecture’s relationship to computational virtuality so as to design hybrid environments that blend the virtual and digital realms, but also to comfortably incorporate and even participate in the development of future technologies. Situated within a broader context, the aim of this programme is to create a pathway for greater architectural perspective within the user experience (UX) field of computer science and to increase the incorporation of digital and hybrid interface design into the space of architectural practice. This thesis consists of a written component—which explores the basis and need for such a masters programme—and the materials associated with the programme itself: a website with the programme details, as well as course syllabi and course readers for the core requirements.
Governmentality Exposed: Turkey’s Early Republican Village Institutes in 6 Operations
Gizem Sivri
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott
During the early Republican period in Turkey, the national agenda included the development of rural lands in addition to building nation’s new capital. Advancement in these underdeveloped areas would contribute to the national economy and thus to the “nation building” itself, as the country was highly agrarian and most of the population lived in the villages. This thesis proposes to trace an infrastructural experiment that operated within these agricultural landscapes. Implementations of this experiment as part of modernization attempts constituted the institutionalization and systematization of individual bodies and vast territories. Through the analysis of Village Institutes (1940-1954), this thesis aims to question the issue of territory in rural contexts, biopolitics, and its spatial implications within the geopolitical apparatus of an emerging nation. While reading the pedagogical/institutional technologies embedded in their logic and their inscriptions in mediascapes, it proposes that this experiment can be read as site for subject formation. It exposes the oscillation between modernity with all of its ideals, and instrumentalization of control and management. Village Institutes’ operative field simultaneously juxtaposes the scale of the body with the scale of the territory, revealing the pieces of a bigger governmental apparatus. At the nexus of these two scales lies the architecture, as an infrastructural and territorial discourse, exposing the traces of the apparatus in its physical form. This thesis argues that this network operates in a two-fold manner: Through the creation of an infrastructure for the formation of subjects, it also works as a catalyst for the development of otherwise leftover countryside. Concurrently, while explicating rural modernization, the primary outputs–government published journals, maps, curriculums, reports, architectural competitions and architectures etc.–act also as propaganda vehicles in the formation of an urban psyche. By analyzing these primary sources, this thesis proposes alternative–non chronological–readings of these projects through six operations, with each revealing different aspect and agency of the apparatus, building up to an overarching complexity of an encompassing modernization project. The operations that are represented as stand-alone chapters are: Act of Propaganda, Act of Translation, Act of Mediation, Act of Imposition and Resistance, and Act of Collecting.
Institutional Mediations Between Architecture and the Public Sphere: The Case of Art Net (1974-1979)
Iara Pimenta
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
Concerned with the conditions of architecture dissemination and debate, and considering that institutions have a large influence on the formulation of discourses and an impact on redefinitions of practice, this thesis investigates the case of architecture centres. Based on their primary focus on communication through exhibitions, talks, and publications, as well as their role as network agencies, architecture centres are studied here as relevant mediating agents between architecture and its different audiences and with other types of institutions such as museums, professional associations, and foundations. Reflecting on the challenge of pedagogical models and the consequent creation of new projects and institutions in the 1960s and 1970s, this thesis examines the case of Art Net, a non-commercial gallery for art and architecture conceived by Peter Cook. Operating in London from 1974 to 1979, Art Net promoted an environment for discussion and for the formulation of architectural ideas and experiments. This research studies Art Net’ structure, activities, and forms of communication. It seeks to comprehend the conception, composition, and effects of Art Net’s programs as well as the role the institution played in both its London and international contexts.
Staging the Agenda: Kyong Park and Storefront for Art and Architecture, 1982-1998
Camila Reyes Alé
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott
The thesis sets out to investigate curatorial practices at the end of the twentieth century (1980-2000), as an attempt to map or construct alternative pathways or narratives of the period—an exercise in historical revision and critical interpretation—bringing to the fore understudied disciplinary debates that contest the well-known theoretical depictions of these decades. Focusing on the case of Kyong Park and Storefront for Art and Architecture (1982-), the thesis attempts to produce a series of critical readings of Park’s curatorial practice by studying the institution and the specificities of its production through particular exhibitions, publications, forums, and related events. Positioning each case within a certain context and mobilizing its milieu to its further extents, the thesis intends to probe the different historical projects of our recent past, and thus construct a method of ‘measuring’ their impact in architectural discourse.
Exploring Abandum: Behind the Scenes
Sara McGillivray
Advisor: James Graham
The late 20th Century saw a culture of exploration grow up around ever-expanding post-industrial landscapes rife with freshly abandoned places. This culture once operated underground as a secretive counter-culture, but with advancements in image producing and sharing technologies, it has grown in numbers and in the public eye, becoming a decidedly 21st Century media culture. New ranks of urban explorers have found new ways not only of utilizing sites, but also of broadcasting their exploits. They seek out and are scrutinized by the public eye like never before, vying for attention and sponsorship through their photography compendiums and Instagram accounts. They edit, enhance, and dramatize their materials to project a personally favorable image of the site and of the self; unconcerned with the veracity of product, many choose to share the stories and images most likely to generate the most “likes”. While mainstream culture raises concerns about security and the illegality of exploring abandum, about physical danger to the explorers and damage to the site, it does not question the ethics of representation. Instead, it is drawn in to the allure of images of decay and stories of adventure. Whether seeking thrills, fame, truth, or history, these explorers inhabit a temporal space and capture a moment in its transformation. They report back on their findings, not only to a community of their peers, but also to an eager public, which feeds on the stream of imagery, living vicariously through the explorer. Explorers become producers, feeding a media economy in image and narrative commodities. The explorer curates a persona through what they produce, marketing themselves as a brand. Regaled by tales of 19th and 20th Century explorers in adventure films, they insert themselves into history and fiction whilst exploring, casting themselves as characters in a story. With or without a pseudonym, the explorer fashions an alter-ego through what they publish, dramatizing, romanticizing, and selling themselves, the sites they visit, and the culture of exploration, before returning to their day-jobs as photographers, writers, or software engineers.
The culture of exploring abandum operates in modes similar to those used by architecture and film: each explores alternative worlds as a method of understanding our own. This thesis utilizes media forms in a similar fashion to explorers, pulling images and text out of context and splicing them into a dialogue with each other. Taking on the format of a screenplay, this thesis explores the culture’s entanglement with media and spectacle from within the framework this discourse operates in. It utilizes the online forum, the chat room, and social media as sources documenting the psyche of the explorer and trends in the culture at large. It challenges explorers to examine the construction of their personas, to question media’s influence on the culture and the culture’s relationship with architecture, by putting them in conversation with critics and theorists of architecture, history, and media. Explorers act not just as subjects, but as experts in their field, questioning the future of this alternative culture as it slips into the norm.
New Games: Countercultural Spaces of Play, 1973-1985
Joachim Hackl
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott
New Games: Countercultural Spaces of Play, 1973-1985 investigates play as a cultural vehicle, a means of community-building and of restructuring space, by exhibiting media artifacts propagating the ideas, politics, and social agenda of the New Games Foundation, established in 1974 to promote New Games. The foundation attempted to “bring people in harmony with their environment and to eliminate the barriers of age, sex, race, and economics from leisure time activities.”
New Games: Countercultural Spaces of Play, 1973-1985 immerses itself in the formats used by the foundation and explores the periodical as an exhibition format. However, it is neither a topical magazine, nor a traveling exhibition, rather it will take the form of a predefined number of issues of a newsletter-like display – an exhibition on demand – with built in obsolescence. By incorporating aspects of the New Games movement’s media and communication strategy, the mail order exhibition operates as a decentralized communitarian experiment.
The main body of the exhibition consists of six sections, each discussing New Games within a different scope. These sections are materialized as individually curated box sets – each accompanied by a critical essay putting the specific documents in relation to a broader realm. While discussing historic precedents and paradigms as well as the movement’s contemporaneous tendencies in education, land-use, and game theory, the spotlight stays on countercultural spaces of play, the tools used and marketed by the foundation, as well as the New Game Movement’s implications and reverberations.
Architecture, Nationalism, and Internationalism in Indonesia, 1960-1965
Robin Hartanto Honggare
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott
This study suggests an alternative way of reading the architecture of nationalism. It attempts to identify and theorize different modes through which architecture, in cultivating the collective subjectivities of a certain nation, manifests nexuses between the national and the international. Understanding this reciprocity requires an intensive examination on the international geopolitics that situates any national, architectural production. It involves reading architecture as diplomatic apparatuses, sites of negotiations, currencies of exchanges, exhibiting devices, and other manifestations of international relations that, conversely, helped foster the collective subjectivities of a certain nation.
To undertake such a project, my research investigates two building projects in Indonesia that were built between 1960 and 1965, when attempts toward producing the architecture of nationalism in Indonesia were actualized at full-scale while Indonesia’s links to the world and its nationhood were vigorously negotiated on wide cultural and political fronts. The first project, the Asian Games Stadium (1960-1962) in Jakarta, is emblematic of President Sukarno’s recognition of sports as a prominent platform for producing national pride as well as cultivating anti-imperialist sentiment. The second project, the Indonesia Pavilion (1963-1965) at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, was devised to position the nation-state strategically within the geopolitics of the Cold War by exhibiting neutrality. Both contrasting projects—one dealing with Indonesia hosting an international event, the other addressing the nation as an international guest—show that the architecture of nationalism hardly constitutes an isolated terrain.


2016 CCCP Theses
Class of 2016: Virginia Black, Maite Borjabad, Pedro Ceñal, Pedro Correa, Lai Jing Chu, Martina Dolejsova, Rosanna Elkhatib, James Folta, Maryam Fotouhi, Gabrielle Printz, Rayna Razmilic, Tania Tovar Torres


Towards Events: Scoring Objects
Agustín Schang
Advisor: James Graham

The “event score” — a conceptual model of artistic practice developed by artist George Brecht (1926-2008) — was a linguistic proposition designed to mediate the relationship between subject and object through a simple white card and a few lines of text. By scripting certain actions in a guided but open-ended way (generally using familiar and readily-available objects), these event scores marked a new artistic practice that turned the attention to the details of everyday perceptual experience and opened a new field for curatorial practices. This new conceptual foundation was fast incorporated in the new art movement led by George Maciunas called Fluxus: a new form that rejected the conventional mediums of art and its distribution mechanism. In 1974, Maciunas helped a group of artists to buy the 537 Broadway Cast Iron Building through his Fluxhouse Cooperative project. Since then the 2nd floor loft at 537 Broadway was (and still is) the base for an artist’s community that working outside of the borders of the art system converged in a space, some kind of a Salon for the Fluxus diaspora, a place for experiments, where music, poetry, performance, and video could be seen and heard. This site and the events that took place in it form the archive that this thesis explored.

How might we capture the traces of the artistic experiences that took place within a space and preserve them through an architectural form? Can conceptual art models like the “event score” be repurposed as operational methods for tracing curatorial relationships between art pieces, everyday objects, ephemera, and space?

The blurred division between art and life, the impossible permanence of certain artistic works in designated physical spaces during the late 20th century avant-garde practices, and the early experimental composition and events were used as departure point to examine past and current artistic practices at the 537 Broadway loft.

Scoring objects focused on two parallel concepts: Score and Object. The tool of the score (a linguistic notation that inherently offers up multiple temporal continuums, interpretations, and outcomes) delimits a field for the investigation as well as a methodological tool for activating material objects and the performative quality of certain architectural spaces.

Putting Alternative Architectural Histories into Circulation: Developing a Contemporary Publication Project in Critical Conversation with the American Guide Series
Alissa Anderson
Advisor: Felicity Scott

Overlooked America is a new series of books devoted to exploring little-known architectural projects throughout the United States. Formatted as guidebooks and written for readers of all backgrounds by similarly diverse authors, each of its volumes brings the history of a single, previously obscure project to light and life through compelling prose and visual materials. Covering a wide range of locations, dates, and project types, the series’ architectural subjects are united in their ability to reveal new information about the forces and actors who have constructed America as inhabited today. Read singly, the guides are absorbing worlds unto themselves. Read as a set, each of their histories becomes a key point tracing a larger topography: a human-made landscape in perpetual formation, in which architecture operates as sites of particularly perceptible activity and therefore of particular scholarly, poetic, and popular interest.

This understanding of America and its architecture is conceived in critical dialogue with that of the nation’s most famous guidebook publication project, the American Guide Series. Produced between 1935–1943 by the New Deal Federal Writers Project and comprising more than 90 volumes, the series’ mission was to create and circulate a definitive vision of a unified, culturally-mature U.S.—a mission its directors pursued using strict measures of editorial and administrative control.

Overlooked America sets out to share a very different vision than the Guide Series’. Rather than smoothing or suppressing difference, its books relate histories that highlight conflict and unevenness, their variety of authors seeking to challenge readers’ perceptions rather than control them. Ultimately, the series aims to demonstrate that America is open to reconstruction— physically and ideologicallly—and that architecture provides a vital way to speak of and to power.

The series’ first volume is the primary deliverable of this thesis. It will explore the Tower of History, a 21-story concrete observation tower and museum in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, completed in 1969. Drawing on personal interviews and previously unstudied archival documents, the book will unpack the unexpected architectural lineage of the project as well as its relationship with deindustrialization, the Second Vatican Council, and the Cold War.

Constructing Publics, Crossing Borders: the inSite exhibitions, 1992-2005
Anthony Graham
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson
In 1992, an exhibition titled IN/SITE 92 spread itself throughout the cities of San Diego and Tijuana, connecting twenty- one different sites and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Organized by Installation Gallery, an alternative, nonprofit gallery with no roots to a physical space of its own, the exhibition focused on presenting installation art and aimed to bring together disparate audiences from the area through “collaborative curation” with local art institutions in both San Diego and Tijuana. As inSite (as it would eventually be styled) developed, the focus of the exhibitions shifted to issues such as site-specificity, public art and community engagement, leaving behind the dedication to installation art. Always crucial to the project, however, was the issue of the public, consciously inscribed in the relationship between the artworks, their sites, local art institutions and the two cities where it all took place. Declaratively unique through its bi-national character, inSite’s position across and at the U.S.-Mexico border provided a space where the cultural production of artists and scholars was necessarily charged with political tension, a topic well represented in the exhibitions themselves. This thesis wrote the history of the inSite exhibitions alongside that of the changing political and cultural views of the U.S.-Mexico border and scrutinized the exhibitions as tools in a conscious process of creating a multiplicity of publics. But what is a public? Who makes up a public? Further, what is a public situated across two countries? Through these five exhibitions, spanning thirteen years, the artworks, curatorial strategies, institutional supports, catalogs and archive become entangled with the history of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is through these particular circumstances that these questions of the public were interrogated.
Tools for Things: History + Interface of Design Software
Bika Rebek
Advisor: Laura Kurgan

Software as we know it today most often has its origins in analogue technique that has been transformed, expanded and supercharged through code, before becoming an everyday design tool. The proliferation of digital drawing tools has produced a number of challenges for both practitioners and critics: a knowledge gap has formed where analogue know-how is lost while digital technique is not just widely used, but taken for granted. While many younger architects have never seen a darkroom, they certainly have used Photoshop to manipulate images. Similarly, without ever learning the basics of projective geometry, designers are able to operate with complex forms they would not be able to draw on paper. Designers are accepting the biases and limitations of software, while critics are lacking conceptual knowledge to assess computational design.

The focus of this thesis was software originally developed outside the discipline of architecture, with examples ranging from Rhino, Photoshop, Processing to Maya. The development and links between the analogue and the digital of each program are traced, ranging from the late 1980s to today. The second aim of this thesis was in identifying and describing the layers of mediation and translation occurring when using a particular software. A number of representative buildings, carrying traces of their digital forming through software were included to illustrate the relationship of these techniques to the built environment. The understanding of the heritage and interface of software becomes an analytical tool for both designers and critics.

Broadcasting Education
Florencia Alvarez Pacheco
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
At one time or another, almost every new piece of media technology has been tested in education: the postal system, radio, television and so on. While the broadcasting of education has made it easier to reach a larger body of students, it has also required formulating alternative pedagogical strategies. Pursuant to the growth of the Internet over the last decade, many universities have reviewed models for distance learning. As a result, a number of new platforms have emerged. Open Course Ware (OCW) platforms provide free access to course content; Podcast Channels broadcast core lecture series; Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) offer courses “from the world’s best universities for free.” While these new educational interfaces may attempt to provide broader access to “knowledge” and “culture,” one may ask what they mean for those terms. These models may well undermine previous political ambitions regarding the democratization of learning and radical pedagogies insofar as they offer easy and free access to university curricula while opening a breach between two groups of students: those who form part of the institutions and, as such, receive face-to-face classes and get certification for their studies and those who just leverage resources. On the basis of a recent archeology of techno-pedagogical experiences such as the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale (1955-70), Chicago TV College (1956), and Open University (1971), I aim to develop analytical tools to study OCWs, MOOCs, and Podcast Channels, and examine their implications and challenges at the convergence of politics, education, and media.
Reconstructing the Crow’s Eye View
Jihoi Lee
Advisor: Felicity Scott

Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula—an exhibition of Korean Pavilion during the 14th International Architecture Exhibition–la Biennale di Venezia in 2014—travels different cities upon its closing in Venice, Italy.

Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula introduced the architecture in Korean territory–including the Republic of Korea (South) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North)– as both agent and symptom of the modernization in each state. The exhibition emblematically borrowed its term from a Dada-influenced poem Crow’s Eye View written by a poet with his unfulfilled aspiration for becoming an architect during the Japanese colonial rule. In contrast to a universalizing bird’s eye view, the exhibition chose to create a particular and cacophonous view to destabilize the clichés and prejudices that obscure the complexity and possibilities that lie in the divided Korea.

In the light of the exhibition’s transformative opportunities, the thesis aimed to speculate on how the projective attribute of the exhibition–initiating the architectural dialogue between the North and South Korea–can evolve when encountering different audiences in new locations and institutional contexts, and as such to inquire how an architecture exhibition becomes a bearer of political activation. The author being the Deputy Curator of this travelling exhibition, the thesis sought to reanimate some of the diplomatic endeavors conducted during the inception of the curatorial process, examining how the failed scenarios of joint exhibition between the two states had affected the de facto Plan B exhibition Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula, and further can contribute to its development in the future. Dissecting various curatorial processes of the exhibition into pieces, detailed decision-makings were put into inspection, to analyze and deconstruct, thus to curatorially reconstruct the Crow’s Eye View.

Academic Identities: Reshaping Discipline through the Design of the Syllabus
Liyana Hasnan
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

There are at least eight public universities in Malaysia offering architectural programs. Each school distinguishes themselves through different approaches, giving options to prospective students. Yet, the objective of these schools is the same, in which the institution becomes a preparatory site for would-be architects. To further this practice, the architectural schools undergo a period of self-criticism and creative renewal every five years, to which purpose is mainly to attain or maintain accreditation from various statutory bodies. This leads to a curriculum leaning towards the profession as an architect.

The University of Islamic Science (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, USIM), a public university, recently established their architectural program in 2012. For a new institution, the borrowing of both faculty members and syllabi from other institution is inevitable, but may lead to problems of piece-meal of a program and vague course objectives. One way to counter this problem is for the school to have a strong direction or a “school of thought.” Because institutional identity is partly done through the curriculum and syllabus, the design of effective syllabi is important in creating an ideal “school of thought,” that reflects both departmental aims and visions of the university. To begin, it is imperative to critically examine the current courses available and understand the gaps present in the curriculum. Being a fully funded government institution, there is a possibility for an authoritative form of knowledge or history that could prevail as dominant forms of learning and analysis. An encompassing syllabi can break up this dominant systems of knowledge and avoid falling into a one sided narratives of fixity. The ambition of the project was to design hypothetical syllabi that could open up the scope of the discipline as well as illuminate the direction of the new architecture school. The project focused on the history theory courses, to critically look at the existing framework of Islamic Architecture, Malaysian cultural and national identity, tropical architecture as well as the current pedagogical methods of institutions in Malaysia.

Communal Holidaying: Club Mediterranée (1950-1957)
Martí Amargós Rubert
Advisor: Jorge Otero-Pailos

Club Mediterranean developed over the early 1950s a model of rudimentary communal vacationing accessible to the middle class. The company that would later become a paradigm in French consumer culture had been constituted as a non-profit organization. The Club rapidly spread out through a series of villages in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. The villages were conformed by a group of canvas tents around a communal space with a restaurant and communal amenities. Although the social aspirations of the Club failed, and the company had to be restructured in 1957 we can still consider it a crucial moment in the history of holidaying.

Using Club Med as a case study, this research is intended to understand the relation between holidays and the way in which we live the rest of the year. We propose that holidays are in fact the test ground for experimentation and transformation of the domestic realm.

The research took the form of a written essay organized in three parts. The first part describes the myth of Tahiti, a common place in French culture that also shapes the imaginary of the early villages of Club Med. The second part describes the singular social and architectural features of Club Med. The last part traces the influence of the Club in the work of 1960s French theorists that establish a clear relation between holidays and domestic life.

BIOSPHERE 2: Glass Ark/Green Machine
Marty Wood
Advisor: Mary McLeod

Biosphere 2 (1987, completed in 1991) in Oracle, Arizona was a “materially-closed, energetically-and-informationally- open” research facility. This experimental, atmospherically-sealed greenhouse contained mini-biomes: desert, ocean, rainforest, savannah, marshlands, plus a “human habitat” and 2,500 square meter farm. It was first managed by an eight person crew who lived sealed inside for two years to test the viability of this model space colony. Its operators situated it as a closed-system research facility, operating in parallel to NASA. However, the project’s aspirations were far greater—to construct a working model of the planet, a metabolic system of human, animal, plant, machine and building into an integrated whole. It was not just a “machine-for-living-in,” but a “living machine.” Biosphere 2 carried with it many (sometimes contradictory) ideas and inspirations, arriving as a very late entry in the architectural synthesis between cybernetic-ecological systems theory, and the counter-cultural interpretations of Cold War technological imaginaries. Its “patron saints” range from figures like R. Buckminster Fuller, Norbert Weiner, and Stewart Brand to Vladimir Vernadsky and G.I. Gurdjieff.

Biosphere 2 brought together permaculture activists, cybernetic acolytes, ecologists, climate scientists, and free-wheeling fellow travelers and in its short life captured the imagination of the general public. It quickly became seen as a failure for both social and technical reasons and this stigma continued to haunt its legacy. This research focused on the history of this facility under each of its three management regimes: the Institute for Ecotechnics (1983-1994), Columbia University (1995-2003), and University of Arizona (2007-Present), and constructed a genealogy of the project’s singular nexus of space colonization, ecological consciousness, American counter-culture, cybernetic and technological innovation. The building becomes both a conceptual filter and symbolic monument for these frameworks.

Ghost Cities + Architectural Shells: Tactics of Oppression in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975–79
Leopoldo Villardi
Advisor: Felicity Scott

On April 17th, 1975, after weeks of artillery shelling and mortar bombardment of its capital city Phnom Penh, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge, a military insurgency that had gained support more through the popularity of its ranking members than through the self-sufficient, agro-utopian vision those ranking members would later impose on the country. Almost immediately, individuals considered modern–teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.–were stripped of political rights and executed, while countless others added to a growing diaspora of displaced urban Khmer laborers in the countryside.

Left behind were ghost cities and architectural shells that would become the repurposed sites of oppression and torture. Embarking on a campaign to rid Cambodia of its former histories, the Khmer Rouge destroyed archives, libraries, select relics of the past, and declared a year ‘zero.’ Taking the place of those destroyed documents were a set of replacements archiving crimes against humanity: dossiers of detailed bibliographies, portraits and confessions that the regime used to legitimize the entries filling its execution logs.

In the absence of a people, the radical politicization of these reprogrammed buildings and the city would begin to dismantle early 20th-century architectural ideals of social progress imported in the 1950s from native Cambodians studying architecture in Europe. Years of military miscalculation and the proxy war in neighboring Vietnam had brought to power an ideology that would later lead to the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians by way of disease, famine, and genocide.

Lines / Redlines: Universalism at the UN HQ, 1952/2014
Óskar Arnórsson
Advisor: Felicity Scott
My thesis develops an architectural project from a concrete architectural condition, the United Nations Headquarters on the eve of it its first major renovation, through research and visualization. The project takes the form of a portfolio of writings and drawings that analyze the concept of universalism as it is constructed in the UN Headquarters, one of selected instances in the original building of 1952 and another of those same instances after the completion of the UN Headquarters General Master Plan in 2014. In the former iteration, I expect to find a schematic universalism that remains on the level of idealist tropes. In the latter, I expect to find the predominance of the pragmatic categories of sustainability, security and accessibility, masked with an allegiance to the tropes through the auspices of their preservation.


Behind the gates: New forms of private enclavism in India
Devina Kirloskar
Advisor: Anupama Rao

“Paradise on earth”, “Buy a flat-get a city free”, “Live a luxurious life”- scream the billboards advertising for the townships and gated enclaves that proliferate along the highways across cities in India. They promise a new and improved lifestyle that is defined by luxury and convenience targeting specifically the new consumers of these spaces-The Indian Middle class. The paradox of the dense urbanity of the traditional Indian city against the backdrop of the utopian landscape of these private enclaves alludes to a change in the perceptions of this community and their aspirations.

The architecture, however, of these spaces is unique, and in many ways it connects to global trends of gated communities as well as India’s own historical lineage of gated-ness and exclusion in cities. The peculiarities of these enclaves are revealed through the built architecture- the high rise vertical model, large suburban utopias, the gated-ness and its celebration, the enforcement of the gates , the urbanized landscapes, construction of nature, swimming pools, gyms and manicured lawns, organized labor, the relationship to the informal and the exceptions and inequalities in land laws and zoning regulations.

I examine these objects through advertisements, news items, interviews, images, letters, maps, legal documents and the histories of land laws and housing policies to seek intertwining narratives of infrastructures, imaginaries and spatial politics that give shape to this development.

The ambition of the thesis is to put together a montage of realities and experiences in these urban spaces that are read in conjunction with the top down infrastructural policies to reveal a larger story of social exclusion and urban asymmetry. The focus is mainly on Integrated Townships in the periphery of Pune. The project will be a graphical journey through these narratives as a document with a collection of the images, advertisements, the lived experiences and my own critique.

Exceptional Territory: The Case of Diego Garcia
Gregory Barton
Advisor: Laura Kurgan
The focus is on territory as a conceptual construction and its relationship to the nation-state, particularly its structural role as an advantageous ensemble in theatres of war. Territory is something made both through acts of demarcation(/delineation) and designation(/declaration). That is to say, the myriad contours of territory are defined not only by geospatial limits and technological capabilities but are also a function of such linguistic variables as speech acts and legislative items. Through mapping and language, territory is here investigated as multi-scalar, relational and enabling; the extraordinary instance of Diego Garcia – a joint US-UK island military installation in the Indian Ocean – provides a case study to explore and problematize the questions and possibilities of territorial capacity, integrity and sovereignty. Cartographic research navigates the geopolitical vectors and institutions Diego Garcia inhabits and exploits in order to extrapolate more broadly the mechanics and instruments by which a state creates and utilizes territory as para-national operational space, often breaking or disregarding its own laws and international obligations in the process.
Taking it to the Street: The Art of Public Life
Tanya Gershon
Advisor: Mabel Wilson

I heard the rhythm. As I navigated through hundreds of people rushing between the trading stalls and the spazza shops on the narrow streets of Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) only one sound rose above the hum of the traffic and the street traders. “Ayah ayah.” Three women dancing and singing at the busiest intersection on Bree Street. They seemed to stop people for a moment, captivating passerby’s with their energy and spirit. I stood and watched the entire performance not able to move as their music filled the surrounding blocks and their song and dance had their own sense of power over the space that they occupied. These women were artists, seasoned performers, full of passion for their craft. As everyone dispersed, I asked a man what the foreign lyrics meant. He paused and replied, “they are singing about laundry detergent.”

While millions of rand a year is channeled into capital art projects with the aim of transforming Johannesburg’s highly contested inner-city, the artists and agencies falter in their objective by not weaving their projects into the existing communities and vibrant beat of street in the CBD. While large squares and parks remain vacant, the street maintains a vibrancy and energy that pulsates throughout the day reinforcing the sidewalks and street corners as the real public space in a city wrought with a tumultuous history of spatial politics. How can we harness the talents of street performers to create community in areas that they already reside? How can we use their knowledge of the city to create more meaningful site specific interventions rather than perpetuate fragmented “public” infrastructure? What platforms can we use to highlight the vibrancy of public performing art that can instigate change in the long-standing perceptions of the CBD to native Johannesburgers and the international community?

The New Image of Human. Architecture as a virtual and psychological habitat
Vahan Misakyan
Advisor: Mark Wigley

This thesis uses the notion of human to explore and elucidate the underlying infrastructural condition of the presumably impending global state— surveillance and dataveillance—and observes this condition as a spatial context in which to understand the status of the human.

Thesis defines the accumulative ubiquity of surveilable mediums and their interconnected agglomeration, as the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. It views this condition as a continuous context surrounding humans, which encloses and mediates all spatial relations between humans. Using concepts of medium, observation, interface, control and convergence, it elucidates on synergic spaces fusing humans and the surveillance infrastructure, as well as the interdependent progression of humans and the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. This reading externalizes a hierarchical order of the created context in which the disposition, reconfiguration and segregation of humans takes place.

The evolution of governmental and corporate surveillance and dataveillance as regards the U.S., will be used as a case study.

Capital Artifacts: Critical Structures of Auralization
Max Lauter
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

Auralization connotes the imagining of an aural event, distinct from sonification as a process of mapping datum to audible signifiers, or the modulation of sound on a multidimensional axis of compositional techniques for representation. As a set of practical and conceptual tools, these systems are built upon advancements in psychoacoustics and our sonic imaginary evolves with these applications. The integration of artistic processes in computer music and data visualization offer specific communicative capacities, and their intersection implicates new notions of transmission, translation, and fidelity. Operating on the thresholds of perception and calculation, the efficacy of these strategies are tested within various spatial design practices, and are augmented by artistic practices contextualized within a discourse of ‘glitch’ aesthetic and methodology. Glitch refers to an unpredictable error, but it has become increasingly unclear if that error resides externally or occurs internally. A perceptual hiccup that occurs due to methods of compression could as easily be a computer error as a demarcation of our individual threshold for measuring difference. White noise is seemingly the most unique sound in its complete variety, but to our ears its nuance is imperceivable. A critical narrative aims to make noise legible and productive in new ways, expanding aesthetic discourse within sonification to inform both design and curatorial practice.

Hyper-minimalist work by composer Ryoji Ikeda is taken as a case study of techniques that push popular notions of glitch and information aesthetics to their perceptual extremes within a trajectory of noise and data-based practices. Noise here is the malleable material of theories of information and performative art practices, as an indicator not simply of entropy but of embedded, masked meaning. This project cultivates a critical language and taxonomy for expanding notions of auditory display to examine the productivity of these noise-based methodologies—glitch being the referent and object for the perception of difference. How are we to understand the cross-disciplinary influence of auralization on the social aspects of perceptual capital and cultural capital? What are the functional implications of an immersive aural architecture embedded and encoded within the institutionalized museum and the urban stage of the city? on representation and interactive design? Striving for a lossless society is impossible due to an architecture modulated ontologically by filtering and error. As both steganographic and unintended interferences are unavoidable characteristics of globalized information flow, cultural politics, and spatial perception, the lossiness has become a source of production. Application of these notions to scientific and artistic practice is paramount if we are to decode the future city.

Remapping Istanbul cosmopolitanism now: Control, agency and identity in transnational global transitions
Javairia Shahid
Advisor: Kazys Varnelis

Shahid: Could you point out on this map where Taksim is
Tafokoon: Right about here (point to a spot on the map)
Shahid: Oh, I missed it. Wait, it says something else, in Arabic.
It does not say Taksim on the map.
Tafokoon: Yeah, it does not.
Shahid: Where is this map of Istanbul from?
Tafokoon: I found it in a book, a collection of maps of Istanbul at the University of Virginia.
Shahid: Do you know how old the map is?
Tafokoon: I do not remember exactly, but 1907 I think
Shahid: That’s decades before the Gezi uprising
Tafokoon: Yes

Every time we refer to the Occupy Gezi Movement in Istanbul, it seems some discursive precautions need to be taken, due to the sensitivity of the topic. The project aims to elucidate the side of the city produced through Occupy Gezi by positioning the politics of memory, history and urban imaginaries of Istanbul in its globalizing context and the global rise of the memorialization industry. Within this context, the project traces the conception of the ‘other’ neo-‘Orientalist’ framing of the subject and its ‘representation’, and presents a counter-method of history practices.

Remains of National Identities: Twin Houses by Javier Carvajal in Somosaguas, 1967
Javier Anton
Advisor: Kenneth Frampton

“Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014” is the theme that Rem Koolhaas has proposed for the national pavilions participating in the upcoming 2014 Venice biennale. This biennale advances the provocation that under globalization national characteristics are being eroded in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies. Taking their own national perspective, each pavilion must contribute to the creation of a global overview of architecture’s evolution over the course of a century into a single, modern aesthetic, while uncovering unique national features and mentalities that continue to exist. In words of Rem Koolhaas:

In 1914, it made sense to talk about a “Chinese” architecture, a “Swiss” architecture, an “Indian” architecture… One hundred years later, under the influence of wars, diverse political regimes, different states of development, national and international architectural movements, individual talents, friendships, random personal trajectories, and technological developments, architectures that were once specific and local have become seemingly interchangeable and global. Has national identity been sacrificed to modernity?

This exhibition deals with the absorption of modernity in Spain. Contextualizing the historical, social, political and economical situation of the country, it makes use of the film technique as a tool to display how that absorption has been blended with remains of national identities through a particular case study: the twin houses that Javier Carvajal built in Somosaguas in 1967. As Koolhaas recognizes, the transition to what seems like a universal architectural language is a more complex process than we typically acknowledge, involving significant encounters between cultures, technical inventions and ways of remaining “national”.

Virtual Spaces: A Digital Archive of Unbuilt Works
Katia Davidson
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

Contemporary architectural projects are almost entirely conceived in the virtual realm of 3d modeling. Long the standard medium, it facilitates the implementation by offices of digital renderings—the animated variety of which allows for the building to be not only understood, but also experienced by an audience untrained in reading traditional architectural documentation. With current technologies, an entire environment can now be imagined, realized, and recorded by virtual means with increasing ease and expertise. This, along with growing expectations by both clients and the public, has resulted in a rising amount of animated visualizations executed by both designers and developers throughout the building practice.

This thesis aims to dissect both the strategy of documenting projects through digitally constructed narratives and the space of production surrounding it through an online, interactive platform. By establishing a lexicon of both visual and descriptive terms through an intimate examination of their construction, this thesis will create an alternative index to both read and analyze this growing form of representation and its impact on the architectural practice. Through a rigorous exercise in cataloguing, the goal is to unveil the peculiarities and complexities behind this growing medium as well as chronicle the media in which it is both disseminated and preserved.

Sayyida Zaynab Cultural Park for Children: The Architecture of Abdelhalim I. Abdelhalim and the Making of the Egyptian Neoliberal State
Ashraf Abdalla Advisor: Reinhold Martin

The Cultural Park for Children in Cairo, a project sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and designed by Egyptian architect Abdelhalim I. Abdelhalim, won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992. Located in the historic district of Sayyida Zaynab, a “poor and underdeveloped” area in Cairo, the park was hailed by the jury as a “three-dimensional history lesson,” and the architect was praised for his innovative approach to community development. Subsequently, the project became a showpiece for “modern Islamic” architecture and “community-based” design processes for many Egyptian and international architects and critics.

The history of the park, from its inception, has been written in the struggle between the local community and the state. Abdelhalim intended for the cultural park to be a catalyst for urban transformation and social change within the “underdeveloped” and “alienated” surrounding community. Against forces of exclusion by the authoritarian and bureaucratic state, seen as an accomplice to western modernization and global forces, Abdelhalim aimed to include and empower the local community by connecting them to their “Islamic” past, built environment, and park. By evoking “Islamic” imageries from the surrounding historical sources, and activating local participation through community rituals and festivals, the architecture of the park produced forms, which stood for distinct cultural identity, and visual patterns, which guided the organization of the park. The ensuing failure of the project’s intentions has been attributed to the power of the centralized state at preventing the community from engaging with the cultural park, both in its production and appropriation.

I argue that Abdelhalim’s attempts to engage the local community did not pose a challenge to the state, but were part of the changing nature of the state itself. Experimenting with issues of decentralization, which sanctioned the state’s withdrawal from its hitherto role in providing social services and downward wealth redistribution, the state considered delegating control to local communities. Empowering communities was part of the emerging logic of the neoliberal state. In addition, the claim for community’s inclusion, inadvertently, legitimized the exploitiv e dynamic of the state’s system of control and capital accumulation, by attributing the “underdeveloped” status to being excluded from such system.

Architecturally, Abdelhalim’s attempts hinged on a dialectic of Naturalization and Denaturalization that led concurrently to the commodification and dematerialization of the local residents’ conditions. The Naturalization of the community as a coherent living organism, connected to the past and capable of emitting historical meaning upon activation in rituals and festivals, is simultaneously Denaturalized through extracting abstract and dematerialized visual patterns. Devoid of antagonistic social relations, and deprived of its material conditions, the community in Abdelhalim’s approach became susceptible to capital accumulation and the state’s expansive control. In the park’s architecture, the dialectic of images, standing for distinct and local cultural identity, and patterns, standing for abstract universal order, worked to screen the advancement of capital dynamics and state’s hegemony within the community. As such, Abdelhalim’s assertion for the community’s rootedness in its local and “Islamic” past did not impede such state’s hegemony, but enabled it. The state’s domination over the community was sustained by the appeal to the phantasmagoric architecture of distinct cultural identity — which acted as a dream world of a collective, classless, and lost past, that in turn worked to obscure the violence dynamic of the emerging neoliberal state. Furthermore, through community participation, the architecture of Abdelhalim worked in tandem with the state, and its Ministry of Culture, to incorporate the “minds” and “souls” of the community into the state’s domain of influence. Through both its forms and organizational capacities, the architecture of Abdelhalim at the Cultural Park for Children did, indeed, act as a catalyst for social change. But, it was a change aligned with the logic of the neoliberal state, and not against it.

San Salvador, El Salvador: a portrait of spatial and social fragmentation
Sabrina Wirth
Advisor: Clara Irazábal
San Salvador, El Salvador, like many Latin American cities, is characterized by its fragmented urban planning and challenges with safety. The city is divided between public spaces only used by one social class, and enclosed private spaces occupied mainly by another. It has been 22 years since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, and the beginning of a second consecutive presidential term that represents the FMLN party, the rebel group with whom the government signed the treaty. How has the El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, changed since the end of the war? The structure of the city, or the lack thereof, represents a city full of insecurity and disorganization. Since cities are designed to reflect the way we live, how does the disorder of the city reflect the social conditions of its population, and how does it affect the way people view their city? This project aims to present the spatial and social fragmentation of San Salvador through the narratives of its inhabitants in the form of a documentary. The main themes it will focus on are: mobility/transportation, public space, and communication. While this documentary presents one part of a complex issue of San Salvador, the goal is to stimulate a dialogue that could potentially lead to social action in the future.
Codifying Violence: Sites of the Mexican War on Drugs
Elis Mendoza
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

In 2006, only eleven days after taking office, Mexican president Felipe Calderon announced the Operación Conjunta Michoacán, a strategy that would derive in the so-called “War on Drugs”, transforming the cities and towns along the north of Mexico into perpetually contested places.

It is the argument of this work that the evident failure of the war on drugs has provoked a change in strategy; from a battle against drug trafficking to a battle for the way this moment is going to be portrayed and understood in the future independently of its outcome. It is an ongoing war for territory, not just in its physical form but also in the media, the society, the academic world, the international community, and the future. All the actors in this transformed war are displaying actions that involve more pressing matters than just the commercialization or distribution of illegal drugs.

The territory, the images, and the bodies, are symbols that narrate a complex structure of violence. The “war against the Narco” has become the “war against violence,” though it is not clear who is the perpetrator, who are the responsible parties, and who are the victims.

The aim of this thesis is to uncover and question the changes in the discourse and portrayal of this conflict. In order to accomplish this task I will analyze the effectiveness of a number of “actions” common to this war through what I have identified as the representative “sites of violence” knitting in this way a complex spatial matrix over the Mexican territory.

Testing Territory: A history of spatial strategies along the Rio Grande
Caitlin Blanchfield
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

Architecture can cast predictable characters. Territory can be a familiar stage. Narrative can fall into line. The border between the United States and Mexico is a space whose script is as entrenched as the walls that limn it, the tunnels that circumvent it, and the codes that interdict or enable passage across it. So, what can a space that doesn’t fit this bill tell us about the nature of borders and their relevance today? How does the making of a transbounded territory reinforce, circumvent, and throw into relief politics of space and nation-state, ideologies of land management, and the scales—from supranational to local—at which territory is produced? What spatial possibilities are opened up if we recast the protagonists and antagonists of conflict and contestation?

Transbounding territory and history, this thesis will destablize notions of borders, access and transnationality through a close-grained examination of three contiguous national parks: Big Bend National Park in Texas, Cañón Santa Elena in Chihuahua and Maderas del Carmen in Coahuila. By assembling a constellation of historical moments (1935-1945, 1971-1981, 1992-2002) archival documents, and contemporary voices the thesis will trace the emergence and implementation of a scientific method in the management land, from the nation-building projects of post-progressive pre-war years, to NAFTA-underwritten research ventures. Resource extraction, infrastructure development, and population distribution on national and supranational levels are written into the landscape here, and always subject to the micro-movements of local communities—from coveys of yellow-billed cuckoos to trespass cattle, from fluoride miners to geology students.

This is a history of shared economies and created capital, revealed in frontier myths or rhetorics of environmental sovereignty. It is a counter-narrative that draws the border not as a static line of collision, but rather an active force with physical properties mobilized or dispensed with to construct national identities, logics of conservation, and capital extraction. With agendas at times congruent and at times conflicting, presidents and park planners, UNESCO policy makers and research scientists, park rangers and local residents, experimented on the land, testing territory-making according to a narrative of scientific inquiry.



Destructive Knowledge: Tools for Learning to Un-Dō
Marcelo F. Lopez-Dinardi
Advisor: Mark Wigley

As architects, we are moved by a genealogical inertia that drives us towards doing. Our tools –the few that we may share as a discipline– are thought to be the means to build-up, to design, to construct, to draw, in the end, to do. We are taught to conceive something where there is none, to give it form, to materialize it, to fill the white and empty paper, this is, to make. One might say, following the principle of doing, that we build our disciplinary knowledge in the process while we “do”.

The Latin dō, serves as the root to a series of words that are related to the notion of accumulating and accumulated knowledge, but also to docilis, our docile. With this, my interest is to challenge the notion in which the built and accumulated disciplinary-knowledge (not just knowledge) of our discipline –the doing– is also the basis to produce docility, this is, a state in which we diminish our political self in favor of the discipline.

Gordon Matta-Clark, the artist of the well known piece Splitting (1974), was taught as architect in Cornell University prior to jumping over his career as artist. Matta-Clark, essentially, kept working with the tools learned in the school of architecture, but instead of doing, most of his work is dedicated to undo, to un-build. For him, the architecture tools were instruments to undo, contrary to the basic principle of, to do. By this, he aimed, among others things, to expose and make visible what can be called as the entrails of the architectural accumulated knowledge-in the form of building.

This thesis, considers the making-process of the work of Gordon Matta-Clark as a tool for interrogating the formative moment and the processes of learning architecture. With this, I intend to show, first, the conflictive triptych of docility-discipline-knowledge and second, to develop conceptual tools to un-dō by carefully reading Matta-Clark’s projects, as evidence of building up knowledge by un-dō-ing. The result of this thesis aims to explore the possibilities of non-disciplinary knowledge, and thus, suggesting a path for the re-launching of the political self.

Constructing a Harmonious Society: Cultural Policy in Contemporary Chinese Architecture
Bonny Yau
Advisor: Mabel Wilson
Locating the Blog
Allison Carafa
Advisors: Jeannie Kim and Kazys Varnelis
Evanescent Institutions: Towards the Construction of a Global Democratic Imaginary
Marina Otero
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Exhibitions, Community and Activism: History of Feminism in Architecture through Display
Sarah Rafson
Advisor: Mary McLeod
Fabricating Architecture
Helene Nguyen
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
Speculative Fictions: The construction of artificial islands
Jess Ngan
Advisor: Craig Buckley
Contemporary Section: Modes of architectural production in the first decade of the 21st century
Francisco J. Diaz
Advisor: Felicity Scott


Icelandic Research Fellowship
Meredith Baber

The architectural profession in Iceland represents an extremely rich and diverse, yet small community that derives its’ character from a dispersed presence in the larger global sphere. A post-national architectural identity results from the education of an architect, which has only occurred internal to Iceland in the last decade. Students are still required to obtain professional degrees outside of Iceland, a requirement that implicitly promotes a global understanding of the architectural field.

This unique condition of dispersal provides for an interesting problematic, one that impacts the greater Icelandic public in a particular way, namely that, given the young presence of architecture within Icelandic academia, there are no research funds available to scholars or practitioners. The impact of this lack of research funds extends beyond the domain of strictly scholarly pursuits, for, as this thesis hopes to demonstrate and in turn address, it creates a void in discursive dialogue within the architectural community.

In response, this project proposes establishing a program to foster the scholarly and intellectual development of young architects with terminal degrees, to promote research at a local and global scale, and to simultaneously establish networks between existing practitioners in the Reykjavik context and students in the global context. In doing so, it will further provide access and insight into the architectural community of Iceland, acting as a bridge between the education and practice of architects.

An Outside Language of Conflict
Nina Kolowratnik
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
Known Unknowns: Sovereignty Commoditization and the “War on Terror”
Jordan Carver
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson

In a career marked my many feats of great verbal acrobatics, it was on February 12, 2002 that marked what could easily be called Donald Rumsfeld’s magnum opus. At a Department of Defense press conference answering questions pertaining to the buildup of the war with Iraq, and the then possible existence of weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld uttered his now famous maxim: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

It is within the territory of the known unknown that this project sets out to explore. The focuses of inquiry are “black sites,” an international, and highly classified, prison network established by the U.S. government shortly after the September 11th attacks. Even the name suggests the known unknown. The means of investigation depends on interrogating redacted documents, newspaper clippings, NGO reports, public satellite imagery, court documents—all incomplete in and of themselves, yet when pieced together allow for the black sites network to emerge. This emergence cannot just be located within the context of the so-called “war on terror” for it relies on a much more sophisticated reasoning and nuanced linguistic reading of national and international laws involving the conduct of war and international relations.

At the center of this discussion is the sovereign, and how the manifestation and implementation of sovereignty has evolved from its earliest conceptions at the beginning of the modern nation state to something that has morphed into an assemblage of complex relationships, the least of which are the traditional notions of power and territory. These relationships are interrogated and examined through various media. Key to this investigation is a methodical unpacking of the various spatialities the war inhabits. Spaces of politics, economics and nation-state interrelations mix with spaces of confinement, interrogation and the intimate space of the body.

What is known about the black sites is scattered across the internet and published in books and reports by enterprising reporters and human rights organizations. This project attempts to deploy the method of critique as a process for organizing this vast quantity of information. The assemblage operates as both the critical action and its organizational representation, disassembling government documents to understand how these new forms of power operate, and then reassembling the evidence of what this power has wrought.

Institutional Infrastructures: An Alternative Model for Architectural Education in Mexico City
Jose Esparza
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott

This thesis is developed under the assumption that the institutional working models of architectural education do not reflect the social demands of our time. It presupposes that due to their institutional condition, complex sociopolitical events that shape our contemporary global context are seldom taken into account. This thesis contests the stringent infrastructures of learning institutions and attempts to present an alternative and responsive working model where contextual issues are addressed and introduced into the larger discourse network of practice through the development of a flexible operating framework.

For a grounded perspective, this thesis will be developed in the Mexico City, a place with an active community of professionals but with a limited access to platforms that foment alternative practices. Through a two-stage process, this thesis will first survey and analyze a selection of present-day learning institutions as well other non-institutional networks and organizations in Mexico and abroad, to consequentially draft an informed proposal for an alternative working model for architectural education, titled: Central de Arquitectura de la Ciudad de México.

Central de Arquitectura’s ambition is to operate as an intra-institutional center for architectural activities—a bridge linking the insular nature of institutional work by offering a dynamic and flexible program. Moreover, it attempts to put forward a possible new format of architectural education that aims to diversify the practice of architecture.

Interpretations and Interventions: Tulshibaug Temple and Market Complex, Pune
Atreyee Ghosh
Advisor: Kenneth Frampton

Interpretations and Interventions: Tulshibaug Temple and Market Complex, Pune aims to make a physical and operational assessment of the architecture and historical urban fabric of the Tulshibaug temple and market complex in the city of Pune, India, in order to develop a critical discourse that in turn directs new development in these areas. The research looks at the site as an example of an “indigenous modernity”, and interpreting the local opinions and issues, aims to propose a format for physical and cybernetic interventions by the continuous collaboration of local students of architecture colleges and the user group.

The research acknowledges the possibility of new development co-existing and integrating within existing traditional urban fabric, and shall make critical recommendations as to the future of architectural development in the core of these cities. This research will investigate the contention that “glocal” urban intervention, coupled with transportation infrastructure, is the future of development of architecture in the core areas of Indian cities.

1959 Exhibition Exchange: The Exhibition Designs of the American and Soviet National Exhibitions
Arianne Kouri
Advisor: Craig Buckley
The thesis examines and critiques the American National Exhibition of 1959 with the Soviet Exhibition of the same year. Both the United States and the Soviet Union held major national exhibitions in an effort to lessen tension between the two countries through a cultural exchange— the Soviet Exhibition was held in New York City and opened in June 1959 while the American National Exhibition was held in Moscow and opened one month later in July 1959. Through the medium of exhibition design— curating and planning, spatial strategy, circulation, material selection and presentation—an analysis of the political and social implications of both exhibitions can be clearly realized suggesting the potential of the exhibition format as a powerful political stage.
Divergent Modernities: Planning in Havana 1940-1960
Albert José-Antonio López
Advisor: Mary Caroline McLeod
External Consultant: Brian Brace Taylor
This body of research explores the divergent conceptualizations of modernity in Cuban society during the period of 1940-1960, and their manifestations in Cuban architectural practice and urban planning. The primary focus of investigation is the national efforts of urban planning, in particular, the organization of the Junta Nacional de Planificación (JNP) in 1955 under the auspices of the Batista government. A critical investigation of this organization seeks to further understand its relations to the official economic and social visions for the island, and how they corresponded and conflicted with contemporary opinions on national development. Insight into the organization, its related bodies, and its key members is provided by extensive investigation of primary resources related to the Cuban architectural and urbanist profession prior to the revolution. The use of official magazines, transcripts from conferences, and personal interviews contextualizes the proposals for architectural and urban modernization by revealing the political and ideological beliefs of the key figures involved in the expansion and planning of the then-rapidly modernizing city. The efforts behind national and urban planning during this period are portrayed as a complex product of conflicting Cuban cultural identities, the growth of Cuban nationalism in the era prior to the revolution, and the influence that North American values and investment had on the development of the Cuban capital’s architectural and urban image. Though this research takes into account all external factors on the path toward national development that were in order prior to the Revolution, it will argue that the motives and decisions were ultimately internal.
CURATORIAL REANIMATIONS: Atlas of New York Architecture Exhibitions (1977-1987)
Carlos Mínguez Carrasco
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

The 1977 opening of Leo Castelli’s group exhibition Architecture I marked the moment at which a New York private art gallery presented works of architecture as art pieces for the first time. The next year, close to Leo Castelli’s gallery, Bernard Tschumi opened in a non-profit organization gallery called Artists Space an exhibition titled Architectural Manifestoes. Those two exhibitions show the genesis of a polarized production of architectural exhibitions in its multiple versions and formats during the late seventies and early eighties.

The final form anticipated for the research is an atlas of the exhibitions of architecture opened in New York from 1977 to 1987. The project has the aspiration of unveiling the crucial importance of the exhibition practice for the theory and the production of architecture during the last 25 years. Specifically the study will be focused on the controversy established in the inception of the discussion: on the one hand the understanding of the documents of architecture as an artistic matter from the art world and art market and on the other hand the architectural field absorbing art languages, formats and platforms as part of the discipline.

The result will be a print-based material research in which three principal issues will be addressed: the importance of the institutional role in the controversy; transdisciplinarity versus autonomy in the exhibition realm; and the physical and theoretical space of the gallery as architectural battlefield.

The research is an attempt at understanding the complex and multifaceted relationship between art and architecture and how this connection had a significant turning point in the 1980s in New York City.

Other Architectures
Jacob Moore
Advisor: Ijlal Muzaffar

Other Architectures will research and analyze the mechanisms of translation within the architectural discourse. Based on those findings it will propose an apparatus to facilitate improved translation at multiple discursive scales. Beginning with an ethos of texts as always incomplete, the project asks how translation, as a productive reopening of information to shifting geopolitical, multicultural, and socioeconomic terrains, may contribute to a reinvigorated and multifarious exchange in architecture by sparking dialogue around specific, novel, and hitherto unknown contexts that are nevertheless worthy of discussion.

The process will include research of seminal translations within the discipline as well as investigations of more contemporary cases in order to locate problematic junctures that will themselves be relayed into the theoretical and programmatic underpinning for the final format: a peer-driven website which will be forever-in-flux and provide resources for architectural practitioners and theorists of all types – whether they be sourcing or offering translation services, suggesting texts worthy of translation, or discussing translations in progress. Of primary importance is the establishment of a sustainable base from which Other Architectures may continue to operate long after the thesis has ‘come to an end.’

Performing Architecture: A Theoretical Investigation on the Notion of ‘Performativity’
Victoria Bugge Øye
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott

J.L. Austin first used the term ‘performative’ in the mid-1950s as a component of his speech act theory. Since then, the term has mutated at a rapidly increasing speed, especially throughout the 1990s. This has caused scholars such as Erika Fischer-Lichte to expanded on the idea of a ‘performative turn’ in society as a whole, understanding the terms ‘performative’ and ‘performance’ as neither exclusive to language studies nor performance art, but as a new interdisciplinary and societal paradigm.

Various fields and actors have picked up the notion of ‘performativity’ as a subject for attempted deciphering, including architecture. The reiterations of the term in relation to architecture have, however, usually been complicit in reducing performativity to a phenomenological ‘effect’ on the subject/user. This is an approach that re-actualizes the status of the subject in relation to architecture, but that in insisting on a trans-historical relationship between the two falls short of any critical investigation of the processes that shape this very subjectivity (and its relationship to architecture) in the first place. A critical response to how performativity translates to architecture is thus still called for.

One of the ambitions of this thesis is thus to identify the various specters of performativity, and how these can be understood in relation to the production and reception of architecture. Trying to rephrase the discourse on ‘performative architecture’ from an insular relation between architecture and user, I will attempt to formulate the parameters through which performativity can be applied as a productive terminology and apparatus for interpretation and analysis in relation to the field of architecture and architectural discourse.

RE-presentation: Architecture in process…
Ismaelly Pena
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson

“We should have to study not only the history of space, but also the history of representations, along with that of their relationships—with each other, with practice, and with ideology” argued Henri Lefebvre in his seminal book The Production of Space, and it is under such premise, that this investigation takes its foundational stance. In a contemporary society in which we are bombarded with information and visual representations of events such as the war on terror, natural disasters, new state formations, and other such events, the architect has been called upon to be an active participant in the social and political reinvention and “projection” of the world; but how are such “projections” and more often representations, responding to the immediacies of everyday life and represented/re-presented to a public? .The thesis will use as a resource, the four institutions listed below and the mentioned competition/exhibitions/archive and the works that were associated with such, to investigate above mentioned idea of representation in contrast and in conjunction to its re-presentation.

-MOMA: Small Scale Big Change - CCA: ACTION competition and exhibition -Storefront for Art and Architecture: Call for entry- Strategies for Public Occupation -Creative Time-Living as Form: Archive for Socially Engaged Practices

The investigation will culminate in the production of an “exhibition”; one that as Robin Evans argues, will aspire to not simply present an expose of the findings of an investigation in the form of “image”, but rather utilize them explore the re-presentational act of the exhibition within the architectural/public/ social space it would appropriate

Design Policies: Public Policies and Design Disciplines in the US. The NEA Design Programs, 1967-2012
Fernando Portal
Advisor: Enrique Walker

The research comprises a historic study on the conformation of public support structures for design disciplines in the US.

It focuses on the processes of formation, development and dismantling of the National Endowment for the Arts, over its 45 years of existence, through the analysis of a series of institutions, programs, organizations and projects related to its different developmental stages and politic administrations.

As conceptual practices of design disciplines inhabit an institutional framework strongly defined by cultural and economic policies, the thesis states that through the historic analysis of support structures for design and architecture, is possible to recognize and characterize different modes in which design and architecture relates with policies and politics.

Furthermore, since the processes of formation, consolidation and dismantling of the NEA design programs express the history of how a Neoliberal State defines and uses policies to support design projects as cultural industries, the research hypothesis states that the study of the American experience on the definition and development of public policies for design is a keystone for the enunciation and implementation of public policies for design in developing countries based on a Neoliberal State.

In order to explore this hypothesis, an historical approach is build towards the development of design programs developed by the public sector in conjunction with private and third sector agents in the US. After its analysis through a series of case studies, the research aims to enunciate a set of models for institutional development. Models intended to be considered in further developments of institutional frameworks, institutions, organizations and programs devoted to the support of design disciplines in Neoliberal States of developing countries.



darabZINE//an experiment in public curation
Nora Akawi
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Intolerance: or, the Inequity of Inaccessibility
Adam Bandler
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
Relocating Curatorial Practices and a Nostalgia for Architectural Narratives in Do Ho Suh’s Home Projects
Yun Jie Chung
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Reshaping the Public Sphere and its Inverse Effect on Architectural Space
Pollyanna Rhee
Advisor: Felicity Scott
The (critical) Act of Curating Criticism: The Curator as Critic
Federica Soletta
Advisor: Anthony Vidler
Prospectus for a Publication on Architecture, Theater and Cinema
Tong Tong
Advisor: Kenneth Frampton