School of Architecture College of Design

Difference Machines

"Fabricated from language, the machines are this act of fabrication; they originate within themselves; between their tubes, their arms, their cogwheels, their mental constructions, they enclose the process in which they are contained. They thus give the process a presence without perspective."

- Michel Foucault, "Death and the Labyrinth"


Workshop Summary

The French writer Raymond Roussel focused on puns and homonyms as mechanisms of transition to redirect his narratives into unpredictable spatial and temporal dimensions. He exploited language's potential disconnect between what is said and what is written. Through the act of 'zooming in' on certain seemingly insignificant details in a scene, Roussel was able to discover whole new worlds-many of them containing intricately detailed fantastical mechanisms, with which to continue his narrative.

Current imaging technologies allow us to construct infinitely scalable image worlds of seemingly limitless resolution, reframing surface as a question of transition and fidelity instead of boundary. Zooming in or zooming out of these high resolution image worlds enables us to virtually fulfill our ongoing love for 'space travel' suggested historically by such films as The Eames' "Power of Ten" and contemporaneously by Google Earth, Google Street View and Google Interior's interlinked image worlds. Still, (fortunately), technical limitations require transitions between various scales and modes of representation that must be hidden to give the illusion of seamlessness motion.

In this workshop we will make Difference Machines, transition devices that mediate between visualization technologies while interrogating this two sidedness of the image world.


Guest Instructor

John Zissovici, Cornell University, AAP


Guest Biography

John Zissovici is an Associate Professor of Architecture at Cornell University. His work is equally divided between the material and immaterial concerns of architecture at various scales.

John Zissovici teaches architectural design and courses that deal with the impact of digital media on architectural thinking. His current research is on imagescape urbanism. His architectural work includes built projects, installations, competitions, and speculative work. He has been published in Japan, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and the U.S. His large-scale installations involving digital media, robotics, and videos have been exhibited at the Phoenix Museum of Art, the Burchfeld-Penney Art Center, Tsing Ha University in Beijing, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca. Zissovici received his bachelor's and master's of architecture from Cornell.


Faculty Hosts

Andrew Lucia, Cass Gilbert Visiting Assistant Professor, UMN ARCH

Christian Korab, Adjunct Faculty, UMN ARCH

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