On view at the SCI-Arc gallery until August 13, Maxi Spina: Thick explores the elusive condition of material thickness in architectural design through the topics of sections, ruins, fragments, constructions, figurations, simultaneity and representation. The LA Forum spoke to Spinagu’s Maxi Spina about what it means to explore thickness.
Thickness in this project is a decoy for “the real,” for a set of questions posed around the tensions between architectural representation and architectural construction, about the translation between the two. In one way, it is a thought experiment around the representational conventions of material thickness — how do we show something is thick?
Material thickness seems to always exist in representational form, whether it is an offset line or an offset surface. In traditional drawing, the appearance of thickness, the representation of thickness primarily depends on three architectural drawing conventions: the edge, the section, and the shadow. Edges are like sections in that they show the thickness of materials, but edges also describe the end of a material condition and are visible to the naked eye. Sections are the hidden figures within forms that are excavated through an imaginary cut line — but they are not actually visible as they are describing an unseen condition of the project. Sections can be described by lines, or they can be filled as in poche. Choissy’s drawings incorporate all of these within his archeological study, and the use of edges, sections and shadows are used unilaterally in the drawing to produce the form. None is privileged as a single mode of representation.
But material thickness is also about construction. You assign thickness when you begin to construct something, when the object acquires the specificity of real materials. That’s when it begins to take on thickness. And this really catches up to you at some point in a project. It causes problems.
I’m interested in how software and environment and working habits are inflecting upon our very definition of materiality, and how we can work through these inflections in a creative and thoughtful way. For example, think about how we render materiality onto objects, and assign properties to such materials, whether through UV mapping, bumps, or image mapping. Many people tend to think of this as just a form of representation, as representing something outside the screen. But this activity of rendering, of assigning properties, is also a decisive act. As digital objects are gaining new properties and definitions, I am interested in seeing how this can be brought back out to the physical environment, and what new working methods might evolve out of the literalness by which we translate our digital process into material and physical ones.