A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Seems Real, On the Surface


AIADO 4956 001
Faculty: Aura Venckunaite and Cyrus Pe

Seems Real, On the Surface will explore the substrates and edges of simulated realities. This experimental seminar is a companion course to an upcoming exhibition at the Alphawood Foundation in Chicago featuring the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Revered for his attentive coordination of material and light, Ando has produced immersive environments where concrete surfaces sponsor phenomenal effects. Inspired by this sensitivity to real and virtual scenarios, this course invites students to combine artificial environments with material artifacts in order to produce spaces of renewed attention.

Students enrolled in the seminar will work between digital and physical models and will be familiarized with various rendering softwares, 3D scanning technologies, and VR systems. We will use these tools to develop projects and interventions that address issues of surface, image, perception, and materiality and that highlight the seams of our constructed reality. Instead of simply representing “the real,” how might these technologies challenge or expand the ways that we engage the physical environment? What happens when fabric, plaster, and pigment occupy the same continuum as meshes, pixels, and texture maps? What techniques could we develop that call attention to the invisible labor and pervasive effects of digital culture on architectural practice? These questions provide the foundation for this six-week design seminar. Following the course, students will install and present their projects alongside models of Ando’s work as part of the aforementioned exhibition at the Alphawood Gallery.

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.