AUM Studio [www.aumstudio.org] is an award winning architecture, new media and design research firm founded by Ed Keller and Carla Leitão.
AUM Studio designs a diverse range of environments and ambiances that integrate new media art projects, urban interactivity and smart surfacing of private and public spaces.
The work encompasses residential, institutional, and commercial architecture projects, to game design / multimedia / highdef digital video projects, art direction, and speculative geopolitical futurism. AUM Studio focuses on enhanced urban spaces and landmarks, new forms of media relationship to site and new forms of content and materiality in the context of the renewed agility of contemporary cities. The firm’s unique position merges a hands-on approach to the production of multimedia environments with a deep knowledge of architectural and artistic fields and practices. We provide insight on interactivity as applied to urban spaces and in general ubiquitous environments realized through the blend of diverse technologies, skill sets and disciplines of thought. We work in direct collaboration with fields such as computer science, computer graphics, landscape, material sciences, robotics, urban design, product design, and ecommerce.
AUM Studio's recent work includes residential/institutional/commercial projects and new media installations in Europe and the US (current ongoing projects include Lodi Library, NY); the interactive cinema installation ‘SUTURE' at SCIArc and TELIC galleries in Los Angeles; script, concept and design work for ORNAMENT, an online massively multiplayer game/film/graphic novel; and urban design and architecture competitions such as the MAK Center Vertical Garden [invited]; Turku Finland; UIA Celebration of Cities [National Award]; House for Andrei Tarkovsky [first prize]; and Museum for Nam June Paik. They participated in the 2004 Beijing Biennale NY Hotspot event with their installation 'Time Flow Control'. AUM Studio’s work was featured in the AD magazine issue on “Collective Intelligence” in 2007.
Both Keller and Leitão develop research projects in academia through design studios and seminars that focus on the role of new media and ubiquity in architecture, material, urban landscapes and geopolitics.
Statement on Digital Primitive
Geometry as a discipline has always addressed both mathematical and philosophical agendas. Our work uses both these lines as modes of thinking: searching though pattern for ways to build platforms for multiple species – biological, abstract, symbolic, digital.
Techniques for exploring continuity can discover or create new webs for dreams that live juxtaposed in reality – and in pattern verify the birth of new types. Algorithms obsessed with continuity are then confronted with the limits of smoothness.
These concepts relate to preoccupations with the apparent 'life' of forms in art, as well as to geometry's ability to control or connect with deeper forces through immanent diagrams of organization. Our use of formal techniques in our work is roughly analogous to the function of the axiom within an overall formal system.
When we design for a city, we de-focus the condition of building and design fogs, as these are more often able to install new territories, readings and action. New grids are installed in a counter-time to the conventional and centralizing rhythms of the city – moments where centrality and marginality can merge.
As a consequence of the romances between matter, the blackmailing between infrastructures and the “measuring-up” between protocols, moments or scales have to be found such that all gestures become urban and create a new temporal dimension for the soap opera of the infinite narratives of everyday life.
More patterns remain to be made- from direction to desire, mutual perception and embrace. Houses act as geologies with multiple corners, circular, for eternal ricochet, and deposit scales of familiar gestures, rhythms of collectives in the individual, repetitions of the individual in the common. The arcades of the future have been rehearsed but the gesture is still and forever to be defined.
Project 1: MAK COMPETITION
Location: SCHINDLER HOUSE, LOS ANGELES, CA
Client: INVITED COMPETITION, MAK CENTER
ILLUSTRATOR, GENERATIVE COMPONENTS, RHINO, RHINO SCRIPT, SURFACE EVOLVER, MAYA, PHOTOSHOP, SONY HDRHC1, FINAL CUT PRO, MPEG STREAMCLIP, QUICKTIME PRO, AUDACITY
Design/ fabrication / Implementation
AUTHOR: AUM STUDIO [KELLER & LEITÃO]
NEW YORK [DESIGN TEAM]:
_DAVE PIGRAM_EZIO BLASETTI_ROLAND SNOOKS
LOS ANGELES [SITE RESEARCH]:
_DANIEL VASINI_EMILIANO ESPASANDIN
LISBON [LANDSCAPE AND ENGINEERING]:
In the MAK project, a proposal for a vertical urban garden, tiling patterns were studied to generate certain kinds of luminous density and layers of opacity. These patterns had rules for proximity, blending, and scaling.
The site was mapped as a set of fields delineated lines of sight, light intensity, points of dry or moist growth; scripts in Maya and GC then deployed tiling geometry across the site within an envelope of iteration.
These scripts morphed between triangular and hexagonal geometry, and iterated the panels in varying density according to our mapping studies.
The tile system, to be fabricated out of sand blasted glass panels, functions as overlapping screens for community curated video projection and art installations at the Schindler house; as well they function to direct light and views on the site, and to mediate between the Schindler site and its neighbor sites.
The tiles function morphologically as the organizing system and generative edges for a minimal thin concrete wall that connects all the tiles, functions as structure, and is a substrate for the vertical garden. Surface Evolver was used to develop this continuous minimal surface, and the topology of this surface was adjusted according to proximity to the new building to the south, as well as the plant types and light conditions the project creates on the Schindler site.
We understood the plants as a neural network in the site- a fragile/flexible intelligence. To deploy the garden across the minimal surface, a Rhino script was used to analyze the geometry of the minimal surface structure; working with our landscape consultant, this script determined the plant species that would best adhere to the different angles and light conditions.
Every system- living or nonorganic- generates its own spatiotemporal field, which includes its thresholds of engagement with the landscape. In our project, the plants merge with the wall itself, and metamorphose not only the husk of the Schindler house, but reach out into Los Angeles as well. Los Angeles' time plane will become non-relative, as this autonomous, trans-temporal act of architecture meets the organic life and media systems as a crucible we are propose for the site. The project plays with a set of formal axioms at the molecular as well as the macroscale in the city to reinvent the fabric and landscape of imagination.
Project 2: SUTURE INSTALLATION
Location: LOS ANGELES, CA
Client: SCIARC AND TELIC GALLERIES
MAYA, AUTOCAD, PHOTOSHOP, ILLUSTRATOR, SONY HDRHC1, FINAL CUT PRO, MPEG STREAMCLIP, QUICKTIME PRO, AUDACITY, NATIVE INSTRUMENTS REAKTOR, MAXMSP/JITTER, EOWAVE, MIDI USB HARDWARE, 3 MAC OSX DESKTOPS, 3 HIDEF VIDEO PROJECTORS, BEHRINGER AUDIO MONITORS, INTERNET CONNECTION BETWEEN GALLERIES.
Design/ fabrication / Implementation
AUTHOR: AUM STUDIO [KELLER & LEITÃO] WITH
GEORGE SHOWMAN [PROGRAMMING AND TECHNOLOGY]
BRIAN FLAIG [PROJECT COORDINATION
AND OBJECT DESIGN] DESIGN/ FABRICATION: INSTALLATION
FURNITURE PIECES FABRICATED IN
SCIARC MILLING SHOP
In SUTURE, an interactive multimedia installation, we suggested that a collective intelligence could emerge as a kind of agency distributed locally onto the participants in each gallery. Conceptually, we were interested in reconfiguring the concept of ‘suture’, a key term in film theory, in order to propose a new cinematic & architectural body created through the visitors' interactive editing of event, gesture and materiality. Instead of the semiotic framework the concept of 'suture' emerged from [See Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (New York, 1983)] we presented an interface to manifest it purely
through space, gesture, material, and cinematic-haptic fields. We redeployed responsibility for cinematic edits onto visitors as they moved in the spaces and triggered a cascading series of remixes and overlaps of gesture and material footage. The rules were established as a framework to permit a range of edits to take place; categories of homogenous, singular, or aggregate materials, and closeup, medium, and longshot gestures were mixed according to different degrees of acceleration, creating
inversions of the original sources, and switching the regularity of the space and time orientation. Instead of analysing footage for meaning, we relied entirely on the 'sense' built into each shot to develop rules for classifying and remixing.
Gestures and materials go beyond the human scale and encompass urban situations, infrastructure, and landscape. Desert spaces, transit spaces, and more distant abstract points of view- such as satellite orbits over the earth- established another scale in the footage. SUTURE proposed a way of working with collective intelligence [both the groups of people interacting with the project, but also the 'arrays of media' as autonomous, ruledriven bodies in the network itself ] such that the potential of different users and site interactions became responsible for actively renewing key concepts of ambience and environment. The installation placed each visitor in a position of agency to realize radical new scales and blends of gesture, material and situation.
It becomes necessary to create new situations, devices, machines or organisms that advance our ability to render visible this individuality within the collective: a key ingredient of a fruitful enrichment in both cultural and human terms.
A grid made of different nodal points is placed over the city. New points are discovered in the middle areas between the points of great visibility - of one temporal understanding of the city – and the opposite temporal points; those individuals who reveal a profound distance between the sense of locality, and the insufficient recognition of their individuality by the urban nucleus.
The nodes are spaces of night life – present in the urban dream – they are anchoring points for passage of individuals in a limit situation, when the capacity of self-expression is lost inside the urban context. The visibility given by the proposed structures announces a situation of play, of stage, of rehearsal, of temporary exercise of wills and desires, while simultaneously being devoted to the service of showing and caring for that same self-expression of others. The structures go from uncharacterised points to bright spaces of invention: exhibition galleries of diverse themes, experimentation places, meeting points. These nodes will start to bind themselves to their intelligent behavior, that is, the way in which they construct themselves on a local level and then invent new articulations of their situation in this network.
Project 3: UIA URBAN DESIGN COMPETITION
Location: LISBON, PORTUGAL
Digital tools: 3D STUDIO, ILLUSTRATOR, PHOTOSHOP, AUTOCAD
Design/ fabrication / Implementation
AUTHOR: AUM STUDIO (KELLER&LEITAO) WITH
COLLABORATOR: CATERINA TIAZZOLDI
Cities should be nothing more or less than the great range of density of human desires, which are able to provoke constant creativity in others.
A healthy city – an ideal agglomeration – is a condition born and developed through both the concrete and imaginary inventions of its inhabitants. All the participating agents in a city are immediate beneficiaries
of its evolution and answer to time. In the same way, each contribution is unique and indispensable in the process of imagining ongoing change.
Cities have several temporal ranges, areas of history that appear and disappear, dissipating in the structures which materialize as temporary or permanent wills. One of the most pertinent capacities in an urban nucleus resides in some of these non-permanent structures: that of the self-modification of meaning, that of the intelligent material.
The accommodation of activities made by the city does not summarize the city in itself: neither does it do justice to its complex body nor to its intelligent answer to time.A syndrome of disease in a city is evidenced – taking different forms – when the main role of individual agent inside a collectivity is not allowed to its citizens. Examples may be found in all the conditions that emphasize only unilateral or dual understanding of the surrounding environment. The concept of marginality, for instance, is foreign, yet nevertheless accepted in an urban mode of thought which is inclusive and by nature is engaged with the reconceptualization of city edges. This discussion of limits evokes not only what is exterior to the self but also the integral internal elements of the city body.