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Night White Skies

Join Sean Lally in conversation about architecture’s future, as both earth’s environment and our human bodies are now open for design. The podcast engages a diverse range of perspectives to get a better picture of the events currently unfolding. This includes philosophers, cultural anthropologists, policy makers, scientists as well as authors of science fiction. Each individual’s work intersects this core topic, but from unique angles. Sean Lally is an architect based in Lausanne, Switzerland. His office, Sean Lally Architecture, is dedicated to engaging today’s greatest pressures - a changing climate and advances in healthcare and consumer devices that are redefining the human bodies that occupy our environments. Lally is the author of the ‘The Air from Other Planets: A Brief History of Architecture to Come’ (Lars Muller). Lally has lectured worldwide and has been a visiting professor at the University of Virginia, Pratt Institute and Rice University. Lally is the recipient of the Young Architects Award from the Architectural League of New York and the Prince Charitable Trusts Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in Landscape Architecture. www.seanlally.net
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Oct 25, 2021

This week is a conversation with curator Boris Magrini about the 'Radical Gaming' exhibition currently at the House of Electronic Arts (HEK) in Basel Switzerland.

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Night White Skies is a program about our design futures as both the environment and our human bodies are now open for design.

www.SeanLally.net

Substack

Instagram

Thanks to Richard Devine for the use of several sample permission.

Oct 11, 2021

Margret Grebowicz is an environmental philosopher living in upstate New York. She is the author of four books--Mountains and Desire: Climbing vs. the End of the World, Whale Song, The National Park to Come, Why Internet Porn Matters--and is currently finishing a new short book, Rescue Me: On Dog Abundance and Social Scarcity.

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Night White Skies is a program about our design futures as both the environment and our human bodies are now open for design.

www.SeanLally.net

Substack

Instagram

Thanks to Richard Devine for sample permission.

Sep 27, 2021

Daniel A. Barber is Associate Professor and Chair of the PhD Program in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching narrate eco-critical histories of architecture and seek pathways into the post-hydrocarbon future. We discuss on this episode his most recent book 'Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning (Princeton UP, 2020)

Sep 20, 2021

This week is a conversation with Jackie Higgins. Jackie is a television documentary director and writer, who read zoology at Oxford University, as a student of Richard Dawkins. She made wildlife films for a decade, for BBC as well as for Channel 4, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. She then joined the BBC's science department, researching and writing, directing and producing programs such as Tomorrow’s World and Horizon. Today we’re talking about her book ‘Sentient’.  

 

Music samples used.

Richard Devine, 'Etch n Sketch' 

Cinematic Laboratory, 'Eurotrack Starter Kits ep. 01

Apr 26, 2021

'Rehearsing our Feelings'  

When it comes to trying to plan for the future, various tools are used to help us with the process. If you have a series of appointments to attend in the coming months, you'll likely use a calendar to schedule time and place. If you plan on building a structure or a landscape, you'll likely turn to drawings to define shapes and qualities. But you could lump these two examples together (the scheduling of time and the representation of a shape) as tools that help you deliver something you know you already want. In many ways, they are both instructions to manage something you already know. We're of course aware that this isn't exactly the case. The tools we use for design have proclivities embedded within them that inform the decisions we make while using them.  

But maybe we're missing the whole point here when discussing how to represent the future for people. Instead of showing them examples of how it might look, (one form or shape being better than the other) we instead need to allow people to experience a future that doesn't yet exist. There are various reasons why this could be of importance. It's possible that pressures like climate change, new forms of communication, social dynamics and an evolving human body are going to be delivering a near future so different from what we know today that there is a need to rehearse potential futures now. As my guest today, Aubrey Anable has said, 'rehearsing our feelings'. 

Video games are a medium that allow the player to experience environments and social scenarios in ways that other representation can't. This is in part because they can often be played many times with different outcomes each time. And these varied experiences within games give players an active interaction that is spatial, has aesthetics and often social, moral contracts embedded within. This concept of 'rehearsing our feelings' is a way for people to be embedded in unknown realities that could very well help prepare us for a future that is uncertain. A future that might require difficult choices in how we live in a changing climate, how we engage ecological anxiety, or even how we might live together (wink wink). Rehearsing our feelings, our expectations and our imaginations for what the future might hold is likely going to include the strengths that video games can offer. 

Aubrey Anable is assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University, Canada. Anable’s research is broadly concerned with film and media aesthetics in North America after 1945 with an emphasis on the ways digital computers have changed visual culture. Her book Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) provides an account of how video games compel us to play and why they constitute a contemporary structure of feeling emerging alongside the last sixty years of computerized living. Her articles have appeared in the journals Feminist Media Histories, Afterimage, Television & New Media, and Ada. She is currently co-editing The Concise Companion to Visual Culture (Forthcoming from Wiley Blackwell). 

Also try...Ep. 065 _ Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett _ ‘How Emotions are Made’ 

 

Apr 12, 2021

There is probably no bigger name in science fiction in the last 50 years than Kim Stanley Robinson. Robert Markley (who I’m speaking with today) wrote a book with that very title, 'Kim Stanley Robinson' that looks at his work. The book looks at the works including the alternate histories of The Days of Rice and Salt, the future through the Mars Trilogy, as well as books like Shaman that take place 30,000 year in the past before written language. Ultimately, the work looks at how we as a species and civilization might move forward as we come to grasp the pressures facing us today. 

Robert Markley is Trowbridge Professor and Head of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His recent books include The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 and Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination. 

Mar 29, 2021

What does it mean for architecture to have character?

Stewart and Allison are co-founders of Design With Company, who's work is interested in concepts that are shared between architecture and literature, including: narrative fictions, type, and character. The work has earned awards such as the Architecture Record Design Vanguard Award and the Young Architect’s Forum Award and has been featured in exhibitions such as the Chicago Architecture Biennial and Design Miami, as well as at the V&A Museum and Tate Modern in London. 

Allison has lectured at institutions like MoMA in New York, the Vancouver Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Graham Foundation, and universities across the country and abroad. Stewart is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an Associate Dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts. 

Mas Context 'Character' Issue

Mar 15, 2021

Elena Manferdini, principal of Atelier Manferdini. She currently teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture SCI-Arc where she serves as the Graduate Programs Chair.

Sep 28, 2020

Amy writes about arts, culture, and the environment. She is the Deputy Publisher of Guernica magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books, where she also writes a monthly column called “Burning Worlds.” It explores how contemporary fiction addresses issues of climate change.  She is also the co-editor of the anthology, House on Fire: Dispatches from a Climate-Changed World, forthcoming 2021 from Catapult. She received her PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst  and has won numerous awards including from the National Science Foundation.

Sep 7, 2020

Michael Benedikt is an ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Hal Box Chair in Urbanism and teaches design studio and architectural theory. He is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and of Yale University. Although he has practiced at small scale, he is best known for his writings and lectures. Architecture Beyond Experience is his ninth book. He also edited and contributed to fourteen volumes of CENTER: Architecture and Design in America, on a wide range of topics.

Some of Benedikt's writings can be found at http://www.mbenedikt.com. The event and publishing activities of the Center for American Architecture and Design can be found at http://soa.utexas.edu/caad. The ISOVIST app for OSX and Windows, written by Sam McElhinney of UCA Canterbury, can be downloaded from http://www.isovists.org.

Aug 17, 2020

This week is a conversation with John May and we’re discussing a book he recently wrote called ‘Signal, Image, Architecture. It’s a short book with an objective to define the playing field today for this discussion. The book makes a clear distinction between that of a drawing, a photograph and an image. And in doing so makes it clear that those first two (drawing and photograph) are not what architects and designers are likely to be producing in school or practice anymore.  

Instead, we’re producing images that can look like a photograph or a drawing. The distinction is important because the argument could be made that we are not taking full advantage of the proclivities of the images and therefore not engaging the tools that might best help us understand and shape our times. There are fundamental differences to the image, and it’s best to understand them and how they are likely intertwined with how we engage many of the pressures surrounding us today.   

John May is founding partner, with Zeina Koreitem, of MILLIØNS, a Los Angeles-based design practice. John May is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Director of the Master in Design Studies Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He previously served as a visiting professor at MIT, SCI-Arc, and UCLA, and was named 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Visiting Professor in Architecture at Rice University. He is the author of Signal, Image, Architecture and the founding co-director and co-editor (with Zeynep Çelik Alexander) of Design Technics: Archaeologies of Architectural Practice—an exploration of the philosophical and historical dimensions of contemporary design technologies. 

Aug 3, 2020

Today is a conversation with Holly Jean Buck and we’re discussing her book After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair and Restoration.  

I think for many of us that like to think we’re working in at least the general wheelhouse of climate change, we still don’t have a firm grasp of what geoengineering entails. For most of us, it’s a singular black box technology that will either help our current situation or make it worse. It’s often portrayed as a technology more so than as policy or even design. It’s characterized as a singular action rather than as a series of discrete, temporal actions that are rather wide ranging in approach. It’s also often assumed to be an already defined action waiting to be executed, which it is not.  

In After Geoengineering, Holly Buck brings into focus the importance of asking what we as inhabitants of Earth are looking for on the back end of these climate remediation projects? What are we working towards and who has been part of these discussions? The book and the discussion here raise questions for the need of participatory design. The book highlights the upcoming struggle in preparing for infrastructure scale projects that if successful will be temporary in some cases. How do we restructure our value systems in order to work collectively at such a global scale.  

Holly Jean Buck is an Assistant Professor of Environment & Sustainability at the University at Buffalo in New York.  She researches how communities can be involved in the design of emerging environmental technologies, and works at the interface of geography, social science, and design. Her diverse research interests include agroecology and carbon farming, new energy technologies, artificial intelligence, and ecological restoration. She has written on climate engineering including humanitarian approaches, gender considerations, and human rights issues, and is the author of After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair and Restoration, from Verso Books. 

Jul 13, 2020

James Bradley is an author and critic. His books include the novels, Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and Clade, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus and the Penguin Book of the Ocean and of course most recently Ghost Species. 

Today is a conversation with the author and critic James Bradley and we’re discussing his recent novel Ghost Species which looks to the implications of the great upheaval occurring around climate change.  

But instead of focusing solely on the technological or statistical indicators that often represent change - or focusing on a cataloguing of climate catastrophes to drive home the point – the book instead follows the lives of resurrected extinct species including our own long lost relative the Neanderthal. And it's through this storyline that we as readers' begin to question our expectations for our future, we question our terminologies and disciplinary structures set up for defining everything around us through difference. 

As we learn the important of diversity, we are somehow simultaneously trapped in our own systems of cataloguing difference to express that diversity. 

James gives us a quick introduction about his book just as the episode begins so I’ll leave it to him in just a moment. I really enjoyed the conversation; it was a pleasure speaking with him. Hope you enjoy it as well. 

Jun 29, 2020

Today is a conversation with Sylvia Lavin and we’re discussing her recent book ‘Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernization Effects’.

Book

Sylvia Lavin is Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University. Prior to her appointment at Princeton, Lavin was a Professor in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, where she was Chairperson from 1996 to 2006 and the Director of the Critical Studies M.A. and Ph.D. program from 2007 to 2017.  

She is the author of Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture. Her most recent books include, Kissing Architecture, published by Princeton University Press in 2011 and Flash in the Pan, an AA publication from 2015.  

Professor Lavin is also a curator: including, Everything Loose Will Land: Art and Architecture in Los Angeles in the 1970s, was a principal component of the Pacific Standard Time series supported by the Getty Foundation and traveled from Los Angeles to New Haven and to Chicago.  Her installation, Super Models, was shown at the 2018 Chicago Architecture Biennial and most recently Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernists Myths, was an exhibition at the Canadian Center for Architecture. 

Jun 15, 2020

Natasha Sandmeier’s work and research straddles the worlds of architecture and visualization – with a long-standing interest the role of media within the creation and production of speculative architectures and environments. She is an educator and leads the postgraduate Entertainment Studio at UCLA Architecture & Urban Design. She is an architect and founding partner of Studio OUR, and the author and editor of Little Worlds (London, 2014); a monograph of projects and essays re-examining the role of the architect within contemporary architectural culture. 

Links:

Deep Fake of Nancy Pelosi <LINK>

Unreal Engine 5 launch <LINK>

William Gibson Article <LINK>

Jun 1, 2020

Just yesterday two astronauts launched into outer space from the United States for the first time in 9 years. Interesting side note, this launch was the first time in 40 years that NASA astronauts launched in a new space craft...The Space Shuttle had been around for over thirty years. Today is a conversation with Jeffrey Nesbit and we’re discussing the book ‘Extraterrestrial’ co edited by himself and Guy Trangos.  In looking to the extraterrestrial, the book is a collection of essays from a range of disciplines about tied to the term- extraterrestrial. And as you’ll here in the discussion today, the book includes an array of perspectives for how the term ‘extraterrestrial’ might be beneficial for exploring our own existence here on earth.  

As Jeffrey mentions during our discussion, extraterrestrial is more than just about that which originates ‘beyond’ our planet. This ‘extra’ along with the word ‘terrestrial’ also includes the heightening, exaggerating and intensifying of what we as humans or a planet might assume to be. Extraterrestrial might not be a found condition existing beyond us but something we strive to become. Becoming extraterrestrial! Now, I may have taken a bit of artistic or editorial license with that last sentence, but I like where it’s going. Maybe we can all strive to be a little more extraterrestrial these days! 

Jeffrey S Nesbit is an architect, urbanist, and recently received his Doctor of Design degree (DDes) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He is a research fellow in the Office for Urbanization at Harvard and founding director of the research group Haecceitas Studio. His research focuses on processes of urbanization, infrastructure, and the evolution of "technical lands." Currently, Nesbit’s research examines the 20th-century American spaceport complex at the intersection of architecture, infrastructure, and aerospace history. He has written several journal articles and book chapters on infrastructure, urbanization, and the history of technology, and is co-editor of Chasing the City: Models for Extra-Urban Investigations (Routledge, 2018), Rio de Janeiro: Urban Expansion and Environment (Routledge, 2019), and New Geographies 11 Extraterrestrial (Actar, 2019). Nesbit has taught architecture and urbanism, along with leading many design studios and theory seminars at Harvard University, Northeastern University, University of North Carolina Charlotte, and Texas Tech University. He also holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Texas Tech University 

A big thanks you to the Graham Foundation in Chicago for supporting this program! 

Until next time...Take care. 

Apr 20, 2020

Jane Hutton is a landscape architect and Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Her research looks at the extended material flows of common construction materials and their social and ecological relations. Recent publications include Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements (Routledge, 2019) as well as an edited volume, Landscript 5: Material Culture – Assembling and Disassembling Landscapes (Jovis, 2017), and Wood Urbanism: From the Molecular to the Territorial (Actar, 2019), co-edited with Daniel Ibanez and Kiel Moe.  

A big thanks you to the Graham Foundation in Chicago for supporting this program! 

Mar 30, 2020

Larry Busbea is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Topologies: The Urban Utopia in France, 1960-1970 (MIT Press, 2007), The Responsive Environment: Design, Aesthetics, and the Human in the 1970s (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), and Proxemics and the Architecture of Social Interaction (forthcoming from Columbia Books on Architecture and the City).  

Mar 16, 2020

Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. He is the co-founder of the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, an art and design consultancy based in Baltimore, Maryland. His work as a designer and researcher is about how we imagine new spaces for future worlds, and about who is invited into them. His first book, Space Settlements—on NASA’s 1970s proposal to construct large cities in space for millions of people—is out now from Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. He received his Masters Degree in Architecture from Yale University. His writing has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, Log, CLOG, Volume, and Domus. His architectural criticism has appeared in the Architects Newspaper, Slate, CityLab, and in the local alt-weekly Baltimore City Paper.

Mar 2, 2020

Christopher Schaberg is Dorothy Harrell Brown Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, USA. In addition to his new book Searching for the Anthropocene: A Journey into the Environmental Humanities, he is the author of  The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flight (2012), The End of Airports (2015), Airportness: The Nature of Flight (2017), and The Work of Literature In An Age of Post-Truth (2018). He is series co-editor (with Ian Bogost) of Bloomsbury's Object Lessons.

Feb 17, 2020

Elisa Iturbe is a critic at the Yale University School of Architecture (YSoA), where she also coordinates the dual-degree program between YSoA and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Her writings have been published in LogDearq, and Pulp, in addition to a forthcoming piece in Perspecta. Most recently she guest edited Log 47, titled Overcoming Carbon Form, an issue dedicated to redefining the relationship between architectural form and our dominant energy paradigm. She also co-wrote a book with Peter Eisenman titled Lateness, forthcoming in May 2020. In addition, she teaches studio, formal analysis, and a course on carbon form at the Cooper Union. She is cofounder of Outside Development, an architectural practice.

Feb 3, 2020

Today is a conversation with Charles Waldheim. Waldheim is a Canadian-American architect and urbanist. Waldheim’s research examines the relations between landscape, ecology, and contemporary urbanism. He is author, editor, or co-editor of numerous books on these subjects, and his writing has been published and translated internationally. Waldheim is John E. Irving Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where he directs the School’s Office for Urbanization. Waldheim is recipient of the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome; the Visiting Scholar Research Fellowship at the Study Centre of the Canadian Centre for Architecture; the Cullinan Chair at Rice University; and the Sanders Fellowship at the University of Michigan 

Today we’re talking about an article he wrote called ‘Aero-Gangplank and the Avant-Gard' which appeared in LOG 46. This episode is called ‘Overcoming Spatial Fixity’.  I’m not sure that’s the BEST title for this conversation but we begin by discussing the development of airports in the 1950’s and the eventual use of gangplanks that get passengers from the terminal to the plane. This moves us to discussions of other examples within architecture that have sought to overcome fixity (from the kinetic movements of the Aero Gangplank, to Clip On’s & Plug In’s of Archigram and others, to the non monumental system architecture of Cedric Price’s Fun Palace. 

I thought it was a great conversation and I hope you enjoy. 

A quick thanks you to the Graham Foundation in Chicago for supporting this program! 

Until next time...Take care. 

Nov 11, 2019
Today is a conversation with Jo Lindsay Walton and we’re discussing a book called ‘Strange Economics’ which is edited by David F. Shultz. The book consists of 23 new science fiction pieces written specifically for the book that foreground various types of economic models.

Jo is a guest editor of ‘Strange Economics’ and wrote the afterward for the book. Jo is also co-editor (with Polina Levontin) of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association. Recent essays and fiction appear in Strange Economics, Science Fiction Studies, Big Echo: Critical Science Fiction, Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow's Architecture, and Economic Science Fictions. 

Sep 23, 2019

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to the book How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, Dr. Barrett has published over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers appearing in Science, Nature Neuroscience, and other top journals in psychology and cognitive neuroscience

Sep 9, 2019

Alexander Eisenschmidt is the author of 'The Good Metropolis, Between Urban Formlessness and Metropolitan Architecture' Birkhauser, 2018 Alexander is a designer, theorist, and Associate Professor at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago, where he teaches design studios and courses in history & theory.

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