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.