When the Process is the Product: Pollock, Gehry and the Illusion of Randomness

Craig Konyk, AIA
Assistant Professor
School of Public Architecture
Michael Graves College
Kean University

This paper explores the role of randomness in the design process using two examples for the field of art and architecture as illustrative examples: Jackson Pollock and Frank Gehry.  Both Pollock’s and Gehry’s work rely on the revelation of the process as the product.

Jackson Pollock is one of those art world figures that is frequently derided by the average person with a dismissive, “My kid could paint that.” Abstract Expressionism (the combination of the term “abstract” with “expressionism”, two vastly different artistic movements of the 20th century) defined a certain “automatism” of the process of the paint’s actual application, even defining Pollock in a certain sense as the “idiot savant” of the post-war American art scene; child’s play indeed.

Frank Gehry’s study models of torn paper and crumpled foil elicit similar decrees of child-like facileness from the same quarters.  But for all their apparent improvisation, a closer study reveals quite a different narrative.  Contemporary critics of the time, when not dismissing the work outright, were compelled to suggest edits and/or additions, the implication being that the works were somehow “disharmonious” in their present state and in need of adjustment.  But when the process is one that defies easy visual “completed-ness” in the traditional sense, the artist/architect maintains the final arbitration of that “completed-ness”.

The acknowledged acceptance of Polock’s and Gehry’s work as serious endeavors allows a certain liberation for experiment in design, outside of the pragmatics of functionality.  It is not to say that we now all have to “do a Gehry” in order to be “artists”, but we are now in a position to argue for more difference in approach, rather than any narrowly focused expectation of what a design project should look like.  In that respect, as designers, we now have the freedom to allow the process to be revealed and use randomness as a strategy, which enhance and elevate all design investigations.

Multi-modal Interface Design: Communicating Design Through Presentation and Review

Peter Lusch
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State

Danielle Oprean
Post-Doctoral Research Scholar
Stuckeman Center for Design Computing
Penn State

Multi-modal visualization has long been considered important for design communication through representation and presentation, yet it has not been explored through an interface. In this presentation we discuss the outline for our test of use of a new interface designed to provide a multi-modal experience of design representations through the presentation and review processes. This interface is being developed for use in an immersive environments lab, a unique presentation space that allows for large-screen display and virtual reality. Before implementing a new interface, testing needs to be done to identify issues and perceptions of how well it works. We aim to test the feasibility of using a multi-modal interface with advanced-level undergraduate students in the design disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, and graphic design) as a way for them to communicate design through presentation and review. In this presentation we talk about how usability testing allows for the results of actual use of an interface to feed back into improving the overall design. Specifically, we will provide an overview of our application of usability testing in design disciplines to address our hypothesis that being able to view different modalities of design representation at one time is more meaningful to communicate design both during presentation and in the review process. Success of the meaningfulness of the interface will be explored through the TAM model (Davis 1992) of usefulness, ease of use, and behavioral intention. We will also present the primary end point goals for this study, including our human factors study, and our self-report measurement of actual use of the multi-modal interface through questionnaires measuring usefulness, ease of use, and behavioral intention.

INPLACE: Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement

Robert J. Thompson 
Assistant Professor
Graphic & Interactive Design
Department of Art
College of Creative Arts & Communications
Youngstown State University

Terry Schwarz 
Director
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

Kent State University

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation awarded the Department of Art in the College of Creative Arts & Communication at Youngstown State University with a $100,000 “Our Town” grant to fund arts engagement, cultural planning and design projects. Their programs support creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.

The grant authors, Asst. Professor of Graphic Design, Leslie Brothers, Executive Director of the McDonough Museum of Art, and Dominic Marchionda, City-University Planner with Youngstown State University successfully proposed the “INPLACE” project, otherwise known as “Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts through Community Engagement.” INPLACE came together over the course of three years through a unique blend of artists, designers, community stakeholders and civic leadership. It focuses planning initiatives and resources in targeted locations within city-in-revival Youngstown, Ohio to draw on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action and creative output. It is directed toward community driven public art projects that combine storytelling with art and design to create memorable, permanent place-making experiences throughout the city. The NEA chose only 64 of nearly 250 applications from across the nation for funding. INPLACE offers unique opportunities for members of Youngstown’s creative community to play an integral role in this prestigious NEA Our Town grant.

This presentation seeks to present the process of discovery, working with various constituencies within the Youngstown community, mentoring teams into cultivating meaningful, high-quality projects, share project proposals, and provide updates on the INPLACE project, which ends in July 2017.

Idea Incubator: The Architectural Design Studio Experience and the Nurturing of Creativity

Craig Konyk AIA
Assistant Professor of Architecture
School of Public Architecture
Michael Graves College
Kean University

The Education of an Architect in unlike many other disciplines in that the primary vehicle for the teaching of Design is the Architectural Studio. The Architectural Studio has its roots in the Beaux-Arts Atelier model from turn of the century France, where young architectural students would work in the design office of their Architectural Instructors, learning by emulation and association from like-minded colleagues. It was an informal affair, but actually a very encouraging model for creative enterprise.

Growing out of the model of the Artists’ Studio, where leftover, underutilized spaces (mansard attic spaces in Paris, basement space in Coenties Slip and lofts in Soho, Lower Manhattan, etc.) became places of creative production, and even urban rejuvenators, the Architect’s Studio became formalized in American Architectural Professional Education as the central component of a young architect’s path to licensure and professional standing. Without the Architecture Studio, one could not become an Architect.

Additionally, another significant component of the Studio system is the amount of time that is spent in the Studio working on design projects, discussing potential solutions, crafting submissions for final evaluation. The intensity and complete focus of the effort in one place for a sustained period of time creates an atmosphere not unlike a laboratory, where anexperiment is pursued to its logical conclusion. In our increasingly distracted and undirected society, the ability to combine time, singular focus and a space to achieve something of quality is a rare occurrence; one could even say it is a “luxury”. But in fact it is a necessity for one to achieve any significant break through in design.

This presentation will explain the unique properties of the Architectural Studio format, its history and development pedagogically and how elements of it may have application in other focus intensive design disciplines. It will argue that the Architecture Design Studio was a Design Incubator even before the term was given definition.