You start with raw materials — building blocks, if you will. Stone. Brick. Concrete. Iron. Maybe a little wood. Then you work from there. These material realities inform the built environment. The material imperatives can be stretched and twisted — but only up to a point.
But what if the basic unit of the built environment was something else, something bigger? That is the underlying question asked by Japanese artist Aujik in Polygon Graffiti, an augmented reality project that twists buildings around and above a city like wild tentacles. The built form is made of something other than bricks here, it is composed of flexible structures—apartment towers, mainly—that can be stretched like taffy ad infinitum.
The use of augmented reality in Polygon Graffiti represents a new chapter in the longer history of improbable architectural collages. Artists like Anastasia Savinova have piled up buildings such that a basic house comes to serve as the initial building block in a new architectural vernacular. Savinova’s clusters are heavy, neatly interlocking patterns of buildings with no space between them. Savinova’s collages, moreover, are shown from the front; they are improbable, sure, but you can never be certain what is being done to hold them up behind the scenes.
Aujik’s video, on the other hand, plays up the structural absurdity of these bending buildings. It loops and slithers around them, highlighting their absurd forms. As with Savinova’s work, none of these buildings are actually real, but the illusion is all the more apparent when you can see that there is no hidden structure or attempt to explain how they stay upright. They just do! Deal with it.
new spaces snake around the existing urban form
The disregard for engineering in Polygon Graffiti is hardly a route forward for architecture. Aujik’s work does, however, hint at the reality that urbanism’s future will require building in alternate directions. At some point, empty lots in cities will fill up, and air rights (the spaces above buildings) will start to matter more. This, in short, is the future envisioned by Situ Studio’s entry in MOMA’s exhibition “Uneven Growth.” Situ’s proposal is to build on top of buildings and create new routes around them to expand the uses of spaces. Situ’s new spaces snake around the existing urban form, like Aujik’s, but they do so while respecting the laws of gravity. This, in practical terms, is what augmented reality looks like.