Jenny E. Sabin: Datascapes

AAP Spring 2014 Exhibitions

Although there have been tremendous innovations in design, material sciences, bio and information technologies, direct interactions and collaborations between scientists and architects are rare. One approach is to couple architectural designers with engineers and biologists within a research-based laboratory-studio in order to develop new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing in each of our fields. The ability to forgo disciplinary boundaries allows for unique views of similar issues, even at radically different physical and temporal scales.

Jenny Sabin’s practice and research is invested in developing a new material practice in architecture through the generative fabrication of the nonlinearities of material and form across disciplines. Biology presents useful conceptual models to consider, where form is in constant adaptation with environmental events. Here, geometry and matter operate as an active elastic ground — a datascape — that steers and specifies form, function, and structure in context. Seminal references for Sabin’s work include matrix biology, materials science, and mathematics through the filter of crafts-based media including textiles and ceramics. Together, her collaborative work attempts an analogous deep organicity of interrelated parts, material components, and building ecology. In discerning which effects and materials are actually scalable, her practice and research operates across three phases. The first includes new tools and novel methodologies for modeling complex biological behavior; the second entails architectural prototyping at the human scale; the third operates at the scale of ecological building design. This three-pronged approach engages materiality and geometry in multiple contexts, active overlays composed of dynamic data.

Networks inform three featured projects: Branching Morphogenesis, PolyMorph, and eSkin. As with Fourier Tapestry and the myThread Pavilion, the research diversifies into linkages between computation and the binary natures of weaving and knitting that influenced parallel innovations including the contemporary computer and digital space. By investigating loops that filter datasets through material organizations, Sabin’s work seeks to form a bridge between the human body and technology as an active datascape that influences and contributes to an alternative material practice in architecture.

This exhibition showcases Sabin’s work and research over the past six years in the context of her studio practice and trans-disciplinary collaborations. Generative design techniques emerge with references to natural systems, not as mimicry but as trans-disciplinary translation of flexibility, adaptation, growth, and complexity into realms of architectural manifestation. The material world that this type of research interrogates reveals examples of nonlinear fabrication and self-assembly at the surface, and at deeper cultural and structural levels. In parallel, this work offers up novel possibilities that question and redefine architecture within the greater scope of generative design and digital fabrication.

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