making architecture from virtual tropes
Three decades strong, the Digital Turn is now mature enough to be read as a precedent rather than merely a tool for futuristic forms. Aesthetic fascination throughout the Digital Revolution has cycled through parametricism, cyberpunk, minimalism, and the more recent Vaporwave, New Aesthetic, and Postdigital. The philosophy of Object-Oriented Ontology shapes aesthetic theory and our understanding of the inner lives of things. The aggregation of these influences leads to a new self-consciousness among designers about leveraging digital tropes. In lieu of the road signs and duck buildings of Postmodernism, Digital Postmodernism embraces digital aesthetics and techniques—neon gradients, aggregation, feeds, pixels/voxels, and other ‘signs’ of the digital. Efforts to translate the aesthetics of computer imagery into physical space (and thus into practice) have emerged. Models and architectural follies produced in this vein suggest a material palette for bridging from representation to reality: architects seek to create physical versions of digital models, where the reading of space as being syntactically digital is the point. The implication for practice is thus a return to the linguistic concerns of Postmodernism—in lieu of disciplinary-centricity, however, Digital Postmodernism engages the public’s deep knowledge and familiarity with the tropes of digital space. The grounding of this architectural movement in popular perception suggests the possibility of bringing together architects and public, united in their desire to bridge the parallel worlds of virtual and physical space.