Visiting Scholar Seminar: Andrew Witt

The Crystalline and the Hyperbolic: Two Totems and Tactics of Design Mathematics
Seminar, 16 July 2015

Visiting scholar Andrew Witt presents his research:

From proportional systems to projective geometry, architecture has been in a long and persistent conversation with mathematics. With modernism this broadened beyond the projective tools of spatial representation towards a new hyperdimensional mathematics of more operational and experiential ends. This broadening introduced a new lexicon of formal objects and techniques to transcribe design itself into the languages of both technology and illusion.

This lecture will explore two related mathematical constructs—the hypercube and the crystal lattice—whose histories within design unfold, in microcosm, the promises and ambiguities of architecture’s disciplinary engagement with science. From De Stijl to Eisenman, these two concepts appeared and reappeared in transformed but recognizable states, becoming both objects of a folklore of cultural identity and novel methods for the solution of design problems. At once geological and geometric, tactile yet virtual, natural and anti-natural, these constructs demand we confront the tensions and dualities inherent in design’s appropriation of advanced mathematics which tacitly condition our use of digital technology today.

Andrew Witt is an Assistant Professor in Practice in Architecture at Harvard University, where his work explores the intersection of architecture and science, particularly mathematics. Trained as both an architect and mathematician, Witt has a particular interest in a technically synthetic and logically rigorous approach to form. He is also co-founder of Certain Measures, a design science consultancy. He was previously Director of Research at Gehry Technologies, Frank Gehry’s software research start-up, and has consulted on geometry and digital design for Gehry Partners, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, UNStudio, and Coop Himmelb(l)au. He recently published Light Harmonies, a monograph of the architectural photographer Heinrich Heidersberger’s intricate motion photography of virtual light spaces.

Andrew Witt was a Visiting Scholar at the CCA in 2015.

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