Alexander Kim

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-2016




architecture, technology, virtual, speculative




Architectural Technology | Interior Architecture | Landscape Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


In the preface to Delusive Spaces: Essays on Culture, Media and Technology, media theorist Eric Kluitenberg writes that “the delusion of the new”1 pollutes our theorizations of new media. This sort of technocratic fetishization of emergent technologies can only amount to a surfatial investigation of its effects or capabilities. Architectural investigations of virtual reality and other new media systems suffer from this tendency as well. Content-based experimentation and criticism obsess over the simultaneously exciting and daunting prospects of what we can now do or make with recent digital developments. There’s definite value in such endeavors, but frankly, in the grand scheme of things, it’s about as significant as, in the words of Marshall McLuhan, “The stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb.”

This thesis takes an intentionally circuitous route towards an investigation of the virtual to allow a more effective unpacking of the disciplinary ramifications of emergent technologies. While its speculative assumptions launch from current trends in technological developments, the project places the temporal setting in a speculative near Introduction future, when many of the systems we call emergent today will already have been subsumed into mass cultural use. The role of these systems transition in the practice of spatial production from a tool to output physical forms (as it’s regarded today) toward an internalized medium of digital self-actualization. In this setting, the kind of tangible doing and making one might be able to take on from the year 2015 would be considered infantile. Instead, by deploying the objects of this architectural thesis as found artifacts and versions that have emerged out of this speculative history, we might place ourselves in the cultural context of a modal fiction—an approach to the non-real that regards the conditions and logics of other possible worlds with the same criticality with which we analyze our own. Through the lens of this possible world we can then more effectively articulate our relationship to virtual reality by interrogating more realized—albeit fictive—architectural and cultural ramifications of its integration as a medium rather than a tool.


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