What was the role of digital tools in the evolution of the architectural design process? Archaeology of the Digital, an exhibition at Montreal’s Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) curated by Greg Lynn, highlights, in a case study format, the dialogue between computer sciences, architecture and engineering; the foundation for the seminal work of four architects at the end of the 80s and start of the 90s. Lynn expresses his malaise with current discourses on digital technologies in architecture by critics, theorists, journalists and historians. Through this premise, an array of projects are on display by Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Chuck Hoberman and Shoei Yoh, putting into perspective architecture pioneered through digital means.
Eisenmann’s Biozentrum reaches to metaphysical concerns of untheorized formalism, technocrats using the digital to produce designs that create homogeneous spaces; his use of the digital is parametric-based through generative algorithms. Hoberman delves into mechanics, scale and movement wherein the digital acts as a programming medium for a spatial and manufacturing manifestation of folding and collapsing structures. Yoh’s Galaxy Toyama Gymnasium expands the notions proposed by Eisenman through a marriage of optimized engineering and the inherent beauty of natural phenomena. Gehry’s Lewis Residence was a threshold moment in his practice, bridging the gap between analogue methods of design with innovative 3D-software engineering.
Lynn claims that there has not been a real theory and history of the digital, thus, the exhibition intends to present documents and materials for future historians and theorists in the pursuit of knowledge. It is often noted that digital technologies lobotomized architects, designers and students of any critical thinking methodology in their creative processes. Celebrating the past of digital history is a reaction to the utopian speculations on the future of technologies. The CCA does not provide any solutions through this exhibition, rather it seeks to provide the evidence and documentation that deep thought can exist through the digital and aims to stimulate and inspire to further the cause.