The Temporal Tower, by Theory Shaw
July 9, 2007, 6:57 pm
Filed under: architecture, second life, Theory Shaw, virtual architecture


(This is Theory Shaw’s essay submission to the Ctrl-Shift-07 competition on Lebenswelt Island – screenshots also by Theory)

“Learn from experience what natural structures men find beautiful, because it is among such structures that men’s aesthetic sensitivity evolved.”  Nicholas Humphry

Theoretical Framework:

The process of evolution has taught us that those species with the most advantageous characteristics will have a greater probability of surviving and in turn passing these along to their offspring.  It has been determined the constitution of these traits is not just physical, but includes psychological schemata as well.  The evolution of these mental traits was especially pivotal in the survival of humans, since we are and have been sorely lacking in any type of self-protection other animals possess.  Given our lengthy evolutionary history amidst the natural environment, we might then infer that these ingrained mental schemata would still have a great impart on how we inform and order our virtual world.  Indeed one of the oldest and most consistent theoretical frameworks of what constitutes art has been its connection to man’s understanding of the natural order.  What makes the virtual realm unique in all the genres of art is its unique combination of the spatial and temporal dimension.  This project takes the stance that the evolution of the language of virtual architecture should not be sought through an unprecedented reinvention, but instead explored and teased out in the middle ground between our temporal and spatial arts.  

Project Description:

Since someone is able to hear conversations transmitted through walls as well cam out and view remote spaces at the same time, avatars can essentially be in two places at once.  The Temporal Tower explores how this characteristic might facilitate a cross-fertilization of ideas between disciplines that rarely intermingle in the real world.  The ascending floors in the Temporal Tower are dedicated to informal conversations in the following disciplines: Science, Psychology, Language, Society, History, Literature, Music, Aesthetics, and Religion.  The ultimate idea being that a conversation overheard on one floor might spark a discussion on an adjacent floor and provide a new perspective to help solve an otherwise entrenched problem.  To further facilitate these impromptu discussions, the building itself visually transmits an avatar’s presence to the rest of the island by changing the color and size of its ‘leafy walls’ when an avatar is near.

In terms of materiality, I tried to both expand and exaggerate the material’s typical associations while at the same time use them somewhat ironically.  For instance, the diaphanous leafy walls, might play into the associations someone might have of a protective forest canopy, while at the same time used somewhat ironic in their bulky girth.  The bark texture used on the vertical element that transcends the height of the tower might recall a feeling of strength, while at the same time betrayed by its sporadic nature.  The concrete’s association of strength is exaggerated in the overly thick floor slabs, while at the same time questioned through its transparency.

Overall this project was an exploration into how the temporal dimension, as defined in both time and materiality, would and could inform the spatial dimension in an effort to tease out a new language of virtual architecture.

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[…] entry for the ctrlshift07 competition is explained in detail on The Arch. But the idea behind the nine floors of his Temporal Tower is collaboration across disciplines. […]

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