Student Name: Joseph Monck

School: Woodbury University

Studio: Smooth Criminal (Studio 10)

Instructor: Anali Gharakhani

Ornament and Architecture share an intrinsic part-to-whole relationship, a building’s ornament is a part that represents the building’s style and character. Like this relationship in architecture, big-tech platforms have logos on all our screens which act as corporate ornaments of the digital realm. An overwhelming acceptance of our new digital reality has allowed these companies, and their logos, to spread like viruses across the globe. This viral-type growth, and these corporate ornaments, serve as the foundation for this degree project’s explorations. By applying the contemporary artistic principles of reappropriation and decontextualization to Big-Tech logos, simple geometric forms manifest. These geometries will serve as the basis for multi-scaler part-to-whole aggregations which simulate viral growth. A growth which will reinfect Big-Tech headquarters in an attempt to Flip the Script on these company’s business practices in favor of the global communities they serve.

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At their naïve beginnings, the majority of online social media platforms are founded on the philosophy of a free internet. A philosophy structured on the foundations of inclusive community communication and an emancipation of information and perspective from the recently historical models of distillation. Since their proliferation, Big Tech platforms have been ferociously accepted by the masses, making these conveniences the standard for online, and real life, community interaction ever since. Over this time practically every global citizen has succumbed to this new digital normal, transforming themselves from customer to commodity.

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Due to the overwhelming acceptance of the free internet philosophy, Big Tech platforms have spread like viruses across the globe, infecting the global population’s individual and communal lives. A spread that is visually similar to that of a Slime Mold’s ornamental growth across its host surface in search food sources. These platforms are now represented on everyone’s screens by their iconic branding logos. Logos that have become the corporate ornaments of our contemporary digital landscape, and the new focal points of our global community discourse. It is these online ornaments and biological growth patterns which will serve as the foundation for formal explorations geared towards the goal of realizing an architectural typology which will re-infect Big Tech headquarters as regulatory entities. Entities tasked with insuring that equitable community interaction and user rights are paramount to corporate profits, and an architecture which serves as a nexus for the transmission of ethical practices in design technology. An architecture which will Flip the Script on Big Tech, using their own consumer business practices and workflows against them.

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By applying the contemporary artistic principles of decontextualization and reappropriation to the branding icons of various Big Tech platforms, a formal critique of Big Tech’s persuasive technology application for user exploitation will be made. These branding icons will serve as the basis for developing the three-dimensional building blocks of a discrete viral part to whole aggregation which will infect a chosen host company’s infrastructure and workplace. Flip the Script is a speculative design project which attempts to destabilize our current understanding of human relationships with technology and online presence; With the ultimate goal of this thesis being the creation of architectural form, space, and program which will speak and act in the best interests of the contemporary global community. An architecture which has the potential to embody the philosophies of a free internet while attempting to inject ethical utility into contemporary ornament application.

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An ethical utility synonymous with the cultural and ritualistic elements intrinsic to the part to whole relationship ornamentation had during its preliminary historical applications. Much like architectural memorials across the world that warn against repeating cultural mistakes, this proposition is meant to serve as a precautionary tale for the future which keeps us mindful of the idea that our creations most often take on a life and form all their own, devoid of our best intentions. It is for this reason that architecture must attempt to engage all communal environments, even the digital, as the discourse is best suited for the planning of space and interaction in all its forms.

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This project is an attempt to destabilize our current understandings of human relationships with technology and online presence with the intention of finessing the viewer into addressing their misgivings face to face.