Dear Bengler AS,

My name is Anran and I am a first year MArch student at MIT, having previously studied at Stanford University. I attended the inspiring presentation Even Westvang gave a few weeks ago. I have never been so excited about the prospects of computation, especially in relation to architecture. If I could have a moment of your time, I would like to share some of my work and explain why (even though I am studying a different field) I would like to intern at Bengler.

In my architecture work, I have been finding a way to integrate computation and parametrics beyond a means of generating complex forms, creating interactive pieces, and optimizing for performance. Maybe I believe in changing the world, but I think coding will and is changing the way we think at a deeply primitive level and that in order for architecture to utilize computation meaningfully, we must create with it broad social values. Computers are creating culture!

I wanted to share one ongoing project for my current studio course. We are designing a paradoxical library near a train station in Boston. I began studying the unofficial text of the station (the historical 'asignifiers', like Tweets and posters). What are people reading at the station?

 

 

In the first phase of site analysis (image one, above), I used the Twitter API to search for tweets about the train station. Because 140 characters is often not long enough to get to the station, I also appended each Tweeter's first friend's first Tweet. This is an imagining of what people might be reading on their way to the station. These Tweet strings are then flowed along Google-maps exported paths from the Tweeter's location to the station. The kerning and weight of the font were adjusted to create the most legible gradient of commuter density. As a result, when the viewer begins to read (an imagining of) what people are reading on their way to the station, they are gleaning information about the commute situation itself.

 

 

In the second phase (image two, above), I made a data set of all of the text one can see near the station. For each string of text taller than 2.5 cm (1 inch), I measured its size and spacing, as well as recorded GPS coordinates and orientation of each sign. These were translated to font properties in the map. In contrast to the first, a particle repulsion definition was used to disentangle sets of parallel texts to create a fairly legible map. As shown in this map, the 'asignifiers' read more strongly than any official text. For example, the official Lechmere Station sign is lost in the field of text while the rug and antique stores are most legible.

The project is ongoing, and has continued to incorporate Flickr data. Currently, a roof to encourage both isolation and interaction is being designed. The roof supports social values by opening and closing as well as raising and lowering using a single twisting mechanism. The final design will be a library that creates a forum where crowd-sourced knowledge can be gathered and dispersed.

The importance of computation to my work in architecture is evident in my work. As for the gap between media technology and architecture, the distinction is merely that of a digital environment vs. one of a built environment. The former is fluid and immediate while the latter is firm and tends to incorporate developments in art and technology a decade too late. I want to work at Bengler because it is creating dynamic and impactful projects at the forefront of media arts. Your work is groundbreaking, and culturally relevant. It carries with it a discreetly critical attitude. This is work that I admire and would like to bring into the built environment. I hope a potential internship at Bengler can turn into a lasting, meaningful dialogue between the virtual and built environments. 

For the company, I can deliver modest software and hardware skills (please refer to resume) in addition to contributing sensibilities and discourse on design. Below, I am providing my portfolio and resume and original files for the two drawings above. If I am to be considered for the internship position, it is important to note that I have a US passport. I will ensure on my part that the necessary documents and coverage for a work VISA are prepared beforehand.

Thank you for your consideration!

Best wishes,
Anran Li
hello /at/ anran.li