megan's blog

virtual gathering review

BLOW-UP Architecture

I attended a Pratt SoA symposium called "BLOW-UP Architecture," intended to "bring together practitioners active in producing and disseminating media about architecture to discuss means, methods, and issues relevant to interpreting and representing built form." I found myself engrossed by the presentations which discussed print media as processes and forms of abstraction, translation, and criticism that are integral to the evolution of architectural culture. I felt adequately prepared for the event, having had access to the prompt, schedule, and talk summaries beforehand. But, I found the structure of the event to be less than ideal. It was impersonal. There were no breaks between speakers. The talks ran continuously for four hours, beginning at 10 in the morning. Communication was strictly regulated, and most information was accessible only by the host of the event. In the "Q*A" chat box, I was in a room by myself. In the larger conference space, I wasn't even with myself. Only nine frames populated the grid, giving space and recognition to individuals who had prepared lectures for the day. I typed a question, and it was asked for me. The space felt stiff and hostile. Maybe I felt disappointed at these aspects of the event because I have become accustomed to a different level of intimacy and engagement in the Zoom space. When I consider the restrictions that were placed on my participation as an attendee, I understand that there is justification for this arrangement due to the formality of the event. But the standards for a formal gathering translated poorly to the digital space. The event did not offer so much of what a live gathering could/should offer. I wonder if a pre-recorded conversation between the host and speakers, paired with a subsequent live and interactive Q/A with an audience would have improved the event, especially considering the duration of it. I also wonder if I perceive the online space to be more causal, and therefore expect for gatherings to promote similarly informal types of communication?