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Kris Mun & F. Myles Sciotto

USC Architecture

Studio 502 | Spring 2011


Studio Abstract
Crash, The Novel written by JG Ballard describes the relationship between men and machines, between these two agents that are affecting and influencing the existence of each other. It is a feedback that occurs in ways that describes a “transformation of human psychology by modern technology… Ballard asks ‘Do we see, in the car-crash, the portents of a nightmare marriage between technology, and our own sexuality? … Is there some deviant logic unfolding here, more powerful than that provided by reason?’ ” (wiki) Contemporary society is characterised by the established use of devices that engages and sets forth a feedback relationship of our body to the machine. His stories begs us to ask in our context, how do bodies interact with machines, when are machines themselves becoming architecture?

The use of machines in telling of a story can be traced back to the origins of the theatre itself. Indeed both in Ancient Greece with Euripides (4th c, BC) and in ancient Rome with Plautus (1-2nd c BC) machines were used as devices to solve the intricate situations characters were developing through the story. This machine was called, Deus ex Machina (translated as God from the Machine). In reality Deus was an actor entering the scene from the side of the stage. This actor was suspended in a rough wooden crane moved through space with the construction of a series of ropes and winches. Accordingly the last scene of Euripides’ Medea happens to be in a cart that the protagonist takes to escape from the scene. In theatres, machines have been used as devices to mystify, surprise and involve the public in the story. They were effects acting on the sensation of the public. At the same time, Deus ex Machina (translated as God out of the Machine) is to be considered an automaton, a self-guiding machine. This intuits the self-perpetuating cycle of the machine, self-replicating, self-assembling.