Philippe Morel. Computation as Mind of the Money

CAAD talk #38
WED 3. DEC 2014 17:00 HPZ F

EZCT_Architecture_06
Photo of the first fully continuous and lightweight spatial lattice made of high performance fibre-reinforced concrete (here DuctalÆ UHPC) ©EZCT Architecture & Design Research, 2013.

In a well-known sentence about the unlimited power of money and logics, Marx once stated that “logic is the money of the mind”. This was certainly true in the mechanical era during which money was still mostly made – and based on – of rare elements, i.e. silver of gold. This fact involved a finite relationship between a (limited) quantity of matter and a corresponding (limited) quantity of circulating currency. Thanks to the recent development of high speed algorithmic trading and of course after the Jamaica Agreement (1976) which acted the official end of the Gold Standard, it seems that the most important parameter in contemporary economics is embodied by computation, whose power for creating money seems unlimited… This fact, puzzling for the ones who see computation as a way to reach distributed knowledge, wealth and freedom, is certainly one of the most essential characters associated with the global computational turn of western societies at the beginning of XXIst Century. Therefore, the lecture will address the political power and illusions associated to some of the (radical) contemporary computation-based politics.

Philippe Morel is an architect and theorist, cofounder of EZCT Architecture & Design Research (2000). He is Associate Professor at the ENSA Paris-Malaquais where he directs the Digital Knowledge program, as well as invited Research Cluster Master at the Bartlett. Prior to the Bartlett he has taught at the Berlage Institute (Seminar and Studio) and at the AA (HTS Seminar and AADRL Studio). His long lasting interest in the elaboration of a Theory of Computational Architecture is well expressed by some of his first published essays (including The Integral Capitalism, 2000-2002; Research On the Biocapitalist Landscape, 2002; Notes on Algorithmic Design, 2003; Notes on Computational Architecture, 2004; A Few Precisions on Architecture and Mathematics, Mathematica Day, Henri Poincare Institute, Paris, January 2004; or Forms of Formal Languages: Introduction to Algorithmics and Bezier Geometry with Mathematica, 2005). Philippe Morel lectured in various places (including MIT Department of Architecture, A Few Remarks on Epistemology and Computational Architecture, Lecture, March 2006; Architectural Association, Information Takes Command, 2007; The Laws of Thought, 2008; Pangaea Proxima, 2008; or recently What is computationalism?, 2012). In February 2007, he curated the exhibition Architecture beyond Forms: The Computational Turn of Architecture at the Maison de l’architecture et de la ville PACA in Marseille. Explicitly departing from Eisenman’s dissertation The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture (1963) the exhibition addressed both historically and theoretically the linguistic and computational turns in architectural design. Philippe Morel book Empiricism & Objectivity: Architectural Investigations with Mathematica (2003-2004), subtitled A Coded Theory for Computational Architecture, exhibited at ScriptedByPurpose (Philadelphia, Sept. 2007), is to be considered the first architectural theory book entirely written in code. EZCT work, present in the FRAC Centre and Centre Pompidou permanent collections, as well as in private collections, has been presented recently in the exhibition Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital at the Museum of Arts and Design in NY.