Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On Losing My Creativity: My life as an Indie Movie

DT Chicago Parking Towers
May 2010
personal collection


I've felt numb for quite some time now, sort of like a character in those indie flicks where they move sluggishly about doing mundane things and they look so let down by life. Have you ever seen the movie Sidewalls? It's an Argentinian movie set in Buenos Aires. It moves at an extremely slow pace, and shows the city in all its eccentric, overpopulated glory. My thoughts aspire to be the picturesque montages and monotone, yet poetic narration of a city growing so fast - in the pinnacle of the digital age - and yet the two characters that seem to be moving at the pace of an all-too-common snail. The one I most relate with happens to be the woman. She is an Architect that can't find a job practicing and instead is working as a Display Artist for a clothing store.  The other character is a man, and the two happen to be perfect for each other, but they haven't yet met. Other examples of my indie stupor are: Everything Must Go with Will Farrell, Tiny Furniture with Lena Dunham, and that's all I can muster to think of at this moment....


In my movie the Indie Stupor scenes would be: 1) me siting in front of my computer/laptop/ipad flipping through random web pages of things I would like to do, but am not in any way doing (i.e. interior design, fashion/styling, traveling, web design, art, painting, photography) 2) me lying on my couch like a complete vegetable flipping through Netflix 3) me, on the floor, in front of the television attempting to do yoga 4) me, in front of my closet, staring at my clothes - and I am naked, and finally 5) me, looking through the blinds of my bedroom window, wondering if the mailman has arrived/watching the mailman drop off an expected package. Throughout the movie you will see that I, too, have studied Architecture, and I may occasionally look back at my various projects from school.  It would play out as that moment in an indie film where you start to understand the root of that pain you've been seeing all along on the main character's face. You are waiting for the source to be revealed: "Why is she so sad/dazed/beaten?" you will ask yourself, "What in the world happened to her that made her hide from life?"


Friday, May 18, 2012

Philosophical Inquiry of The Day [PIOTD]: To Be An Architect, Or To Do Something Else With A Background In Architecture? [Part I]

A couple of weeks ago I was working one of my part time jobs at the lovely Urban Outfitters and I had an interesting conversation with the last gentleman I helped that evening, as my shift came to an end. This is how it started:

Me: "Would you like your receipt printed or emailed?"
Customer: "Oh!? Emailed would be nice." (paraphrasing)
Me: "Alright, what is your email?"
Customer: "_______@berkeley.edu."
Me: "Berkeley? Cool. What are you studying?"
Customer: "I studied Architecture."

I was overcome by excitement as I had found a fellow brave soul.  I wanted desperately to find out if he - let's call him George -  was faring better than I in this horrid economy. In short, George had graduated from Berkeley with a BA in Architecture a handful of years ago. He was now working as a middle school teacher somewhere in Los Angeles, and - here comes the interesting part - he LOVES it. I was slightly confused and very surprised, though I portrayed a fake enthusiasm at the idea that he was teaching middle school-aged kids, complete with the high-pitched voice and head cocked ever-so-slightly to the side. I was so curious to know how poor George had settled for this nightmare of a job. He must be miserable (or so I thought). It turned out George had worked at a number of Architecture firms after his graduation from UC Berkeley and quickly came to the conclusion that he did not enjoy working in the field of Architecture - the hours were too long and the work was certainly not fulfilling. I immediately felt a kinship - I was not alone in my misery and confusion about the field I had seriously been considering running away from. After realizing that working in an Architecture firm, and eventually becoming a licensed Architect was not his calling, George began working with Middle Schoolers (I don't know the exact details of how this came to be) and realized he wanted to be a teacher. He is currently getting his teaching credentials at UCLA and is teaching Mathematics as well as an elective class in Photography. We bonded over our love of the Concept of Architecture and we both agree that we would not go back and change the fact that we had studied Architecture. George said that teaching his elective course is so fulfilling because he gets to teach his kids to about the beauty of photography. His teachings are very much influenced by what he learned in Architecture school. There is a lot of value in getting an Architecture Degree without the ultimate goal of becoming a licensed Architect. The Dean of the Architecture Department at Cal Poly, SLO once said: "Architecture is the Liberal Arts Degree of the Twenty-First Century!" And I have to say, I agree.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think everyone should just major in Architecture for the hell of it. While I admit, most of the time I had no idea what I was doing and my college career is a major blur due to the countless sleepless nights, rigorous class schedules, endless assignments, and the myriad of hours sitting in front of a computer screen and orbiting around my 3D model to no avail, I got a lot out of my degree. I'm still figuring most of it out, but I know those 5 years (6 for me) have given me many valuable skills that I can apply to the real world as well as to any job I set my heart on. I came across a discussion topic posted on the popular site Archinect that read: "To be an Architect, or to do something else with a background in Architecture?" I ask myself this every day in hopes that I will have an "AHA moment" and all my problems will be solved.

So now, for the fun of it, here are a few people that studied Architecture and are now doing something else with their lives:

Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck:
image courtesy of fillyourwell.blogspot.com
This architecturally themed meals-on-wheels, aka farchitecture (food + architecture), was created by Natasha and Freya in 2008 in Los Angeles, CA as a result of a not-so-booming economy. They have combined ice cream with architectural dialogue and named their business after Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus. They are bomb.
image courtesy of laist.com


Vanessa Hirschowitz Jewelry Design:

 Vanessa studied architecture and art history at Barnard College and received her Masters in Architecture from Columbia University in NY in 1993. She practiced architecture in NYC while studying metalwork and then in early 2000 decided to practice jewelry-making full time. These are just some examples of her many works of art.


images courtesy of vline-design.com

These ladies inspire me to find what works for me, and just frickin' do it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Question Of the Day [QOTD]: Why Did I Start My Blog?

Picture taken from Empire State Building
Spring 2010
New York, NY

I started my blog in 2009 when I had recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia during my 5th year of college in San Luis Obispo. Alexandria, known as The WAAC (Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center/Consortium), is an off-campus program that is an extension of Virginia Tech's Architecture program, where a handful of faculty and students from all over the world come together and pretend like they are teaching and learning, respectively (more on this in a later post).

Back to why I started my blog: My classmate introduced me to Blogger. He described it as an "online journal" where he wrote his project statements (these are a crucial thing for architects, which I will explain later), or simply wrote down his thoughts. "You can opt to publish it, or keep it private," he said about each post (and I'm paraphrasing). It sounded like a great tool to keep your thoughts in order without the fear of losing them - it almost replaced the need for a sketchbook - almost. So there I was in a strange, new city, on the other side of the country, for the first time in my life, and the idea of keeping an online journal with my thoughts and projects sounded phenomenal. So what was I gonna call it? It didn't take me long for "On Life and Architecture" to pop into my head. For obvious reasons "Architecture" is in the title. I was, after all, an Architecture Student, participating in the most looked-forward-to event of my Architectural studies: your year "Abroad." So, Life. Why Life? Well, that seemed obvious to me as well. Life Happens. It always does - the one thing you cannot control is Life. "The only constant is change," blah, blah, so on and so forth. I just put two and two together and left it at that, without thinking much of it. Little did I know how that year in Alexandria would prove to me how much life just happens. It solidified my relationship with my blog, but I didn't know it yet.

I may have started my blog in 2009, and by that I mean I posted a few "thoughts" and gave it its title. I also posted two of my projects that I worked on while studying at The WAAC. But that was it. It was left mostly neglected even until recently. I haven't shown much TLC to my "Bloggerino" (as Kandee Johnson says. She is a makeup artist with her own blog and you can find her at Kandeej.com) - until today! This marks the day - and post - of my soon-to-be-remodeled blog!

In short, after getting through The WAAC program, making it back home to California, starting my 6th - and final - year in Architecture school, finishing my thesis project, moving to Santa Monica, CA, and after almost a year since graduating with my BARCH, still remaining JOBLESS, I got some questions on my mind. There are numerous things I want to explore, questions I want to ask and attempt to answer, both to help find closure, as well as to grow as an individual and as a Designer and Artist. This will be my space to explore and take a hard look in that mirror. But I also want this to be a place of creativity. I want to talk about what inspires me, I want to discuss Theories, Philosophies, Design, Art, Architecture, Fashion, Cities, Society and Life. I believe Architecture encompasses all things and Life is what fuels it all. So here is: to Life and Architecture! Cheers!

-Perla

Picture courtesy of the Internet

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Thoughts

This is an oldie, but a goodie that I wrote a little over two years ago...

I'm beginning to think that we just go through life trying to understand it, trying to dissect it and make sense of what has happened to us and how we have been shaped by our experiences. I believe that this life of ours is something we cannot control but want to believe that we can, we want to think that we make our own choices and that we have a say in the way our life turns out, and while we may have some control, there is always something unpredictable about every action we take. Every decision we make has a myriad of potential outcomes and sometimes all we can do is wait for that outcome and react accordingly.

We try to understand our lives, the way they turned out, what we chose to do, how we acted, how certain situations played out. Sometimes the best we can do is look back and simply try to reason the past, or understand it and give it a definition. Or there are those times we try to come up with the way we would have wished things to happen. We fantasize about how our personal, little novel of our lives could have, should have played out. Many times we cannot let go of the past and wonder why the rest of our life has moved on when we clearly could not.

And love, let's not even get started on love because of all the feelings in life, of all the things we wish to change, wish to relive, wish to forget, well, they almost always have to do with love. It's the most complicated feeling a human being can experience. it's the feeling that is the most powerful. It can cause unbelievable pain and agony, and this same feeling can also cause the most happiness, the most blissfulness. it can be full of youthful innocence, as well as wear a mask of corruption that taints all that it touches.

life and all of its vicissitudes can be unpleasant. Life, as we know it, can turn into hell, there may be so much we cannot change and so much we cannot control, but i like to think that it is a bit of a give and take. That although we cannot control everything about our actions and their reactions, we may still have the opportunity to guide our lives. And that guidance, as minimal as it may seem, can be a powerful thing, because, if you think about it, total control of your life is a potential for disaster. As my father always says, "you have to find a median in everything." Have a little bit of "control" but also allow life to throw shit at you, and deal with it to the best of your abilities.

-Perla

You Can Never Run Away From Life...

One of the best feelings in the world is that of starting afresh. That cleansing feeling when a new chapter is about to open and all that can be done is look forward to what life will bring, while recognizing and accepting the mistakes of the past. Closure was the final chapter. And now a clean slate, a blank canvas waiting to be painted on with new emotions, new knowledge, new adventures. The feeling of invincibility....

And yet, the vicissitudes of life never fail to make themselves present. Another city, another country, new friends and acquaintances, a new job. None of these will stop life's course. And worst of all, the mistakes of the past - those whose lessons were supposed to be learned - come back. Maybe in a different form, maybe in a different time, but in essence, exactly the same.

Therein lies the challenge of life. Ask: "What do I want from life?" and follow it, fight for it without end until its achievement. Seek truth, above all else. Neither Fear nor guilt should stand in the way. Relearn those lessons if need be, but there is no stopping, no giving up, no cowardice, no insecurities, just honesty, truth, and an insurmountable feeling of certainty.

And with that, my next chapter begins....

Reminiscing With My Psyche

I am so much, yet I am nothing.... I have learned many lessons, yet I have an insurmountable amount of knowledge to attain... I believe in many things, yet I leave some of those beliefs behind and discover new ones to take their place..... As my vocabulary increases, I take the simple words for granted and yet my thoughts become even more impossible to articulate.... I gain strength, courage, and confidence, yet as my outer shell becomes harder, my inner self is more often lost and vulnerable.... My path through life that I so clearly saw and followed years before becomes blurred and strange; I often wonder if it was ever mine to begin with, but I continue to follow it in search of a sign, of proof that it, in fact, will lead me to truth, to happiness.... I question many issues and injustices in my life, in this World, yet I allow myself to be ignorant to many others.... I am kind, sensitive, and generous, but also vain, selfish, and indifferent.... I want, take, and give... I live, hurt, and love...I am so much, yet I am nothing...

-Perla.

I wrote this about two and a half years ago and it was just as true then as it is now. I know I have grown, a part of me has changed, yet my inner self is so much the same as it was two years ago, maybe even the same as it was in High School. I believe that as much as we grow up and face the world - learn from it, there is still some innocence inside us all - for we don't know everything. Our experiences change us, though pain and joy, though sorrow and ecstasy. They say wisdom comes with age. All we need is to carry ourselves with conviction, the rest will follow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

CP: 5TH[year]2010|11: THESIS: BIO-CITY_2020



It is the Year 2020 and Shanghai, China is a booming city, much like it was before. Its rich, truly multicultural history has allowed it to be open to experimentation. In a time when high technology has become the subject of our obsessions, we are in constant need of more research, more electronic products, more server space, more wireless networks. We dream of robots coexisting with our society. Shanghai has stepped up to become the Hub of the High Technology Industry. A city for the Highly-educated scientific professional has emerged.

This city - known as “Bio-City” - exists independently from old Shanghai. It has its own jurisdiction, its own rules, and is completely dedicated to Universities around the world in order to create an area for research, teaching, learning, and production in industries such as Biotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Nuclear Physics, Telecommunications, Aerospace, and the like. Universities such as MIT, Oxford, Harvard, University of Hong Kong, Kyoto University and other top universities worldwide have established graduate and PhD programs in Bio-City in order to build toward the future.

Each ball has its own subject of research. the biggest ball is called “The Brain.” it is the Telecommunication ball and it is dedicated not only to researching this field, but also to providing the servers for the rest of the balls. Bio-City operates through a server\client relationship. The smaller balls within the larger cages house the computers that allow for constant communication with each other though strings of fiber optic cables that attach each cage to “The Brain.”

The Future city is for the Highly-Educated Professional.


The district of Pudong
Bio-City view toward Pudong
View from Huangpu River
View across Huangpu River looking toward Pudong
Bio-City

Bio-City Section
Bio-City Plan
Bio-City Master Plan
For the physical section model I constructed the cage-like structure using a rapid prototype machine. The interior and the base were constructed out of laser-cut chip board.
model of "The Brain"
section model of The Brain over Pudong

Design Process: Animations

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3D attractor points
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Attractor Points: 3D Cube: Axonometric View: Top Corner
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Attractor Points: 3D Cube: Axonometric View: Bottom Corner