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“Planetary Acounting / Scene from a Warehouse”
Perspecta 55, February 2023
This visual exploration is a gesture toward planetary accounting within machine-readable mediums such as building information models. Might the contemporary drawing itself — rather, architecture’s calculable image, riddled with 3D objects and corresponding spreadsheets — participate in more circular economies?

Text by Amelyn Ng, renderings by John Lewtas.

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“From Models to Mirror Worlds”
Cultural Politics 18, no. 3, November 2022
This essay contemplates the media histories and politics of the digital twin: an accurate three-dimensional model designed to offer data-based simulation, predictive capability, and remote control over a material entity. Currently being developed across the spheres of industry, design, and “smart city” governance, digital twins are “digital-physical” databases purporting not only to represent the appearance of an object but also to capture or simulate all changes to its physical and informatic state, down to the bolt or data point. What are the media histories and stakes of a real-time digital simulation of the world? What of the desire to imitate the physical world in fully machine-readable form?

Through three episodes that contribute to the technological imaginary of the twin—the digital factory, the “smart” building model, and the 3D “dashboard” city—it shows how contemporary simulations do not simply reflect reality or create fictional ones but are committed to remaking reality over and over again—each time with greater efficiency, oversight, and predictability.

Illustrations produced by Madaleine Ackerman and Amelyn Ng.

“HOW-TO: Instructional Videos and the Ends of Technicity”
Disc Journal, no. 1, 2024
This is an exegesis of the instructional video—a primary means of architectural upskilling in an age of software. Gone are the days of technical textbooks and user’s guides; while these formats still exist, they are no longer the main source of procedural knowledge. In a post-D. K. Ching modality of troubleshooting over full training, users gain drawing skills by searching for solutions mid-workflow—YouTube demos, in-app tours, and user forums are the new bottomless currency of technical self-help. These new media artifacts have become quintessential postmodern resources for the hobbyist, text-weary design student, and time-poor practitioner alike. 

As individuated online learning and task-based employment become more prevalent, the learn-it-yourself media interface (and its promises of immaterial productivity and future work) becomes a site of quantified subjectivity which warrants further scrutiny.

Image from @disc.journal.

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“Other Ways of Doing Architecture”
Architectural Review Asia-Pacific
Part I, no. 170, June 2022
Part II, no. 172, August 2022
A round-table conversation with five Madrid based architects, on alternative approaches and collective forms of practice since the global financial crisis. Featuring Gabriel Ruiz-Larrea, Camilo García of Husos Architects, Uriel Fogué of elii, Jorge Sobejano (now of Burr Studio), and Pedro Pitarch.

“Models, Technicity, Labor: In Conversation with Amelyn Ng”
PLAT Journal 9.5: Leave Space, September 2021
A conversation with PLAT 9.5 editor Jimmy Bullis about models, databases, resolution, and subscription labor in an era where form (and their sites of power) ostensibly follows information.

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© 2022 Amelyn Ng