Print, online
“From Models to Mirror Worlds”
Cultural Politics 18, forthcoming
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 nor 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, forthcoming
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.

Print, online
“Other Ways of Doing Architecture”
Architectural Review Asia-Pacific no.170, Part I: June 2022
Part II: forthcoming
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.

Related work:

Print and online
“Stories from the Pandemic: A Spatial Survey of Stay-at-home Stress”
Journal of Architectural Education 75:2, Building Stories (September 2021)
In “Figures, Doors and Passages,” Robin Evans contends: “If anything is described by the architectural plan, it is the nature of human relationships... But what is generally absent in even the most elaborately illustrated building is the way human figures will occupy it.” More than a medium for architectural design, how might the plan drawing serve to tell stories of lives actually lived?

Developed over the Fall of 2020 with a grant from Rice University, this project tests a graphical method for interview transcriptions and surveying-bydrawing. Its purpose is to shift the relentless statistical gaze of COVID-19 toward the granular scale of the domestic body, and lend nuance and voice to oft-invisible, unequally felt interior spaces of the pandemic.

Related work:

© 2022 Amelyn Ng