Second Skin Architecture: Mining Deep Mind

Science fiction writers have been known to go to extreme lengths to mine the depths of their minds for ideas. Science fiction Grandmaster A.E. van Vogt was well-known for his self-created "dream therapy" system, developed in the 1940's. It allowed him to increase his writing output and mine the other 90% of his mind:

"I took the family alarm clock and went into the spare bedroom that night, and set it for an hour and a half. And thereafter, when I was working on a story, I would awaken myself every hour and a half, through the night - force myself to wake up, think of the story, try to solve it, and even as I was thinking about it I would fall back asleep. And in the morning, there would be a solution for that particular story problem. Now, that's penetrating the subconscious, in my opinion. It's penetrating it in a way that I don't think they'll be able to do any better, thirty centuries from now.
(From Dream Makers: The uncommon people who write science fiction, by Charles Platt)


(From Second Skin Architecture)

Here it is only half a century later, and architecture students are trying to do it better. In the Second Skin project, students are now taking the plunge into deep mind - with added support from AutoCAD and 3D StudioMax.

Here's how it works:

Each student listens to a trance-inducing audio track that is designed to evert architecturally based forms from the unconscious. The students draw their impressions on paper in a trance state, and record a detailed description of their impressions, such as specific qualities relating to size, form, structure, materials, viewpoint, kinaesthetic and proprioceptive experiences related to their own Second Skin.

The next stage of the project involves everting this information into a format that can be objectively assessed, mapped, processed and reconfigured. The aim is to build a model of an intratypical dwelling...

The Second Skin is an architectural space that corresponds to an enlarged self, that comprises aspects of memory, brain function and deeply rooted notions of protection and shelter.


(From Second Skin)

The Second Skin project has been run at such diverse institutions as the Architectural Association in London, the Academy of Art, Gdansk, Poland, as well as at the International Festival of Media in Architecture "Beyond Media", Florence, Italy,and the Faculty of Architecture at San Luis Obispo, CA.


(From Second Skin)

Read more about it here. The Dream Makers books (there is a part II as well) contain great interviews, but are out of print.

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