OnRamp, SCI-Arc, October, 2012

One of the most interesting architectural payoffs of this new realm is patchiness. Patchiness in terms of the variegated visual effect of a calico cat but also in terms of the “irregular in quality, performance, or intensity”.2 Again, what appears to be a lack, becomes a productive source of strength and beauty. The patchy is different from the parametric in the sense that it is not obsessed with establishing continuity via linear gradients but rather it creates intensive coherence through messy crossovers and sudden shifts in character or capacity. These shifts can be figural and high contrast as in tattoos, or have fuzzy boundaries as in the cat’s furry, rough-edged spots. It remains to be seen the degree to which patchy composite materiality and the aesthetics of patchiness can approach one another and productively align. This should not be a goal of patchiness but rather a possibility. For now, we can happily watch as experiments begin to pop up around SCI-Arc in an almost unconscious desire to move toward patchy, hybrid, composite materiality and away from 20th century material adjacencies, the aesthetics of the linear gradient, and theoretical constructs that favor seamlessness.

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