Insert Dadaism into Parametricism

What is parametric architecture all about? It’s obviously and shockingly enough about parameters and the way with play with them – of course, we use an algorithmic approach in order to optimize these parameters, but as a parametric enthusiast myself I can’t help but admit that sometimes it’s just entertaining to randomly play with shapes and do a little digital dreaming.

Courtesy of Alessio Erioli

Courtesy of Alessio Erioli

Does Dadaism have anything to do with this? First, let me explain what is Dada, or better said Wat is Dada – as they advertised it in posters from the era. Born in 1916, Dada was an European avant-garde movement, born in Zurich. 3 Romanians, named Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco and Jules Janco left Bucharest and went to study in Switzerland, where they met artist Hugo Ball, and quickly installed the Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub for artistic and political meetings. We’re talking about a time when Marcel Duchamp already created his readymades and coined the term anti-art: the world was changing and so was art (Mona Lisa was wearing a moustache and slamming profanities in Duchamp’s view; you get the picture).

Courtesy of MOMA

Courtesy of MOMA

Dada was all about freedom, the artists were disgusted with war and created a current that stood against generalization or definition. However, it presented some general themes, such as stripping words from their traditional meaning, creating “meaningless” phrases, the birth of abstract collages and photomontages. Basically, the artist had no concern whether the objects crafted by him were in any way aesthetically pleasing, his mission was one more meant to offend and criticize. All art created was “unintended” formally wise, left to be decided by chance, contrary to the meticulously thought of works from previous eras. The artists used mundane objects instead of expensive, luxurious materials, only to prove the ridiculousness of the bourgeois lifestyle.

Courtesy of National Gallery of Art

Courtesy of National Gallery of Art

Tristan Tzara invented maybe the most original way of any time to create a poem, in his “To make a Dadaist poem”:
Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

Unfortunately, there is no Dadaist architecture – of course, it heavily influenced modernist architecture and its dogmas, but although Marcel Janco, one of the founders, was an architect, his Dadaist views were not really inserted into his design approach, appart from the stripping from bourgeois ideology.

Courtesy of Kurt Schwitters (original 1933 photograph)

Courtesy of Kurt Schwitters (original 1933 photograph)

                                      The original Merzbau room, by fellow-dadaist Kurt Schwitters 

Contrary, parametric design is a means of controlling everything in the smallest of details – surely, you can optimize, change and customize basically anything, if you are software-savvy enough. Parametricism and its adjacent digital means are one of the most powerful tools of generating exactly what you want. But funny enough, the specific software can give you the freedom to create the most random art ever – if your goal is to create art that usually can’t be physically built.

Courtesy of Anna Zezula

I know this stands against anything any parametric manifesto has ever stated, but sincerely, if you haven’t “randomized” your work at least once, for the heck of it, in software such as Grasshopper, Processing or Monolith, you might as well just be a corporate sell-out in the divine field of architecture and design.

Courtesy of Joshua L. Jones

Courtesy of Joshua L. Jones

So, I therefore challenge you to DADA up your work, parametric enthusiasts, and don’t be afraid of escaping from your own seriousness – Dadaism is celebrating its 100th anniversary this winter, let’s pay tribute to it by creating our 21st century digital poems and collages.

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