Methods of AssemblyMethods of Assembly

Investigating Informal    Societal Participation

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2. Assembly

assembly |əˈsemblē|

noun ( pl. -blies)

1 a group of people gathered together in one place for a common purpose : an assembly of scholars and poets.

  • a group of people elected to make laws or decisions for a particular country or region, esp. the lower legislative house in some U.S. states : the Connecticut General Assembly.

2 the action of gathering together as a group for a common purpose : a decree guaranteeing freedom of assembly.

• a regular gathering of the teachers and students of a school : catcalling occurred during the assembly.

  • (usu. the assembly) chiefly historical a signal for troops to assemble, given by drum or bugle.

3 [often as adj. ] the action of fitting together the component parts of a machine or other object : a car assembly plant.

• a unit consisting of components that have been fitted together : the tail assembly of the aircraft.

  • [usu. as adj. ] Computing the conversion of instructions in low-level code to machine code by an assembler.

ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French asemblé, feminine past participle of asembler (see assemble ).


Directly or indirectly, much of an architecture student’s time in school is spent on the process of assembly.  While researching a site, organizing a program or creating a final design proposal, assembly allows us to take overwhelming amounts of information and opportunity and condense it into organized packages that represent and communicate for easy or at least easier consumption.  During this process, the desire for communicability often requires us to streamline information with edited content that only includes the most important nuggets of information.  Anomalies are often regarded as important, so a unique curve along one side of a project’s site often results in a strong design element that includes a similar unique curve as if the curve that became stuck in the designer’s mind needed further recognition to be noticed by others.

Digression focuses on anomalies, causes blindness to everything else that might just be normal, banal or boring.  This is clearly connected to programming as anything that is given a defined use limits what could be used in many different ways to singular functions.  As such, a post titled Assembly has, through a process of digressions and focused editing, become an argument against assigning explicit definitions to limited, in themselves banal, one dimensional critiques of traditional views on architecture.  How linear, how boring.

Im interested in studying quite the opposite of this type of assembly.  Assembly as an intensity of flows rather than reaching narrow end points.  Lets Restart.

Assembly is what allows invisible methods an ability to become representable entities for the masses to recognize and adopt for their own needs.  As a catalyst, assembly allows for the flow between inputs and outputs that guide in “material” creation by playing an active role in generating solutions from the opportunity within the machine.  With respect to the traditional view of factory based production, Assembly is less about the process of parts being constructed and more about the final engine produced that turns energy into opportunities to control and accelerate movement.  Digitally, engines take on the form of social websites such as Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia as they catalyze human energy into recognizable movement.

My investigation approaches assembly by looking at how individual pieces join in the process of making something larger than itself.  This can occur in a material way through the process of building or in a non material way as individuals form groups to accomplish a single task.

Assembly based on objects uses the traditional idea of assembly, taking place in a dedicated factor; this factory produces engines and that factory produces displays...  Refocused, the people within assembly is something that is currently shifting beyond those involved in production as an anonymous part of industry to recognize individual input.  The shifted focus from objects to people drastically changing the idea of assembly from taking place in a dedicated factory with dedicated employees on dedicated lines to a wider scope of the population that carry a minimum set of tools and ability.  Production studios now compete with webcam equipped laptops for viewers attention as the people within assembly became both the creator and consumer of the content.

Personal creation empowers people by connecting themselves more directly to others.  Fundamentally, intrinsic motivation is derived from the human will to create and share with others so they can contribute towards a good that is greater than themselves.  Entire industries are becoming dematerialized and distributed and as a result are becoming industries that invite active participation from every member.  The final product is taken over by the consumers, leaving professionals to question what makes them a professional; and in the process is opening new perspectives on how their position as a professional may depart from a clearly defined position to become incorporated within a larger system.  The situation allows for new "workplace" positions that are less defined but further available to opportunity that can provide more meaningful service for society and culture.

Professional level assembly shifts from finite products to open ended assemblies that become foundations for society, being used as playgrounds of opportunity.  When do-it-yourself culture becomes more than weekend projects; facilitating amateur creation becomes important and even highly sought after.  An infrastructure of opportunity creates more possibilities than could ever be planned using the traditional system of limited, single path communication between broadcaster and receiver. Online, opening communication to everyone has sprouted systems for interface and connection such as Facebook, Flickr, Wikipedia, Ushahidi and Hunch.  Users invest incredible amounts of time and energy in an environment that they may feel better reflects their own identity as they progressively form a digital representation of themselves, sharing what they make and know with the world.

A systems based on intensifying flows and establishing new paths for assembly to flow creates assemblies that further initiates action by allowing for professional expertise to remained focused on creating design solutions that are highly valued by end users because it provides them with solutions that become packaged within their own personal contribution in creating a “product” that is tailored to their unique needs.  This begins to realize truly universal design in a sense that underlying, basic (although highly complex) truths can be recognized throughout populations in society while also recognizing each individual and their unique needs and desires that cannot be condensed down to a common normal.

Designed solutions dominate modern society’s consciousness when tasked with problem solving situations.  The explosion of new development channels online prove there is room for growth for creating solutions beyond shelves full of packaged solutions.  Informal invention takes place in the instant its happening as intuition and human nature create and adapt solutions in the moment needed.  By investigating assembly, it is my goal to better understand the nature of assembly within people and society to leverage natural, intuitive ways of making to integrate the process of assembly that is executed at both a system and personal level.

1. Method

method |ˈmeθəd| noun (often method for/of)

a particular form of procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, esp. a systematic or established one : a method for software maintenance | labor-intensive production methods.

• orderliness of thought or behavior; systematic planning or action : historical study is the rigorous combination of knowledge and method.

  • (often Method) short for method acting .


there is method in one's madness there is a sensible foundation for what appears to be foolish or strange behavior. [ORIGIN: from Shakespeare's Hamlet ( ii. ii. 211).]

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [prescribed medical treatment for a disease] ): via Latin from Greek methodos ‘pursuit of knowledge,’ from meta- (expressing development) + hodos ‘way.’

Historically, methods have been, largely, a fixed element in the process of production. The way one holds their pencil does not generally change compared to the vast range of different drawings that a single method of pencil gripping can produce. Although, when changes occur within the method it can shake the system. Change the method for holding the pencil and it could potentially change an entire approach to drawing. If the way the pencil is held is re conceived or experimented with during the process of making an additional level opens up that potentially changes what it means to draw and if the hand even has anything to do with it anymore.

Take for instance, Tim and Nick’s drawing machine; their device re-conceives the method for which drawing is approached by creating a machine to hold the writing utility instead and relegating the hand to make the infrastructural machine and write an instruction set of code. The potential for making is further widened to perform tasks that are outside the zone of possibility that our own hands can achieve. Sure, some “hand made” qualities are lost but become the hand is re- visible as the process of making now becomes the focus instead of the finished, finite product. Additionally, the method for making the machine itself, based on cnc design techniques, is expanded in opportunity from what is possible with traditional cnc machines. The machine departs the sterile, controlled “print room” for deployment and application to any surface. In Detroit this weekend for the Makers Faire; I'm sure many of the products there (as in life) can be considered reiterations or tweaking of a well-known process for assembly, I wonder how many of the devices find invention or reinvention through a change in method?

I understand method as the way something is approached, the point of view that is taken and the qualities of perception that are recognized to be taking place through awareness. These are all, often, invisible things, which encourages the use of examples to help explain, because what is produced is often representative of the underlying methods. We recognize finite products instead of the methods that exist below the surface. Instead of further attempting to explain method, it is more important to recognize method as separate from assembly, process or action that takes place from a certain method.


0. Preface

Methods of Assembly is a research initiative that is focused on how modern society, digital culture and the physical environment are put to use to provide a single, total experience that is more connected to individuals in personally adaptable ways that provide not just a blank slate, but perceptible opportunity in which engagement and contribution can occur directly through the process of making and sharing. This initiative studies multiple levels, through different mediums, ranging across disciplines in an attempt to study, document and synthesis the methods that give way to assembly which become solution, and often packaged products.  Like the skin of an onion, there are many layers to peel away before reaching the middle but it is important to include each layer in the study because the layers are what represent the core, as the core is nothing and practically invisible without the layers that make up what we know to be an onion.

Entries will consist at the beginning by explaining the foundation of my exploration that has led me to an investigation through Methods of Assembly.  Entries will precedingly frame what exactly is going to be studied and discussed and will be accompanied by examples from methods of assembly that are already taking place within our society.

In many ways, what is sought after already takes place online, disconnected from the physical environment because modern societies' digital reality is largely incompatible with a physically static reality of the “real world.”  I am driven to investigate assembly as a way to connect my education as an architect and my understanding of design with the needs of our modern society and spaces that are a true reflection of today’s digital, metaphysical, physical reality giving place-making a connected culture for the future.

It is my goal, through the Research of Methods of assembly to better understand how an individual’s desire to make and contribute can become integrated into the process of designing solutions so end products are ultimately being controlled and adapted to the individual. Design becomes a project of representing and communicating opportunity that initiates action and again, during the process of making, becomes the underlying support system for guidance and direction.