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In her recent book, Architecture, Animal, Human: The Asymmetrical Condition, Catherine Ingraham maintains a stalwart asymmetry between, on the one hand, human, animal and other life, and on the other hand, the material constraints or framed enclosures of architecture. When we turn to the recent, speculative work of the Emergence and Design Group (Michael Hensel, Michael Weinstock, and Achim Menges) we find a practice that deploys the software of computer technologies as a medium that has become increasingly life-like in its operational capacities and engagements. Rather than an asymmetrical condition, digital architects, such as the Emergence and Design Group, appear to be dismantling the distinction between architectural form and human, animal and other life forms. What we are asked to imagine is a continuum that unfolds in both directions, one infecting the other, organic interpenetrating inorganic, technology intertwined with biological life. What’s more, the resulting hybrid of architecture-cum-life in (de)formation, should be apprehended as animated and ever-responsive to the field from which it emerges. The formal complexity that supposedly results erupts unexpectedly from a plane of continuous variation where the emphasis lies in the surface effect. This paper will trace the legacy of the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari with respect to key conceptual moves, implicit and explicit, being made by so-called digital architects. Following what can be identified as Deleuze and Guattari’s ethics of immanence, this paper will also consider whether an appropriate ethico-aesthetic practice can be engaged to address what appears to be a new architectural paradigm with its attendant desire for an intimate proximity with life.
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