The Conversation Series
Transcripts of recordings between Michael Rotondi and colleagues in architecture and academia,
taken from video meetings. The dialogue has been lightly edited for text format.
With Prof. Michael Benedikt, Architect, Author and Distinguished Professor at University of Texas at Austin
October 21, 2020
Michael Benedikt : How are things going in your virtual studio, man?
Michael Rotondi : It's good. Today we gave them one-minute videos to do. The objective of giving them the one-minute videos would be for them to really look at what they've done, and figure out how do you show what you've done in one minute, instead of 15 or 20? So today will be the third iteration.
MB : Remind me what the program was?
MR : Well, initially we didn't give them a program. They just had to create a world, and the worlds had to be Earth, Water, Air and Energy. And the Energy is basically up in the trees. There's only one guy that took Energy, and his is actually turning out really surprising, interesting.
The way I described what I saw him doing, because he got stuck a while ago, and I said, ’OK. Close your eyes and picture water boiling. Water goes from the liquid, to vapor. Now, if you put an ice cube in the pan, it goes from a solid to a liquid to a vapor.’ And I said, ’can you visualize it?’ He said, ’Yeah, I can visualize it.’ I said ’OK. Now turn it upside down. That’s what you're doing. You have this underground space, and normally there would be something in the earth like magma, and the vapor would be coming out. Your vapor is in the ground, and it's solidifying as it comes up.’
So he's created this landscape with cracks and things, and then these trees, which look like solid light. Everything looks like solid light coming out. And it's quite beautiful. I said, ’oh wow, what's that color on your mountains?’ And he goes, ’Oh yeah, that's the color I painted my car. I love that paint,’ and it's that really shiny, metallic blue.
Anyway, we gave them a program a week ago, and the program is a settlement for explorers and they're exploring the terrain, or basically the world, that the students have created.
MB : Is there weather in their world?
MR : The weather is kind of geologic time. A number of them have, instead of talking about global warming, all of the ice melts and submerges the earth. Most of the earth, and so the students are looking for high ground. One of the students goes from the city all the way up into the trees and builds an entire world with these trees that are 500 feet tall. And everything up there, the bridges, the buildings, everything, basically come from the growth of the trees.
MB : I hope these guys can draw because you need to be a good illustrator when you do that.