But as I tried to find this image on Shlian’s personal website I came across many other amazing images. The ones that follow all seem part of a similar investigation in geometric tessellations and topography. They remind me of the geometric explorations of Baroque polymaths-such as Guarini and Borromini-that lead to advances in architecture, sculpture, engineering, and yes, urbanism. It is this ability for such drawings to cross disciplinary boundaries that I find them so evocative—they could be the genesis for new buildings, new landscapes, and new cities. Their ambiguous nature is evident in Shlian’s names for the drawings as well—Implosion, Crazy City, Invisible Cities, Kasparov’s Nightmare, In Between, etc.
Shlian himself writes about the relationship between his work and an emergent urbanism. Much like a self-organized city, his work is focused on process rather than product. Here he discusses how he employs algorithmic procedures with unknown results:
My drawings begin by asking indirect questions which yield no concrete answers. As with my three dimensional work, my focus is on the process rather than final product. I am fascinated with computer technology and its ability to mistranslate information. Like a game of “telephone”, multiple software programs fracture and compound text and image as they travel through different formats on the computer. Bearing little resemblance to their origin, the new information is rendered on a pen plotter creating a chaotic world rooted in happenstance. No longer legible, I see the drawings as blueprints for invisible cities, answers to questions that may unfold over time.
All images below by Matt Shlian via his website.
In Between represents another potential technique for geographic urbanism--the creation of a middle ground that creates new relationship between the "natural" and "artificial".Kasparov's Nightmare