5/25/15 – Zanabazar Jr.

With the busyness of graduation, family travel, and my first week of work at NMA behind me, I thought I’d share a somewhat more lighthearted post/project…
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Our final project for Toys! 2015, completed with Anndrea Joiner (ARC), Chelsea Brtis (ARC), and Kelsi Thrasher (ARC), was the design of a gravity racer we ended up naming Zanabazar Jr., after the sleek and aerodynamic profile of the dinosaur’s jaws (explained here). The title of the Toys! exhibition this year, The Bizarre Bazaar, worked in conjunction with our decision and we ran with the metaphor.

Zanabazar_junior_Headden DSCN57154
The car consists of two sheets of MDF, threaded steel rods, laser cut acyrlic spacers, white and black paint, rubber brake pads, and the official Soap Box Derby Car Axles and Wheels (which are ridiculously expensive in case you were considering purchasing a set!). To achieve an ergonomic form we chose to CNC cut our car’s length vertically, emphasizing the various curves and thicknesses of a body in motion.12
There are a few construction photos here. While it was a pretty labor intensive process (embedding objects with humanity always is), those who know how to use the ‘contour’ command in rhino in conjunction with a CNC machine know how easy it is to quickly prototype parametric slugs of this particular flavor. In fact, we eagerly embraced the opportunity to do something shamelessly biomorphic precisely because it wasn’t  a building. Finally, an opportunity to put to work the untenable practices of formal parametricism!
Fortunately we placed second in the time trials and final race, losing only to the industrial design team (damn them and their superior sensitivity to the human scale!). It was great fun and we got good press for the studio.1 (2)
There was a decent turn-out to the exhibition, between ours and other studio events in Des Moines that day. Overall it was a great time to play with the wealth of toys and experiments from the semester and catch up with everyone before graduation. FullSizeRender (2)
The highlight for me, however, was the surprise visit from my mom who drove 7+ hours from St. Louis to be there! I am still thrilled she made it, and was able to celebrate and suffer through the abstract and confusing projects and concepts of architectural design studies. If you’re reading this: thanks, Mom!
zanabazar jr. rendering
The majority of my time these next few weeks will be spent producing diagrams and images for the Iowa AIA Awards, none of which can be posted, so with any luck there will be less (A)rchitecture and more reading/drawing experiments here in the future.

5/4/15 – Mixed Media

Part one of an Artist Book – due Thursday (!)
we knew we had it in you,
11″ x 8.5″ – Mixed Media
DSN 240 – Prof. Nathan Edwards


“As the diagram becomes an interface, when the map becomes the tool, personal, individual social action becomes more logistical. The subjective manipulation of virtual symbols becomes a structural form of agency in this (pre-formatted) landscape of proximate and immediate contact.”

“…the cumulative destiny of dromological globalization, as successively violent, increasingly integrated history of accidents. […] the invention or adoption of a new technology is always also the invention and adoption of a new accident.”

Benjamin Bratton – Introduction to Paul Virilio’s Speed and Politics

4/29/15 – Cultivating the Lawscape

cultivating the lawscape3

In between coursework I have been gathering a series of patent drawings that have proven useful in illustrating and exploring the themes of my written research. I am crafting a drawing project that only utilizes copyrighted imagery, tapping into the composite ideograms (or ‘(dis)continuous geneaologies’) of Douglas Darden, and using them to interpret vast landscapes abstracted into capital. Living in and among the diagram of the Midwest, I find myself increasingly sensitive to the modern infrastructures we’ve inherited and the ecological sovereignty it has enabled (‘modern’ here understood as the clear separation of society from nature, where air, land, water, etc., belongs to ‘the commons’…the “free gifts of nature,” of which Marx would write).

Cultivating the Lawscape is part of a series of strange machines that manicures the ‘natural’ world, in the name of human experience. It signals the technology required for the conversion of wilderness into a kind of planetary Gesamtkuntswerk, or ‘total work of art’: the world as an immeasurable, human made sublime.

I have been hesitant to post my research papers/explorations here because they need to go through the proper editing processes – I’ve been encouraged by professors to publish – but the ideas inevitably spill over into what I’ve been drawing and thinking through manual production. Hopefully after a weekend of final studio events I’ll be able to post more frequently.

4/26/15 – Bizarre Bazaar Announcement

bizarre bazaar poster

On Saturday May 2, Toys! 2015 hosts “Bizarre Bazaar,” a celebration that features work created by a talented group of students. We’ll be showing for the first time a set of gravity racers and soap box derby cars (if they survive the race on Friday) in addition to an array of earlier projects, from building blocks to haute couture furry masks. And of course you’ll get to see the “Puzzle-Up,” the “Bad Pogo,” the “Hang Board,” the “Nuzzle,” the “JIMU,” the “Vertex,” and many others. Hope to see you there!

7-9 pm
The Hohberger Building – 3rd Floor
504 E. Locust St
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
(enter through the Teachout Building)

4/21/15 – The Expansive Contract

ARCH 528C – Drawing Cultures – Prof. Pete Goche

Within the evolution of Western global imaginings has been the precarious boundary between known and unknown space. On a flat map, the known can be extended to the very edges of representational space, leaving implicit the question what lies beyond the frame. From antiquity the bounds of the earth have been drawn to distinguish humanity from the rest of nature and to register imperial claims over both natures and peoples.


And yet, with historical distance and perspective an alternate reading is made obvious: the discovery of the ‘New World’ as seen through these maps signals a self-undermining consumption of spiritual resources. It was not the horrors of the unknown, that blackness of fear that was pushed towards the edges of the world, but rather the systematic devouring of an edible pscyhoplasm; a sacral feast, as physical as non-physical, seen through this shrinking fog of mysterious nourishment. One can only imagine the adventurous and devoted men nibbling at the edges, attacking from all directions, conquering a bit of truth here, a bit of truth there, only to find their appetites grown larger and more difficult to satisfy. When nothing is ‘sacred’ to the enlightened consciousness anymore, it becomes greedy, a world of instruments lies at the feet of this amorphous and imprecise greed, but it finds no real enjoyment in them.


The Expansive Contract (triptych below) imagines a post-enlightened civilization where a deliberate obfuscation has visually re-sealed the landscape. This reversal imagines darkness as utopia: as a means to recast symbolic meaning, mystery, and intimate presence through void and in-articulation.

(The following is a collage of images I’ve constructed over the semester with text from Peter Sloterdijk on intimacy and ‘being with’.)

Entering the Fetal Night
Entering the Fetal Night
The black of the eye has to expand for sight to be maintained in the dark. If the dark grows as deep as in the exquisite night, it would be helpful if the black of the eye could become as large as the eye itself. Perhaps such a spheric eye would be ready for the journey through a black monochrome. If the subject in the dark had become wholly a pupil, the pupil wholly a tactile organ, and the tactile organ wholly a sounding body, the homogenous massif of that orb of blackness could unfold into landscapes already sensed.

The Black ArchipelagoThe Black Archipelago
Suddenly a world before the world begins to transpire; a vague, ethereal universe taking shape, as delicate as breath, pre-discrete. The salty night remains safe in its unspeakable density, and its circle sealed with no possible exit; and yet organic somethings begin to stand out, like sculptures of black mercury against a black background. Within the undifferentiated, sketches of areas diverge, and in the intimate closeness a first yonder polarizes itself, enabling an incipient here to return.

Fortress of Truth
Fortress of Truth
As a black basalt ball, my being is an uncreased heaviness. I rest within myself, brooding in my milieu as if it were a night made of stone. And yet, as self-sufficient as I might be, some inkling of difference must already have dawned inside the dark fortress in which I live and weave. If I were merely a basalt black, how could it be that a vague sense of being-in is taking root within me? What is the meaning of this feeling, this floating bulge? If my black were seamlessly joined to the fortress’ eternally dead interior of the same black, why would I feel a hasty beating stirring within me, and above it the slower distant drum? If I were indistinguishably merged with the black substance, how could I already be something that senses a space and makes movements within it? Can there be a substance that is simultaneously sensation?

4/20/15 – Derby Car Update

Kelsi Thrasher, Chelsea Brtis, Anndrea Joiner and I have been working towards our final project for TOYS! 2015: a soap box derby car to be raced down Oakland Street behind the College of Design. The design consists of two CNC milled MDF sheets, threaded with steel rods, held apart by white acrylic rings. The axle and wheels were purchased from the official Soap Box Derby Car Organization (and so far we meet all of the required specs).

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Once we’ve completed the car we will begin full scale body drawings next week.
Final race date is pending…