This paper examines the cut-up, a divergent technique developing from the practices of fragmenting and reassembling, originating within the Dadaist art movement of the 1920s and popularized by William Burrough and Bryon Gysin. The paper will unpack and propose cut-up as a ‘divergent leap’ that instils a degree of randomness within the architectural design process, thus allowing transcriptions and transformations of physical sites within and across media terrains. In its original form, cut-up operates with text as its primary subject matter, taking advantage of the sequential but modular structure of language as an assembly of discrete, pre-existing components to derive new concepts and ideas. The critical difference between the Dadaist and the architectural cut-up as defined here, lies in the framing of the design process as a narrative itself, which can embrace both text and image. In transposing the cut-up into the architecture, the introduction of architectural elements articulated in the description of physical sites and their experiences, inevitably sees a new narrative enter the frame: that of the design process. This unwritten narrative is bound up between the media being montaged, which carry narratives of past design moves, a syntaxes, and the consciousness of the designer. The methodological tool for analysing these spatiotemporal transitions is found in filmic montage, itself based on the cut. Montage offers a means to reflect on a series of student projects, which engage with different iterations of the cut-up technique. These projects demonstrate that the narrative embedded within the thinking of the design process can manifest within and be motivated by visual material. The wider framing of the filmic cut will act here as a borrowed framework through which to develop a syntax of divergent leaps within the teaching of architectural design as an emerging media field.
Matthew is a registered architect (ARB) with studies in architecture and planning. His research focuses on architectural design practice and process and its interaction with diverse media environments, practices and techniques. His doctoral research examined architectural design thinking and the agency of media in architectural creativity and pedagogy. Matthew is interested in the exchanges between film, architecture and urbanism and employs film as a research and design method. His design-led research films have screened in international festivals, such as the Cinecity architectural film project, Architecture Film Festival in Lisbon 26-29th September 2013, the University of Sydney Research Visions exhibition 4th October 2013 and at the ARCFILMFEST Santiago Chile 17-20th October 2013. In practice, Matthew has worked for both large and small architectural practices, including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. He was the co-founder of Studio KAH. Matthew has worked across all levels of architectural education and is currently teaching in the final year design studio of BA(Hons) Interior Architecture and leading a unit in the final year of the Masters of Architecture at UWE Bristol.