Faculty Maker - Bryan Cantley

Meet maker/professor Bryan Cantley, a professor of Design Theory at CSUF, School of the Arts, and founder of Form:uLA, an experimental design practice that explores the boundaries of architecture and representation and the role of drawing within the discourse of visionary space.

Describe your research.

The pursuit of experimental representation in architecture; examining modes of communication and the poetics of the machine/technology. Liminal space construction and its residues. I am interested in architecture as a discipline in addition to its implications of built environments.

Describe a project you’ve been working on this year.

“Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships,” a series of experimental drawings exploring the sanctity of organized religion (in the face of social media and the re-definition of “self”), and the finite architectural drawing/print. What is sacred/real in the age of representation and false identity?

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

Palimpsestuous Rela†ionships

What is the idea behind your featured project?

Over the last new years I’ve noticed, while observing my 19 year old daughter and her friends, an emergence of new Human Interface Patterns as social media expands into the every day. As our urge to be “connected” increases, and our willingness to accept what we see as “truth,” there has been a desensitization of society through that saturation of media on-demand.

With that in mind, I started to question the role of the meaning of a “higher power” for today’s young people raised in the social media age. Simultaneously, because of the work I do with architecture drawing, I began to question the sanctity of the architectural drawing in a time where distortable media is so prevalent.

What did you use to create this?

My hands. It was mostly an analog process. I used hand drawing and collaged them on top of existing (precious) architectural prints of cathedrals. I also used Photoshop as part of the design process, but  not as part of the production). To create the 3D version, I used Z-Brush + Sketchup, for output to 3D powder printing, and augmented with analog/hand crafted components.

Drafting the Palimpsest – Bryan Cantley

How did you decide which tools to use?

Since I was examining the purity and deity of the architectural drawing/print, the analog process of drawing was critical to the core of the project. The digitally produced image is too ‘clean’… there needed to be a way to explore the tactility missing in social media’s avatars.

Ozonic Bladder Anomaly (Photo by Matt Gush)

Ozonic Bladder Anomaly (Photos by Matt Gush)

Share a resource that helped you in this project.

Sketchbooks, web articles on religion, social media, and the role of drawing in contemporary architectural practice… several youtube videos on z-brush and importing overly-thigh data (what is overly-thigh data?) into SketchUp.

Where do you typically display your work online?

Twitter @uLAForm

In my crowded studio. I need to have a garage sale!

What do you love about teaching architecture?

When I teach at other universities, the constant challenge of ideologies… as well as the raw hunger of students. It’s truly intoxicating.

Bryan Cantley teaching (Photo by Matt Gush)

What advice would you give students who are studying architecture?

Become a sponge! Take in media, politics, the humanity that surrounds you. Think about architecture as a discipline of spatial and social inquiry, not just about ‘making a building.’ Become an inventor. Commit to your work, and research in general. Believe in what you do, but always allow outside conversations to shape your work. This is an incredibly long journey. Where you are now, will likely not be where you are 5, 10, 20 years from now.  

Thom Mayne once told me (I’m paraphrasing) that you really have to invest 20+ years into your work to begin to understand and feel comfortable with your work. This is an absolute truth.

Form:uLA is an experimental design practice led by Bryan Cantley, whose work attempts to blur the undefined zone between architecture and its representation. Cantley has lectured at a number of architecture schools internationally and locally, as well as the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. He served as visiting faculty at SCI-Arc and Woodbury and conducted a graduate architectural drawing seminar at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London, where he also installed a solo exhibition in 2008. His models and drawings are part of the permanent collection of the SFMOMA and he was a recipient of a Graham Foundation Grant in 2002. Cantley has shown work in a number of institutions, including SFMOMA and UCLA, and was featured in Architectural Design’s special issues, “Drawing Strength From Machinery” in 2008 and “Drawing Architecture” in 2013. His first monograph, Mechudzu was published in 2011.

Bryan Cantley (Photo by Matt Gush)