[ISEA2011] Paper: Patrick Henri Harrop – Metastatic Envelope


Metastatic Envelope is a research / creation protocol interested in the expansion, magnification and amplification of sonic and visual events outside of our immediate experience yet ubiquitously present within our everyday environment. Architecture is the muse for this project: the project seeks to explore the most minute of events within the building interface. Using microscopic camera assemblies, high resolution microphones and digital video and sound processing, Metastatic Envelope probes existing structures for resonant behaviors of vibrant materials agitated by the latent behavior of seemingly inert material assemblies.

In its most common model, an architectural membrane is conceived and designed as a boundary condition between mediums. It is a built ecological condition: understood as a delicate stasis of competing and unstable milieus. The membrane is a negotiation between continuous conditions. In its broadest reaches, it is a system that is, in fact, difficult to trace: a careful reconciliation of a disparation of interruptions to the continuity of a variety of dynamic milieus: the interruption of gravity, the interruption of heat, the interruption of air, water etc. Rather than a spatial boundary, architecture is a momentary reification of a modulated interplay of the perturbed weaves of milieus. Although we tend to privilege the non-human, milieus as modulated by a building skin interface the multiplicities of social, cultural and material systems: a complex, somewhat quasi-biological edification of an ever-concretizing co structured event, performance and matter.

Rather than the tradition model of sound “control” through architectural acoustics (a term which includes sub sonic vibration as well as aural), this research / creation agenda works from Le Corbusier’s theme of “Acoustique Plastique” where architectural infrastructures are conceived of sound modulation devices rather than controllable envelopes.

This paper will present the research / creation work currently being conducted as part of the CAST (Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology) and the Topological Media Lab research units on sound sensing and modulation and building environments by both faculty researchers and graduate students.

  • Patrick Henri Harrop is an architect and associate professor of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. He currently holds the CMRI Chair in Masonry Studies and is an active researcher with CAST (Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology).  His research specialty is in Emerging technology and design with a particular emphasis in sound, electromechanical hacking, digital fabrication and contemporary theory. He currently teaches graduate studios in time based architecture, daidala strategies, contemporary theory, and advanced computer / fabrication.  Professor Harrop received his undergraduate architecture degree from Carleton University, and his post professional M.Arch degree from the History and Theory program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Patrick Harrop`s current work is in developing new approaches to embedded and interactive technology using abandoned infrastructures. He is currently developing work that seeks to embed interactivity into existing architectural structures. A good part of this work seeks a manifestation autopoietic systems, where immediacy and responsiveness is delayed and translated into autonomous complex behaviors and environments.  ocular-witness.com  Video: vorticose