Alan Ma

Digital Ruination | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019\

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<My project focuses on the question of what is a future ruin by proposing a process that explores a series of digital monuments above the city of Athens aimed at celebrating Athenian heritage>
The city of Athens itself after the economic downturn was left in a state of limbo where abandoned buildings are too expensive to fix, Large vacancies across Athens shows the divide between ruins for tourism that is being rebuilt which debatably shouldn’t be rebuilt, vs the local neighbourhoods (The modern ruin of Athens) which needs to be rebuilt but isn’t being rebuilt. This transforms the city of vacancy into the city of ruin with multiple economic and social consequences.
We as tourists however have a very different view of Athens, in our current digital age, I will argue that most of us have seen at least a photo of the Acropolis, but far fewer have actually been to the site. This changes completely how we perceive a monumental ruin. Today, tourists in Athens capture a glorified/romanticised version of the city through the looking glass of our camera phones.
My project aims to investigate the possibility of turning a digital image into a 21st century monumental ruin with modern, digital methods. The process in question is developed from my research and understanding into the hidden algorithms of a digital image by analysing and distorting through an it’s RGB colour values.
The project takes images taken and posted online within the city of Athens, deconstructs the images into raw data and reconstructs the data following rules of RGB visualization, into a series of monumental ruins high above the old city that celebrate a moment in the city. In a way becoming a new digital based, image generated architectural spectacle that brings back the celebration of Athenian life, which was the fundamental purpose of the now UNESCO protected ruins. The old ruins of Athenian was originally built as a celebration of Athenian life, now it has become instagram hell, the ruins no longer celebrate modern athenians but instead has become tourist traps for instagram likes. Which is why I am proposing we need a series of new monumental ruins that bridges the gap between digital images and the celebration of Athenian life.
The strategy is then applied across the site to create a series of interconnected monumental ruins that becomes a photo taking playground for tourists and the locals. The new ruins will sprout above the city of Athens to become focal points across the city. The temporary nature of the new ruins will mean a shift away from materialistic authenticity into an event based one. The uniqueness of the form of the new ruins will stand out from the Domus styled housing blocks that plague the city, it will become an attraction that encourages image based participation between the locals and the tourists. Which again, each cluster is constructed out of an image that was taken locally. All aimed at celebrating modern Athenian life with the blessing of photographic opportunity.
In the current media there’s been huge controversy over the manipulation of images to create fake landscapes, to fake face, my projects sits in this perverse world of image analysis, in exploring a process that turns image data into a new form of architecture that hopes to bring a new life to the city of Athens.
The Image of Athens

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Link to booklet–> Research Booklet

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RGB Colour Analysis

Tangible Image

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A New Celebration

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The Ruin in the Sky
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