Benjamin Ruswick joined MMA in 2015 and has worked on private residences and multi-family projects including Crest Apartments, the fourth MMA-Skid Row Housing Trust project currently under construction. Ben received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where he was recognized with the Peter Rice Internship at Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Faculty Design Award. He received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.
Ben Ruswick about the project Inverted Observatory
The Inverted Observatory is a reaction to world’s increasing capability to make and accumulate in conjunction with our growing desire and ability to preserve, through varying media, everything we produce. Codified and consumable at its point of inception, information in the 21st century is produced so rapidly and efficiently, that the total volume of information embedded in the collection of all recorded history before the year 2000 is matched by that produced by contemporary society every single day.
Not only are the composite parts of the world increasing exponentially toward an unforeseeable, perhaps infinite total, but the scale of access to its sum total is shrinking – formulated now for the privileged individual. We not only have access to this information, but with it have achieved a mastery over its vessel. We can view microscopic characters at thousands of times their actual size, collapse impossibly distant nebulas to a two dimensional image, all while rotating, translating, and scaling the globe in which we ourselves (and this privileged view) are placed, with a few swipes of our finger. These manipulations are of course performed on a representational avatar. But the representation is fast modeling itself after the Empire’s Map, stretching out over itself, and spreading thin for its vastness. With time it will either wear thin, or overtake its subject – this project is an interpretation of the latter.
This thesis is a study in the natures of infinite accumulation; the total collection’s increasing reduction to a common visual singularity; and the relationship between recollection and history-making – does the preservation of such a total history require it’s own accessibility?
As its site, the project takes the point at which all the world’s infinite views converge. It doesn’t operate within, but rather around and for this site.
Positioned in a time after the end of archaeology, all the world’s evidential past has already been collected or disintegrated. In realizing the irrevocability of history, our position between our origins and ends is fixed – and we find ourselves operating entirely within the nebulous discomfort of Frank Kermode’s “middest” – an anxiety experienced in being unable to place ourselves at the beginning or end of our own histories. Amelioration is proposed through an investment in the dissolution of future loss.
The observatory is purposed to document and preserve the world and it’s growing collection. Its relationship to it is hierarchical, surpassing the earth’s insistence of its own static condition as the new absolute object.
The structure is a vessel for the architectural character of the operation. The collection of infinite views are conducted through a series of reifications, forming densities and collisions that result in a volumetric repositioning of the two-dimensional actions. The world is repeatedly etched onto the infinite collection of infinitesimal moments in which the machine operates, rewording the world’s narrative in a continual renewal and reformulation of the collection’s parts and relationships.
By scaling, rotating, and moving the world, it achieves, in the form of an abstracted and reductive reproduction, the archival of infinite views and moments – transcribed onto singularity’s casing – the cumulative constellation of time and space’s collapse to its own center – an indecipherable, yet total repository for the entirety of the world.