John Szot

Interview with John Szot of “Architecture and the Unspeakable” film series 

Hi John. Could you please give us a short introduction of yourself?

John Szot>> Sure – I was raised in Texas and moved to New York in 1998 where I’ve been working as an architect, teacher, and interactive media designer. My small practice in Brooklyn is a sole proprietorship where I focus mainly on researching the relationship between new technology and what makes the built environment meaningful.

What do you think New York needs, architecture-wise, to give it a breath of fresh air?

John Szot>> From a civic or urban perspective, an architect is hired to solve a local problem, and a city’s identity is the result of the repetition of this process. Proposing a building solely with the civic identity in mind contradicts my belief that the city is an organic phenomenon. Your question is a very interesting one, but in the spirit of being consistent I’d have to plunge into a tedious discussion of urban planning policy and, to be frank, I’m not qualified…

Would you prefer to be known as an architect or a designer, and why?

John Szot>> An architect would be my preference only because building design is my main interest.

Still from SoHo film, courtesy of John Szot Studio.
Still from SoHo film, courtesy of John Szot Studio.

Architecture and the Unspeakable is a triptych of short, magnificentlyanimated films, each exploring a different symptom of architecture’s vulnerabilities. Produced by Brooklyn Digital Foundry and directed by architect John Szot, the films feature architecture proposals from John Szot Studio, imagining distinct fictional buildings in New York, Tokyo, and Detroit — all animated in striking digital realities.

The animations have little in common with slick digital renderings, and manage to overstep any uncanny valleys by creating a humming, spirited atmosphere that seems invigorated by ahuman presence without ever showing one. There is no strict narrative, but each film is highly suggestive of lives lived and time passing through these structures.

The third film, on Detroit, will premiere as part of MAS CONTEXT’s Spring lecture series, at the Logan Share in Chicago on April 8th. You can watch the New York and Tokyo films below.

In anticipation of the premiere of the final film, Szot answered a few of our questions about theAAU series via email.

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