The Dis-Enclosure of Art
by Walker Thisted

Walker Thisted

The Technology of the Wall,
An Introduction

When many people think of technology, their first thought is not immediately of static items or ones that cannot be taken by the hand in order to aid a particular activity. We often think of new technologies and ones defined by production. Technology, however, is a far more general term that I understand as relating man to a changing world and world that man changes. There are a number of less immediately obvious forms that technology can take. One such form is the wall.

The wall is an ancient technology whose progress and evolution are defined by the extent to which the engineers of a given wall are successful in resisting gravitational and lateral forces that might be exerted on it. The wall is defined by techniques that help to keep wind and water at bay while simultaneously allowing light to enter a space. In addition, the wall as an early form of technology allows its creators and inhabitants to mark one area as distinct from another and provide protection from threats.

In some ways, the wall is most relatable as a piece of military technology. Through the careful work of Renaissance engineers, the wall was constructed with greater precision in the past and with new geometries in order to protect the interior. Projection and perspective drawing were two techniques that arose from the technology of the wall and have since come to define every aspect of the designed world in which we live. At the same time, architects and engineers have taken the wall to unimaginable heights. At over 100 stories, the wall must resist forces in entirely new ways. As ecology becomes an increasing concern, the wall must become smart. As a result, the wall has been equipped with sensors, receptors, and mechanisms that allow it to adapt to changing conditions.

The wall is a technology then not so much as something on which we focus, but a fundamental entity that is constantly on the periphery. It is a membrane that defines what comes and goes, energy consumption, views and outlook on the world, height to which we can climb, and degree of destruction that can come as a result of its absence in cases of terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and urban reconfiguration. It is in the sense of focusing on the periphery and attempting to understand what lies in-between that this investigation is unconventional and yet very much in keeping with less publicized strands on contemporary thought.

-- Walker Thisted


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