The Alphabet and the Algorithm by Mario CarpoThe Alphabet and the Algorithm by Mario Carpo

The Alphabet and the Algorithm

byMario Carpo

Paperback | February 4, 2011

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The rise and fall of identical copies: digital technologies and form-making from mass customization to mass collaboration.

Digital technologies have changed architecture-the way it is taught, practiced, managed, and regulated. But if the digital has created a "paradigm shift" for architecture, which paradigm is shifting? In The Alphabet and the Algorithm, Mario Carpo points to one key practice of modernity: the making of identical copies. Carpo highlights two examples of identicality crucial to the shaping of architectural modernity: in the fifteenth century, Leon Battista Alberti's invention of architectural design, according to which a building is an identical copy of the architect's design; and, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the mass production of identical copies from mechanical master models, matrixes, imprints, or molds. The modern power of the identical, Carpo argues, came to an end with the rise of digital technologies. Everything digital is variable. In architecture, this means the end of notational limitations, of mechanical standardization, and of the Albertian, authorial way of building by design. Charting the rise and fall of the paradigm of identicality, Carpo compares new forms of postindustrial digital craftsmanship to hand-making and the cultures and technologies of variations that existed before the coming of machine-made, identical copies. Carpo reviews the unfolding of digitally based design and construction from the early 1990s to the present, and suggests a new agenda for architecture in an age of variable objects and of generic and participatory authorship.

Mario Carpo is Associate Professor of Architectural History in the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture in Paris, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Vincent Scully Visiting Professor in Architectural History at Yale University's School of Architecture. He is the author of Architecture in the Age of Printing: Ora...
Title:The Alphabet and the AlgorithmFormat:PaperbackDimensions:184 pages, 8 × 5.38 × 0.38 inPublished:February 4, 2011Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262515806

ISBN - 13:9780262515801

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Editorial Reviews

Ever wondered what became of architecture in its digital reincarnation? Mario Carpo vaults from Renaissance aspirations to current conditions at the pace of a breathless fable. Where will it lead us?

-Kurt W. Forster, Yale School of Architecture