Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital

October 24, 2019 - October 26, 2019
Kuehner Court, Weil Hall

View the livestream | Read the symposium news release

The College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design present the three-day symposium Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital. Organized by assistant professor Constance Vale, the symposium will investigate the effects of digital imaging on contemporary practice through lectures, panel sessions, and exhibitions. The more than two dozen participants will include Sam Fox School architecture and art faculty as well as visiting architects from across the country. Highlights include keynote lectures by Nader Tehrani, dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union in New York (October 25), and Brett Steele, dean of the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture in Los Angeles (October 26).

All symposium events are free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed through the symposium website. Registration is requested. For full details, visit the symposium website>>


In the contemporary world, nothing we produce as architects is what it seems. Familiar outputs in the form of drawings, models, and photographs-now produced through a spectrum of digital tools and techniques-masquerade as their predecessors, but in fact, they are entirely other. These products of electronic imaging have expanded the discourse concerning images and operate in the world as decoys and depictions. Decoys are objects that share characteristics with images. Depictions are images that have the qualities of objects. These modes of production bookend the working space in which architects and artists who construct images operate. Images of the digital exist in perpetual translation, forming composites of ever-compounding information that distorts as it is shared, accumulated, stored, uploaded, downloaded, edited, and reformatted. To see the images of the digital we cannot simply look at digital images-we must look through them to the logic of their construction.

Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital examines the role of digital images as grounds for theoretical development, vehicles for the production of form, physical components of buildings, and mechanisms through which architects and artists can form new audiences for our disciplines and contribute to social and political change. Through this collaborative discussion between architects and artists, we will consider the following questions: How can a deeper understanding of electronic imaging reshape how we design and build? How might the circulation of images through social networking and web-based media affect conventional methods of display? How can interfacing with images directly change how we structure design pedagogy? Decoys & Depictions will address critical questions about the capacity of images to transform architecture through the analysis of data and picture.

Funding & Support

The Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital symposium and all corresponding exhibitions are organized, curated, and designed by assistant professor Constance Vale. Funding for the symposium is provided by the Ralph J. Nagel Dean’s Endowment, the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, the College of Architecture, and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Additional support for the keynote lectures is provided by the AIA St. Louis Scholarship Trust and the Abend Family Visiting Critic Endowed Fund, established in honor of professor emeritus Leslie J. Laskey.

Administrative support for the symposium is provided by Sam Fox School faculty and staff, with special thanks to Carmon Colangelo, Heather Woofter, Ellen Bailey, Melissa Meinzer, Leland Orvis, Bryce Robinson, Audrey Treece, Mandy Wortmann, and the Communications Office. Support for the Des Lee Gallery exhibition is provided by Brandon Anschultz. Support for the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Study Room exhibition is provided by the staff of the Kemper Art Museum. Support for the Steinberg Hall Gallery exhibition is provided by Igor Marjanovic and Mónica Rivera (funding); Gregory Cuddihee and Mason Radford (design and fabrication team); Bruna Sampaio, Mani Kaveripatnam, and Zhao Yang (curation team); and Shameen Akhtar, Samuel Bell-Hart, Zinan Chi, Bette Dunn, Yoko Furuya, Wentao Guo, Emily Haller, Patrick Hatheway, Shaoshuai Jiang, Mani Kaveripatnam, Joel Leon, Sheng Li, Min Lin, Yutong Ma, Zoe Mitrisin, Nakesha Newsome, Kristine Ornstein, Rachel Reinhard, Aaron Smolar, Kazuya Yamada, Zhao Yang, Jingpan Zhang, Taili Zhuang, and Sheng Zhong (fabrication and installation assistance).