NAME
stratton coffman

EMAIL
strat@mit.edu

LOCATION
cambridge, MA

GIFTS + STUNTS
CV
stratton is a bag of stuff that is borderline completely useless (and for now a multi-disciplinary researcher-maker). Through texts, installations, workshops, and materials for performance, their work explores how things like bodies and subjects carry meaning and function, specifically at the point of overflowing. Get in touch for collaborations, commissions, and gossip about Kyle Richards.





TITLE
Bagging

YEAR
2019-

MEDIA
textile bags, digital drawings, found video

FULL PDF
Masters thesis
Begun as a masters thesis, Bagging is an ongoing research project in two modes: a reconstructive history of architecture's various attempts to design for (and control) deviant subjects and a speculative approach to designing with the performative body. If architecture helps habituate subjects intimately on the register of flesh, comportment, mobility—acting as a kind of immersive orientation device—Bagging gathers bodies, materials, and affect to differently perform the scripts that conventionally orient the array of subjects that we usually flatten into the shorthand figure of the 'user,' 'citizen,' or ‘consumer.' Through the production of a family of bags as role-play props, the project engages the play of live use and the softness of textile assembly to question the fixity of position, dimensioning, and scale that traditionally govern architectural production. The projective gesture of architecture, its forward reach as an offering, anticipates a recipient. Through a systematized catcall, it interpellates a subject as the beneficiary of its offering. As Mabel Wilson has reminded us, the professionalization of this effort has helped produce the humanist subject to “consolidate a European worldview,” and thereby define its margins. Bagging provides a wrinkle in the lines of this orthographic regime, of architecture’s iterative inscription of this liberal subject. It is an attempt at a partial unravelling of architecture’s straightening devices that orient the body toward designed ends (and align it with systems of power) and that “make certain things, and not others, available,” as Sarah Ahmed puts it. It does so not to seek abolition of the line but to open design to new (deviant) subjects, like cows, crowds, and sodomites. As a set of role-playing moves at body-ish scale, bagging gathers a multiplicity of contents within soft parameters, working with textile to deny the conventional fixity of position, dimensioning, scale. Bagging invites a deviation from the orthographic view, turning our attention to that “field of unreachable objects” constituted by following lines of inscription, turning sideways to nuzzle the warm side of the cow, to dwell within a mess of bodies, to seek pleasure beyond the straight.





TITLE
Proof of Concept

YEAR
2019-

MEDIA
performance, props, video documentation and projection

WEBSITE
conceptproof.org

COLLABORATOR
Isadora Dannin
Proof of Concept is an ongoing series of guerrilla performances staged in the various halls, conference rooms, labs, and lobbies belonging to the nebulous phenomenon called design thinking. Each entry enacts a willful misinterpretation of an operation fundamental to the design thinking process. In treating each methodological operation as a performance in and of itself, the project suspends attention to outcomes or goals so as to consider the expenditure of effort, resources, and time that underlies the labor of design thinking.





TITLE
Crowd Scores

YEAR
2020-

MEDIA
scores for performance
As part of a larger project that explores compression as a historiographical device and an experiential one, Crowd Scores turns to the aimless or unruly crowd as a place of unstable embodiment, and specifically to computational models of crowd behavior. In 2004, the Brazilian Petroleum Company initiated the development of PetroSim, a computational model for simulating the evacuation of crowds in the areas around the company's industrial facilities. Itself built on longstanding liberal theories of the crowd as an existential threat in need of disciplining, PetroSim has spawned multiple applications through apparatuses of control ranging from urban planning, to public safety authorities, to military agencies. Crowd Scores misappropriates the schematics and language of PetroSim to compose scores for performing—through the body—altered models. The scores generate a bad data set, undermining the enthronement of the crowd leader, redirecting the inclination toward safety, and otherwise offering some movements for momentarily suspending the behavioral norms incorporated in the self-directed liberal subject.





TITLE
Thresholds 48: Kin

YEAR
2020

MEDIA
edited volume

COLLABORATORS
co-edited with Dalma Foldesi and Sarah Wagner
Thresholds is the annual, peer-reviewed journal produced by the Department of Architecture, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, published by the MIT Press. Thresholds 48 invites the rethinking—the re-kinning—of art and architecture to stretch the content and context of “kin” and to locate openings for new practices of settlement, inhabitation, urbanism, and landscape design.

Thresholds 48: Kin takes on the address of the “other” as a project for scholarship, as a thickening of the plot, as an antidote to a hygienics of the term “kin”—to signal salvation from ecological and social downfalls, untethered from materialist analysis or the care of ethnographic work. The issue extends a hand towards other disciplines, as a nudge for greater dimension, to paint the roominess that some circulating accounts of kinship tend to constrict in service of maintaining bloodlines and other allegories. Kin challenges the disciplines of art and architecture to consider the transforming social relations that are deeply entangled with spatial practice.





TITLE
Three Degrees of Squeeze

YEAR
2017

MEDIA
essay in Log 41
Special section: Working Queer
A rambling essay on unsettling cases of risky closeness with architecture. It traces compression as an historiographic field of affect, from industrial agricutlural techniques for herding cattle to the unregulated density of mid 19th-century tenement housing. It finds that, "Whether consensual or the outcome of structural conditions, these architectures of closeness stage a kind of living defined by its illegibility, along with the serious existential risks and pleasures therein."





TITLE
Bound House

YEAR
2016

MEDIA
inflatable room

COLLABORATORS
Aaron Powers, Jung In Seo
Bound house in an inflatable installation that initiates encounters with others that are awkward or uncomfortable. Folds, slits, and orifices supply means of meeting at the threshold of intimacy and discomfort, either through their momentary occurrence or in the queasiness of their slight possibility. Our room registers multiple, displaced bodies and transmits those movements across its depth, overlaying degrees of connection, from the physical touching of an anonymous backside, to the bumping into another’s face, to the jostling of some other presence at a distance. Laughs of discomfort or embarrassment are heard from within the empty facade, observations of movement and shaking register the occupants use within.





TITLE
Paper Space

YEAR
2018

MEDIA
workshop

COLLABORATOR
co-taught with Sarah Wagner
Paper Space is a creative writing workshop that investigated, through a series of open-ended prompts, how writing may be used as a medium of exploration in architectural production, both to resituate writing as a possible means of design and to reconsider design as the crafting of fictional, poetic, and real worlds. It consisted of three (3) workshop sessions with invited creative writers working in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Within the condensed scope of these sessions, workshop participants, drop-ins, and the wider MIT community were invited to produce written work in response to the prompts, provocations, and pedagogies of the visiting writer. In between these workshops we held three or four writing sessions for workshop participants to develop longer-term projects individually and collaboratively.






website made by © stratton coffman. updated 20.10.01.



logo line