“Instruments of Service” is a class of legally protected work products defined in the American Institute of Architects’ “A201-2007 General Conditions” as “representations, in any medium of expression now known or later developed, of the tangible and intangible creative work performed by the Architect.” In practice, instruments are any drawing, model, calculation or specification created for a client, copyrighted by the architect as a design “recommendation” and trafficked between intellectual, digital and real property. As research, everyday and experimental instruments are assemblages of tools and materials, allography and autography that move from Skype to ‘the street’ through theaters of peer review and publicity, gender and entertainment. Under or outside of contract, what is the value of the architect’s recommendation? Who provides material support for practice and research?
Professional practice is politically adjacent to public service yet economically classified as a tertiary consumer service—between library and iPhone, hygiene and finance, hospitality and the police. Mediating across the table between architects and an ‘other,’ instruments of service also establish a fictional protagonist if not yet an accomplice or client, a prenuptial agreement if not yet a trademark or patent. How do new practices extend the idea of service? What lies between ‘the good’ and goods?
As new design representations emerge from the interstices of language, calculation and visualization, instruments demonstrate architecture as both ontology and epistemology. What is the value of a common understanding of fact and form? of standardized notation or measure? As new fabrication methods and human-machine interfaces remake the physical world, instruments place the ‘model’ in an expanded field. Do biomimicry, new media and advanced manufacturing turn the molecule, database and robot into an instrument of service? What are the consequences of better living through chemistry, gizmo or portable document file, and through construction and building?
“Instruments of Service,” questions the status of the instrument and of service. What does it mean to serve? What is left to instrumentalize? to monetize? to influence? We welcome scholarship and speculative projects that demonstrate spaces of encounter between “tangible and intangible creative work” through design practice, business models, new forms of representation and activism.