As much as it is a neoclassical compositional principle, the ensemble today is shifting into a new critical focus: it is a central figure in nascent developments in probabilistic mathematics and a critical logic in the development of artificial intelligence algorithms. Statistical ensembles are a specific adaptation of Markov processes. They produce and are produced by a highly circumscribed definition of creativity—that of a predictive state inherently based on a chain of linked, given events, thus a computational intelligence predicated on the established patterns of the database. Are these mathematical ensembles different from those of neoclassical composition? How are the new ensembles characterized and materialized relative to their conceptual tradition?
This fifty-second issue of Perspecta—the oldest and most distinguished student-edited architectural journal in America—is a projective art history of ensemble as form and politics. It uses theories of ensemble to propose both alternative extensive stagings of design objects, as well as other resistant assemblies of the corps of architects. Ensemble is posed a lens to theorize object-parts and states of motion at once, together: an architecture of the city.
The volume includes a new photographic essay on the contemporary city of Bengali by American and Indian artists. A collection of essays by interdisciplinary contributors interweave this new creative work, pointing toward a compositional project for an architecture that is multiple, extensive, spontaneous, collective, durational, temporary.