Overseas NO.78: Ji Shi

The No.78 episode is about Ji Shi who graduated from Princeton University and is now working for KVA MATx

Project Specs

第七十八期为您呈现的是毕业于普林斯顿大学、现就职于KVA MATx的史纪。

A bosom friend afar brings distant land near. The Oversea album shares the lives of Chinese living abroad with all. The No.78 episode is about Ji Shi who graduated from Princeton University and is now working for KVA MATx.


Why going abroad?


Primarily to follow what everyone else was doing.


What impressed you the most when you are abroad?

Axel Kilian半夜两点发的答疑邮件,Ryan Johns写的和我原文差不多长的研究建议,同学帮我一起逐字逐句地修改校对文章,等等——师友们在学术上给我的帮助太多了,在学校的时候不觉得,现在看来弥足珍贵。

Axel Kilian sending me an email at 2:00 am to answer questions, Ryan Johns writing comments which is as long as my proposal and contains incredible details, my colleagues helping proofreading my article line by line, etc. My professors and friends have provided me tremendous help to my academic work, and I missed this a lot.


What do you miss the most about China?


Chao Gan & Bao Du.


Will you come back China? Why?


In the future, yes. But not now. I would like to try things out here, also to familiarize myself with what people are doing here.


Is it more distinct to view China in a different environment after going abroad? Any thought?


The opposite. In general, although it hasn’t been long since I left, it seems there are quite a lot new concepts in China that I don’t know already; Specifically speaking about the architecture, I feel like I’m more confused. On the contrary, I feel like people in China seem to have a better view of the discipline, it seems they are very aware of what’s going on in the west. I don’t really want to comment on this.


What makes the curriculum of your school different from other architecture schools?


I always think what Princeton is like largely depends on what the students are like. Every students is different , and I leant a lot from my colleagues (at least this was how it worked when I was there). So it hard to give a general comment on this. But to me, the experience in Princeton helped me established a position in digital architecture practice, also the school holds a tolerant attitude towards students like me being free and disorganized.


What are the characteristics and interesting points of your firm?


We have a roof deck in our office. It’s a fantastic place for people to chill, have lunch, drink and chat – it’s really awesome.


Who is your favorite artist (in wider range such as art, music, movie)? What is the influence?


I don’t know much about art. But among artists whom I’ve worked with recently, the work of Weiyi Li and Baoyang Chen inspired me a lot.


What fascinates viewers the most in your portfolio in your opinion?


My work confuses readers rather than fascinates them – I sometimes have difficulties interpreting my work too; My work is also a bit outdated – I’ve been focusing on Embodied Computation for recent years, which in many ways resembles cybernetics. The current fashion pays more attention to data, machine learning, AR, etc., and my work revolves around architectural robotics which cares physicality a lot. Thus, I can barely position my work in the current picture of practice.


Can you elaborate on the concept of architectural robotics in your practice?


The concept of Architectural Robotics here is neither about the anthropomorphic robot nor the automation in fabrication. The core concept of architectural robot focuses on an autonomous agenda – architecture should be as human-autonomous as other everyday objects are since architecture contains as many human-interactions as everything else does. Thus, architectural robots can be understood as an human-robot cohabitation with new social and spatial scenarios, a data-heavy space with sensory inputs and feedbacks, a spatial and material embodiment of codes and algorithms, the use (or mis-use) of robotic thinking and methodologies in space-making process, etc.


When did you start to follow gooood? Any suggestions?


I knew gooood in my sophomore year. All the best for your future endeavours.








Robot No. 6, Soft: Balancing and Wiggling
毕业论文指导:Mónica Ponce de León
研究课题指导:Axel Kilian, Forrest Meggers
2017-present, ongoing
Thesis Adviser: Mónica Ponce de León
Research seminar Adviser: Axel Kilian, Forrest Meggers

▼机器正视图,风箱状排列的气袋与单位打印连接件交叉组合,Front view of the robot, bellow-shape air bags sandwiched by 3D printed joints


▼机器细部,硅胶软管穿插于聚氨酯气袋之中,Close-up of the robot, silicone rubber tubing between polyurethane air bags

▼机器细部,机器基座部分的管子与气阀箱,Close-up of the robot, tubing and air manifolds at base

▼机器细部,三维打印的底板被螺栓固定于基座,Close-up of the robot, 3D printed bottom plate bolted to base

▼电路图解,电磁阀与压力传感器组成的控制系统,Circuits diagram, control system of solenoid valves and pressure sensors

▼间隔拍摄,工作中的系统,Timelapse, system in operation, robot being manipulated in three dimension

Soft: Balancing and Wiggling is my thesis at Princeton SoA at 2017. It is a pneumatic architectural robot with polyurethane air bags and 3D printed joints (plus a set of pipes, valves, hoses, manifolds, adapters, connectors, circuits, boards, wires, etc.) controlled by homemade inflate-and-balance algorithms. The core function is to use pressurized air bags to lift weight; and the sensing-feedback algorithm prevents the whole thing from falling by separately controlling the pressure in different air bags. This prototype can be applied to several real life situations. It can work as key components for an emergency shelter – lightweight and fast deploying; or an additional interface between human and buildings – safe and responsive.

▼控制台,整合了电路、显示屏、导气管和气泵的装置,Control station, integrated with circuits, display, tubing and air supply.

▼控制台顶视图,该装置使得设计者可以方便简易地操作,Top view of control station, setup providing handy operation for designers

▼电路细部,土法炮制地电路整合了Arduino控制器,印制电路板,跳线,电磁气阀、电源,等等,Close-up of circuits, integration of Arduino controllers, PCB boards, jumper wires, solenoids, power, etc.

▼照片,毕业设计展出于纽约市 Parasol Projects Gallery Space @ Bowery,Photograph, thesis project on view at Parasol Projects Gallery Space @ Bowery, NYC





Exhibition No. 3, #Hashtag-Shanghai
上海当代艺术博物馆 2017.11.25-2018.03.09
2017, built
Co-curator: You Wu, Ivy Feng
Exhibitors: Baoyang Chen, Weiyi Li, Shiyuan Liu, Weiwei Zhang, Wan Li, Zigeng Wang, Yifei Wu, Xiaonan Wang, Caison Wang, Feifei Feng, Chengliang Cai, Ronghua Lei
Power Station of Art, Shanghai

▼展厅入口透视,展览#标签于上海当代艺术博物馆展出,View from gallery entry, exhibition #Hashtag on view at Power Station of Art, Shanghai


The #hashtag exhibition marks a physical location for digital social space. Used extensively in social media, “#” works not only as labels of categorized information, but also as embodiment of interactions between the digital and the real. This binary of “#” has inspired the exhibition to reconfigure the roles of art museums, artists, and visitors, by inviting all parties to step out of their long-established identities.

▼试验(左),用户输入的作品评论被一台位于现场的热敏打印机实时打印;互动(右),参观者在现场扫描作品展墙的二维码后在手机客户端输入评论,并讲评论现场打印留档,(left) Experiment, user-generated comments being printed out in real-time by an on-site thermal printer;(right) Interaction, visitor printing out her comments after scanning the QR codes on the exhibition walls


▼轴测图,展览设计,由艺术品、展墙、小凳子、屏幕、电线、以及其他现成工艺制品构成的场域,Isometric, exhibition design, field of artworks, walls, stools, screens, wires, ready-made objects, etc.


#hashtag takes place in two parallel dimensions – “# online” and “# on-site”. “#online” transforms the exhibition into real-time updating cloud storage – both artists and visitors contribute to its archive by sending hashtags to specific artworks. “#on-site”, on the other hand, becomes a physical address linking to the cloud, and a tangible screen displaying all social interactions.

▼中央框架正视图,这一现实中的物理框架实体象征了数字世界中的信息收纳结构,Front view of central frame, a physical frame in real life as metaphor of information framing in digital world

▼展厅中部透视,不同尺度的物体构成了一个三维场域,View from center of the gallery, a 3D field of objects in multiple scale

▼施工,施工人员组装中央框架,Construction, central frame being installed

▼试验,开展前艺术家和策展人在现场尝试不同布局,Experiment, artists and curators testing the layout on site


Thus, no more galleries, only lives; no more sections, only archipelagos; no more installation, only interface; no more canvas, only resolution; no more sequence, only URL; no more catalogue, only data structure; no more labels, only QR codes; no more descriptive texts, only definitive constructs; no more visitors, only players; no more observation, only intervention; no more guestbook, only bullet screen; no more anticipation, only statistics; no more comments, only hashtags. No more speculation on the digital, only digital documentation; no more virtual reality, only real virtuality.

▼开幕式,策展人展示位于现场的全局微缩模型,Opening, curators demonstrating the miniature model

▼互动,参观者与全局微缩模型互动,Interaction, visitors interacting with the miniature model





Robot No. 4, Autonomous Community
方案指导:Axel Kilian
2016, completed
Project Adviser: Axel Kilian

▼评图照片,现场演示自主社区的空间模式,该系统由一个单机的Processing程序算法控制,Studio review, demo of Autonomous Community in review, system controlled by a stand-alone processing program


▼图解,基于动源的有限状态机互动模型通过数字图表展示,Diagram, agent-based finite state automata (FSA) interaction model shown in chart

▼图解,基于动源的有限状态机互动模型通过建筑空间图解展示,Diagram, agent-based finite state automata (FSA) interaction model shown in visual diagram

▼程序屏幕截图,Screenshot, processing programs

This project is an architectural robot which presents the features in a autonomous community. The non-stop field of housing units (shown as 4×4 field in the model) is on the basis of genetically designed living pods with 4 operable sides sitting next to each other. The operable interface can joint together and create a larger space. As a result, the overall configuration of the field is constantly  changing. These configurations and spatial scenarios are coded in a finite state automata (FSA) model. This model was integrated with a agent based plan simulation which triggers the variations in the model. A physical model with electronics and servos were connected to the computer program as embodiment of the design. This project is a typical example of what I’ve been doing as Embodied Computation.

▼物理模型组装细部,物理模型通过伺服电机驱动模型变化以体现空间变化,Close-up of physical prototype assembly, spatial changes embodied in model scale through servo motions

▼概念平面,绘图展示了对于一个完全自主社区的空间场景的想象,Conceptual Plan, illustration of scenarios in a fully developed autonomous community





Robot No. 2, Robotic Manipulated Prototyping through Chemical Reactions
方案指导:Ryan Luke Johns
Collaborator: Wan Li, Ivy Feng
Project Adviser: Ryan Luke Johns

▼细部,金属盐与硅酸钠溶液反应的结晶过程,也被称为化学花园反应,Close-up, reaction of metal salts in sodium silicate, also known as Chemical Garden


This project looks into manipulating the orientation of a chemical reactor through the crystal growth process, which aims to mitigate the natural process and adapt it into a prototyping process. The project investigated the feedback concept commonly used in automatic control system,which allows us to build “good” things with “bad” parts. This inspires the fabrication process by introducing live feedback and interaction into the filed, and the focus is no longer the frozen model but the dynamic fabrication process.

▼试验,早期对于结晶过程与容器角度关系的测试,Experiment, primitive tests of crystal growth in relation to reactor orientation

▼图解,工作流程以及内在实验的内在逻辑,Diagram, workflow and underlying logic of the experiment


▼轴测,总体实验架构,Isometric, overall experiment setup

▼轴测细部,外部材料添加装置的设计,Isometric close-up, design of an external material dropper for the experiment

▼图解,机器末端工具头的规划路径以及对映的容器角度,Diagram, toopath of the end-effector and corresponding orientation of the reactor

▼建造,最终的机器干预过后的化学结晶过程,Fabrication, final chemical reaction result manipulated by robot






Last but not least, I would like to share some work progress photos. My research is very robotic heavy, however the robot I made is often considered useless – neither can they be applied to industry, nor have they ever been considered as architecture. They have been left in oblivion in my phone for quite a while, and today when preparing this article, I pulled them out to share with you – hope you have fun viewing these images.

工作单位:KVA MATx
When: 2015-present
Where: Princeton-Boston
Who: Ji Shi
From: Beijing
School: Princeton University
Firm: KVA MATx
Contact: shiji0325@gmail.com

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