ESP Biography



LUKE JOYNER, Mercenary




Major: Architecture

College/Employer: n/a

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Luke Joyner

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Now a graduate student in architecture at the University of Michigan, Luke has been involved in Splash since 2003, when he first attended as a student. While an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, he founded Splash Chicago, and co-directed the organization through its first few years of growth.

Luke's primary interests these days are architecture/cities and education, but he also has run six marathons, plays ultimate frisbee, cooked in several restaurant kitchens, majored in math and geography in college, spent four summers working for world-renowned typeface designers, and writes poetry. While his Splash classes have run the gamut from breadmaking to font design, they all expect active participation and run off of the ideas of everyone in the room.

Luke plans to teach 20 hours at this year's MIT Splash, so cut him a little slack if he's dead by Sunday night.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Covers: An Open Studio in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Cover, remix, adaptation, interpretation, inspiration, allusion, precedent, copy, appropriation, theft... whatever you call it, a good cover takes an original work and twists it around till it's something else. A great cover manages to do all that, and makes the original seem even more interesting too. This process is hardly limited to music. Artists take inspiration and pay homage to other artists, poets to other poets, architects to other architects, etc. And sometimes artists take from musicians, musicians from architects, architects from athletes, and so on. When does it work, and where does meaning come from along the way? In this class, we'll think about "covering" in all sorts of ways. How do you take an idea from someone else and put it toward art that both honors its source and generates new meaning? Where is the line between homage and theft? Can meaning ever come out of nowhere? Can it ever not? I'll give plenty of examples to get us going, but everyone in the class should be ready to bring ideas and examples to the table too.... this is a studio-type class, so bring work of your own to talk about if possible. (Poems, drawings, guitars, soufflés, etc.... anything goes, but whatever you bring, be prepared to show or perform your work and get ideas from others.) If you're feeling ambitious, bring work that responds in some way to some other art out there, in your medium or another, that really moves you.


Architecture of the Home in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Chances are you live somewhere. Most of us do. And so have most people for years and years. Somebody's gotta design the places we live, and there have been tons of interesting ideas about how to do so, over the years. This class will go over some ideas and debates about how homes ought to look, feel and work. We'll look at tons of examples--normal and strange, beautiful and ugly, big and small--and discuss some interesting questions that have arisen when people think a little differently about houses and housing than you might expect.


Design a Building: An All-Day Studio in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
This is an all day comprehensive studio class that will give you a chance to work on a real architecture project, in teams of three. In the morning (9 to 12 and if more time is desired, informally during lunch from 12 to 2), we will walk to a site on the MIT campus (bring comfortable shoes and be ready to be on your feet all morning) and do sketches and measurements and take pictures of the surroundings. When we come back from lunch in the afternoon (2 to 5) each team will take the morning's site work and come up with a design for a building, taking into account a series of constraints (what the building is for, zoning restrictions, how much space is needed, etc.) I'll be giving teams feedback throughout the process, and we'll pause at least once for teams to give each other feedback. Finally, from 5 to 7, each team will present their work to a panel of outsiders, who will, along with other students in the class, give feedback and ideas about the final designs from many perspectives. As in any real architecture project, and any Splash class, the end is only the beginning... All work will be done by hand, with the exception of taking pictures at the site for reference. If you have a digital camera, bring it, and also bring the cable to attach it to a computer. Also bring your favorite pens, pencils or sketchbooks if you'd like.


Let the Robots Win? A Conversation about Technology and Our Time in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
As we enter the second decade of the century, we are in a perpetual state of technological flux, for the first time in history. Changes that in the past took years or even generations are now measured in months, and there is no evidence that the acceleration of innovation will slow anytime soon. Some embrace the pace of technological growth, while others fear it. Most of us have feelings somewhere in between. As we all struggle to keep up with what's new out there, this class will pause to think a bit about the ramifications of our digital age, and address some questions that get lost in the speedy shuffle. What attitudes do people have toward new technologies? Do societal forces reward or suppress certain attitudes, over time? How does technology change our personal routines? Do we (college graduates in our mid-to-late 20s) have different opinions even from you (high schoolers in your late teens)? Does technology shrink generations? Does the societal impact of technologies change as they move from cutting edge to mainstream? When does technology enhance meaning? When does technology kill meaning? Does technology democratize society, or homogenize it, or both? What are the side effects of free flowing information and communication? Are online friends really friends? Is there room for non-digital or semi-digital technologies in a digital age? Do you love technology, or does it terrify you? Should we let the robots win? This class will be an open conversation, and we would like everyone to come ready to participate. We will bring three different opinions* and a lot of examples and ideas to the table.... but we also want to hear your opinions and examples and ideas too. We can't wait to see where the conversation goes. * JD is a software engineer, Luke is a graduate student in architecture, and Race is Scottish.


Exquisite Corpse in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
The surrealists played a game called Exquisite Corpse, where individuals collaborated on drawings or poems with only a hint of what their collaborators were doing. We'll play the game, in both drawing and poetry. Creative variations and additional media are encouraged.


Skyscrapers! in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
At night, why do lights in skyscrapers tend to turn on or off in horizontal bands? Why do some skyscrapers get narrower near the top? Why do the skyscrapers in Chicago look different from the skyscrapers in New York? Basic questions and observations can unravel much of the history of the architectural and historical development of skyscrapers. We’ll start with the questions above, and any similar questions you bring to the class, and learn about some of the innovations that have propelled buildings higher and higher… and all the factors that have contributed to what these tall buildings look like and make their cities feel like. We’ll also talk briefly about the psychological impact of really tall buildings on residents of modern cities. Be ready to talk a lot, and share your own thoughts as well as listen to others' thoughts.


Graphic Design: The Thinking in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
This class will be an in-depth look at the thinking behind graphic design. We will go over things like balance, choice of typeface, use of color, stylistic decisions, fitting the design to the content, seeking out originality, and other choices that a graphic designer must consider over the course of any project. We will also think about what differentiates design from art, and whether that's actually a meaningful distinction to make. Be ready to share your own ideas, both in words and visually, throughout this class. Everyone will participate.


Breadmaking in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
In this class, we will make bread from scratch. We'll split into three groups, and each prepare a different kind of yeast bread. While the yeast breads are rising, we'll make three kinds of quickbreads. Then we'll form the yeast breads to let them rise a second time. Note: this class meets on Sunday from 9 AM to 11 AM. We will do everything except bake the breads together. I'll bake the breads off myself after the class, and they'll be ready around lunchtime at 1. Everyone in this class is welcome to rejoin me at lunch time, with exactly one friend (serious, no more than one), to eat what we've made instead of the program's regular lunch. I'll bring things to put on the bread too!


Thinking about Places in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
In this class, we'll have an open discussion about the places we know well, what makes them different from other places, and how they absorb cultural identities. We may talk about some or all of the following: our stereotypes of places; what we like or dislike in a place; what it really is about places that creates meaning; the differences between shallow expressions of local culture and more meaningful ones; the effect of different time periods and technologies and cultural movements on how we experience place; whether very small details can change individuals' views of places; how individuals can have different impressions of the same places. Please come to this class with your own ideas on some of the issues raised in this description, or other related issues. Be ready to share your ideas, think about others' ideas, and see where the conversation takes us. There will be a lot of pictures and maps to spur conversation, and I'll be ready to look for pictures on the fly to illustrate examples we may end up discussing.


Type is Cool: An Introduction to Font Design in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
We’ll warm up a bit by drawing some letters of all kinds. Then I’ll provide a short history of letterforms, alphabets and orthographies, from ancient times to the invention of the printing press and up to the most modern digital type design technologies, and give a very short introduction to the practice of designing a font. After that, you’ll get a chance to start designing a font of your own, using some of the techniques that you’ve learned.


Imagining the City: A Short Introduction to Urban Design in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Cities are wonderful, ever-changing places. They have personalities of their own. But they don't just arise from nothing... people devote their lives to thinking about how cities should look, how they should feel, how they should work, and how we should think about them. This class will be about cities, and specifically how they're designed, planned, and conceived on a broad scale. I will use examples from many cities, and will expect you to contribute examples from cities you know, as best you can. The class will be a mix of architecture and design, history, art, drawing, telling stories, and conversation. We'll warm up by drawing maps of an urban neighborhood of your choice. From there, I'll talk a bit about a few important ideas in modern city design, then open up the conversation to whatever aspects interest the class most. Then, in the final hour of the class, we'll embark on two short projects that put the ideas we talk about into practice, and allow you to think like an urban designer. Be ready to talk a lot in this class, especially about your own experience in cities you're familiar with, and feel free to come with questions or ideas. Also be ready to draw a lot; pens and paper will be provided.


Teacher, Teacher... in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Do you like to teach? Interested in improving your teaching skills? This class will be all about teaching, and you'll get to teach the rest of us a little something along the way. We'll spend the first hour going over some tips for teaching in a Splash-like context. Then, in the second hour, you'll get a chance to prepare a 15-minute mini-class of your own, on a topic you've chosen ahead of time. And finally, in the last two hours, we'll split into two groups of six, and you'll all get to teach your mini-classes. After each mini-class, there'll be 5 minutes for feedback. You don't need to prepare your mini-class in advance, but you should come with a topic in mind, and with any materials you won't be able to create in the hour you have to prepare.


Randomness in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
01010010100100100001011110. 01010101010101010101010101. Which of these numbers is more random? Intuition tells you the first one... but why? In this class, we'll go *very* briefly over some mathematical ideas of what it means for something to be random, and how these various ideas of randomness all end up being related. Along the way, we'll think about examples of randomness in other contexts, from computers to music to visual art to the design of cities, as a way to understand the math and its importance. (NOTE: This may sound like an easy class, but it's meant for students with a strong interest in math. There are no specific prerequisites beyond algebra II, and I won't go into too much detail given the time constraints, but this *is* a math class and there will be math involved, however silly the topic sounds.)