Just had mid-term reviews. I am sure I could have done alright had I not called my project a failure. Explanation of studio assignment: we were asked to study a component and then basically repeat it in an algorithmic fashion to achieve some new overall emerging form or to find the limits of the component. I chose first the filaments of a biological cell, then it turned into an analysis of the cytoskeleton and all the other parts including the membrane of a cell. Guess what the failure in my study was...Guess...I was studying scientific objects, not the objects themselves. You can not study cells without proper scientific equipment and even then it's intuitive shots in the dark. I was basically studying a system invented my scientists that could describe the behavior of cells to a certain degree, general concepts that nearly defined all behavior of cells. If a scientific theory does not predict everything in an object's study, then the scientist must re-think his theory or add some new ones. What scientists and engineers do is simple, they dumb everything down. Like Piet Mondrian's paintings they abstract a graspable concept from nature that seems to cover all of nature's behavior. If it looks like a cube it surely must be a cube and behave like a cube. (I am describing traditional scientists here, there is a new movement under the heading “Complexity Theory”, Santa Fe Institute)
The leading cytoskeleton biologist thinks the cytoskeleton is a tensegrity structure. The cytoskeleton is made up 3 types of filaments that change length continually by a process called polymerization and provide a structure for the organelles' motility and point connection for the cell membrane and are connected to other protein devices on the membrane (for more look it up on wikipedia.com). Either way, guess what inspired the biologist to look at the cytoskeleton as a tensegrity structure, an art class he took in his undergraduate studies. So what was I studying? Have you ever wondered why all cells and molecules are always presented as a bunch of spheres in 3D models? I was studying biologist's geometrical conceptions of nature, not nature itself. Because I was studying concepts made for flexibility of predictions my component included all possible objects that could predict any outcome based on its genetic geometry. I knew the answer to my own problem before I began the problem.
This leads me to a subject in architecture that essentially divides the profession into two camps, and let me know what side you're on and why: Vision vs. Versioning
You have an image of the final product, like a dream. You know what it looks like, feels like spatially, and intuitively know what decisions to make when designing it to achieve the image. The only thing left to do after you have the vision is sell it to the client and draw construction drawings. The vision answers all if not most questions and problems posed by your research.
You start with a simple concept based on information given. Through various inputs including consultants, etc... you develop a product that changes with each question and research point. In the end you have something that evolved through various versioning responses to various influences, in the end you have something you could not envision... something emerges.
Now two major philosophical points:
- geometrical abstraction of reality - reductionist thinking finds finite number of geometrical limit shapes capable of describing reality - limit shapes become abstract geometrical models - geometrical models become applied geometry - the art of measurement objectifies the applied geometry - thus geometry and magnitude become the two factors necessary for understanding reality objectively (paraphrasing Part II-sections 8 & 9 of Edmund Husserl's “The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology”)
Emergence “At each level of complexity, entirely new properties appear. [And] at each stage, entirely new laws, concepts, and generalizations are necessary, requiring inspiration and creativity to just as great a degree as in the previous one.” (Anderson, Philip W. More Is Different. Science. 1972)
Let me know what side you're on and why.