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Broken pots a preamble on Future Cities Archeology

Broken pots a preamble on Future Cities Archeology

Dr. D.W. NicollFaculty of Design Innovation LUCT


FDI at LUCT have identified the research issues they believe are both timely and in which they have an active interest. If we consider that the objective of archeology is typically the construction of a cultural chronology realized through the investigation of human interventions in the natural world, its ultimate objective is the discovery of the processes which always underlay and condition human behavior.

Postgraduate work by students in FDI on the Future Cities Archaeology programme will not only confront questions of form, representation, and the meaning of objects created by homo faber, but these will be considered against a scholarly project of projecting themselves and their product into a future, a constructed future, a highly contrived future. They must then rediscover and reconstruct - piece together their products anew in the light of researches.

In order to accomplish this, they must excavate and locate their products in fictional time and space and relative to other fragments and detritus which has accumulated - dead-ends to development, poor predications, poor methods, incomplete data, competing and redundant product ideas, short lived fads and fashions; serendipity; capricious design, the student must sift out irrelevancies and highlight weaknesses in projection, predictions and, most importantly, in their chosen product project.

When strategically thinking of a future, most individuals and organizations start somehow in the present and only then move to an analysis of history even though paradoxically the now is conditioned and created from fragments of the previous. Nexus as praxis embodies a process of activity, reflection upon activity, collaborative analysis of activity, new activity, more reflection, more collaborative analysis, and so on. Then they revisit the present, where the original problem comes to be reframed, and only then will they consider possible futures. We wish to first build a social and technological future, possible to probable worlds, using available means and methods, and then work back to re-frame our present and pre-existent design product offering.

Evaluation will focus upon their abilities ability to distill from all the forces and influences on a future cities archeological site, the project's essence the potential durability of their own creation/s. Their social acceptance in the socio-technical world of tomorrow with its own moral economies and panics. Situated pedagogy attempts to challenge tradition and mass culture (Kellner, 1995)[footnoteRef:1] by looking for myths to explode, and, by doing so, to expose that history is dynamic, not static (Freire, 1970/1996)[footnoteRef:2]. "A community of practice is a set of relations among persons, activity, and world, over time [. . .] an intrinsic condition for the existence of knowledge [. . .]" (Lave & Wenger, 1991)[footnoteRef:3] Stephen Brookfield emphasizes "praxis" as being at the heart of effective facilitation for critical thinking and reflection, which he defines as "identifying and challenging assumptions and exploring and imagining alternatives."[footnoteRef:4] [1: Kellner, D (1995) Media Culture. London and New York: Routledge.] [2: Freire, P. (1970, 1996) Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin Books. (revised edition)] [3: Lave.J and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge] [4: Brookfield, S. D. (1986). Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(p.80)]

The thought here is that we can draw from our world where the precognitive tools that allow us to navigate terrain depend on observation and intuition to explore geo-historical layers of content and contexts (social, material, psychological, emotional, moral, critical, economics, business models etc.) and so evaluation will also consider if the student has comprehensively and exhaustively covered all grounds and all perspectives with regard to possible and potential contexts. In doing so, they will invent and re-invent the story of their product, its present and future biography.

Because stories are strategies that help humans make sense of their world, narratives not only have a logic but also are a logic in their own right, providing an irreplaceable resource for structuring and comprehending experience. Narratology has developed primarily as an investigation of literary narrative fiction. Linguists, folklorists, psychologists, and sociologists have expanded the inquiry toward oral storytelling, but narratology remains primarily concerned with language-supported stories. We would like to see evidence of convincing stories, myths of the product project work as a pole of attraction linking the enhanced design product object or building to the exigencies that support or threaten it. As such we consider tangible products and their supporting services as texts. Both in a purely semiotic sense, as well as from the perspective employed typically by Archeologists as they interpret layers as indicative of successive time frames.

At FCA@FDI we emphasize process and method over content in the early explorations of the student. What are the best approaches to building knowledge of this artifact or service in a social, economic and experiential world of the future? For instance, does it require particularized knowledge and theories of its application or are its insights to be gained through abstraction and generalization, knowledge that could be applied across product types and categories?

What stories can a design product tell of itself its pedigree, its gene pool, its past, present and future - how does that which exists guide collective action in production and use? How does the finished article guide collective materials, components and ingredients, not least to say cultural and psychosocial data in their production and use? Research students of FCA@FDI make this guidance explicit in their written work and develop frameworks that can help organizations acknowledge past contributions, understand turning points and explore and nurture future possibilities.

As such this exercise must consider that all objects have places of origin - when they leave them, whether yesterday, one hundred, or five thousand years ago - they begin to lose specific traits. All objects come to have and occupy spaces; many of these are the home, the habitat. Here they meld with the territory, they become domesticated and invisible, or they perform daily function, unnoticed until they breakdown.

Replacing progressive and linear theories of stylistic change, the anthropological art historian, George Kubler argued over 40 years ago in his seminal The Shape of Time (1962) that an art object points to the existence of some problem to which there have been other solutions and that other solutions to this same problem will most likely be invented to follow the one now in view.[footnoteRef:5] [5: Kubler, G. (1962) The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things New Haven: Yale University Press, p.33.]

This adroit analysis of the history of ideas and art objects suggests the problem at hand is it possible to project forward with any degree of certainty with a view to working backwards to the present? The accumulation of material and ideological culture alone survives to represent the evolution of humankind. This point may be self-evident to the archaeologist. We hold that this represents a rich scholarly exercise which has vast intrinsic value to design practice and study.

Slow design and the long now

Design is typically, always done with some future in mind. This is most noticeably immediate, i.e. lust for result in creating the prototype, or it may be the consideration of a longer process taken from sustainable design practice and ideas is Fornitores Terra Grass Armchair. A subtle merging of man and nature reminiscent of an iron age burial mound. A biodegradable cardboard frame allows grass to encompass itself, eventually lending a seat.

The process of a slow design is comprehensive, holistic, inclusive, reflective and considered. It permits evolution and development of the design outcomes. The dynamics underlying coherent change practice are as systemic as the natural process of photosynthesis. Understanding these patterns is a key to good design and personal design mastery. It may be For instance, the designer may build, adapt and maintain views of the situations and environments where the product will exist; will be used; how it will weave into the fabrics of the users everyday life.

However we rarely ground our projections by research, or even research this extensively or properly, nor do we instill data from such studies in our designs, not that we may we wish to, nor may it be relevant or even worthwhile doing so. It may simply not be possible to imbue the product with anything of these researches. Rather we often adopt a more conservative attitude which has us complacent that our creation today is destined for the realm of the classic tomorrow. But while we may not all capable of creating the classic, can cogently argue regarding what will be classic tomorrow?

In the future, non-classics, neo-classics, non-durable products, like potteries in orthodox archeological excavations are forgotten, it is forgotten also who made them, when they were made, how they were used. Can artifacts and ideas whose origins in the future spring from foreign cultures or distant times actually be germane today? Can we project forward in an informed way in order to work our way back to the ever present now, the long inescapable, infinite, indivisible ess