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November 21, 2006

Technology: Good vs. Evil (vs. Equal!)

Technopolies comes across as a very interesting concept to me: there is no good/additive, there is no subtractive/evil, there is only change. It's what that change is *about*, or *why* it is. Unlike the readings before it, I rather enjoyed the philosophy coming from Mr. Postman's points of view (or likewise, Thamus).

As quoted, "...once a technology is admitted, it plays out its hand;it does what it is designed to do... Our task is to understand that design...[and] we must do so with our eyes wide open." This is pretty insightful, if you think about the crushing reality of how nuclear weapons (or any weapon for that matter) were created in the name of technology and have no other purpose but to destroy. Worse than destroy; incinerate, thus removing all of existence. Isn't that kind of what that means? So I have to wonder; what crossed the mind of the scientist(s) who created it? WHO...in their right mind...thinks "hm. I think I'm going to create something that will change the world of mass destruction AS WE KNOW IT...let's have no regard for human life, all in the name of technology." Ok...so maybe I'm being a bit biased, but I feel like in this case, the technopolies at work are portrayed as truly evil. At the same time, it is not on strictly evil basis; without the atomic bomb, there might have been no America after WW2. But why at the cost of lives in Tokyo? It is all drawn back to the point of "change" rather than black or white- there are so many perspectives to look at, to argue.

Technologies are constantly propelling us forward, constantly innovating what we know. I think perhaps Postman is a bit against the idea of technopolies, and in part, he is right. But I can associate a lot of "good" things with change as well.

As from Mr. Lavine's lecture, I have learned technology as not only this cultural change-over, but something found in nature as well. Nature has it's own technology; gravity, the change of climate, sunlight, etc. A quote from Postman's article that I particularily like to draw parallels with this idea is "..technologies create the ways in which people perceive reality." We cannot deny what gravity is. What it does. But what we can do is decide how we want to *look* at gravity, and how we are going to address it in what we build (of course, structures being the one of the most subject physical things on earth to gravity and the laws of physics). People look at the architecture that challenges these technologies and perhaps think it's "different", and since "different" is associated with "bad" in most cases (because we do not like what we can't understand) we come back to the idea of technopolies. Does architecture defy what has already been done? Can it, then, be classified as a technology within itself?

In the book "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand, the young main character challenges architecture as seen by his "superiors," which ultimately labels him as dangerous (or wrong). While obviously there is a lot more to this book (and I would suggest it to anyone even remotely interested in architecture), we can sympathize as an outside perspective that is not emotionally involved with the situation and can draw unbiased conclusions. Which is something I think can be applied to architecture critique today.

Anyways...here are some before/after images of how technology has altered our culture.
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And last, but not least...my favorite application to the technopoly images- technology destructive by nature.
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November 5, 2006

Mathematics + Buildings = Beautiful!

Ok...so it's a really cheesy title. I'm lame and I'm sorry (but not really). Anyways, when I was a junior in high school, my mother and I went out to Washington D.C to see one of her sisters; so, of course, we also had to check out every historical landmark that existed within a 25 mile radius. In downtown D.C there is the Washington National Cathedral, and at the time, it didn't sound too thrilling. The truth was, this building was remarkable in size, beauty, and meaning. The stainglass windows were of holy value, and the stone masonry must have taken a hundred years (no kidding; the cathedral literally took a hundred years to finish building). This doesn't even cover the intricate pathway of underground tunnels beneath the church, as easy for me to get lost in at 17 as it would be if I were 7. What better example of historical architecture can you find, if not in a church? These pictures are from pieces of the church that provide what I think is a good example of mathematics applied in the world of architecture. Not necessarily the kind of math you might expect, but in the most beautiful sense that can represent how architecture uses it.

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I mean, just look at the stainglass windows; the projective and disciplined geometry creates a tangible kaleidoscope. If this isn't purity in the realm of reality and measurement, I don't know what is.