I was really impressed with the website navigator project created by one of the groups in my discussion. I think they really developed something that will benefit the JSV community. Just having the links to the Minnesota colleges accessible to the students in one location may get them to browse the sites and think about going on to college someday. A little encouragement goes a long way. Kudos on an awesome project!
At first I wondered how personal fabrication technology could ever have anything in common with Kahn's ideas about silence and light in architecture. As physical objects, they don't have any obvious similarities, but then I realized it is the ideas that manifest these products that are related. Throughout history, we have viewed production and in invention of these products as a a means to supply for our needs. Products then have been an answer to the general needs of society as a whole. Personal fabrication differs because it supplies a product for only the one person who created it. This product may not even be a response to a need, but just a whimsical fantasy. The desire for something that does not yet exist fuels our inner creative genes. Kahn reflected on this phenomenon, saying that need comes from the known and providing for it brings no joy. But creating the unnecesssary simply from a desire, brings satisfaction and thus a need. He used the example of how Beethoven wrote the Fifth Symphony. There was no need and there still isn't, but would the world be diffenent or less enjoyable for many without it? Its influences of successive music/musicians, culture, etc has then made it necessary.
Kahn voiced the reason we need to be able to create our own products. He described form as a realization of nature. These forms are expressed through different shapes. Forms are born from desires. The designs to make these desires a reality vary as much as the desires that inspired them in the first place. Thus, Kahn concludes that the form in the mind of one person is different in the mind of another. If we were all allowed to make our dreams a physical reality, how would our physical environment as a whole evolve and change?
By making product fabrication a personal activity, we are freed of having to provide for a general populus or majority. The product doesn't have to make sense, or fix anything, or fill in a gap. It doesn't have to derive from research or known facts. It can come from the most minute inspiration or the most off-the-wall idea. Kahn said that these inspirtations assist us when we forget what is known and accepted as solutions and methods. Clearing our minds can make room for a completely different way of viewing a situation. People have been doing this in the artistic fields since we first learned to express our thoughts through different mediums. The arts have continously evolved because there is not one accepted way to create a work of art, but the most genious works of art are those that take the untraveled path and enlighten others to new means and methods of expression. The personal fabrication system will unite this process of thinking and creating with the previously anaytical and structured field of manufacturing and engineering. Our creative side will expression outside of knitting. Leave that to Grandma.
According to Wikipedia, a technopoly is a cultural state of mind that assumes technology is always positive and of value. It seems technology runs our world today. Value is placed on any technology that is newer, faster, and better. If you need an example of how much precidence we put on new technologies, just look to the recent events surrounding the new Playstation 3. Temporary insanity swept through Americans. Thousands of people camped out overnight (some for days) in the cold with just a possiblity of buying one, one man was shot in Connecticut during a mass robbery, and some people were trampled in a race to grab one. A technological toy caused the same mass frenzy a few years ago, Tickle Me Elmo. Does anyone still have theirs and do they even work, or have they all been thrown out with all the other out-dated technological gizmos? What does this value system say about our culture and where our society is headed?
Neil Postman, author of Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, categorized cultures into three types, tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies, ours of course being a technopoly. Basically, he believes that technology has created an new social order in which we view technological advancements as our savior. Technology dictates our way of life, work and play. Postman remarks on our preoccupation with the quality and spread of information, that essentially is distracting us from the true problems plaguing our society, like starvation and crime. These are problems that simply can not be solved by adequate information and better technology.
Anamorphosis is a deformed object that only makes sense when viewed from an unconventional angle. In Renaissance times, the technique was used in art to hide messages or for a fun brain tease like the mural of the Church of St. Ignazio in Rome. Today it is used worldwide to make directions painted on the streets readable from an angle while moving forward. Our minds also change objects that realistically appear to be slanted to ordered images, ie: a building may appear to be more of a rhomus shape but we know that it is square in reality, so that is how we see it. The mathematics of perspective are used everyday in our built environment to make sense of things, make them functional, and to add interesting decoration.