December 12, 2006

FAB and the Sun

Gershenfeld's "Fab" article touched upon - in the deepest sense - the idea of one machine labeled a 'personal fabricator' (PF) would ultimately construct almost anything programmed into its computer. They consist of 2-D panel printing that would be assembled together, logic board printing, sensing, actuation, and display; in whatever form. One student of his built an alarm clock that focuses on the task of actually keeping the person awake after the alarm sounds. In order to snooze the alarm, one must complete a complex touching of randomly generated lights on little posts.

Now, Gershenfeld stresses the motive behind the projects he writes about. It is not an invention with which to market across the world, but rather a motivation of personal pleasure in making and using their inventions. It is this idea, in its purity, that gives Gershenfeld further evidence that this machine will be a success in many ways. He applies this device to the real world;
"The big machines will continue to mass-produce things used in large quantities; nuts and bolts are valuable because they're identical rather than unique. But little machines will custom-make the products that depend on differences, the kinds of things being made in the fab class and fab labs." He goes on to explain that students constantly focused on personal needs/wants.

A question comes to mind; Will the PF become too focused on personal obsession and selfishness? This argument could go on for days, I just wanted to present the idea.

I want to focus on Kahn's text regarding light. He begins to define the Sun as the center for all light, shadows, and life, really; since the Sun (light) produces life and we perceive the world, most of us anyway, through recepters in our brain/eyes. Our view on reality is then noticed. With this notification, we produce desires that forms whatever follows. In other words, form follows desire. The form we develop births elements. And design is the internal fighting to develop these elements. He proceeds to discuss the relationship of realizations of nature, form, and design. "To an architect the plan is a sheet on which appears the order of the structure of spaces in their light."

To relate the two articles, I want to simply converge these two notions. So, allow nature to guide your design path and use the PF as a tool, not only a convenience. Gershenfeld explains that he believes the PF will serve as a means to put the idea of the machine back into the hands of the human; instead of the other way around as it supposedly is today. In doing so, control the machine; do not let the machine control you. I'm interested to see where this concept/practice goes, but at the same time nervous.


"I might say that everything must begin with poetry."
-Kahn

November 29, 2006

Technopolies

At first glance of the word 'technopoly' two very potent words can be derived: Technology and Monopoly. In our American culture both are highly abundant, although monopolies exist in rarer forms on big scales, while technology exists everywhere on many scales. In any case, this was an idea that I had never come across before. The word enables me to better explain the way we live and understand the ideas Postman discusses in his article. Before I get too far with my tangents, writing, numeration scales and computers are all in the same category (technology); with different effects of course since they each entail their own societal usages. Postman takes technology a step further and dubs our society that of a technopoly; which attempts to couple the order of nature and such things as writing and grading in order to explain the role of technology and its transformation in our society.

The grounding argument is that ONE alteration in the order or nature will inevitably, scientifically alter many other processes of nature; or human nature since we're talking about our grading scale, computers, etc. As far as the order of nature (in the wild, say), there is always a goal for constant equilibrium of plants, food, animals, shelter, security. What I mean by this is to mention evolution and natural selection...things happen naturally and to the benefit of the fittest; in other words, there is a natural order. All I'm saying here is that the invention of the technology of writing changes all other processes of our culture; hence, analogous to the order or nature in that as one thing changes all other things must change or alter their presence in some form or another.

To further explain the relationship between the technology of writing and the order of nature consider this: As writing became gradually more mainstream, other ways of life changed. Oral learning and communication were used less; group activities, cooperation, and a sense of social responsibility suffered as a result. This is what I mean by OUR order of nature as an American culture. It is never the case that ONE medium (ie. writing) or aspect of life is solely altered, but it is the case that causes a domino effect on other things. It DOES NOT ADD or SUBTRACT anything, it CHANGES EVERYTHING; even culture.

Too often of times, new technology is based on increasing efficiency and saving money due to our American ways and culture. When what we should really consider is our conception of learning, the quality of the material, etc. Television is a prime example of the effects certain media can have on viewers, especially children in their developing years. The people/organizations in charge of running and airing gargabe (propaganda; in whatever form) on T.V. tend to control those minds that watch it daily. The more one focuses on a certain programming is conditioned to believe that content much more readily than someone who has seen it a couple of times. So many conceptions of reality come from the T.V.; regarding war, racism, happiness, social "in's".

Not all conceptions we receive from T.V. effect our society in negative ways, but those effects are rarely considered since we have become so desensitized to that way of life. We learn to write from a young age and watch television before we can walk; such activities are engraved within us.

We need to consider new technologies before they come into mass production and change our lives before we even realize it. Look at the PC/Mac. I find people for and against the use of computers all over; are they useful tools to humanity? or will they become or take or humanity in the future? If you think about it, computers seem to be getting exponentially smarter so why wouldn't that be possible? I'd rather leave that question for the future...

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In the caption, the man predicts computers the sizes of rooms will hit homes in 2004. Looks like he was wrong. One obsession within a culture can change the way most of the world functions and lives.

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Will online, virtual classes take over the social skills one acquires when in physical classrooms?

Thought this was pretty interesting: https://www.lighttounite.org/
Demonstrates the role of computers within our digital world using Virtual Candle Lighting. Apparently, they will give one dollar for everyone that lights the candle to the World AIDS Fund. Check it out.

November 6, 2006

Connecting Design to Mathematics

Mathematics is a useful tool; it can increase productivity or be used to define an environment, space, or objects. As a developed society in the educated world, we assume our children to obtain this knowledge through practically each year of shcooling; some study it more intensive than others and perhaps even make a living out of it. Whether or not some people make a profession out of it, there is this base of knowledge in mathematics everyone is ought to have been educated on. With this, we can estimate solutions to such every day problems like how much of something we need to buy...how long it will take to get somewhere...etc. It helps us organize our lives.

Regarding certain design processes, an organization base is key using mathematics. For example, many people use Geometry as a foundation to create QUILTS. Quilts of all sizes and designs are constructed using geometry. Consider the following process:

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You can see the seperate steps in creating this design. Variables are added in each step, or lines in this case. At step 3, there is a distinctive step forward to a 3rd dimension. By adding more lines (as variables), we can now depict layers upon layers; more dinstinctively in the last step. The designs are also very subjective; where one person might perceive a layer or point on the graphic to be in the background of the image while another person might perceive the same point to be in the foreground. Its subjective qualities are what make it interesting and an even more interesting point is the fact that mathematics are meant to be completely objective; obviously not in this visual case.

Among contrasting cultures or countries emerge different framework behind creating these patchworks. English patchwork is focused on tessellations; squares and hexagons while American work is usually based on patterns in a square that are added to one another; hence, multiple ways to perceive mathematics within one practice of design.

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Added color:
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October 23, 2006

Oppositions

Oppositions exist everywhere in our perceived world. They are products of our intuition and thought to such things as man and land, mass and form, to gravity and movement, to permanence and entropy, to material and tools.

Gravity/Movement-
I recall one particular instance that happened about 10 or 12 years ago in Northern Wisconsin. I accompanied my dad, brother (5 years older than me), and his boy scout team on a hike along a path in very brisk weather. Along the path, we come up to a designated area before being haulted by a 100 foot drop between a fast-moving river and a bridge comprised of steel rails and wooden ties; it was an abandoned railroad track without hand rails or anything preventing one wrong slip and chaos.

I realize that the original idea was not to transport humans on hands and knees, but this classic hand-made opposition for trains did not make me happy. This train-turned-human bridge supported our team of brave scouts across this devestating drop. Each tie i crossed gave me a view straight down between them. So, an example of different solutions to oppositions result from my experience. No sane human would consider going across that bridge had it still been in service; although, I wasn't quite old enough to determine it for myself and I'm sure my pops wouldn't have told me the truth. Nevertheless, one solution can be abandoned and used for the same purpose (to transport humans across a valley), but in a different way (by foot).

Man/Lighting in order to Move-
Naturally, it is not always bright outside so our obvious response to the lack of sun is alternate sources of LIGHTING; most commonly candles or electric lighting through bulbs. The candles give more of a tranquil and perhaps natural setting; one I enjoy relaxing and working in. On the other hand, electricity is routed throughout cities in most areas since no one place is naturally lit at night. This gives us a visual sense of space to allow comfortable movement around developed space.

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October 9, 2006

Espresso Maker Framework/Clockwork

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Stovetop espresso makers, also known as macchinettas, are things. Consisting of three seperate physical parts, one of which has a hinged part:

Framework>
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It is made out of aluminum with a hexagonal shape that inhances the espresso's aroma. The plastic/rubber handle resists heat conduction. It is lightweight and very durable.

Clockwork>
Water is added to the resovoir at the bottom of the Framework to the desired level. Espresso coffee grounds are then stuffed into the middle part in correspondence with how much water is added. The coffee ground piece is placed into the water resovoir where the funnel is submersed in the water. The remaining piece is placed on top and screwed on; with an upright funnel and an empty resovoir. Then, place over source of heat; flame or electric stove. As the water heats up, pressure it built. Water is then filtered up through the coffee grounds, up through the top funnel and into the top resovoir. The lid is opened and poured to drink.

October 2, 2006

'Genius Loci'

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The Square and Basilica of Saint Peter is located in Rome, Italy. It is a church constructed 500 years ago.

Presumptions regarding the scale of monuments, or not knowing what to expect in their presence, can have very surprising consequences. Upon entering the Basilica di San Pietro from the East, you are overwhelmed with 284 columns and 88 pilasters of travertine marble. Each 13 meters tall, it is an amazing scene.

If the columns weren't enough, attention is quickly directed North from the spacious, 240m wide courtyard (the Piazza di San Pietro) to St. Peters Basilica.

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Past the water fountains, you'd previously only find in dreams, is the massive Basilica and Michelangelo's famous dome. It is here inside where space becomes heaven and height, beauty and glamor, in its most prestine form, is wondered over.

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That picture is in its raw form as taken inside the Church. Words really cannot describe the phenomena that occur inside a building size-relative to humans that convince you to believe we were ants. Admire the sun rays conforming to the room and blasting atop people as if 'the Lord' was obducting the Church's visitors. By far, the most emaculate, beautiful building I have ever seen. The amount of heart and soul given to the construction of the Basilica is beyond me and something you can only feel in the presence of it.

Photo on the Dome deck overlooking the Piazza di San Pietro:
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September 25, 2006

Social Design Issue - Sustainability

Douglas L Steidl, the President of the FAIA (America's Community of Architects), persists with 'Inciting a Green Revolution' among the profession of Architecture. He recognizes that gas prices and amounting scientific evidence of climate change are swaying public opinion at 'the grassroots level.'

The AIA is associated with being very active in the future sustainability of architecture. Steidl says:

"The growing awareness comes at the very time architects are prepared to be an important part of the solution. After all, we know that building construction and operation account for about 48 percent of all energy used and consume many natural resources. We know that how we design and build can make a difference."
[http://www.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek05/tw0701/0701pres_steidl.htm]

Recognizing a problem with resource consumption without actually taking action for the community and the world is not good enough. It is pretty clear, to me, that climate has been indeed reaching extremes in the past several years and has not been reverting itself. So many unnecessary, resource bearing steps are taken to reach point A, on a map, to point B. Is it really that devestating to your health, or any issue for that matter, to ride a bike a mile instead of driving a car or moped? This isn't the only example of laziness in our American culture today. Especially as a student living on campus, we have many obligations to nature and our surroundings; to preserve, learn and practice informative, daily 'green' activities.

It's amazing to me how riding a bike puts a completely different perspective on life and community as opposed to driving around in a car. You are better able to understand your designed environment; it's purpose and activity in supplying it's inhabitant's lives with pleasure and ease. The better I can understand my environment, the more I can help to try and give back to it and the people who inhabit it.

Please peep the following link for more insight on the whole deal:
[http://www.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek05/tw0701/0701pres_steidl.htm]

September 19, 2006

The Midtown Global Market

As soon as I walked into the Midtown Market I was overwhelmed with the variety of colors in the air; in both visual and cultural senses. It felt like someone was injecting me with a euphoric paranoia in that the more attention I gave to the unknown yielded a higher anxiety that eventually benefitted me with new cultural knowledge and schema. Anytime I can better understand different ethnicities and what they offer to the world I try to take advantage of the opportunity.

I soon discovered the extent of this stimulation to be embedded within the roots of each culture and subculture. So, each person present in this space, allocated for producers, consumers or passersby, held his or her own identity established from their own unique experience in life. In this case, their experience has been best depicted through their product; usually traditional foods.

The presence of energy was obvious. Transferred through the colorful air, through the gathering of diverse cultures and through the aknowledgement of valuable, cultural information.

I wasn't able to taste each culture, but I plan to return to sample as many foods as possible.