Over the past centuries, technopolies have gained hold in western society. These have replaced the tool societies, which were common in Europe before the Renaissance. Tool societies, as written in Neil Postman's essay Technopoly, is a society in which machines and tools are part of society, not controlling society. This could be something such as the wheel. This is used by people to transport goods quickly, but in ancient times, it was merely part of the culture of a society. Technopolies, on the other hand, look at technology as changing society, or even controlling it. The discovery of flight completely changed the society that people lived in at the turn of the century. It allowed people to travel quickly across great oceans, a new way for goods to get from Point A to Point B, and infamously a new way of delivering death, first used in World War I and more efficiently above Japan in the 1940's. This has given advantages and disadvantages to the discovery of flight, but it completely changed our culture last century.
A topic that has need to be looked at is nature's role in technology. Is it natural for humans to create buildings like factories and mechanisms like the automobile, or does nature only extend to the tool societies of our past? The technologies from our past such as irrigation and horse-powered carts seem to be natural; they have no mass production to make and it is the result of the environment on humans. That is to say, something such as irrigaton can be different in different places; in Egypt it was the annual flooding of the Nile that saturated the soil with nutrients and water, in East Asia rice paddies require a larger quantity of water for their staple crop, rice, and from the Incan highlands there came terrace farming (although other parts of the world developed the same system on their own). When we look at the technology of today, there seem to be so many synthetic materials and processes that must make these technologies counter to nature. Materials such as rubber are refined by humans to create other synthetic goods. Therefore, they must be unnatural. I do not agree with this.
Even in ancient times, materials were created that were not found laying around or buried within the earth. Bronze could not be found in the world without human assistance; it would exist separatly as tin ore and copper ore. Everything that humans create can be seen as unnatural, even a mud and thatch roof hut. It seems to be me that the natural path of humans is the one that we are already on. It is natural to keep looking for what we do not know. What is questionable is whether these solutions are beneficial or not. This is a subject of continued debate.
Math and architecture must inevitably intertwine and dance together to create something beautiful. As important as math is, however, creativity fosters all architecture, and the one cannot exist without the other. Above are some pictures that I felt related mathematics and architecture. The top picture is a blueprint of what appears to be a shed. There are measurements to show how math carries out the idea as the sort of workhorse of the architect's thought pattern. Below that are two pictures, one a sketch and the other an actual photograph, of geodesic domes. The two of them show what I see to be the pinnacle of a partnership between mathematics and geometry. The structure provides a good deal of space and is also structurally sturdy. Finally, at the bottom, there are two different perspectives of the Great Pyramids at Giza. The pyramids contain such mathematic marvels that some don't believe ancient humans could have built them. The corners are all 90 degrees and point on the four cardinal directions. The angle to the topmost point is a consistant 51.5 degrees. This is the result of the pharaoh, Khufu, wanting a perfect tomb for himself and his wives, and these have all lasted until today and most likely far into the future.
Oppositions can be seen all around us, from the smallest ant picking up a scrap of food twenty times it's size to a wrecking ball demolishing an office building. Some oppositions are consciously considered, such as carrying a heavy load up a flight of stairs, and some oppositions aren't, like the same force of gravity acting on a person walking down the street.
The opposition I am aware of at this moment after entering my residence hall is the difference between the outdoors and indoors. The indoors are warm, cozy, and bright. The outdoors are cold, mysterious, and dark. These two are always shown in artwork, literature, and film as being separate worlds, the indoors symbolizing civilization, wealth, and culture. Outside symbolizes the wilder aspects of the world, an untamed look at the origins of humans and animals.
The whole inside/outside thing got me thinking. I thought about the purposes of shelter, as discussed in one of the most recent readings. In areas such as the Great Plains one of the main functions of shelter is to provide protection from the fast winds that blow off the low hills and mountainless landscape. Here is an opposition: the human need to keep warmth, but the world's wind will not cease. An adequate response is needed. The houses built for the cheapest amount of money resemble a lean-to, with the largest wall facing the wind. Native American houses always had their entries facing away from the wind. In the residence hall I am currently in, these traditions have been thrown away in favor of central heating to keep us warm. This is not efficient, however, even if it solves the problem.
So I discussed the whole 'phenomena' thing today with several people, and I think I can write about them now, as per the title of this entry. I walked back to my dorm room from the architecture building to quickly change my textbook to meet my calculus needs and I noticed the traffic light. I saw these as phenomena in action, sort of like an echo of the lecture of last week, Thursday the 5th. I think I will make a list to show how it breaks down:
Things: Stoplights, cars, the road.
Frameworks: The three of these react with each other to create a framework.
Clockworks: The streetlights switch between red, yellow, and green; the other lights switch between walk and don't walk. These cycles will stay relatively constant throughout the day and for all time, unless the stoplight is demolished.
Phenomena: These three combine to make a phenomena. It has a beginning, which is when the light was built. There is also an explanation of it (built by a construction crew working for the city), as well as a purpose. It is there to control traffic and tell when cars and pedestrians when to cross and when not to. It is also cyclical.