‘When the world throws you too much information, the only way you can stay sane or survive is to look for pattern recognition. Amidst all the blurs, is there a constellation that emerges, is there a straight line that's emerging?’
— Douglas Coupland
Humans (as well as non-humans ) are hardwired for recognizing patterns in their environment. The ability to gauge the weather and to tell an edible plant from a poisonous one has been a crucial feat for human survival. But we have emancipated ourselves from the brute forces of nature thousands of years ago. Today, our biological environment has largely been replaced with a man-made habitat; the techno-ecologies that inhabit our cities are of a very different nature. Not only are they built out of a different breed of patterns, the patterns have their way of patterning us as well. To a large extent algorithms determine our worldview and the concepts of ’truth’ that constitute it, machines are learning from our behavior — and restructure it in return.
As our physical environment gets replaced by information systems, and when those systems shape our environment in return, what does this mean for the way we design? How ‘artificial’ is intelligence, how ‘intelligent’ can design be?
We have to build new conditions and infrastructures to emancipate ourselves from the databases. We have to move beyond existing ‘ways of seeing’ and look for new ‘machine ways of seeing’. We have to take the nonhuman perspective into account in order to better understand our biological needs and desires. Or, as Benjamin Bratton has put it so well: ‘The real philosophical lessons of A.I. will have less to do with humans teaching machines how to think than with machines teaching humans a fuller and truer range of what thinking can be (and for that matter, what being human can be).’
In this edition of the Summer Sessions, we will use the context of Tokyo as input to explore these new pattern languages. But even more so, we will speculate on how we can dream, build and live with them.
KEYWORDSAnimism / Behavioural Psychology / Gamification / Infrastructure Space / Image Consumption / Junkspace / Kawaii Interfaces / New Materialism / Otaku Culture / Sentient Spaces / Sushi as Design Philosophy / Template Culture / Uncanny Valley / Wabi Sabi
SOURCES— A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein, Oxford University Press 1977)— Outing A.I.: Beyond the Turing Test (Benjamin Bratton, Article NY Times 2015)— Ways of Seeing (John Berger, BBC 1972)
POSSIBLE RESEARCH QUESTIONSWe encourage participants to introduce their own research questions which could be, but are certainly not limited to:— Which spatial, systemic, behavioural and aesthetic patterns make Tokyo what it is and how could these patterns be applied to other contexts (such as contemporary design)?— In which ways do animistic patterns in contemporary Japanese culture (such as manga) constitute the relations between human and non-human entities (biological and non-biological) and representations (digital and non-digital)?— How can concepts from AI and robotics (such as the Uncanny Valley theory) be applied to other contexts (such as contemporary design)?— What new patterns do we need to conceive our possible, plausible and desirable futures?