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The Nature of Digital Architectural Life: Confounding the threshold between Physus and Nomos
(RMIT University, Melbourne Australia)
2007 (English)In: SAHANZ 2007: Panorama to Paradise / [ed] Stephen Loo, Katharine Bartsch, Adelaide: University of South Australia , 2007Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In her seminal book, The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt draws a distinction between Animal Laborans and Homo Faber. Where Homo Faber is the fabricator of the human world, working with her hands such that the earth is transformed into world, Animal Laborans labours away incessantly in order to sustain the very possibility of the continuance of his life. Arendt also describes an important operational concept that has become even more pertinent of late with respect to (post)digital architectural design production: process. Process is an interminable, even unstoppable force, which Arendt assimilates to the concept of life. With the advent of computation as a crucial part of the representation of architectural projects, and more radically the ever-evolving action concomitant with design, process can be considered a key term. The vital life inherent to the notion of process in fact thwarts the best efforts of Homo Faber, who, according to Arendt’s account, is concerned with ends over means. Process, specifically (post)digital architectural process, celebrates iterative means over the satisfaction of ends. Of particular relevance to this paper is the work of those architects engaged in experimental (post)digital and post-critical practice who are increasingly returning to the study of the growth and evolution of life forms for inspiration. Where architecture seeks an intimate proximity with living organisms to the point at which architectural structures can be said to respond to the life criteria identified by biological science, something would appear to have gone awry with the order of things. Systems of classification pertaining to the life sciences and those architectural objects that are assembled according to the logic of classification come to be confused. In classifying populations of architectural form as though they were living, evolving organisms the particularities of the discipline of design become obscured. The potential that is lost in all this post-critical activity is an active political and ethico-aesthetic engagement with a world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Adelaide: University of South Australia , 2007.
Keyword [en]
Hannah Arendt, post-digital architecture, ethico-aesthetics. process
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion Architecture
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-63531OAI: diva2:491042
2007 SAHANZ CONFERENCE: Panorama to Paradise: Scopic Regimes in Architectural and Urban History and Theory, Friday, 21 September 2007 - Monday, 24 September 2007, Location: UniSA, Hawke Building, City West Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide

QC 20120920

Available from: 2012-02-06 Created: 2012-01-23 Last updated: 2012-09-20Bibliographically approved

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