Heidegger."Buiding, Dwelling, Thinking" vs. Ponty's. "Phenomenology of Perception"

"To be sure, the bridge is a thing of its own kind; for it gathers the fourfold in such a way that it allows a site for it. But only something that is itself a location can make space for a site. The location is not already therefore the bridge is. Before the bridge stands, there are of course many spots along the stream that can be occupied by something. One of them proves to be a location, and does so because of the bridge. Thus the bridge does not first come to a location, and stand on it; rather, a location comes into existence only by virtue of the bridge. The bridge is a thing; it gathers the fourfold, but in such a way that it allows a site for the fourfold. By this site are determined the localities and ways by which a space is provided for."

A meandering river

A meandering river presenced by a bridge

If this is in fact the case, does it have to be a man made 'thing' which presences, or is it just the 'other' nature of the bridge, which allows the location to come into existence? So, could for example the old mysterious tree from Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow serve the same purpose? This was a tree which was like all the other trees of the forest in its 'treeness', but was absolutely something other in it's character and form. So, does the 'thing' bringing locations into existence have to be a man-made 'thing' or can the 'thing' remain simply a markedly different or 'other' thing from its surroundings? I think Heidegger would contend that a tree such as the example given in 'Sleepy Hollow' would not suffice because of its direct relation to the fourfold. Maurice Merleau - Ponty may have a different paradigm on the subject.

In Maurice Merleau Ponty's book Phenomenology of Perception he describes a single red spot painted over a field of gray. Here, Ponty contends that it is the red spot itself which allows the understanding of the field. The 'presencing' of the red painted spot, provides us the ability to describe the gray field in which the spot sits. Before there was simply a field of gray with little if any differentiation. Yet, once we have painted the red spot, the spot has creates the perception that everything of the gray color is merely contextualizing the red spot. He goes on further, saying that we want to see this simple red spot as being within the field of gray when actually this red dot is painted on top of the gray placing it in another context all together. It is then, our consciousness which we impose on the simplicity of the red painted dot, resting on top of the gray field, which allows us the ability to speak about the two colors of paint in relation to the other. I believe, the presencing of a location by the building of a bridge, which Heidegger writes about is similar if not the same point Ponty is making about the relationship of two colors on a canvas. Does a natural site and a man-made structure outside the realm of 'the fourfold' differ from a canvas field and a paint spot? I believe these are two philosophers describing the same subject matter through disparate avenues.

Heidegger. Building, Dwelling, Thinking_the fourfold

a) What is it to dwell?
b) How does building belong to dwelling?

"dwelling and building are related as ends and means"_
(pt.1 pg.2)
The common relationship between dwelling and building are that in order for man to dwell we must build. We do not think of ourselves as inherently dwelling. For one reason or another man must produce a 'thing' as set apart from the world in which to dwell. Heideggers' point in this statement is that this common paradigm is inherently wrong. That we as humans by inhabiting this earth are, at all times, dwelling. This is further explained in the following quote:

"For building is not merely a means and a way towards dwelling - to build is in itself already to dwell" _
(pt.1 pg.2)
Heideggers' illustrates his point by arguing that we are born inhabiting what he calls 'the fourfold'.

1. Earth is the serving bearer, blossoming and fruiting, spreading out in rock and water, rising up into plant and animal. When we say earth, we are already thinking of the other three along with it, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four.

2. The sky is the vaulting path of the sun, the course of the changing moon, the wandering glitter of the starts, the year's seasons and their changes, the light and dusk of day, the gloom and glow of night, the clemency and inclemency of the weather, the drifting clouds and blue depth of the ether. When we say sky, we are
already thinking of the other three along with it, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four.
3. The divinities are the beckoning messengers of the godhead. Out of the holy sway of the godhead, the god appears in his presence or withdraws into his concealment. When we speak of the divinities, we are already thinking of the
other three along with it, but we give no though
t to the simple oneness of the four.

4. The mortals are the human beings. They are called the mortals because they can die. To die means to be capable of death as death. Only man dies, and indeed continually, as long as he remains on earth, under the sky, before thee divinities. When we speak of mortals we
are already thinking of the
other three along with it, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four.
Mortals are in the fourfold by dwelling.


Where Work gets Done

Increasingly, the model within which the office environment has operated is changing. Leaders of high design office furniture products like Haworth, Steelcase, and Herman Miller are realizing they are rapidly loosing their market. As speakers like Jason Fried illustrate, the office is slowly becoming the symbol of non-productive corporations. So, the question for companies such as these is... where does the future of our company lie? Or, even worse. Does our company have a future? While Jason's argument here is not a statement as bold as "the death of the modern office", he does suggest that truly productive individuals don't get work done at the office. But they do get work done in other locations. The question then is... if employees are not productive in the office environment, in what types of places are they productive and what does this mean for the office of the future. Is it the office itself that needs to be redesigned, or is it a social design problem where we simply need to figure out how to organize individuals within the office so they can be truly productive. While Jason Fried addresses the "social design" aspect through recommending large blocks of time for individuals to be alone, I suspect this is only one piece, at the micro scale, of a much larger problem festering within the corporate office.


A Question of Value

There exists in the world of street art an interesting question. Is all street art detrimental to a community, or are there examples of graffiti that is positive? And if there are examples of, what is deemed, "positive graffiti", at what point do those works change from being a blight, something chaotic and ugly, to becoming something valued within a community? I feel this is an interesting question for which there really is no clear answer. Is it the amount of time spent creating a piece? Or how well thought out the tag was before execution? Is graffiti more easily adopted if it is done by an individual? Or does the group mentality have a tendency to create more "beautiful" tags? That being said, the crew of TPL is clearly creating works of art that traditionally offer commentary on the city or the world around us, while remaining unmistakably meaningful.

P.S. there is a small section of this video (5:00) that gets a bit grainy. It clears up at the end and is worth it.


Fractal Video

Phenomenal application of Benoit's mathematical model. This is done by Subblue and is simply a plugging in of the mathematical script and letting it run.


Questioning Meaning in Graffiti and Art

I recently watched a documentary, which made me question the validity of meaning in artistic endeavors. Banksy, a british graffiti artist himself, directs this documentary about a shop owner obsessed with filming his life and the world around him. To give focus to his obsession with film, Andre (the protagonist) decides to begin filming the exploits of his relative( a graffiti artist). As Andre follows his relative, he increasingly encounters other graffiti artists, which he develops friendships with and chooses also to follow. Over the course of a few years he starts following more notable artists like "Space Invader" and finally, a very notable graffiti artist in Britain, Banksy himself.

Andre develops a friendship with Banksy, who thinks Andre is a documentarian and decides to allow Andre into his traditionally highly secretive world. After following Banksy for some time, Andre is finally asked to assemble his library of footage into a documentary. The problem is Andre is not a documentarian at all. He is simply, to put it bluntly, a guy with a camera. Upon realizing that Andre is not a documentarian, Bansky suggests to Andre that he try his own hand at graffiti to help him contextualize what is important about "writing"(a term used to identify a graffiti artist within the culture).

The production of a minimal body of artistic pieces that Andre produces provokes Banksy to suggest he put on a small art show. In an attempt to impress Banksy, Andre sells off his shop to get money for the art show and hires a number of already active graphic and pop artists to help him increase his volume of work. Finally, Andre puts together an art show, which is absolutely meaningless and devoid of any actual substance at all, and is met with rave reviews. Pieces of art are sold at fantastic prices and Andre recoups the cost of selling his shop and putting on the show: three fold.

The question this documentary poses is, what is the connection between artistic works and meaning? If the observer thinks there is meaning in a work and values it for this perceived meaning does that make the work meaningful? In this case, it is clear that the works Andre produces are meaningless. Mere random acts attempting to emulate artistic meaning, but failing miserably. Therefore, is it important for an artist to breath meaning into a work of art, to have values or convictions they are attempting to get across? Or, is it still art if the "artist" merely creates the impression of meaning? If Andre's case serves as a valid example, maybe the latter is enough. For those of us in the artistic profession, I sincerely hope this is not the case...

I have more to say on this subject, but in the interests of clarity I will amputate there.


Ron Eglash & Fractals

Fractals is a term coined by french american mathematician Benoit Mendelbrot in the 1970's. Here Ron Eglash continues his exploration in relation to African villages with quite interesting results.

One of Benoit's original fractals using mathematics.

A Cursory Introduction to Fractals

This film introduces Fractals and their vast proliferation within all living things. I find the scalar relationship of fractals absolutely amazing. This documentary also addresses the proliferation of computer technology and the niche that is filled by mathematical equations derived from Benoit's discovery.

Fall '10_Visible Certainty_Independent Study_1.0

Upon taking Visible Certainty a second time I thought it might help illustrate design development by posting my more recent projects. While the topic of these lineages is different than the first time around the subject matter remains similar.

This process began by gathering precipitation data for a site located adjacent to the Galien River in New Buffalo, MI.

The data was then assessed and categorized placing two dimensional rings of appropriate diameter to represent each months total precipitation data.

In conjunction with the organization of the raw data, an armature was manipulated based on the topography of the site in both plan and elevation.

Each of the two dimensional circles is then placed along the spline in time sequence. Once assembled a simple loft is projected around the two dimensional circles creating a three dimensional form based on the inserted data and context of the site.

Fall '10_Visible Certainty_Independent Study_1.1

Each of the years of precipitation data are markedly different based on the fluctuations of precipitation of each year.

After each year is lofted the final strand is assembled resembling a deformed pearl necklace.

The final step is to simply contextualize the data.