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Broken pots a preamble on Future Cities Archeology

Dr. D.W. Nicoll Faculty of Design Innovation LUCT

Introduction FDI at LUCT have identified the research issues they believe are both timely and in which they have an active interest. If we consider that the objective of archeology is typically the construction of a cultural chronology realized through the investigation of human interventions in the natural world, its ultimate objective is the discovery of the processes which always underlay and condition human behavior. Postgraduate work by students in FDI on the Future Cities Archaeology programme will not only confront questions of form, representation, and the meaning of objects created by homo faber, but these will be considered against a scholarly project of projecting themselves and their product into a future, a constructed future, a highly contrived future. They must then rediscover and reconstruct - piece together their products anew in the light of researches. In order to accomplish this, they must excavate and locate their products in fictional time and space and relative to other fragments and detritus which has accumulated - dead-ends to development, poor predications, poor methods, incomplete data, competing and redundant product ideas, short lived fads and fashions; serendipity; capricious design, the student must sift out irrelevancies and highlight weaknesses in projection, predictions and, most importantly, in their chosen product project. When strategically thinking of a future, most individuals and organizations start somehow in the present and only then move to an analysis of history even though paradoxically the now is conditioned and created from fragments of the previous. Nexus as praxis embodies a process of activity, reflection upon activity, collaborative analysis of activity, new activity, more reflection, more collaborative analysis, and so on. Then they revisit the present, where the original problem comes to be reframed, and only then will they consider possible futures. We wish to first build a social and technological future, possible to probable worlds, using available means and methods, and then work back to re-frame our present and pre-existent design product offering.

Evaluation will focus upon their abilities ability to distill from all the forces and influences on a future cities archeological site, the project's essence the potential durability of their own creation/s. Their social acceptance in the sociotechnical world of tomorrow with its own moral economies and panics. Situated pedagogy attempts to challenge tradition and mass culture (Kellner, 1995) 1 by looking for myths to explode, and, by doing so, to expose that history is dynamic, not static (Freire, 1970/1996) 2 . "A community of practice is a set of relations among persons, activity, and world, over time [. . .] an intrinsic condition for the existence of knowledge [. . .]" (Lave & Wenger, 1991) 3 Stephen Brookfield emphasizes "praxis" as being at the heart of effective facilitation for critical thinking and reflection, which he defines as "identifying and challenging assumptions and exploring and imagining alternatives."4 The thought here is that we can draw from our world where the precognitive tools that allow us to navigate terrain depend on observation and intuition to explore geo-historical layers of content and contexts (social, material, psychological, emotional, moral, critical, economics, business models etc.) and so evaluation will also consider if the student has comprehensively and exhaustively covered all grounds and all perspectives with regard to possible and potential contexts. In

Kellner, D (1995) Media Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Freire, P. (1970, 1996) Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin Books. (revised edition)

Lave.J and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation , Cambridge: University of Cambridge 4 Brookfield, S. D. (1986). Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. San Francisco: JosseyBass.(p.80)

doing so, they will invent and re-invent the story of their product, its present and future biography. Because stories are strategies that help humans make sense of their world, narratives not only have a logic but also are a logic in their own right, providing an irreplaceable resource for structuring and comprehending experience. Narratology has developed primarily as an investigation of literary narrative fiction. Linguists, folklorists, psychologists, and sociologists have expanded the inquiry toward oral storytelling, but narratology remains primarily concerned with language-supported stories. We would like to see evidence of convincing stories, myths of the product project work as a pole of attraction linking the enhanced design product object or building to the exigencies that support or threaten it. As such we consider tangible products and their supporting services as texts. Both in a purely semiotic sense, as well as from the perspective employed typically by Archeologists as they interpret layers as indicative of successive time frames. At FCA@FDI we emphasize process and method over content in the early explorations of the student. What are the best approaches to building knowledge of this artifact or service in a social, economic and experiential world of the future? For instance, does it require particularized knowledge and theories of its application or are its insights to be gained through abstraction and generalization, knowledge that could be applied across product types and categories? What stories can a design product tell of itself its pedigree, its gene pool, its past, present and future - how does that which exists guide collective action in production and use? How does the finished article guide collective materials, components and ingredients, not least to say cultural and psychosocial data in their production and use? Research students of FCA@FDI make this guidance explicit in their written work and develop frameworks that can help organizations acknowledge past contributions, understand turning points and explore and nurture future possibilities. As such this exercise must consider that all objects have places of origin - when they leave them, whether yesterday, one hundred, or five thousand years ago - they begin to lose specific traits. All objects come to have and occupy spaces; many of these are the home, the habitat. Here they meld with the territory, they become domesticated and invisible, or they perform daily function, unnoticed until they breakdown. Replacing progressive and linear theories of stylistic change, the anthropological art historian, George Kubler argued over 40 years ago in his seminal The Shape of Time

(1962) that an art object points to the existence of some problem to which there have been other solutions and that other solutions to this same problem will most likely be invented to follow the one now in view.5 This adroit analysis of the history of ideas and art objects suggests the problem at hand is it possible to project forward with any degree of certainty with a view to working backwards to the present? The accumulation of material and ideological culture alone survives to represent the evolution of humankind. This point may be self-evident to the archaeologist. We hold that this represents a rich scholarly exercise which has vast intrinsic value to design practice and study.

Slow design and the long now Design is typically, always done with some future in mind. This is most noticeably immediate, i.e. lust for result in creating the prototype, or it may be the consideration of a longer process taken from sustainable design practice and ideas is Fornitores Terra Grass Armchair. A subtle merging of man and nature reminiscent of an iron age burial mound. A biodegradable cardboard frame allows grass to encompass itself, eventually lending a seat.

Kubler, G. (1962) The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things New Haven: Yale University Press, p.33.

The process of a slow design is comprehensive, holistic, inclusive, reflective and considered. It permits evolution and development of the design outcomes. The dynamics underlying coherent change practice are as systemic as the natural process of photosynthesis. Understanding these patterns is a key to good design and personal design mastery. It may be For instance, the designer may build, adapt and maintain views of the situations and environments where the product will exist; will be used; how it will weave into the fabrics of the users everyday life. However we rarely ground our projections by research, or even research this extensively or properly, nor do we instill data from such studies in our designs, not that we may we wish to, nor may it be relevant or even worthwhile doing so. It may simply not be possible to imbue the product with anything of these researches. Rather we often adopt a more conservative attitude which has us

complacent that our creation today is destined for the realm of the classic tomorrow. But while we may not all capable of creating the classic, can cogently argue regarding what will be classic tomorrow? In the future, non-classics, neoclassics, non-durable products, like potteries in orthodox archeological excavations are forgotten, it is forgotten also who made them, when they were made, how they were used. Can artifacts and ideas whose origins in the future spring from foreign cultures or distant times actually be germane today? Can we project forward in an informed way in order to work our way back to the ever present now, the long inescapable, infinite, indivisible essence of now? Early art that is articulate speaks to us because it is attuned to current necessities. Can we for the purposes of study and investigation turn this around? Can the future product speak to us only in limited articulations? What are the lacunae in our knowledge of future sociabilities, technologies, and who can dictate how needs and wants will arise and be answered? It certainly appears that in our conceptual and material sophistication we are not so nave that we were at the advent of cinematic and literal proposals of the future 6, nor those of events held to praise and celebrate modernity such as the World Fair in Chicago, in 1935 or the Festival or Britain in 1955, or Disneys venture into town creation and planning - Celebration Florida. Our common humanity explains both our need and our ability to draw insights from the creations of others. The Modern mind is a hybrid composite of an Episodic Mind, a Mimetic Mind, a Narrative Mind (with its Mythic Culture), and the Modern Mind extended by external static symbol systems (with its Written/Theoretic Culture). No matter how dispersed the origins, objects coalesce as pertinent answers to perennial, duplicative questions. Replacing progressive and linear theories of stylistic change, the modern configuration of traditional practices and everyday routines embraces objects clustered closely in meaning but diverse in material, cultural, and temporal origins. This dynamic grouping is legitimate because human character and biology change far more slowlyif at allthan do technologies or economics. We are far closer to our historical or foreign brethren than we usually imagine. We share a remembrance of our common destiny of death, our equivalent senses of hunger and satiation, and our inescapable emotions of joy and sorrow.

Herman Kahn and Anthony J. Weiner and the Hudson Institute, wrote the definitive Futurology book: "The Year 2000" (New York: Macmillan, 1968)

Domestication and habitat The essential boundless and primordial energy that design work embodies may be what prevents many projects from being built in the first place, for capturing something so ephemeral within the solidity and fixity of architectures and knowledge structures such as taxonomies - seem almost impossible. Plasticity and mobility, the ideas and concepts, takes on completely new nuance when placed against the grid, the matrix or network and the digital. Like the fickle and felling emotions, the waxing and waning of interests in everyday life.

Conceptually putting people and their experience at the centre of our attention, as it was during the time of the renaissance and the enlightenment, is a simple way of organizing and integrating ideas about design expressions of multiple kinds. While cannot possibly be expected to control peoples subjective experience, they can adjust design expressions - the formal and behavioral qualities of design - to influence emotions and experience appropriately. The relation between objects and ideas becomes ever more fluid? As Jean Baudrillard has it: "The simulation of something which never really existed" or Umberco Eco when he refers to: "the authentic fake." Even exhaustive knowledge about a Czanne distillation of Mont Sainte-Victoire or a Jackson Pollock flung-pigment painting does not permit our experience to match the artists. The Rorschach ink blot, our musings on the meaning of a foreign language or ritual, a painting in a waiting room, the look on someones face cant help but invoke our powers to create patterns of meanings where none exists.

Human beings are incorrigible pattern makers and seekers. Even if makers are known, as with documented self-taught or Art Brut artists, their conceptual system still may be impenetrable. Yet the art remains extraordinary and compelling. We seem destined to stitch together, as seekers, glimpses of each story; we learn about other times and places; we interweave our own immediate, personal, and vibrant relationships. Art is always moving away from its origins, suffering an inevitable loss of context. However, beneficially, the accretion of time permits related objects to be newly grouped, bridging time and geography in new fusions. As Cyberpunk author William Gibson states: the futures already here, its just unevenly distributed. Shreds of pottery, bits of jewelry, reconstructed whole vessels are not transparent windows into the past, but membranes that express their own properties and qualities. They were once cherished as possession and as useful. They were close. They were networked to our beingin-the-world. Future sociability reconfiguration co-shaping and plasticity, configuration and

We would like to believe in the potential of computational technology as a material interwoven seamlessly to support into everyday life our modern beingin-the-world. We would like to believe in such well designed visions of the future as those proposed by Philips, where devices are not personal because they take up personal space but because they support flexible and open styles of to support the flows of our evolving lifestyles.7 The nodes, the junctures of idea and object, actor and actant are hashed and recycled, deconstructed and reconstructed, mashed and rendered. The virtual bites back and influences and reconfigures the tangible, the visceral, and the embodied. Psychology is the physics of the virtual. The virtual, the possible, is the physics of the psychological. The mimetic, pre-linguistic human mind encoded knowledge in replicable, even rehearsable, action. Further this mimetic knowledge could be idealized and socially shared. Appreciation is not simply a matter of aesthetic intuition, though intuition is an essential sensibility. Comprehension is also an accretive educational process of connoisseurship. Determining virtuosity partly emanates from comparisons and references within the universe of known artifacts and design products. What carries forth my passion in future archeological digs is that is a ricocheting energy between each products will contributes to its overall aura and the nuances of inventive phrases freshly spoken. Densely handled rims, textured and whorled patterns, and sculptural necks are all fecund, provoking dreams and gestations of new recombinations, reconfigurations within personal motifs. Quoting Kuhler (p.17):

Vision of the Future, Philips Design and V+K Publishing, The Netherlands, 1998.

"Actuality is when the lighthouse is dark between flashes: it is the instant between the ticks of the watch: it is a void interval slipping forever through time: the rupture between past and future: the gap at the poles of the revolving magnetic field, infinitesimally small but ultimately real. It is the interchronic pause when nothing is happening. It is the void between events. When we move our tutored thoughts to the future and then work our way back through sediments and layers we discover new artifacts and work out a new discourses relating to their existence. Because technology, for instance, does nothing on its own, we discover something of ourselves in the excavation. As the wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had it: "We shape our buildings, and af terwards our buildings shape us. In Western cultures that have separated art from daily life, the seam of duality and duplexes, that of shaping whilst being shaped - is prone to being ripped apart.

There are art historians whose perceptions are limited to pots as merely physical containers, anthropologists who treat pottery solely as data reflecting cultural interchange, even art critics who assess strictly in terms of purified formal aesthetic qualities such as color, volume or patterning. As in the ancient Indian

parable, The Blind Men and the Elephant, all are exploring only one isolated aspect of a complex creation. Clearly, a house, or any other product is a multifaceted thing. But the equation house = home, mobile device = my social continuum is the product of a vast range of discourses ranging from purely matters of material and engineering and applied mechanics, to aesthetics, compliance with local statutes on building control and city planning, to emotional dimensions such as security, privacy and comfort. Planning and strategy becomes design and design becomes organization, coping, compromise and understanding. These are mashed upon the physical structures in order to create human meanings and value which are dynamic and changing. One may wonder how Churchills co-shaping notion applies to the planned, the designed, the contrived, such as Disneys town Celebration in Florida, U.S. Roughly following principles and overt ideologies captured in Main Street it is a quintessential American town. Like other straw men, myths such as the lone inventor, a golden age where people were happier, the utopia offered by Web 2.0 what was and will be is always open to critical appraisal. Tasting the essence of future products ideas requires memory excavations; retrievals of patterns formed by using and seeing countless other objects, man-made and natural. Elements are not necessarily harmonized, as in discordant but emotive music. Disentangling may begin, perhaps, with the citys character. Design; in its infinite manifestation, its myriad forms develop a bewildering system of relationships and functions of tangible and intangible elements when considered as a whole. The constellation of the tangible is continually under threat from the kaleidoscope of cognitions, ideas and reinventions of meaning, reformulations and tipping points which can challenge and interrogate their existence, their contexts there fixity in relation to other tangibles and intangibles.8 It brings attention to various surfaces, particular fixities and obduracies - in both material and social nature, the stretched rectangular shapes of the building, or the taxed and excessive features and functionalities which lie beyond the abductive smart or responsive interface seem to consult with the crevices and angular surfaces of the logical topography of artificial artifacts. Perhaps if we conceptualize pottery surface as skin we can convey the essentialness of surface markings. Skin is indispensable to life, the central mediator between our internal nature and the external natural environment. Treatments to each vessels skin are integral to these forms. Even when symbolically unfathomable, these clay skins are reminiscent of body markings, wood carvings, textiles, braided ropes, and animate creatures. The guts of this beast, this complexity, are not exposed
Philip Rawsons treatise, Ceramics, the only in-depth inquiry in English to delve into potterys aesthetic grammar, explores the symbolism of the many physical aspects that compose a vessel. Philip Rawson, Ceramics (London: Oxford University Press, 1971). we have to make the effort imaginatively to put ourselves in the place of the users, seeing the symbols as having not the content we might see in thembut as elements in a vivid life of sensation and emotion. All patterns must have been meantto add value and spiritual effectiveness, through their evocative overtones, to the ware in the eyes of its user (pp.161-165).

to the unwitting user. Assumptions within this design topography are rife. Logics and common-sense between the exigencies and practices of production and design are not that of appropriation, consumption and use. As such this tension requires the domestication of objects and devices into the fabric of quotidian life, much in the same way that people domesticate in and within hab itats and the built environment. Celebration does not have a main street. Concordant with local state statutes whereupon towns cannot have the same street names, Disney could not employ its use in its design. Also, in opposition to criticisms of the ideological dimension, more recent commentators have remarked how the residents, simply by virtue of living there and using the town, have domesticated it, made it less Disney and more like any other functioning townships and community. It will always be so as people make things their own.

Humanlity Today, design is increasingly understood more in terms of the human capacity to plan and produce desired outcomes; can we reengineer these intentions and assumptions? Significant design practice and processes reveal an extraordinary rapport of form and surface image. What is admirable about these good designs is not the result of a particular technical flourish, stylistic rarity, technological accomplishment, or royal provenance. Esteem is due to an intense expressiveness of material and usability. The ineffable is real but not fully describable. The physical-cum-abstract use of pottery is ongoing. The compelling nature of the future cities archeology lab lies in its interest to understand the human dimension the humanality - involved in the selection of materials and the application of technology and science in the performance of communication, products, and environments. As such it is the study of the design of cultural objects and environments as if viewed in retrospect, from the humility some future vista.9 In this case they can be a story which is sung and recorded, carved in stone, painted on cave walls, found on bodies or

Cultural objects have been described as shared significance embodied in form (Griswold, 1986). Some futurists describe science fiction as the archaeology of the future.

captured in artifacts and spaces as they move through time and the dimensions of the use and lifecycle processes. Why is a double-necked water jar from the Mambila (Cameroon), a satin black Zulu ukhamba for brewing beer, or a softly bent-necked pouring bottle from the Matakam (Chad) so evocative? Why do they persist while all around may change? Do they create barriers, or do they anchor and facilitate departure points for other technologies, other ways of being, other ways of seeing and doing things? In a world of intensifying digital network capabilities, and of new kinds of responsive materials, bound to a new generation of people used to new kinds of networking, sociability and interfacing with knowledge of the world there is a need for exploration of the junctures where artifact, knowledge, environment and people interlink in unique, novel, meaningful and valuable ways. For instance, where will they link to create delight, entertainment, positive healthful experiences, and technological innovation? How will they form and inform in the future? Which will be dead links, redundant avenues, and become obsolete, cast away forming the detritus of endeavor, inspiration and application? This is critical, as new modular forms, new kinds of plasticity, new definitions of public and private open, new kinds of mobilities and dynamism are enabling and influencing all creative and design arts from architecture to furniture design to web-based multimedia. Have we finally future-proofed media? Julian Dibbell's book My Tiny Life (2001) explored the prospect of whether a virtual rape in a virtual world was a real crime. A more recent addition extending this issue is raised in Synthetic Worlds by economist Edward Castronova, who began studying the exchange rates of token money in these games, analyzing the emerging prices as powers and characters were sold on eBay. His conclusion is that these games have robust economies as large, and as "real" as many real countries. When USA Today revealed that Second Life participants were making real money selling virtual real estate, a Klondike started with participant numbers escalating, a boast to the virtual and real economy. Participation seems a key idea here, not only with digital networks and technology but with other people using channels of communication with deep modifications to self and being. We are literally just at the beginning of understanding how the social graph will change every web application. What is emerging is the identity and social subsystem of the future internet operating system. The internet and digital technology linked to mapping and to GPS and RFID systems is providing unique windows on the social world which can change our perceptions and alter our behaviors. This is significant. It amounts to what the designer and futurist Bruce Mau has termed unabashedly Massive Change. This he defines as; a celebration of our global capacities but also a cautious look at our limitations. It encompasses the utopian and dystopian possibilities of this emerging world, in which even nature is no longer outside the reach of our manipulation.10


Conclusion At FCA@FDI we should recognize the speciousness of any claim that the genesis of another cultures material objects does not involve any individually chosen aesthetic decisions. Recent scholarship has begun to correct for these myopic views, documenting in Africa, for instance, the wide creative latitude exercised by specific individual makers creating within sophisticated cultural traditions and needs. The potency of this exciting new programme for designers lies in its resolution of dual realities. There is the obvious sphere of physical use: the realms of filling, pouring, carrying, or perhaps communicating. Then there is the sphere of abstract use: the metaphorical realms of sustenance offerings, status delineators, emotional containers, or vital funerary accoutrements within a given cosmology. The students work in this area will continue to evolve and will helped catalyze a growing field of practice which is trans-cultural and trans-generative. A focus upon process and method will engender students with the mental flexibility, mobile intelligence, and agility required ensuring tomorrows products relate in novel, delightful and respectful ways to their public and private users. For design products this duality of abstract and physical use confers irreplaceabilityno other medium can take its placeand indivisibilitythe utilitarian, spiritual, and aesthetic are forever intertwined. We should never replace our ignorance as to the utilitarian-aesthetic-symbolic life of an object with the belief that no such complex creative nexus exists. Nor should we mistake our inability to discern who actually made an object with the assumption that the object was somehow, somewhere anonymously or autonomously generated.