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Near-Living Spaces: Paradigms and Methods

Philip Beesley

Philip Beesley in conversion with students in Dana Cupkova's Lithopic House studio (Spring 2020). Field site simulation drawings by SoA CMU students: Kirman Hanson, Louis Suarez, Longney Luk, Gil Jang, Ryu Kondrup, Alexander Wang, Colleen Duong, Scarlet Tong, Leah Kendrick, Lana Kozlovskaya, Harry Branchshaw, Tanvi Harkare.

For additional information and to view Philip’s full lecture, visit the CMU School of Architecture website.

Dana Cupkova: So, I would like to look at these drawings as a way of navigating some of the intuition about an understanding of materiality and perception through some of these representations which are on the wall.  We're designing a house that is rooted in a material logic of cementitious materials.  Some of the formations of cementitious materials are yet to come and also want to communicate with its environment in a specific way.  So, these drawings tend to be kind of analytical representations that are neither analysis nor representation, but maybe both of these kinds of formal articulation can become that kind of the object itself or the drawing itself should be communicating both of these conditions.  And this is kind of their first attempt.  So, what you're looking at are essentially a selection of the concrete tiles which are outside, re-representated through a layered drawing system which involves simulation, both relative to waterflow, perception, understanding of these subtle niches of these surface formation relative to potential biological growth, and other aspects.  And none of it is explicit, it just wants to be implied.  So we're trying to really look at the formal features.  And actually we had a pinup yesterday and I asked them to update some of the drawings so there are some drawings I haven't seen updated yet.  I'm gonna go look at them.  [Dana stands up and looks at the drawings, several students accompany her].  So this is the analysis, and this is the adaptation of this analysis over the concrete tile.  That's what you see.

Philip Beesley: And the scale shift here, is that just because there is a deliberate scale shift?

Dana: It should be.  I think scale should have something to do with the kind of resolution of the image because this is vector, and this is raster.

PB: Because it seems like it's a major minor, or is that not the case?  Is there a processing area?

Dana: So these are peaks and valleys.  All of these are kind of illegible, sort of weird topographies, right? Just as those objects outside and how the line of it falls down or how do you kind of record the topography of the lower coordinates and start growing things.  We’re trying to figure out how the simulation technique can rework the design to important characteristics of the surface.  And then we're using a neural network synthesizer image that's synthesizing the actual object with the simulation to try to see how we can imbed the behavior into the form as a kind of representational experiment that you see here.  So that's what these are.  And this is like three or four days of work. 

Alex Wang: We tried using the tool to get to here, the processing area is dependent on the threshold condition.

PB: So when I see these quite explicit regions, or at least the ghosted regions, is that like the sample size? Is it influenced by the processing?  Or is it really plastic manipulation that's more like a particular event horizon or bifurcation within the field that's not tied to the computational tool?

Kirman Hanson: I think the way that the program, for my tile at least, for other people it's different, the form that I had of my tile wasn't as distinct in terms of peaks and valleys as this drawing of it is, just because of the way the program read the contrast between the peaks and valleys.  I think it took a small aspect of this and then grew it everywhere on the tile, instead of directly translating this topography to the topography of the tile.  I think that what it decided to do is take the aspect of this that it saw was the most "this" version of it...

PB: So that's either a glory or an atrocity...the kind of innocence of saying that, “Okay, is the world like this and we try it on and it's like a radically open minded way.”   Am I getting it?

Dana: Yes, and it's interesting because I mean, how do you control that?  And I think these first are like the first vomiting of the try, like there is no control, and that's a really interesting conversation because, to which extent, where is your agency within the design of these objects and their behavior is what do you propagate, and what do not propagate.

PB: And how do you teach the meshwork and the neural topology to prioritize or value?  I mean, what's the reward structure of it?

Dana: This is the first time we're doing it, so everybody's a little bit confused.

PB: Does it have rewards?

Dana: Um, hm, Does it have rewards?

PB: The ML system, the machine learning system, would have motivations embedded in it that you can control and...

Dana: We kind of stole a system.  There was a PHD student from the CD department who primarily worked on it, so they didn't have control over training the model.  They're just using a pre-trained model.

PB: So you're inheriting it, so it comes with pre-conceptions and you discover how it is by comparing it.  That's kind of wonderful and horrible.

Dana: So they're discovering how it works and what it can produce and what are its limitations.  They also have some control relative to the managing of the resolution of the images, but also the kind of the weighting of the two images relative to the textures and the form.  There is a variation that it can produce through quite radical variation, but its inherent nature is based in kind of recognizing the features and mixing the features of the two distinct different territories or characteristics.  And two...

PB: Okay, like the cast concrete and the vector field.

Dana: [Says with Phillip] Like the cast concrete and the vector field.  And the vector field is more like my tile so we are kind of stealing that because we're trying to look for these niche territories where the moss is most likely to propagate and grow.  So that's sort of the inspiration, but I want them to have their own agency relative to developing a new way of mixing these two.  But this is the first try, and there's a kind of homogeneity to what you kind of see across, right?  You're not actually yet visiting other territories, you're mixing territories, you don't have a purpose, you're just sort of testing a machine, you're learning the model right now.  So that's what you're looking at.

Kirman: And it's also variable because some of us decided to use the computer upstairs and some of us decided to use models you can find online.  And so the computer upstairs allows more control over how the model upstairs decides to interpret the textures that you give it.  So you can give one or the other more weight.  Whereas the ones online kind of seem to blend them more.  [points out things produced online vs upstairs]

PB: When you're talking about machines online are you talking about an ML system, a machine learning system?

Dana: Like GAN breeders, which you can access and play with.  So, we have our own engine, which is that one, which has way more control and way more nuance, but that one is not public.  And only one person can use it at a time so there is a waiting period. 

Matt Huber: The online models are based on Google's image deck.  They're built for purposes of identifying stroke styles of painters, and then taking a photograph and converting it to the stroke style of that painter.  That was sort of the goal of the machine learning model.  So that's where all of these ones that say "deepart" on them are about; sort of training a model to take a texture and apply it to a form.  And I think the machine learning model that we're referring to as being "upstairs" was built on a similar basic set, but they have some more control over how you weigh the texture vs the basic form.

PB: Tell me a little bit more about what you individually are doing.  What variables do you have access to?   What are your manipulations with this brief intense exercise?

Alex: We have control over the texture as well.

PB: Over the topology?  Like fundamental geometry?

Alex: We have a digital model, like a digital version of a tile.  And we used that surface and tried to take information from it and create a composition that's a texture for this.  So, this is coming from the digital model.  And so, the information that we choose to show is dependent on what we each individually want to pursue in the studio.

PB: And when you say, "individually want to pursue,"  how do you situate yourself in that?  How would you answer that question?  What do you want?

Gil Jang: It's a kind of strange process we're going through in that we know that we're building a house.  And so, to take a surface and find ways to treat it and intellectualize that and then having an idea about the house in mind at the end of it is a challenge.  And so, we all have different ways of understanding our tile in relation to water, or air, or heat, and the different treatments kind of the physical effects of that and that's what we're trying to show.

Dana: And this is kind of like a building block to a larger simulation.  And the building block itself is, I gave them building blocks, and I make them experiment with the interpretation of the building blocks, but then they're going to design their own.  So, I want them to design their own building blocks based on some of the effects that they discover through re-transcribing the form through these methods.  So, essentially if you think about the kind of the history of building science, the recent history of building science, there's always the problem and there's a solution:  there's the representation of the object and there's a kind of a simulation or an analysis of the performance which the two are aesthetically radically different and communicate completely different things but never overlap.  It's the diagram and analysis, and it's the object itself.  And I'm trying to collapse those two things together.  So the method of representation that we use to simulate, because this is like how the water flows on the topography and where there was stuff with the water which would come down the surface.  Little seeds or dirt or whatever it is, this would probably be the accumulation pattern of that surface, right?  So this is where your things start growing, and this is where you have the flush points and...

PB: If we imagine a vector flow rather consistently, this is the point of greatest friction.  And then, on the leeside, this is windward? 

Dana: It is.

PB: And this is leeward? Where there's release?

Dana: Right, right.  So, it's kind of like a sand dunes field right? Where things grow is related to the....

PB: The scatter and release.

Dana: Right, but these drawings really do kind of start to find the nuance relative to form and behavior.  But they're drawn together.  It's a fairly abstract assignment, but the analytical and simulation tools I’m giving them are fairly sophisticated and they're realistic, right?  But they're kind of treating them as becoming part of the object itself.  So the traces of the behavior or how the architecture communicates with the environment becomes indexed or embedded in the architectural surface.  And that form of communication and this is where I feel you have a position within the discourse, which is very critical and to me I stay in awe of those things.  Like, how does one define reactivity and how the architecture communicates all of these multitudes of aspects this multi-variable sensibility which is both aesthetic and scientific, both technical and perceptual?  And it's always separated through the disciplinary divides.  This exercise wants to bring those things together, right?  There's a deep technical knowledge here, yet it comes out almost as a painting, and you have to interpret it in your head as both a technique and a cross of design and communication.  This is a first of finding a territory or finding one's own language through the communication of doing that.  And how this can be used is, you know, each has a slightly different technique.  This one is most explicit I feel relative to the sort of flow of accumulation.  One can find different ideas through different processes, and what does it mean for designing the house?  I mean, I can just do it right?  But you, you guys need to find that position within, like, what is the house you're designing?  An underwater house, right?  We have a pastoral house, they all pre-defined their sort of a social territory or social sharing territory, the kind of collective living.  So, it goes both to the kind of spatial organization, resource management, understanding of the site, understanding the form within the site.  So, those characteristics that can start finding its way to understanding the behavior and shape and being maybe more explicit, artistically, relative to how they communicate outwards. 

PB: There are a couple of notable exceptions, but most of these are samples of a continuum in which the boundary is non-conceptual.  It's taken out of something more, and so we simply crop the edge of it and then encounter the field.  And a couple of exceptions to that are here where that crop is quite explicitly pushed and pulled.  I mean, the field was there, but now it actually has a physicality, the crop has a physicality.  Beside it there's a hole, there's a void in the field that's a limit.

Dana: So you read it as a field and not as an object?  Because it has an edge?  And a hole which is...

PB: All of these are moving well beyond the historical state of being figures, they are a continuum.  But  that's an interesting point that you're making.

Dana: I think that's a point you were making.

PB: Okay, well. I wonder how I can be helpful in this time together.  Because you've just given me an extraordinarily fertile set of studies to be involved in.  I'm sort of swimming in these impossibly delicious fields and at the same time I see a certain regularity to them.

Dana: True.

PB: And, I'm inclined to give you some comments about topology in metaphysical senses of being in place, like the geometry really matters.  I wonder whether I could make some observations about them being slightly reductive and the ways that they might be released into being more productively turbulent, let's say, as architecture.  My first reaction is just of great respect for what you're doing.  I mean this is not easy to jump into what must be a fresh medium, and to acquire some coherence.  And look at them, they’re glorious. They are very very intensely worked, carefully done fields.  So, I want to commend you for heading in this way. 

Dana: But?

PB: It's not a but.  I will observe that seemingly embedded in inherited models or tools is rectilinear physics.  In the same way that glossy jpegs turn out to be tiles.  Like patchwork quilts.  And, if we choose to work with these relational fields, if the position is that this is a profoundly important architectural state that we're working with, then the geometry of that field must matter.  And this particular geometry is quite specific.  Do you have a sense of the debates about formative geometry?  The matrices of fundamental architecture that happened around the dissolution of CIAM?  Do you know the international modern architectural congress spelt in French CIAM, which dissolved its last one in 1956 but there were ten of them which started after the traumas of the First World War and continued famously through the province of Le Corb's great radiant cities?  But also all kinds of important research and certainly one profound research was one in housing because CIAM was very serious about being a global movement to solve the problems of the world.  Of the whole planet.  After having encountered an unspeakably traumatic world war.  The First World War visited suffering in terms of a nearly global consciousness that's still western.  So it was important.  So then architecture in the capacity that built the environment became something where a contribution to be made so the search was important and therefore; okay, well what's the organization system itself?  Do we make streets, we make main streets where everyone can be a citizen, well then what about the alleys?  Do we make centers to the palace we can have a strong leader, well then what about the worker culture on the outside?   And what about if the leader is not kind?  Or what about if this leader is kind but the next leader isn't?  I'm just giving examples of simple problems in geometry which are important.

Dana: It started with the post-communist architecture.  We looked at the MOMA exhibit, and essentially the idealization of the kind of utopia, which really worked through geometric articulation of a particular message both through housing and through the monument.  So this is what we started with as a kind of a precedent and historical research.

PB: So I'm not off base then?

Dana: No, you're totally right on.

Alex: Can I speak a little bit in terms of what we have on the walls?

PB: Good, please.

Alex: Obviously there is a visual emergence of how the mesh was constructed digitally in some of these drawings.  And that reads through the tools we were using, Rhino and Grasshopper.  Rhino's works in a cartesian grid and a lot of the mesh logics that come from that are cartesian as well. 

PB: When you say cartesian what does that mean for you?

Alex: Ninety degrees, three directions.

PB: And does that have any implications for you?

Alex: I'm not exactly sure right now.

PB: Just intuitively, for yourself.  I'm not asking an academic question.

Alex: I think, it's one of the things that comes with the tools and what we're doing with things like this, the transition from this to this, is the destruction of how Rhino is logically structurally made in that a lot of these cartesian logics are then warped, right?  And so it's still somewhat there, I think in some more than others.  I think for some of them, like this, the transition is very noticeably different in terms of the logic you can pick out just from seeing it.  So there definitely are the conditions that we have to buy into to use these tools, but we can also sort of make that less evident in the field and make the information within the field become more evident, if that makes any sense.

PB: Well it does, and I'd like to build on that.  Can you speculate on how many dimensions you are working with here, in these drawings?

**long pause***

PB: There's not a right answer to this...just...what do you think?  Take me through that.

Dana: Ryu.

Ryu Kondrup: I think there's a...

PB: Start right from the bottom.

Ryu: It definitely uses four dimensions in the full process I would say.

PB: So, four dimensions.  What are those four dimensions?

Ryu: So, there's three dimensions of the volume of the surface that we're working with.  And then the surface is a two dimensional surface that we're working on and then the fourth would be the overlaid accumulation of the flow path which describes time and the taking of all of the frames and collapsing them into one image.  So, it starts with three...

PB: [interrupting] Like treating time as kind of a solid, time is the fourth dimension. 

Ryu: And it doesn't prioritize the direction of it [time].  And then I think when we put it into an image, I would say it's three and a half dimensions where there's a full time dimension and then there's the 2D dimensions of the drawing, and then there's also a suggestion of a third dimension through the layering of the colors and things to imply depth for the image.

PB: Right.

Ryu: It's not really three dimensional, spatially in that way.

PB: Okay.

Kirman: What's the half?

Ryu: The half was...

Dana: Collapsed time.

Ryu: Yeah.

PB: Some people speak about half dimensions as being a derivation which is tied to a preceding dimension.  Like, traditional FTM printing, like a filament printer can be said to be two and a half dimensions rather than three dimensions because the “z" is completely tied, it just goes vertically in relation to the others, so you can kind of extrude things out but you can't really follow the filament paths to make it fully three dimensional.  So you could say that there's an awful lot of two and a half dimensional architecture being produced today.  I mean, you could be pergoritive or negative about that or you could just say that's an economy, but clearly if there are four dimensions that's fair enough in classical western terms.  And then you suggested that there was perhaps a fifth in accumulation or in some kind of operation.  Would it be true to say that the description so far has been rather specific?  Like this has happened and this is the solution.  So then what about if these are fields of potential, because after all you've cropped them out of a continuous field.  So, it seems like what's going on now is something other than, "here's my thing, I've solved it, this is my optimal solution, I care about it, and it's going to work in the world and it is a point in time and space, and a shape specifically."  And you could say that this has four dimensions in classical terms, I mean it's got a surface, and it's working in the third dimension, and it's at this point and now it's later and the copy is getting colder and it's in time as well.  But what about if we were interested in, as we often are as architects, in creating a place, a house, and in placement where life can arise in all kinds of ways.  The sense that now you are making fields then for things to happen within.  Now, I would suggest that it requires more dimensions because the first four, they're quite fixed.  It's this, it's in this instance, it is in this time.  And so, traditional cosmology multiplies that into okay, then, if we have all of the possible instances of time in that space.  Or, the comprehensive possibilities of all of the bifurcations that could have happened in that set of physics then you'll have another couple of dimensions at least.  So, now we've got to, I think, five, six, and seven.  But you can also have some different starts because all of that is coming from one universal creation story, and there could have been different creation stories, there could have been a different start fundamentally, like another world, so that's another dimension.  And you can certainly have different physics where the scaling of things, or the rule that all energy is preserved for example, or that heat flows to cold, the laws of thermodynamics are highly specific.  So you can certainly have at least another dimension in terms of alternate physics as well, so now you're up to nine or ten.  And everything that we're speaking about is in a human domain of cognition where these relations and these alternatives are all a function of our neurology, so it would make sense for you to have another dimension just to be rather humble about it to say that then, it should be at least an inter-special question.  So, a traditional number of dimensions would be eleven.  That you could quite quickly get to.

Gil: Can I insert another sublayer in that the human experiences between each other are already very different and the way that each person sees the world, not just a different species.

PB: So that's a really really important point to make, so that would suggest that rather than just jumping to dimension eleven or ten, depending on different arguments, maybe that wants to be in the row of two or three or four.  Like quite primary, just in the sense of empathy and care mattering.  Now, I don't think there's any need or wisdom of trying to be comprehensive in all of that that's just been said.  But, it might be helpful, just to try to identify what the project is.  And, I somehow feel like this set of drawings are so very fertile in its potential contribution to making a living house, that there could be something to reducing the number of dimensions so that you can be really quite precise in what you're doing.  I'm going to care about the geometry of the resonance of that material in how it phases with that.  Just the way a sand dune accumulates.  And the standing wave reveals an inherent harmony of a material and we really really want to understand that because if we understand that it will be the most effective possible in holding heat or amplifying.  And perhaps it will be most effective in being unstable, like deliberately entropic.  So those are tremendously reductive things that you need to do in order to get to that precision so the project in that case would be to deliberately reduce the number of dimensions for the sake of precision, unapologetically.  Because there's all kinds of claims in architecture, right?  Now, on the other hand, there could be a parallel project which is that we are looking at the manipulation of the world here and we want to impart empathy and care and consciousness and we're seeking them, almost like the way octaves resound on top of octaves in music to release ourselves from ordinary nuts and bolts, mechanism that treats humans like animals, and reduces the world to the manipulation of determinism when we're trying to make this a thinking, caring geometry, a thinking, caring, material.  And so that would be the different vector of the same exercise which would be seeking to increase the number of dimensions. Teilhard Dechardin wrote very very beautifully about this kind of thing starting in the 1920s. He was a scientist, a geologist as well as a Jesuit theologian.  Vernadsky was the Russian biologist who conceived of the Earth as a biosphere, as one great organism.  And Dechardin was really in parallel with him, they weren't working together, but he had different insight which was the social relationships of the Earth coupled to the geological relationships could result in a thinking skin of the Earth in which the Earth would evolve and each individual consciousness of humans would couple together and a collective consciousness could emerge called the noosphere.  And that we would literally be one mind that we would become capable of having a collective empathy or sympathy and caring, and somehow I feel like the project that you're working with has both of those potential dimensions.  And perhaps it would be effective to offer some meditations about what you're trying to do.  And I guess I found myself thinking on that tangent just in the last couple of minutes because in the tenth CIAM, there was a profound turbulent debate over formative geometries and what they mean.  And in particular the sense that the preceding sense that you should organize the world as a great, beautiful, enabling, interconnected effective circulation system, kind of like the great circle routes that would be efficient for example, and transporting networks. Or the radiating, star like arteries that would effectively move goods and save energy and govern well.  The beautiful, benign, governing model which dominated a lot of the CIAM turned into a very very nuanced sense after the Second World War after another twenty years or so in the late period of CIAM of redoubled trauma.  And the movement that eventually resulted in the dissolution of CIAM was called Team 10 because it was a group of people who decided that the overall unified structure was impossible, that it was necessary to start with an emergent model in which two people talk or a small cluster of people would talk or a neighborhood or a family or a community, and that was the structure that could result in reform.  And the geometry that Team 10 perceived was that of the tartan rather than the radiantly beautiful city grid.  I mean does anyone know what tartan is?  Does anyone have a tartan kilt? 

Kirman: The school colors for our school are tartan.

PB: You got a tartan? Can everyone draw a tartan please, just scribble a tartan.  Give me your impression of a tartan.

Kirman: In section or?

PB: A section.

**Everyone laughs**

PB: Wow, a sectional interpretation of tartan.  No, go with a plan, it's okay, you can apply it.  What does a tartan look like?  C'mon draw a little bit.

**Everyone sketches**

PB: So some of you may be just kind of doing patchwork quilts where there's individual patches but there's something, but there's one absolutely defining nature of the tartan.

People: Color? Kilt? Weaving? Shading? Overlapping?

PB: All of those comments are right, but the quality of the tartan that Team 10 cared about most was the sense that there would be major, at least, major and minor parts in it.  Like there's a wide stripe and a narrow stripe.  The simplest version of a tartan would be a town fabric where you would have streets, but you'd also have alleyways.  And the alleyways are resonant and harmonized with that grid, but they are profoundly different in what they afford.  The affordance of an alley is a place where you can have a date, where you can get high, where you can hide, where you can put garbage and not be hassled too much, you know?  Utterly utterly different behavior than marching down the street and saying hi to your neighbors and being ritualized and being socialized.  And so, the brilliant insight of the Team 10 debate was about inclusiveness as being a path to homeostasis.  Can any of you define homeostasis?  Google it, what does homeostasis mean?

Gil: Balance?

Kirman: A dynamic balance.

PB: Homeostasis is like the fundamental condition of health in life.  It's the state of being healthy when you're alive.  And it involves continual cycling away and in and out and in and it involves cycling of pulling yourself together and then falling apart and sharing and feeding and gathering and being selfish and being generous and there's an inumerable kind of metabolic pumps and cycles in homeostasis.

Dana: I think that the drawings themselves have the expression of the field that still is descriptive rather than manipulative, right?  Like there was no form of manipulation yet right because given form, description, trying to understand that I identify the effect and some of the differentiation within the field then you can start manipulating it.  But this discussion on dimensionality is really interesting and I'd maybe like to turn the discussion to your work.  And I want to give them a chance to also ask the questions so I'll start with the kind of the notion of your work and the way we understand it externally, it's reactivity, and it's dimensionality.  Can you answer your own questions relative to your epiphytes and other creatures that behave in a way that is relative to these dimensions?  And then I'll let the students follow up with their insights.  How many dimensions?

PB: I think I'll try to answer that in three punctuated ways.  The first is just to be a bit difficult with myself in saying that I really hate the idea that space has three dimensions and not because I want it to be conscious or be sensitive or be inclusive, I mean I do want all of those things, but just fundamentally the idea that cartesian space, which is a very very recent invention is an effective, an efficient way to describe space that matters.  Mattering space is very problematic because you have a vector, you have a path, now if I do that and put the 'y' over the 'x', and if it's at 90 degrees, then if that's a filament, if it's a path, it's powerless to resist the cross current.  This is the point of no resistance.  If I hold my arm up I'm pretty strong, try to move it.  Like it's really really difficult to resist.  But this point of directly at right angles, crossing something, is a very very specific way to make space.  Then you say okay well then, so that's a limit state because that's the point where there's no real exchange at all, you just chop across right?  And then the ‘z’ dimension has a similar relationship.  So that means that that's attempting to be a neutral matrix where you say, "okay well then there must be three vectors to space."  Fine, but nature doesn't agree with that at all because for a point to be fixed in space here, it's not two vectors.  Can I please have your arm?  Thank you.  For anything to be fixed in two dimensional space takes three quite independent vectors because if it's just two that will flop around, right?  And those don't intersect at all right? So in two dimensional space it's three, and now in three dimensional space it's four and that's no accident that that's the carbon atom or the tetrahedron, the dual of the tetrahedron, the inverse of the tetrahedron.  And so those four vectors could be said to be the fundament, I mean like, we need that in order to start working with living circumstantial space; space which is populated by agents which are things in the world as opposed to the myth of the dispassionate onlooker who is simply looking in and observing something and I that's just a first problem so I'll suggest that there are four and and it exists in time because it's aged right now and it's changing or decaying or backing up and seeking its birth so certainly there are five.  I think that that's already quite a lot.  I think that my work in that reformed statement of dimensions is reasonably five-dimensional, but what it aspires to is the sense that life could be engendered by architecture.  That we could create fertility, that the sense of space is not a neutral empty thing populated by things, but rather that space itself is more accurately called ether.  Incidentally, Einstein called space ether; that's not a medieval concept.  That's a recent concept that was only set aside by the existentialists in the 20s through the 70s of this past century who were on a real manifesto to try to prove that God was zed and so became a really important thing to eliminating sentiment about being engendered, being informed, or anything being latent in surrounding because it was kind of a heroic masculine thing to say, "I'm alone; I'm not gonna rely on anything; my parents I'm not gonna rely on them; I'm not going to rely on religion."  It's kind of a heroic honesty, a brutal honesty to unclothe everything and so space became empty.  But space has not been empty historically and the completion of the general theory of relativity that happened at CERN eight years ago now with the Higgs Boson means that space is in no way empty because the boson is the particle of materiality arising out of the continuum of the field.  I mean, contemporary physics has had a really interesting state in cosmological terms in the sense of what it means for our conceptions.  And the existentialists are just tongued right now because the name space and cartesian space becomes a very historical one rather than a modern one.  So that would be to say in addition to the five, there would be a sixth which would be trying to do something the equivalent to what stem cells do in that they come out of your marrow and are capable of plasticity and changing and supporting a multitude of different circumstances and likewise the body or space itself being a potential field so I guess I'm adding two more there.  The word that I think we could use for that is pluripotency, the possibility of profound enriched potential.  And that shouldn't sound like too much of a riddle because I'm really just reciting something that any architect would do when they say, "I'm making a public plaza and all kinds of things can happen'' or "I'm in this house and something has to happen" so I hope I'm not getting too elaborate.  So the pluripotent condition would be a more comprehensive possibility set so I think I'm at six.

Alex: I have a question about when you build these things. When does something take on an agency, when does it become an agent?  Or when is it autonomous?  Or when is it highly dependent upon the field in which it is contracted? 

PB:  Well that's a beautiful question, it's just such an incredibly rich question. 

Alex: Maybe perhaps framing it in terms of the installations.

PB: There is an exquisite precision of punctum, thank you for the name of your journal, where that occurs.  And it occurs at the precise intersection of two conditions.  On one hand, the determination, the resolution, the optimization of a particular component or form that gives coherence and identity and ability to manipulate and becomes durable and strong and bounded and clear in terms of information, something has been.  I mean like following the principles of Apple design or the tradition of Renaissance design where you understand and then it is well resolved and it becomes a tool or a coherent space, that's one condition when it is resolved.  That first condition is utterly consistent with the paradigms of western science, when it becomes elegant enough or resolved enough to qualify for being named or becoming an example of something or being mature.  And, sorry, I keep on talking about the first dimensions.  I'll try to get to the second. But it also corresponds to the moment when a bird is kicked out of the nest and starts to fly or when the kid is ready to leave home, or perhaps when an infant learns their name and learns that they are not co-terminus with their mother's body.  That would be one way.  I'm really just trying to talk in the first case about when that design gets resolved.  But the second part is that, well, I'll just problematize it first.  If it's only that then it has every bit as much capacity to do evil as good.  It can hurt.  It can cut.  It can claim.  It can withdraw.  It can exclude.  It can be that instead of anything else.  And so, I don't have confidence in Apple design, I don't have confidence in clarity because I see the capacity to do ill in those things.  The other dimension then is to find a state of precarity, and I might have mentioned that word already, in which this component or this element does not know what it will next do.  Now I'm saying it in that order because I think that you need to have enough coherence so that the uncertainty doesn't just result in annihilation.  But in a state of coherence, if it has been opened and tuned and made so resonant to the world so that a wind could go through me and I would go that way or I would have a conversation with you and I might be interested and might talk or I might go this way or the circumstance of the surrounding environment if it's possible to get to the point where something is so minutely tuned that it'd be capable of at least bifurcating in any situation.  That second state comes when you have so distributed the forces that are going through a component that it would be only a minute thing that would make it change and you could not predict where it would break. It would be so radically enjoyed.  That would be the second state.  It's the intersection of those two that qualifies the components.

Alex: I have a really particular question to that answer; which is, you described the precarity and how the thing itself doesn't know what it next wants.  I'm kind of wondering how you see yourself in context, yourself and your relationship with the projects that you do in the framework of precarity because obviously this installation is being made by you right?  And there are certain bounds that you give it, certain structures.  Is precarity then the condition that arises when you don't know what it will next do? So what I'm essentially asking is...

PB: Oh, that's a horrible question.

Alex: Is it?

PB: I mean, it's a horrible question in that it makes me feel very very concerned about responsibility.  Do you know the philosopher Judith Butler?  She's a very very special and extraordinarily insightful political philosopher who's very concerned about suffering and agency.  And she uses the word precarity, I think.  I have, in my amateur's understanding of her work, to be in a state of suffering, like people suffer the state of precarity today.  Like what on earth is happening? I've lost the ground, how can I think about the future today?  And before I go on to advocate precarity I guess I just want to be cautionary here, just so that you can be a caution to say that it's not fun to be walking on hallowed ground, it's horrible, it's unspeakable to have lost a sense of the ability to work with the future or the health of the planet or of nature or of our political sanctuaries.  And so perhaps that would suggest that an architect's job today is to give stability and to allow insulation and to give boundaries in the sanctuary.  And yet nature knows that a closed boundary is really only effective for killing something.  You know, equilibrium. When a system becomes closed, equilibrium plays.  That's what the second law of thermodynamics dictates.  It's a fundamental law of our earthly physics.  When you have equilibrium you are dead.  Nature does not know equilibrium.  Equilibrium is a profoundly negative word for limited systems.  Now, that's not to say that organisms don't need coherence or degrees of durability or predictability, they do, but what they need is not equilibrium or at least it's only a metaphor of equilibrium.  Ilya Prigogine, the physicist who theorized and taught us how to measure open systems in the 1960s and got the Nobel Prize for it in '78, taught us that there are standing waves, the dunes and the ripples that you're drawing here.  And those types of predicable resonant systems are not the same as equilibrium because they are the result of open systems.  There's energy flowing through them constantly from outside.  The sun is raining on the desert, the Earth is spinning, there's the coriolis effect that results in churn.  Those are huge examples of open systems and if we have open systems then there can be resonant standing waves within them and they can be predictable and for all intents and purposes they are so eternal that they're static.  You know, the tide is the tide.  You know that the helio dawn that is the model of the sun's path, is essentially a static model except for that tiny bit of a swerve or that tiny sense in which things continue to evolve in time.  So that means that there is a difference to equilibrium in what we seek.  I hope that makes sense and anyway I'm just making a qualification. And I'm trying to relate it again back to your drawings as well.

Dana: Well, he didn't answer your question.

PB: Ask me again then, sorry.

Alex: I was also asking about whether or not what you create is living specifically to you as opposed to other people.

PB: Okay, I digress too much, sorry.  Is it living to me rather than to other people?

Alex: Yeah, what I mean by that is this second condition of something that is the thing that you talk about precarity, something that doesn't know what it next wants?  And I was wondering if in the event that you create something and it takes on a sort of living characteristic and it does have a sort of precarity in such a way that its a precarity specific to you?  As in, you don't know what it next wants. So, to you, is this living?

PB: Well, when you were just asking that question I found myself drawing a sine wave first, just as a representation of me because sometimes I'm happy and sometimes I'm really sad and sometimes I'm really really hungry for trying something new and I'm just itching to get out of my skin and sometimes I'm overwhelmed and what I really need to do is chill and read something really predictable or just see the trashiest movie or even just watch some horrific sports game.  I had a really bad time in high school 'cause I was a freak and so I hated football during high school but my children have taught me to...

Dana: Like it? Appreciate it?

PB: Well, I don't know, the Raptors are doing okay so Toronto is cool.  I should get some credit for that.  So, okay, if there's a baseline and then there's an oscillation of disposition then one of the things that I think I will be very hungry for is the anti-phase to that in order to get some sense of the whole happening.  So that I'll really want the work to be surprising me, but, in a balanced way, so it'll be conditional.  So on that front I'll be a hypocrite about wanting it to be really free because what I really just want is a kind of a harmonic balance like that.  Where I can push and it will pull and it can be playful agent and then there will be another condition that I'll wish for.  So that's a wish for an anti-phase.  And then another wish will be for things to diverge and grow and really change in transformative ways.  And that would be quite related to the way Lucretius talks about living systems.  A wonderful Roman writer, he describes that the fundamental action of life is that of the clinamen.  That's the minimum angle of derivation so that if you, I'll try to say something about this in the lecture, but when you peel off from an arc, that angle, a tangent to an arc is infinitely smaller, the tiniest tiniest swerve, and that means that something changes, that it actually changes.  And it's infinitesimally small, and it's change but it changes and the clinamen is that specific geometric entity which is the infinitely small serve, which the classical atom is Democritus, and then later the Romans, that Lucretius called theorizing of life.  And so I want that too. So I've given, I've tried to give three answers there, one I want it to be coherent, and two I want it to be playing in a certain complementary oppositional way, and third I seek for it to genuinely surprise and reveal something that's completely outside of my balance.  I hope that was a closer answer.

Alex: That was a satisfactory answer.

Dana: I think that the difference in terms of how one speaks of the work is really radical in your interpretation because if you conceive of the work even within the kind of the object system concept as a part of a kind of a space that is never void, that it's always filled, that you can start rethinking the kind of the parameters of the behavior through these series of conditions which are identifiable through the human perception, through the human cognition, which is really different than describing an object from let's say compositional principles or cartesian descriptions.  And, I think that removes the subject object relationship instead of a linear setup for how one perceives the work. And it's beautiful because he was trying to trap you but you escaped.  I don't think it was deliberate, I think it was a genuine question.  And I really appreciate that because the work we're trying to do in the studio and kind of move away from description, but yet understand the description of space that is beyond composition, and it starts capturing the space that is non-void through these kind of what are apparently field conditions.  Which starts changing about how you then start to transform the series of objects and how you define the characteristics you need to engage.  Which then become part of you but removed from yourself too and then it becomes part of the kind of the particular of the space that can produce these new empathies or cognitions or perception as a direct agency of a formation that you're responsible for.  And it doesn't necessarily just reflect your ego.  It reflects your relationship to that condition, which is a slightly different way of thinking about design as a process of empathy.  So that's where I find this discussion really important in a kind of a bridge back to the beginning because the way one conceptualizes these breadths is really important to the creation of other things.

PB: When I hear you say that, I find myself thinking about the bodies of materials that I try to gather around myself when I'm conceiving of things.  My own work tends to be pretty dominated by industrial design and component design like making of tectonics and then making spaces around them.  One body of material that works pretty well I think is certainly to be working with cosmologies and informative geometries like these incredibly rich fields of materials that are surrounding us here.  I really really identify with what you're doing here.  I tend to enjoy them when they're dynamic too and animated perhaps.  And then in parallel with that, I tend to seek poetic material, quite explicitly poetry in fact, or perhaps scripture or song so that the kind of formative soup or turf can offer itself in resonant ideas that then can flow and then kind of land because I really see these as pregnant and at the same time they; to clarify, their willingness to soak in ideas and allusions.  I have a feeling that it could be very helpful to have some cultural material present.  Quite literally texts or images just to help them be themselves and maybe so that they don't have to have quite as much association themselves because if they're playing against something then they can be very concentrated and unapologetically pure or precise because then we can talk about what they mean or what they afford.  I guess I could offer a couple of Greek references but I don't know if that would be helpful, but when I look at these I want to call them aegis or alithia. Does anyone have associations with those two words?  Aegis is the Greek formative veil which accompanied Zeus and it is saturated, it's like the pre-placenta for the universe.  Then it settles around the Earth and becomes turf, becoming the living skin of the Earth but it would originate in the air or in a continuum of fluid states.  And it's tensile above all, and flows.  The handkerchief that a knight going on a crusade would carry with them would be a remnant of that much earlier tradition so under whose Aegis are you working?  That's a British phrase that still has the resonance of that 'this is what engenders me.'  And Alithia is an earlier Goddess parallel to Kronos, parallel to the god of time, so Alithia is the Goddess of clarity and truth and fact and information and possibility, integrity itself, information.  Really is, I think it would be true to say that she's the goddess of information although that language is not often used.  But, the kind of unapologetic precision that comes from something being exactly what it is which then creates possibility as well.  But both of those are Goddesses that are field Goddesses, they are not figural.  They're both possibility fields, they're both origin states for the world.

Dana: I think under one's field configuration needs to arise from the thing that's the...

PB: Yes!

Dana: That's where we're going.

PB: That's the incredible thing is that you can make some bricks out of these.  Let's do it!

Dana: Yeah, or other types of figures. 

PB: Or maybe some gothic tracery or some or some traviation or some…

Dana: Exactly or…

PB: Let's do it!  Let's do it!  I mean, it's probably a good idea to at least spend at least a couple of hours going through a digital model of Gaudi's great cathedral.  Because that's a meditation of the possible formation of the world. 

Gil: You touched on a lot of poetry and how you dived into a lot of these different ideas of dimensions and I'm wondering how you got there and what drives you to make what you make?  And what drives you to make these themes and responses? 

Dana: Why do you do what you do?

Alex: Why do field goddesses engender you?

**Everyone laughs**

PB: Devastating questions!

Alex: I'm sorry.

PB: It's okay, you're calling my bluff, it's okay.  Oh golly!  Well, this work has developed one step at a time through many layers each of which is very tangible and I'm not very interested in major heroic epic overwhelming states.  It's not helpful and it's not sharable.  It does seem like we are at a time where it is helpful to seek language of wholes and viability and that seems to ask for quite deliberate language of complex systems and of multi-object analyses and of topologies which can be profoundly inclusive while being viable because inclusivity in itself can be thought of as a fatal condition if you just bloat, so viable inclusivity is no small thing to seek.  And the language for those topologies suggests something rather different than the kind of clarity of bounded conditions of paradise gardens or the clear figures or the projects of the Western tradition.  And so it seems like we have an important project to do, to seek, languages of holes.  I could give a personal and emotional answer to the question or I could give a very pragmatic one.  And the emotional one would be that my parents were utterly traumatized by the Second World War.  I come from several different European countries, I'm an utter mongrel, utter atrocities were done to different parts of the family and we were outcasts as well as insiders and my parents both were very optimistic and humane and they really tried to say that life is important and that we need to find a way to make a contribution.  And so I think that kind of gravitas, the sense that you seek to do something helpful is an important thing to acknowledge.  On a practical level, I was encouraged to be playful and I was playful.  And I found that I really enjoyed being playful and that's why I do what I do.  In some ways I was taught to be curious and I was taught to be playful and I was given entries into a few things and I was able to start them up.  So, in specific architectural terms, I was a contrarian and a freak when I was very young and frightened by parents by going into art school.  I mean, I think I kind of tested their encouragement because they would have preferred a doctor who was interested in art.  "Oh shit he's really doing that. I support you, my love. I do, I always told you I would."  So after BFA, which was a very charged and happy period in the late 60s and early 70s, then I found that I needed to learn to design because we'd been told in art school from abstract expressionism, the late period of which I was schooled in, to be in the moment.  And to just do things directly which is a glory but also means that you can't really predict and you certainly present to a committee about what you will do and why that's a responsible thing.  And so when the work became larger scale, I went to architecture school after a couple of intervals in order to learn how to do things of scale and to plan.  I had a monastic period in India for a year and a couple of years of being an apprentice to an instrument maker and became quite good at making things rather precisely out of that.  So the layers of those intersecting things, of the very freely playing and being deliberately dizzy and learning the craft of design and intervention.  And some consciousness practices in the India phase and the instrument making, those are all, they're actually very specific crafts, you know?  Each one of those you can learn and you do, and so they've layered on each other and so I found myself very very drawn to each one of them.  Then, since I'd been encouraged to try to do something worthwhile, I tried to combine them.  But my work is not all integrated, it's a mongrel of many layers that oscillates together so I guess that's a slightly rambly answer to what motivates is that those things are operating and they're quite playful.  And perhaps maybe one more answer is that they seem to compliment each other.  And perhaps that relates to the earlier statement about the sine waves and the anti-wave kind of alternating.  Like, can you be your own doppelganger in literary terms?  Can Peter Pan, afterall, he is very very interested in sewing on his or her own shadow that then would be the kind of shadow that would live underneath the surface of the Earth that would accompany you along the way.  And that kind of composite being of having an cathonian side, cathonian means of the deep earth as well as an aerial side would be a kind of happy and free body, I think.  I hope to live in that kind of state on the Earth.  I hope that's a reasonably coherent answer, I mean it's difficult to speak about why you do what you do, you know, at least it's difficult to speak honestly about it.  I can say what I hope to do but I mean, what's motivating?  I think 'so my mom will be pleased with me?' That's still there.

Dana: So we should start wrapping up.  Maybe there's one more question?

Matt: One of the things that I'm interested in during this conversation is that not only are there accumulating dimensions but there's also overlapping different dimensional systems.  I think of the term umwelt and this idea that different species have different ways of having worlds based on their sort of perceptual apparatus and I think in these drawings I can look at how there is sort of the cartesian grid at play but there's also maybe UV space which is a different type of Rhino topology.  The computer visioning is a very different way of seeing that two dimensional thing because looking at patterns that occur in the values of the matrix as opposed to human perceptions, which is looking at shape and shadow and line.  So these I think are about looking through different perceptual systems, different dimensional worlds, simultaneously hopefully.  In your work, I wonder if you think about what that means for these agents that you're constructing.  You have a way of being in space in the daily world but these agents have their own sort of world and central system.  So can you talk about that simultaneity of world perceptions in space?

PB: Just speak a little bit more about the simultaneity of world perceptions because that's an incredibly provocative question, just paint it a bit more with your associations.

Matt: Sure, yeah, I mean, if I look at these drawings, we're evaluating them based on the way that our brains have evolved to process information.  So our selection systems are working very differently than the neural network which is processing them based on numerical properties of pixels.  So we'll have, even if we were both told to have sim word structures as the way that you phrased earlier, we'll come to two very different answers through very different processes because we're just receiving and processing that information very differently.  In animal species, say a butterfly, is going to look at UV light, and an iguana is going to look at motion.  It's these things that make a difference.  So the same world is literally a different world for a different kind of being.  And I think increasingly as architecture folds in multi-species and multi-global agency and cosmology with understanding the world it has to start to deal with what does it mean to see the world through not just the already multiplicitous worldviews of humans but also machine vision, machine understanding, also animal or insect or biological perception and understanding.  So any given thing in order to be able to work for multiple species and systems has to be seen through multiple views of the world per se.  Does that help?

Dana: Can I answer that?  Or maybe not answer that but maybe offer a slightly different interpretation of that because I think there is a degree of romanticism in that question.  Where the assumable multiplicity is somehow a kind of a vast difference that is somehow found between humans and computational systems and I just don't think that's true.  Because in a way, the machine learning works on a predicament that we as human beings have a kind of commonality in the computation of certain patterns, right?  It's exactly the opposite, it's that within the diverse field you still can find the common feature that means the same tool. Some group of people, the majority, which is in a way reversed, in a way that's kind of a reductive method.  And the idea that the kind of inter-species perception is somehow accessible to us is also to me sort of a mythology because we can only perceive the perception of others through our own perception right?  And our modes of inquiry might be better so that we can kind of interpret that interpretation but it's still within our cognitive framework so in a way we cannot access that cognitive space.  So if you look at it that way it is about kind of coming to understand the commonality of features and then how those particular features can, using Phillip's words, engender the different potentialities that we haven't really thought of.  It's kind of expanding our cognition relative to a new way of representation or understanding or knowledge.  And it's less about the kind of systemic approach and more this idea of the deep ecology or dark ecology where the object becomes sort of more comprehensible, like it stops being so overwhelming and unapproachable.  And that switch to me is really interesting both philosophically but also just in pure ability in being able to operate within the field and having that freedom to be playful and deliberately dizzy and don't feel like there's the weight of the world on your shoulders even though there might be, but you also don't have the capacity to know to some degree.  So, and it's particularly potent within this era relative to climate and the sort of the other social issues related to that.  This sort of predictability is, I think limited.  But the patterns of the understanding of the feature system that has a sort of equality and certain ability to make things better.  To me I think that's all we can do. 

PB: Well, when I hear this, to invoke analysis of the world of the might.  Which is to say, okay, we have had this gloriously vividly painted picture of a world which is utterly different than what a human domain is.  It seems like an extraordinarily important step to take, which we simply can't take for granted, which needs to be practiced and really robustly supported.  To learn the practice of empathy therefore seems like an essential skill, a craft for any architect who aspires to offer public space to others.  And I hear you offering a caution in that in the sense that the possibility of colonialism or just one more embedded arrogance is always there and so you step lightly as you know.  You give voice to others, well others have their voice, and so if you're giving a voice then you are giving the voice.  If this is framed in terms of power dynamics then there will always be guilt and pain and expose embedded in such a question.  But I think that, I hope that it is possible to find some encouragement in the modes of dance or of irony or of comedy and to have seen those modes not simply as an activity which is good for peace time but not for war.  In other words, those arts or those methods of generating things are not simply luxuries, which you set aside in important times, but rather extraordinarily effective ways for generating renewing growth and insight.  Like important practices, not simply indulgent or luxurious practices.  And you have to be careful because it's quite true that the class clown is a pain in the ass, you know? And like 'get serious' is a worthwhile thing to say but then if he gets serious, serious about what?  How do you develop insight?  It's very important to work, it's very helpful to work with expose or let's say parody, mimesis, the sense in which by looking at something something is exposed to be hypocritical that is both below one's criticism and those states can be seen to be entropic, productively entropic.  And so if we're looking at enriched information if that's what our reward system is then I think that those modes could readily be justified.  I guess I just want to offer a sense of the tragedy of how deep learning can work.  Since you're working with neural meshes, at least accessing that tool.  My understanding of deep learning is that you might have many many many software microprocessors, each one of which is doing an operation and then you inter-combine them in the multitude of ways and therefore there will be group consensus, which can therefore explore a vast space and determine effectively "the path" or the possibility.  Then, further than that, such a structure can be very effective in offering variation and insight.  But, one of the ways to populate that kind of mesh structure is to introduce some cells which have greatly degraded functions like aged functions, like they've only got a couple of conductors as opposed to multiple conductors, you know, they're decrepit.  As far as what I've been told anyway by some fairly wise computational scientists is that those elements certainly can act as kind of a drag on the system, if in the Nazi version you want to keep moving and be soldiers and go as fast as possibly, absolutely they slow you down.  But on the other hand, what do they do within those systems?  Well they, because they have less functions they will necessarily average and sum up function as a general kind of operation rather than a highly specific multiple functions.  And, if they do that, then they, let's say they're generalizers or they're simplifiers, then that has the kind of function of imparting higher level thinking within the system as well.  Which is extraordinarily valuable and essential and could be said to correspond to the function of aged people within the society, where the reflective insight comes, and so decrepit, or insightful?  I mean the tragedy is that it was both.

Dana: And you're totally right, and the positivist enabling of the kind of the black box neural networks is done that one doesn't understand that the training set could totally produce very ideological results where you think you're producing diversity but you're producing a form of homogeneity.  And it's absolutely true, I mean it's been proven many times, from face recognition tools where the first round of facial recognition tool which was used by the police was all trained on white male faces so all the black men were essentially just the same guy.  And so many people got arrested and they weren't there, but they were face recognized because the features of certain characteristics, the pattern model wasn't processed, the machine didn't learn the difference between a black man and a black man.  It only learned the difference between many white men.  So there's kind of an inherent racism within the data set.  The dataset is not unbiased, there is a bias to the system.  And if you don't understand or have the control of the features or the bias of the system, then you carry the bias through whatever differentiation you're doing.  So that is absolutely true.  However, once one zooms in on a particular method, and that 's where ethics and the empathy towards understanding what is the cognitive model we're trying to explore is really important and what is the sort of the dataset we're associating with that.  And that's another computational problem that's an ethical and ideological issue, so to me those things are inherently connected.

PB: Now our discussion has been metaphysical.  Just before we close, are there any really radically practical and specific questions.  Just to round things out a little bit.  Because I'm visiting you and I understand that there's some interest in the work that I've been doing and I’m willing to share that, so what I can say is two things.  A step from the metaphysics and a step towards it [my work] that I consider myself to have two collars: a white collar and a blue collar.  And I think of myself very much as a blue collar worker as well as a white collar worker.  Meaning that I labor and I work physically and the materials lead me around and I need to obey them and it takes a lot of hard work.

Dana: It's very Tolstoy craft.

PB: And I value my blue collar every bit as much as my white collar.  It would be completely absurd that one is higher than the other, or at least if one claims hierarchy, then the other will say that it's a poser, and that it's an idiot, you know?  Materials have intelligence and they're fascinating.  I guess just the other thing is to suggest that there does seem to be some value in pursuing some component systems that make up these kinds of fields which are not dominated by making walls, and are not dominated by trying to be as strong as possible, in their own right.  And letting the world take care of the rest.  Making something as strong and durable and clear and reductive as possible is an excellent thing to do if you are prepared to be a bit ruthless about its impact in the world.  But if the agenda is to create instruments that are played by the world and sing with the world, and they create possibility and can be shared and multiplied and imprint themselves that are capable of crying, then those components and those figures the buildings we make really need to seek mutual relationships.  They need to care about their impact.  And that quite possibly means that the principle craft that we need to practice is that of creating vulnerability and even fragility in the sense of being willing to be flooded or to interject rather than project.  And that has a practical meaning in terms of what we shape, if we think that we have some attachment points on an element and if it connects up to other things in the surrounding space in a certain way, then we might think that there would be virtue in making the cleanest possible profile to that thing.  Maybe even we would think "well, could it be even cleaner?" if I could use a bit of the quazi-wisdom of Plato and maybe make it an internally balanced thing, and then okay, well, of course I'll accommodate those things and they will do their job but it will be a clear thing.  And the further I go to that, the more and more I make a body, a figure, which handles its own forces in equilibrium and resists the other influence of the world.  And if other things have a filamentary nature of being tendrils or being gentle vectors, or just half-formed influences, then this kind of distillation and clarification and centralization of the component guarantees that there will be a rupture right there at its boundaries.  Because it has accumulated force, it's a plate, it's a centralized plate.  So, it's excellent for anything that happens inside it will protect it, this is a beautiful paradise where things will flourish and outside it becomes an un-conceptual wilderness where disease could happen, doesn't matter, it's a killing machine in fact, in rather florid terms, in terms of the relationships that it sets up.  So there's a very very dangerous equation to following Steve Job's and Dieter Rams' aesthetics of consolidating plate tectonics and making reductive figures that has been a flame in architectural circles in the past 25 years.  The fashion and minimalism, it has a profoundly negative influence on the environment.  What a big caveat to say that sometimes, if you have an anoxic swamp, it's really helpful to have a cut or an opening.  So I'd be a fool to say that the only thing you should do is to connect and yield.  But, I think that for our time and in our culture we need to learn an alternate practice to that and I would suggest that if we start with a functional program of those points instead of solving component design in that way, I think it would probably make sense to look at the vector of relationships between things.  And they might indeed need to have some kind of intersection point, there might be two or three degrees of connection, but let's just start with one.  And then, to take, perhaps, a measure of the specific material that needs to flow around each of those points in order to handle the very very circumstantial and specific forces, just like flowing an amount of mass and material along a vector.  Likewise, if that determines, let's say, a particular joint, then flow that material using the same physics along those paths too.  And, what would that give me in this case?  An offset x-plate?  And let's say, okay, I've blended it a bit at the corners so that there can be some variation in how it performs because these forces may very well have their own variation too.  So you find a coherence but you find the ability to be somewhat compliant and elastic as well.  And, so what I've drawn here is the dual of the polyhedron that western design teaches us is the optimal.  And instead of that optimal plate, which is the maximum internal territory, this by considering the dual, it becomes, hopefully, possible to create a component in which there is such integrity of intercombination of forces that you cannot actually predict where it will break or shear or damage or cause pain, but rather it will be local circumstance that determines that.  It will not be built-in.  There will not be a structural inequity in the system.  So, this, this is not a sufficient tectonic to create living systems because some of the cutting is also necessary.  Otherwise you flatline again in anoxic swamps.  And peat bogs, and swamps are a problem as well, but I don't think they're a principle problem right now.  I think desertification and polarization and tsunamis and wildfires are a far greater problem right now rather than the problem of anoxia in swamps or the condition where things over-mature and can't really grow because they have been so fulfilled.  That's not the time, right now in our planetary culture.  I think that what we need to do is to learn this alternate tectonic of very specifically understanding how to connect and dissipate forces.  Dissipative form-language is the precise name for the tectonic and I say that in part because I think that the fields that you're drawing are dissipative forms.  I think they would be recognized very directly by Ilya Prigogine and the physicists that followed him in the 1960s-1990s as being a tremendously important form language that architects need to learn.  But I hope that gives kind of a physical tectonic path.