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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Post-human Architecture

Post-human Architecture

Could we believe that we actually can feel and experience emotions through the virtual reality?

As Descartes phrases “When I considered that the very same thoughts which we experience when we awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all objects that have ever entered to my mind when awake, had no more truth than the illusions of my dreams” [Descartes, 1637]. So if we do believe that there is no fundamental difference between the feelings produced by real reality and the virtual reality, do we have to be concerned whether virtual reality and real reality are the same? As Don Ihde replies to this question in his book “Bodies in Technology”, “I reject this way of framing the issue precisely because it retains this now outdated seventeenth-century epistemology that does not recognize embodiment or performance or the production of knowledge” [Ihde, 2002].

Nowadays we have accepted the coexistence of the machines and their significant help through virtual processes. However, dealing with a huge amount of virtual social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and etc. might make us think about the memories and identities which are stored in these external memories. This could lead us to the question that, are we somehow sharing the human identity and our historic memories with the machines? Or are we somehow replicating ourselves in these spaces? In each of these scenarios we might come to the conclusion that machines will have a vital role in the future steps of human evolution. This encourages us to have a deeper observation in both humans and machines in order to understand their main characteristic features so as to understand this pattern of evolution. And this could only be achieved as Heidegger explains in his text “The Origin of the Work of Art“, when “we remove ourselves from our commonplace routine and move into what is disclosed by the work” [Heidegger, 1950]. This process will give us a chance to have a fresh look at both humans and machines in order to redefine them into new concepts.

Abhominal, an archaic word meaning inhuman, is an exploratory weblog of the human form. The digital sculptures are a fusion of geometric, architectural and biological abstract forms

Abhominal, an archaic word meaning inhuman, is an exploratory weblog of the human form. The digital sculptures are a fusion of geometric, architectural and biological abstract forms

One simple study of the machines could lead us to the conclusion that machines are devices designed to make life easier for us, but on the other hand we could also embrace them as the devices helping us to achieve what Nietzsche describes as the “Übermensch” [Nietzsche, 1883]. This might mean that we need to have a second look both in material and immaterial aspects of the machines in order to achieve a higher alignment between machines and humans. To do this, we need to make the machines compatible to human bodies as well as our natural and built environment.

Soft machines resembling human motions, soft materials compatible with our body organs and programs capable of learning through time, could be the first few steps towards redefining “Soft Machines” as “Softer Machines”.

 

References:

– René Descartes, Discourse on the Method, 1637

– Don Ihde, Bodies in Technology, U of Minnesota Press, 2002

– Martin Heidegger, the Origin of the Work of Art, 1950

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883

– Nicholas Negroponte, Soft Architecture Machines, the MIT Press, 1975

– Andy Clark. David Chalmers, the Extended Mind, 1998

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