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The Architecture of Consciousness

The Architecture of Consciousness

This article seeks to outline the mental construction of soft architecture and briefly illustrate why soft architecture is the architectural product of our consciousness.

The purpose of a line to serve as a boundary between space, whether that be a line down the middle of a blank page or one that form a letter in our writing. The same could be said for walls, roofs and other architectural elements. The physical boundaries and space constructed by those are considered as hard, not (solely) because of their material qualities, but because the volume definition of the space is defined and stable; they formed hard architecture. Though, as a inhabitant enters this define space, another space is formed, in their mind, through their perceptions and senses.

There are many different theories that explore the topic of perception and experience, how we perceive space around us and factors that effects it. There are fundamental sensations of space; surface and edge, that shapes our elementary space perception. Then on top of that, there are stimuli that give us more information and add quality to the image formed in the retina. Our perceptions are also selective, such that certain features in an environment will stand out to us while others are neglected. All of these differs from person to person according to our biology. (Gibson, 1950)

To have a sense of space, one need to be aware of all these information in order to form a spatial perception. This awareness comes from our consciousness. Consciousness, according to Damasio (2010), consists of two part; the mind and the ‘self’. The mind receives a flow of information but we are not passive exhibitors of these information. There is a sense of self in our mind that introduce a subjective perspective to the information we process. This self is referenced on our interior body through our brain map and therefore is unique to every individual.

Hofstadter (2007), however, argues that there is no ‘self’ or ‘I’ in the first place. We reflects everything around us in a loop, a vortex, where a ‘self’ or a ‘soul’ emerges. “You make decisions, take actions, affect the world, receive feedback from the world, incorporate it into yourself, then the updated ‘you’ makes more decisions, and so forth, round and round,” He stated. The world includes the space around us and we subconsciously shaped ourselves according to this space, which shapes it, which then shapes us and so on and so forth. This idea reflects the case of collective behaviours and how somebody else’s presence affects our emotion and perception, which then re-shapes our space which in turn affect them and on it goes in this loop. Hofstadter also did experiments where he connects a video camera to a screen and pointed it at the screen and documenting his hand movements in front of the camera as well rotating the camera to explore the continuous construction of an infinity vortex or ‘strange loop’ as he called it.

Hofstadter 2

Fig 1. Video Voyage II, snapshots 5-8. from I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Hofstadter 1

Fig 2. I Am A Strange Loop book cover by Douglas R. Hofstadter


So what is this space we generate in our head? These space mentally constructed through our perceptions are soft architecture. It is soft because it is fluid, malleable, ever-changing and constantly shifting with the constant flow of new information we received from the outside world through our senses, providing that we are conscious, which then construction and deconstruction and reconstruction this space. Soft architecture is the product of our conscious mind. Soft architecture the architecture of consciousness.

Although our mind might not ends inside our brains.  Andy Clark and David Chalmers (1998) argues that that our mind extends into the environment so long as we use part of the environment as a tool to perform our cognition function. If this is the case, this generates a lot of interesting questions yet to be explore. Can soft architecture be generated by an unconscious mind, such as the state of sleeping and even lucid dreaming?
Where is the divisive boundary between softness and hardness?
Where does it begins and where does it ends.



Figure 1. Hofstadter, D. (n.d.). [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2015].

Figure 2. Hofstadter, D. (n.d.). I Am A Strange Loop (Cover). [image] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2015].

Clark, A. & Chalmers, D. (1998). The Extended Mind. MIT Press.

Damasio, A. (2010). Self comes to mind. New York: Pantheon Books.

Hofstadter, D. (2007). I am a strange loop. New York: Basic Books.

Gibson, J. (1950). The perception of the visual world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


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