Biophilia + Technophilia: Initiate Narrative

1.28.2011: Biophilia + Technophilia: Narrative Proposal:

I initially began this project with the intention of designing the scaffolding first; an autonomously printed scaffolding system by which electrical impulses may be sensed and responded to-a system where biotechnical matter adheres to and becomes a part of. I would now like to go back to the narrative. In trying to understand a human habitat of future humanity it is important to go back to the human, bringing design back toward a human-centered process. Many visionary projects, of late, respond to manipulation and ideals of formal fetishization, digital code, and black-box design, without entering the human into the equation of what the human may have evolved toward at the point when such fantastical constructs are palpable. This is a consequence derived from modernity, where the human was largely left out of the design, focusing mainly and only on the technology and the intrinsic values of the form or machine. Post-humanism (or trans-humanism) is largely focused on human-enhancement, and it is true that through the evolution of technology many are feeling the repercussions of human-alienated design as we have become a society of the spectacle. We are currently guiding technological design towards a more human-centered approach, where technologies are embedded into everyday objects and interfaces are becoming more “tangible” as they make their way out of “the box”. Therefore, I would like to re-evaluate the initiation of this project through the lens and transformation of the human and therefore how building/body and biology/technology collapse. The human habitat of the future will not and can not be explored without the critical role of exploring the future of the human:

Infatuations with biology and technology spurred by the Industrial Revolution and propelled by “modernity” has created a society infatuated with technology and biology. As our technology advances, our knowledge of biology increases –along with our ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular scales. (As explained in-depth in the Biophilia + Technophilia: Project Manual) Already today our lives and the ecosystem are interwoven with multiple layers of embedded technology, many becoming invisible as their use is ubiquitous. As our infatuation with technology increases, so too will our cultural acceptance–some proclaiming to bring about the next evolution in humans (homo-sapien)-the post-human (homo-hybridus), where we are able to manipulate biology at the scale of matter, and thus transform the molecular structure of the human itself. In this time of post-humanity where biology and technology are fully enmeshed, what will become of the human habitat as biotechnologies influence “Architecture”?

In describing the post-human habitat we must first look at what it means to be post-human and the evolution of the human with the coevolution with technology. It is believed the post-human will seek continual improvement, improving upon natures “mindless” design, where individuals seek morphological freedom in shaping fundamentally better futures. Human biology will become enhanced through the manipulation of genetics and biological wetware. Medical procedures will not only be carried out on the sick and dieing, but the healthy, seeking improvement from their born-selves. It is possible that anti-aging medicines will become available and the need for life-extension greater as humans gain a greater hope for longevity in the future. Early stages of this movement can be felt today through procedures in cosmetic and plastic surgery as people seek to enhance their natural selves. Already today we see technologies which are pushing the limits of human capabilities, where prosthetic technology will soon out-perform our natural performance limitations. This could reach a point where people are willingly open to the trade-in for non-biological components. Other technologies seek to read neural patterns in the brain and bodies nervous system to control objects in the real environment, reading neurons and sensors within the body to acknowledge our presence and implant technologies which enhance our interaction with the environment. These technologies, however, need not be skin-deep–the conversion with these interwoven futures have been appearing since the beginning of humanities use of tools; for what is special about the human brain is its ability to enter into deep and complex relationships with non-biological constructs, props, and aids. This ability does not depend on physical wire-and-implant mergers-such mergers may be consummated without the intrusion of silicon and wire into flesh and blood. New waves of user-sensitive technology will bring this age-old process to a climax as our mind and identities become ever more deeply enmeshed in a non biological matrix of machines, tools, props, codes, and semi-intelligent daily objects. Already today through the use of cell phones, pens, and computers (to name a few) our brains enter into deep conversations with non-biological entities, accepting them as a ubiquitous tool as they become an extension of the cognitive brain where mental processes are offloaded onto other non-biological parts. The traditional image of the “cyborg” as being impregnated with machines and wires into flesh and blood is a largely misleading image, as it is not the physical depth of the technological implant that matters, but rather the ubiquitous and invisible connection with the brains neural processes. However, this image is not completely misleading as we already have prosthetic limbs and organs, and it is true that this will continue to play a role, albeit a lesser-one than traditionally perceived. In this sense, humans may interact and connect to technology on multiple levels; technological prosthesis, genetic manipulation, mood/emotion alteration/enhancing drugs, mind upgrades, and non-biological ubiquitous tools/props/aids. These become the technologies in conversation with the human and the gateway into the information exchange between human and habitat.

At this point in time the human habitat will become both a physical and mental integration between that which is biological and that which is technological. Architecture becomes not the creation of utopia or dystopia, but of perpetual “progress”-an extropia-a never ending movement toward the ever-distant goal of extropia. Architecture becomes an extension of human cognition as our mental processes are offloaded to manipulate the environment around us-a physical interface through which we interact with the world. These technological progressions carry significant consequences for the creation of space and matter, as objects become semi-intelligent and we are able to interact with materials and objects on levels not seen previously. Spaces which are able to read our thoughts, our presence, and vice-versa are perhaps able to change our physiology and alter our moods. There may be memory fields that trigger specific memories or spaces which physiologically alter our emotions and so to shall objects and spaces may be manipulated with mere mental will and physical or mental presence. We may inhabit spaces which respond to our presence through technological sensors or interact with our mental or biological processes.

Architecture shall also respond to information within the environment, as simulation within the digital environment transcends into actual responsive performance within the physical world as it searches for internal homeostasis. Aside from responding to humans, spaces and architectural constructs will become more biological, like an organism, as they respond to changes in the environment; climate and weather patterns, temperature, moisture, or light (to name a few). Architecture becomes both constructed and designed from the bottom-up, beginning with the molecular and macromolecular structure of the scaffolding which will support a biological-technologically infused epidermis. Scaffolding is created, or rather printed, through the autonomous network of robotics excreting carbon-based materials acting as optical fibers as they are able to transmit, receive, and respond to electrical impulses–allowing them to respond and adapt to information within the environment.

The narrative surrounding this project may be further enhanced or developed through the lens of a future company by which these mergers are taking place and for which this architectural entity is being constructed for; a future company which specializes in human augmentation, mindware upgrades, the development of synthetic life, and the pursuit of prolonging human longevity (to name a few). The program, thus, develops around this company, where mental upgrades are marketed, prosthetic and regenerative surgery performed, cryogenics practiced, and lives enhanced through technological and biological enhancements. The architecture, thus becomes and embodiment of these trans-humanist ideologies and subsequent design philosophies, where the architecture itself seeks to correspond to the transformation of the human into a post-human state, responding on multiple levels to the advancements of these technological and biological mergers.

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Categories: Academia, Theory

Author:jonbailey

studying: architecture design

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