[July 24, 2015] Knowledge and Power in Design Education
In the introduction to Chapter 1 of French Sociologist Bruno Latour's canonical book, We Have Never Been Modern, he posits the false, or rather forced, hybridization of media in the late twentieth century, where forces of 'science, politics, economics, and law' are obviously interwoven as if they bear direct relationships. Yet, he argues, we neglect to notice the fallacy of this imposition:
"If reading the daily paper is modern man's form of prayer, then it is a very strange man indeed who is doing the praying today while reading about these mixed-up affairs. All of culture and all of nature get churned up again again every day... Once again, heads of state, chemists, biologists, desperate patients and industrialists find themselves caught up in a single uncertain story mixing biology and society." -Latour p2
What are the implications, we ask, of this on architectural design, in a world in the which architects have been given the responsibility to response to - and initiate - solutions in a localized context, yet paradoxically aimed at global impact. In other words, a a contradiction exists between the architect's means of engagement (site-specific local building) and the 'hoped-for' expected outcomes (significant global change in perspective).
How can Latour's Actor-Network Theory ameliorate these incongruities? Either through changing the impossible expectations of the discipline and practice of architecture or through an altered means of engagement in their arena or operation that is itself globally hybridized. As architects, we choose the latter.
PART 2 HERE