[July 28, 2015] Knowledge and Power in Design [Part 2]
"To shuttle back and forth, we rely on the notion of translation, or network, more supple than the notion of system, more historical than the notion of structure, more empirical than the notion of complexity, the idea of network is the Ariadne's thread of these interwoven stories." - Bruno Latour p.3
Bruno Latour defines a network as the interaction between science (technology) and society (culture) through a given epistemic framework. Crucial to this definition is that knowledge not be tied with past achievement. We attained this knowledge, but knowledge is being re-interpreted, uniquely connected, or discovered anew. It is the way society engages, or frames, a given episteme that defines knowledge - the way it categorizes the collective - that constitutes knowledge. It is, thus, always in flux.
More concretely, in the role of design education, networks are neither optic nor solely human. Architects think of networks like geometry, or math, insofar as they operate in the physical world (arena of operation), yet exist immaterially within a societal mind. Architecture engages similarly. It is not a 'thing-in-itself' nor merely humans about themselves.
"Send [an anthropologist] off to study the Arapesh or the Achuar, the Koreans or the Chinese, and you will get a single narrative that weaves together the way people regard the heavens and their ancestors, the way they build houses and the way they grow yams or manioc or rice, the way they construct their government and their cosmology. In works produced by anthropologists abroad, you will not find a single trait that is not simultaneously real, social, and narrated." -Bruno Latour p7
An anthropologist, like a rational ethnographer, can reveal a single narrative through a given - or constructed - network. The architect engages this episode, not with an intervention [as that implies disruption), but an interweaving that is just. Architecture is revealed only when it engages this larger network. It moved beyond autonomy into sublated absorption. As such, technology - the way it is produced and the way it produces us - is far reaching in its arena of operation, from cosmology to architecture and beyond.
This is what we at LIONarchitecture have always been - and still are - after.