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[Nettime-nl] Crystalpunk Workshop Event 18-10: Paskian Environments
Wilfried Hou Je Bek on Fri, 7 Oct 2005 13:06:59 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Crystalpunk Workshop Event 18-10: Paskian Environments

A Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture event:
Paskian Environments with Usman Haque and Adam
Tuesday, 18 October 2005 

Gordon Pask (1928-1996) was a cyberneticist and a
crystalpunk long before the latter movement existed.
Cybernetics, its founder Norbert Wiener defined it as
"the science of control and communication, in the
animal and the machine", fascinates us for its broad
general view on things. The willingness to take up
almost any subject and to study it in earnest for what
it is, bears witness to a curiosity that is hard to
find in most of today's science and art.

Cybernetics was a theory of machines, but working from
a notion of machines which constitutes every system
which produces determinate behaviour: thermostats,
humans, mathematical functions. Each machine was
treated as W. Ross Alby puts it: "by asking not 'what
individual act will it produce here and now?' but
'what are ALL the possible behaviours it can
produce'". Within such a science of possibilities,
each machine is a generative system producing
behaviour guided by a finite set of rules: a machine
as a form of language, its syntax made up perhaps from
transistors and wires or neurons and synapses.
Cybernetics was asking "what if" questions to test the
limits of the machine's eloquence very much like a
poet searches for the outer boundary of what a natural
language can express.

The ideas of Pask crossed various domains, finding
links and patterns between them no one had seen
before. He is most famous for his "conversation
theory" that describes the act of communication as a
dynamic system of agreements between interacting
agents. He also built machines, a lot of them, to test
some hypothesis or theory. Dual computers connected to
each other developing a language between them,
electro-chemical devices that could grow a sensor
responding to some environmental input (his most
crystalpunk of projects). Perhaps you remember the
lines where the crystalpunk famously states that
software is an aid for reflection? Pask had known this
all along.

In architecture, soft or other, Pask has proven to be
very influential. His work informs a lot of thinking
about evolutionary development of form and the
self-assembly of structures. When 2 physical objects
meet in a room they have to find a way to communicate
to find out what they must do. There you see how, for
instance, a theory of communication enters responsive

Under the header of "Paskian Environments", Usman
Haque and Adam Somlai-Fischer will discuss interactive
architecture and responsive, communicative
environments in the Paskian sense. 
Explaining why they think it hasn't been employed in
the past but why it should be now, and also why it has
become a lot easier since it's now easier to work with
interactive systems (cue low tech sensors and
actuators). The next step, dear to the Crystalpunk
Workshop for Soft Architecture, would be the
development of conceptual frameworks for constructing
these spaces.

Usman Haque (www.haque.co.uk) and Adam
Somlai-Fischer(www.aether.hu) are both trained as
architects. But as the long list of impressive work on
their websites show, they have done extensive work on
the softer part of the trade. Together they are
currently working on DIY sensor technology.

LowTech Propositions 
http://www. lowtech.propositions.org.uk

An Introduction to Cybernetics by W. Ross Ashby

Paper on Electro-Chemical computing:

Evolutionary Architecture by John Fraser, foreword by
Gordon Pask:


The Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture
September - December 2005

The "Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture" will
evolve an empty room from nothingness into unknown
states of technological enhancement. The workshop is
located in a room which is also its subject: it
creates a space where those wanting to become active
at the cutting-edge where art, new media,
architecture, design and programming intersect, can
meet and collaborate. Unlike the alphabet that always
knows where it is going this workshop does not.

You can be a crystalpunk too!

We are open every Tuesday (19.00-23.00) and Saturday
(14.00-18.00) at Oudenoord 275, Utrecht

Visit www.impakt.nl/softarchitecture to find out more.

The CPWfSA is generated by socialfiction.org and
produced by impakt.nl


Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture

"What the Elephant Man is to the Athletic Body, the Crystalpunk Room 
will be to the Smart House"



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