WELCOME TO THE SOLAR SOCIETY – LEARNING TO CONSIDER THE FORM OF ACTUALITY

The first theory module will introduce you to some large-scale perspectives for thinking about architectural questions specific to our contemporary information age. Beyond following one of the many trends that have emerged within recent years, like parametric and algorithmic design, digital tectonics and digital materialism, we will take a more abstract view on computers, computation and computability, and look at information technology from the perspective of its theoretical principles and their practical instantiation in form of the logistical, and increasingly global, infrastructures. As starting point, consider this: The sun sends 10‘000 times more energy to the earth as all of mankind is currently using. Daily. Photovoltaics puts us in the historically singular position that we need no longer rely on exploiting the natural storages, we can harvest solar energy by tapping into the solar stream directly. Of course it will still hold that the total amount of energy in the universe can be considered constant, yet the amount of energy encapsulated within agricultural growth and urban cultivation is not. It seems hardly an exaggeration to say that this changes the way we relate between culture and nature: with regard to the natural storages, we can harvest, store and integrate an abundant amount of surplus energy into our cultural milieus. Our hypothesis for architecture is that the so-called information age gives rise to emerging forms of solar societies, for which an abundance of clean energy will be characteristic. Energy can be decoupled from resources. With networked, information technological infrastructures, it turns into a problem of logistics. Thanks to the control of electricity by information technology, energy can be rendered into any form of energy: potential, kinetic, chemical, thermic. We can move things, transform substances, deliver messages, install and operate infrastructures of nearly any kind. But how can we start to think about the forms of living and building in solar societies? There may be, for the time being, no notions of common sense in sight of how to integrate this technological feasibility and genuinely symbolic artificiality into meaningful horizons. All the more is it exciting and important to work conceptually on how to delineate and refer to these novel consistencies that are genuinely symbolic.

This first theory module aims at gathering, discussing and refining some crucial concepts for talking about our contemporary world. We will be guided by the assumption that the crucial aspect about dealing with concepts is not (primarily) understanding the „right“ meanings or definitions, but learning from them about the acts of abstraction involved in conception (thought). Hence, don‘t be afraid of abstract thought! Information technology operates physically and directly on a symbolic substrate. In this, it differes from any earlier technical Gestalt. This „informal“ substrate consists of a restless interplay between electricity and information. We will try to explore two principle consideration. The first: information, in a technical sense, can be regarded as the formal abstraction of any specific content (as representation) into a not primarily representative, but symbolically operative format (digital code); the second: electricity can be regarded as the abstraction of energy from its concrete material storage into a symbolically operative format. The mark of distinction of information technology is that the work it is able to carry out is productive within the symbolic, prior to being rendered into physical materiality. In other, arithmetical words: multiplication is poorly understood if treated as the repetition of addition. A product cannot be comprehensivley described as a sum; each such description is merely one rendering of a product‘s algebraic/symbolic „identity“ – which can be „articulated“ in many ways on the basis of its possible factorizations. Hence, while considering artifacts, we must assume not only a (historical) autonomy of objects, but also ascribe them a proper integrity.

OUR KEY POINTS OF INTEREST

the rôle of abstraction

the notion of the pre-specific in distinction to genericity, generality, specificity, particularity, individuality, singularity, universality, totality

the means of abstraction

the notion of articulation within the interplay between grammar, logics, mathematics, poetics, technics, mediality

the bodies of abstraction

the notion of artefacts in relation to that of things, facts, or essences

orientation within the world of abstraction

indexing: the here and now, in relation to then and there.

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Wednesday Sept. 19th – Friday Oct. 26th Seminar meetings daily: 2.30- approx. 6 pm -> this as a rule, be prepared for spontaneous changes (timewise)

OUR CORE READINGS

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: The Rhizome, in: A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia II. Continuum Press, London and New York 2004.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: The Geology of Morals (What does the Earth think it is?) in: A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia II. Continuum Press, London and New York 2004.

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