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Fade to black: LiDAR in the age of extinction

Light and shade loom large in architecture, as in life. In his book, In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki admires the traditional Japanese house, “the beauty of which depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows — it has nothing else” (18). This subtle play of shadows delivers “a quality of mystery and … Continue reading

Fade to black: LiDAR in the age of extinction [DRAFT]

Light and shade loom large architecture, as in life. In his book, In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki admires the traditional Japanese house, “the beauty of which depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows — it has nothing else” (18). This subtle play of shadows delivers “a quality of mystery and depth … Continue reading

I am not a statistic!

“Don’t become a statistic!” That was the warning teachers and parents would direct at young drivers some years ago, when news broadcasts used to feature weekly road casualty figures. The psychologist Carl Jung amplified the despair of associating the human with a number: “If, …, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has … Continue reading

Pokémon Go versus Ingress

Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go. So I may as well join in. While on holiday last week in the town of Menton in the south of France I aimed my mobile phone camera at a cat in a laneway. Two young men glanced in my direction as they walked by, and I distinctly heard one of … Continue reading

Only design will save Europe’s future

This was the agreed title of my 10 minute polemic at a debating session at the Design Research Society Conference (DRS2016) on Tuesday 28 June. Here’s the transcript. You may think it odd to burden design with the responsibility to redeem anything, let alone to save Europe. But that’s by no means a new role. The … Continue reading

Goodbye Holocene

News of disasters and tragedies amplify collective loss and grief. Mass media and their online surrogates render tangible human tragedies due to error, injustice and war. Nature also delivers disaster. But we modern humans also grieve over nature. Those critics who identify the influence of human habitation on Planet Earth focus on the latter kind of grief. Officially, we homo sapiens and … Continue reading

Trauma and fauna

Once upon a time prior to urban settlement, domestication and commerce, nature harboured enchantments lost to us now. Animals roamed as sacred, conscious, and individually unique beings. Some even attached themselves to spiritual powers. This is the first act in (deep) ecologist and academic Paul Shepard’s 1996 account of how we came to keep some animals as pets. Why do pets … Continue reading

Like this

I have a daily quota of clicks to dispose of. I’m frugal with these minimally interactive units. George in The Jetsons (1962) must have left an impression on me. I recall this office worker of the future complaining to his boss on one particular day of having to press too many buttons. George was only contracted to press one a day. Pressing a button was all … Continue reading

Refugees have smartphones too

Pictures of refugees with smartphones proliferate in the press and online — sometimes with captions suggesting that smartphone owners display an affluence that excludes them from sympathy or support. There are nearly as many smartphones on the planet as there are people, and refugees have them too. But smartphones have become essential tools for survival. Like affluent, free-roaming tourists, refugees draw on GPS … Continue reading

Against empathy

“The term ’empathy,’ has provided a guiding thread for a whole range of fundamentally mistaken theories concerning man’s relationship to other human beings and to other beings in general, theories that we are only gradually beginning to overcome today” (203). That’s a quote from Martin Heidegger’s book of 1929-30 based on a lecture series bearing the … Continue reading

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