Fractals in nature include clouds, mountains, coastlines, ferns, lightning.
However, when it comes to technology, some people feel that fractals are ‘a solution waiting for a problem’.
Another area I am interested in looking into for the project is nano-technology. The fun palace could be a celebration of such technology, with educational and exhibiton centres, or even a research lab.
One area of interest was molecular machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa jointly won the Nobel prize in chemistry 2016 for their research into the design and synthesis of such machines.
Molecular machines are ‘molecules with controllable movements which can perform a task when energy is added’. In 1983 Sauvage linked two ring shaped molecules together to make a chain, changing the covalent bonds of the molecules to a mechanical bond. The next breakthrough was in 1991, when Stoddart was able to show that a molecular ring could be threaded onto an axel and moved along it. In 1999 Feringa was able to develop a molecular motor, which could rotate a glass cylinder 10,000 times bigger than itself.
With further development, molecular machines could be used for new materials, sensors or energy storage systems. As noted by the Nobel committee, ‘the development of computing demonstrates how the miniaturisation of technology can lead to a revolution’. The fun palace could be used to educate the public and increase support for further development of such technologies.
My intention was to use photogrammetry to create 3D models of actual parts of human anatomy, through visiting anatomy museums. However, it will take several weeks to get the research passes needed. Unfortunately the best anatomy museums are open to medical professionals only, so I may have to rethink my modelling strategy! However, I was able to visit the Wellcome Collection, which did provide some inspiration.
Clockwise from left: ‘Body Slice’ from the Institute of Plastination -a section of the human body preserved by plastination, in which water in the body is replaced with plastic; ‘Sense’ by Annie Cattrell – sculpture created from MRI images of brain activity when one of the five senses is activated; an early prosthetic arm.
One thought-provoking item in the collection was the skull of a human who had undergone trepanation. Although trepanation has mainly been used in medical practice, there also exists an idea, put forward by Dr Bart Hughes in 1962, that a person’s state of consciousness is related to the volume of blood in the brain. He proposed that this could be increased through trepanation, leading to a higher state of consciousness as experienced by young children before their skull is fully sealed. Of course, no evidence that this is actually the case has ever been found.
Further areas of interest relating to the human body are the evolution and possible future obsolescence of the body.
As technology evolves the human body will evolve with it. We are seeing both natural changes in the body due to the use of technology, and also a kind of ‘manmade’ evolution through the upgrading of the body via new medical technologies. These changes currently occur after we are born and participate in a technological society, however it could be predicted that these changes will eventually affect our genetic make up, so that in future babies will be born with a biology that is adapted for the technological world. A kind of technological ‘nature vs nuture’, where we will move from changes in the body via nuture, or extensive use of technology, to a human race that is biologically inseparable from the impact of technology.
Many of the key changes are happening in the brain. The constant stream of information affects memory as well as the way the brain processes the information, and even our ability to deep read.
In addition to these changes which are a by-product of technology use, the body is also being purposefully upgraded and enhanced.
What is interesting to me is the ways in which the human body might one day become obsolete. If human augmentation becomes widely available, and is used not only where necessary but simply to become stronger, faster and more powerful, would people renounce their biology to become mechanically evolved? The impact on society would be vast. We would likely see clashes between those for and against extensive enhancement. The image of an augmented military, with abilities not granted to the average citizen, is highly dystopic, with widespread implications.
It is this idea of the human of the future that I would like to explore further in the architectural project, with a focus on linking this to the biological forms previously explored.