It’s been 12 days since officially kicking off these daily experiments.
I’m already seeing the advantages and disadvantages of the decision to pursue multiple mediums and disciplines throughout the week, as opposed to sticking to one.
This morning, I had an interesting conversation with my partner about the limitations of forcing myself to create in multiple disciplines on different days and as we were speaking, she used the word language, in place of disciplines. It encouraged me to do a bit of research into bilingualism and multilingualism and whether some of the same principles could possibly be applied to my experiment of creating in multiple disciplines. I was also interested since I speak 3 languages, and I have always said that I don’t consider myself an expert at any of them, but I do speak all three fairly well - English being the best one of course. I think this could relate to what my intentions are as I embark on my interpretation of the a transdisciplinary practice of Architecture .
I found this article on the British Council website which had some interesting points by Miguel Angel Muñoz regarding advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism:
“When I speak in English, my Spanish is also activated. Both languages are active in the brain of a bilingual person when he or she speaks, and this incurs a processing cost, as the brain needs to do two things at once. According to one study , this can mean that 'the verbal skills of bilinguals in each language are generally weaker than those for monolingual speakers of each language'. “
“The bilingual brain is used to handling two languages at the same time. This develops skills for functions such as inhibition (a cognitive mechanism that discards irrelevant stimuli), switching attention, and working memory.
These skills make up the brain's executive control system, which looks after high-level thought, multi-tasking, and sustained attention. Because bilingual people are used to switching between their two languages, they are also better at switching between tasks, even if these tasks are nothing to do with language.”
This last line in Muñoz ‘s writing got me curious about how this relates to what I am exploring and whether there is a cap to this, and I’m sure it’s different for every human, but I want to understand what my personal limits are in terms of effective outputs? How much multi-tasking can I effectively achieve? How many disciplines could I effectively work in simultaneously? I find this fascinating and this is why this experiment is worth a try. I am also mindful of the distinction between multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. I am hoping to dig deeper into this topic in order to understand the difference. I will write about it in a later post.
I also discovered the medical journal called “Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences” which speaks about interdisciplinary approaches to scientific research:
Interdisciplinary research is an approach, not an end. It should arise out of a challenge; that is, it should develop in response to a problem that cannot be embraced by a single discipline. Interdisciplinary research should not be conducted for its own sake, but, rather, as a deliberate response to specific research needs. It is important to identify the scientific problems for which an interdisciplinary focus is important and to avoid indiscriminate support of anything interdisciplinary. Many research problems facing today's society require coordinated efforts from multiple disciplines. Cross-fertilization between clinical and basic scientists can stimulate research and enhance understanding of pathologies.
And my reaction to the statement in bold would be to make an attempt to define my problem , here’s the first stab at it:
// The problem:
Architecture, is no longer the same discipline as we have defined in the past few centuries. Technology and access to endless resources has re-defined the profession in ways that we have not embraced as a community. We are much too concerned with the present by using processes and thoughts from the past. We are not thinking and doing enough for the future of the profession and how it impacts our society at large. Architecture needs an overhaul, it needs re-thinking, from its core fundamentals to its processes.
And I truly believe that this is “a problem that cannot be embraced by a single discipline.”
I understand this is a large generalization, and many architects are indeed pushing boundaries and thinking of the future, and I admire them and I am inspired by their work. However, the way our cities are being built today (at least in my part of the world - Toronto), we are not thinking beyond building.
In his seminal book “The Ten Books of Architecture” from 30-15th Century BC, Vitruvius writes about how the architect should be versed in “drawing, geometry, optics (lighting), history, philosophy, music, theatre, medicine, and law.” In Chapter 1: Education of the Architect, he says:
The architect should be equipped with knowledge of many branches of study and varied kinds of learning, for it is by his judgement that all work done by the other arts is put to test. This knowledge is the child of practice and theory. Practice is the continuous and regular exercise of employment where manual work is done with any necessary material according to the design of a drawing. Theory, on the other hand, is the ability to demonstrate and explain the productions of dexterity on the principles of proportion.
So, in a way, my daily experiments of exploring Architecture through the different disciplines (music, film, painting, writing, and sculpture) is to equip myself with the necessary knowledge to tackle the larger problem stated above, which is ultimately the re-defining of the practice and processes within architecture.