Tuesday, July 05, 2005

im/material bionics

I received today the ergonomics newsletter Ergoprojects, and found an article about the AICHI trade fair in Japan which features a very cool robot exhibition. I think is very interesting that the fair's theme is "Nature's wisdom". Let me copy a few excerpts from their definition:

This theme was chosen-in regret at the mistakes of the past and in determination to make this dream come true. Nature is a vast font of wisdom, and nature's wisdom stretches from the simplest cell to the infinite reaches of space. This is the wisdom that has given rise to life and eventually ourselves on this planet. Indeed, the history of humankind has been one of learning from nature's wisdom. Humanity cannot live in isolation, and it is imperative that our lives be compatible with the rest of the global ecosystem.

Rediscovering nature's wisdom, we must alter the relationship between humanity and technology as well as the social relations among people themselves. To fail in this can only further exacerbate the degradation of the global ecosystem and imperil our own and our planet's future.

We want to embark upon wide-ranging research here. We want to free technology from the unthinking pursuit of efficiency and economic rationality and from rigid social systemic constraints-to awaken the wisdom embedded in the technology and to enable technology to once again interact sensitively with life and nature. Technology is not inherently eco-destructive, and at its best it exists in a creatively complementary relationship with nature.

There are 3 sub themes:

Nature's Matrix

To show directions for mankind in the 21st century, a new model for civilization in the space age is explored based on the latest achievements of space technology and the history of the Earth. New ways for resolving population and environmental problems are sought through cutting-edge experiments using bio and information technologies.

The Art of Life

Directions for new ways of life in which 21st Century humankind lives actively are proposed. The issues of aging society and the creativity of children are addressed. Through fine arts, performing arts and daily customs from around the world, various exchanges between people and nature are developed and ways to let the richness of nature and the force of life shine much are to be proposed. For example, exhibits may include presentations of regional arts and customs associated with nature and life, introduction of lifestyles harmonized with nature, and presentation of a model society where the elderly live vibrantly and social and technical support provided therefor.

Development for Eco-Communities

To demonstrate a model recycling society in the 21st century, new energy and new recycling technology are utilized. Ideal lifestyles and urban infrastructures are sought in which resources are used efficiently. The ideal balance between social development and environment is pursued and the restoration of environments is attempted.

This is a good example on how design is now looking at immaterial (and material) solutions. For me, it is quite interesting to think about bionics not just to develop technologies, but also to develop systems and sub-systems. Maybe the answers to many of our society's conflicts are in nature!

Right now, Naoko and Mauricio are visting Japan and the fair... let's see what they can tell us about it when they come back.

The Danish design congress ERA 05, is also concerned with immaterial design in global systems. Until now the main considerations have been competition, market, sustainability and lately : culture. We are taking design to the next level, where the impact on those areas are the main issues. However, sustainability refers only to using resources wisely. The japanese approach seems promising because it's a holistic approach to nature. In their own words: "a creatively complementary relationship with nature". I like that idea, because the sustainability approach focuses only on resources, while the bionics approach is about interdependance and balance. So, every design should look not only at it's use and re-use of resources, but also at how it interacts as a system whith other biological systems and subsystems... sounds like a good challenge.

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