Cybernetic Musings on Open Form(s): Learning to float

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (Rsd11) Symposium (2022)
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Abstract

Second-order cybernetics conceives of human beings as agents and participants in the making of worlds, embedded in the design process. This conception of designing as a practice of living with and in a world grants it both urgency and hope. The paper proposes that design practitioners, in the widest sense, can learn from design cybernetics when conceiving new methodologies for the post-Anthropocene era. Further, it proposes that these methodologies’ development can take advantage of comparative studies of design cybernetics and design strategies found in traditional Chinese culture. Significantly, Chinese landscape poetry and landscape painting, and, in relation to this, Chinese classical garden design, emphasise elements that are also present in cybernetics discourse: circularity, a floating observer, and the continuity of observer and environment. The paper proposes that these ideas create the necessary conditions for the development of design approaches that re-connect human beings to their environments and permit future agents to initiate change from within. It concludes with an example of a public art installation that implements these ideas.

Author's Profile

Claudia Westermann
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China

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