This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled.
It’s deliberately hard work to read, but asks cracking questions:
- Can a scientist invent better solutions than an engineer?
- Is an artist’s mindset really all that different from a scientist’s?
- Are they simply two ways of operating in the world that are complementary and intertwined?
It’s chock full of dense high nutrition nuggets:
- an intriguing assertion by Savas Dimopoulos on the connection between Art and Science: “The things that are least important for our survival are the very things that make us human.” Both Art and Science can be understood as human needs to express the world around us. Both require suspension of disbelief, offering speculations about our physical and immaterial reality prior to proof.
- The role of Science is to explain and predict the world around us; it ‘converts’ information into knowledge. The role of Engineering is to apply scientific knowledge to the development of solutions for empirical problems; it ‘converts’ knowledge into utility. The role of Design is to produce embodiments of solutions that maximize function and augment human experience; it ‘converts’ utility into behavior. The role of Art is to question human behavior and create awareness of the world around us; it ‘converts’ behavior into new perceptions of information
- Science produces knowledge that is used by engineers. Engineering produces utility that is used by designers. Designers produce changes in behavior that are perceived by artists. Art produces new perceptions of the world, thereby granting access to new information in and about it, and inspiring new scientific inquiry.
I love how this map is used to both understand and address Knotty Problems.
MIT Media Lab Summit devoted a summit to Knotty Objects that gathered designers, scientists, engineers, makers, writers, curators, and scholars around the discussion of four complex and omnipresent objects, along with the rich stories they can tell. The objects–brick, bitcoin, steak, and phone–became lenses through which the transdisciplinary nature of contemporary design was examined.
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