Morphogenesis and Design

Thinking through Analogs

Authored by: Sara Franceschelli

The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138919341
eBook ISBN: 9781315687896
Adobe ISBN: 9781317419518

10.4324/9781315687896.ch11

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Abstract

Digital practices in design, together with computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM), have inspired the reflection of philosophers, theorists, and historians over the last decades. Gilles Deleuze’s The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (1988) presents one of the first and most successful concepts created to think about these new design and manufacturing practices. 1 Deleuze proposed a new concept of the technological object, which was inspired by Bernard Cache’s digital design practices and computer-assisted manufacturing. Deleuze compared Cache’s practices to Leibniz’s differential calculus-based notion of the parametric curve. From this perspective, the object is no longer an essential form: rather, it is functional, defined by a family of parametric curves. In Deleuze’s terms, it is an objectile. This definition grasps a particular aspect of modernity in the technological object, rendering possible the industrial production of “the unique object” (la pièce unique), while making obsolete the homogeneity that comes with industrial standardization. What follows introduces developmental biology into this design matrix, interrogating the relationship between parametric design and computer-assisted manufactory on the one hand and biological morphogenetic processes on the other. Is one necessary for the other? Does an architect need computation in order to render morphogenetic shapes? In answering these questions, this chapter displaces the centrality of digital technology in the design of shape-shifting forms within architecture and calls for a rethinking of design by way of analog prototypes. I argue that “thinking through analogs” offers another means of generating parametrically based morphogenetic forms.

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