Trust the Process

What is at stake in Flowcharting is the role that computation might play in a project for a “progressive” architecture.

Alfred H. Barr Jr., The Development of Abstract Art, 1936 Copyright Museum of Modern Art.

I have no tattoos. Unlike what is apparently most men of my age, class, and social milieu, I was never inked with an ironic anchor, there are no roses creeping out from under my collar at work, and I certainly don’t have sleeves. But if I were ever to get a tattoo, I know exactly what it would be. In Gregory Bateson’s 1972 Steps to an Ecology of Mind, there features a cybernetic diagram, explaining the ecological crisis through a series of feedback loops, its curves and arrows orbiting around a set of titles: to the exterior, “war,” “pollution,” and “famine,” and at the core, “population,” “technology,” and, oddly, “hubris.” There’s something I find incredibly silly but also extremely compelling about what Bateson is doing here, something he shared with much of the cybernetic culture of the time: attempting to explain the complex and irregular systems of the world in a clear manner, he made diagrams that indicated the flow of…

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