Rethinking information technologies to foster situated ecologies.
From the 1950s on, the informational paradigm revived ecological holism and supported a vision of total inference. The practical implementation of the novel communication technologies at the time made possible the globalisation of the economy. The latter was a cornerstone of unprecedented economic growth and welfare, but by globalising the resources that technical objects and systems relied upon, it seeded dramatic more-than-human inequalities that accelerated global biodiversity depletion. While modern technologies evangelists promoted the idea that we could assess this phenomenon thanks to complex modelling and advanced engineering, the implementation in a global economy introduced a distance in the structuration of technical artefacts’ mode of existence, that is by geographically generalising the natural resources at stake. Furthermore, the latter advent of the web in this economic paradigm augmented the erosion rhythm of the geographic situatedness and structurally nurtured technological placelessness. Instrumental to structurally implement sustainability in design activities, we analyse here the notion of geographical situatedness in technical objects. By looking into case studies of terroir and vernacular architecture, this work suggests that the prism of locality, in that it makes situated natural resources a non-negotiable trait for the mode of existence of technical objects, bears a high potential for increasing communities’ resilience by resources economy. Throughout terroir definition and analysis, we identify craftspersonship as a keystone to further reduce the gap between users of technical objects and underlying resources mobilization, thus contributing to environmental care and awareness. Finally, we illustrate the use of terroir qualities with an alternative Information technology using living and dried fungi. By resorting to highly affordable fungal materials and crafts and developing a design that specifies on-site at the architectural scale, we bridge the use of novel materials and knowledge with a structural ecological affordability.
Authors: A. Rigobello, P. Ayres.
Presented at the Deep City Conference 2021.
Illustrations credit: A. Rigobello. Forest 3D scan: T. Svilans.