Claudia Westermann is an artist and architect, licensed with the German Chamber of Architects, and Senior Associate Professor in Architecture at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China. She holds postgraduate degrees in Architecture and Media Art and obtained a PhD from CAiiA, Planetary Collegium, supervised by the British pioneer in technoetic arts, Prof. Roy Ascott. Her works have been exhibited and presented widely internationally. Claudia Westermann is a member of the Editorial Organism of 'Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research' and sits on the Executive Board of the American Society for Cybernetics as part of Members-at-Large.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discuss the relevance of second-order cybernetics for a theory of architectural design and related discourse. Approach: First, the relation of architectural design to the concept of “poiesis” is clarified. Subsequently, selected findings of Gotthard Günther are revisited and related to an architectural poetics. The last part of the paper consists of revisiting ideas mentioned previously, however, on the level of a discourse that has incorporated the ideas and offers a poetic way of understanding them. Findings: Gotthard Günther’s conception of “You” is specifically valuable in reference to a theory of architectural design in the sense of an architectural poetics. Originality – The research furthers the field of architecture by contributing to it a new theory in the form of an architectural poetics. It addresses questions of design with a procedural framework in which critical engagement is an intrinsic principle, and offers an alternative to existing discourses through a poetry of architectonic order that is open to the future. Relevance: Second order approaches are at the center of discussion in this paper. The paper argues for a new theory of design based on second order approaches.
Westermann C. (2018) On delight: Thoughts for tomorrow. Technoetic Arts 16(1): 43–51. https://cepa.info/7742
The article introduces the problematics of the classical two-valued logic on which Western thought is generally based, outlining that under the conditions of its logical assumptions the subject I is situated in a world that it cannot address. In this context, the article outlines a short history of cybernetics and the shift from first- to second-order cybernetics. The basic principles of Gordon Pask’s 1976 Conversation Theory are introduced. It is argued that this second-order theory grants agency to others through a re-conception of living beings as You logically transcending the I. The key principles of Conversation Theory are set in relation to the poetic forms of discourse that played a key role in art as well as philosophical thinking in China in the past. Second-order thinking, the article argues, is essentially poetic. It foregoes prediction in favour of the potentiality of encountering tomorrow’s delights.
Since René Descartes famously separated the concepts of body and mind in the seventeenth century, western philosophy and theory have struggled to conceptualize the interconnectedness of minds, bodies, environments and cultures. While environmental psychology and the cognitive sciences have shown that spatial perception is ‘embodied’ and depends on the aforementioned concepts’ interconnectedness, architectural design practice, for example, has rarely incorporated these insights. The article presents research on the epistemological foundations that frame the communication between design theory and practice and juxtaposes it with scientific research on embodied experience. It further suggests that Asian aesthetics, with its long history in conceiving relations and art as interactive, could create a bridge between recent scientific insights and design practice. The article links Asian aesthetics to a discourse on ecologies in the post-Anthropocene, in dialogue with contemporary conceptions of time. It outlines an approach to the interconnectedness of minds, bodies, environments, the sciences and cultures, in favour of a future that is governed by creative wisdom rather than ‘smart’ efficiency.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper to discuss ethical principles that are implicit in second-order cybernetics, with the aim of arriving at a better understanding of how second-order cybernetics frames living in a world with others. It further investigates implications for second-order cybernetics approaches to architectural design, i.e. the activity of designing frameworks for living. Design/methodology/approach – The paper investigates terminology in the second-order cybernetics literature with specific attention to terms that suggest that there are ethical principles at work. It further relates second-order cybernetics to selected notions in phenomenology, pragmatism and transcendental idealism. The comparison allows for conclusions about the specificity of a second-order inquiry. In line with the thematic focus of this journal issue on the framing of shared worlds, the paper further elaborates on questions relating to the activity of designing “worlds” in which people live with others. Findings: The paper highlights that a radical openness toward the future and toward the agency of others is inscribed in the conception of second-order cybernetics. It creates a frame of reference for conceiving social systems of all kinds, including environments that are designed to be inhabited. Originality/value – The paper identifies an aesthetics grounded in the process of living-with-others as an ethical principle implicit in second-order cybernetics thought. It is an aesthetics that is radically open for the agency of others. Linking aesthetics and ethics, the paper’s contributions will be of specific value for practitioners and theoreticians of design. Considering second-order cybernetics as a practice generally dealing with designing, it also contributes to the wider second-order cybernetics discourse.
Westermann C. (2022) From Within, or the Domain of Design Practice. Constructivist Foundations 18(1): 137–139. https://cepa.info/8215
Open peer commentary on the article “In Maturana’s Wake: The Biology of Cognition’s Legacy and its Prospects” by Randall Whitaker. Abstract: Engaging with biology of cognition is a form of practice rather than application. In the context of design, biology of cognition can be conceived of as initiating an educational process that supports agents to act “from within” rather than “from without.”