Some thoughts below...
> On Dec 2, 2015, at 7:42 PM, John Hopkins <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hallo Paul -- some musings...
>> Since STEAM is on the table of discussion, this may be relevant - just posted it:
> I got to your presentation on "System modeling at the Art Museum" which I thought was an effective approach. (Wouldn't it be 'systems' though, plural?)
> [a link to your presentation: http://tinyurl.com/qhugz7j]
> The list of questions about the Incan tunic appear to address the wider problem of ignorance surrounding the provenance of 'technological' artifacts. Winding back the artifact to its material genesis can be combined with an exploration into the conceptual genesis of its design, its purpose, the creative impulse that sparked it. There is still the difficulty of the segue to more esoteric/indeterminate questions, but I think the process has to start somewhere, and your list of questions seems to open such a discursive space.
> I have attempted such in my art/technology workshops (for engineering, art, and design students) -- not overtly invoking systems thinking, as that in itself is another challenging intellectual concept -- but, for example, simply connecting things in a framework of 'product' (specific material manifestation), 'process' (actions, flows embedded in a wider field), and 'praxis' (a/the holistic expression of lived presence).
> With my background in hard science, I do take every opportunity presented to engage non-science folks with scientific principles -- for example, when working with http://ecosa.org students, when delving into water catchment landscaping -- speaking about (and experimenting with) basic fluid dynamics. So few of my art students had any clue as to extremely basic physical laws coming from mechanical physics, or earth (geophysical) systems.
> The applied examination of praxis attempts to look at the embedded complexity of individual and collection human presence which often defies the all-too-often invoked references that tend to box us in here -- STEM, STEAM, etc, etc. Every individual, in deep relation to the social, has a multi-dimensional relationship with the world, often despite(!) their 'formal education'. By facilitating a discursive space where the fruits of this idiosyncratic experience can surface, the disciplinary boundaries may more easily be erased. (Although this outcome is generally *not* the goal of any STEM/STEAM programs, as erasure is still too much a challenge/risk to the existing inertia of social institutions.)
> As an alumni of Mitcham's school, graduating some decades back, the educational indoctrination into engineering generally proceeded as the solution to all the world's problems via highly-paid jobs upon graduation. (We were required only four one-semester humanities elective courses, as they were clearly extraneous to saving the world with technology!!). Of course no engineering education looks like that now, but myopic human hubris does maintain a steady and tenacious presence in most engineering (and design!) programs.
For engineering, it isn't clear where the changes can evolve — probably at the Federal level and down. Engineering
programs are notable for having few electives, but this may also be institution dependent. My undergrad was in mathematics,
and being within the liberal arts, that subject allowed me plenty of time to take art, philosophy, and art history classes.
> From that rather extreme initial education, lacking any critical reflection, I have come to have a much broader perspective (thanks to the influence of many folks, living and dead, and transdisciplinary/transcultural life-experience). I no longer consider myself an engineer, nor scientist, though I maintain a somewhat bifurcated sense of interacting with the world (analytical versus intuitive perhaps?). I do recall an influential professor of mine, George Keller, a principle figure globally in electromagnetic geophysics, saying in the field one day "If you really want to know what is below the surface of the earth, you have to do this," as he squatted down and laid his palm on the ground...
> huh? where's the data? This expression completely perplexed me, though I was intrigued by his work in groundwater hydrology *and* dowsing...
> Ultimately, I look at technology (and humans) as being (merely!) another expression of life on the planet: where that Life alters the (energy) flows around it simply because of its presence. Of course there are questions that fall under concepts of altruism, intention, scale, and so on, but these all rest on the basic condition of Life altering the wider system around it. And, with humans, no reason for hubris, as we more often than not have *no* clue as to the gap between the material intentions of our engineering and the cumulative effects of those imposed changes to wider (Gaia) flows, anyway.
> Engineering, specifically, does raise the question of material scale -- how the particular form of Life, humans, have wrought their organism-specific alterations. Perhaps this is the source of that hubris -- (Donna Haraway touches on the hubris in her talk "Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble") -- the globe-girdling flux of human presence. However, in the larger picture, humans are a transitory upstart presence, and only one manifestation of life on the planet. As with others, we evolved, found energy, waxed in numbers, and, when the 'easy' energy sources are gone, will wane in numbers.
> Anyway, thanks for that posting...
> Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
> grounded on a granite batholith
> twitter: @neoscenes
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