Generator, Japan Net and Other Responsive and Evolving Environments, 24-9-2007

Gonçalo M. Furtado C. Lopes, "The JN Experience / "Cedric Price, Gordon Pask and John Frazer: Generator, Japan Net and Other Responsive and Evolving Environments” (Part A), in: Luis Borges Gouveia (ed.), Acts-International Colloquium "Digital Cities Summit: From Virtual World to Human World", (Forthcoming).

" 1.1 - Introduction - My presentation for the international colloquium 'Digital Cities Summit: From Virtual World to Human World' (ISCSP-Lisbon, 2007) is titled 'Cedric Price, Gordon Pask and John Frazer: Generator, Japan Net and other responsive and evolving environments.' It is based on research conducted throughout several years in Oporto University and at the Bartlett’s PhD Program; from 2005 onwards it was financially supported by FCT and resulted in my PhD dissertation which was supervised by Neil Spiller. In order to explain the content of the research and of this presentation, an extract from the text is printed below:
'[The research]… focuses on the encounters between three pre-eminent British professionals - Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer - and provides an… account of… outstanding… projects related to systems and computation…. In the post-war era, cybernetics and the systems approach have shown new means of dealing with complexity and organization, which possessed broad application. This was paralleled by developments in computation and artificial intelligence. …Cyberneticist and experimental psychologist, Gordon Pask, the crucial figure of second-order-cybernetics who was awarded the Wiener gold medal, is identified as a seminal promoter of cybernetics in the fields of art and architecture…. An overview of his career indicates a sequence of seminal moments that give a clear sense of the development of cybernetics and its exchanges with architecture. … Pask understood computation as something interactive and conversation as the basis of meaning exchange. The …projects focused …pertain, not coincidently, to Price. This maverick of British avant-garde architecture was a tireless promoter of flexible impermanent architecture open to users’ participation…. From 1976 onwards, Cedric Price worked on a project engaged with systems and computers - the Generator. This envisioned a flexible architectural complex…. …Price’s aim of a ‘responsive architecture’ was furthered by John and Julia Frazer’s systems consultancy. The Frazers’ up-to-date research provided a system that enabled and stimulated the regeneration of the complex, and, furthermore, they envisioned Generator as possessing its own life and mind - a proactive rather than reactive structure. …Pask also reencountered Price in 1986 [i.e. decades after the Fun Palace] for a …project engaged with cybernetics - Japan Net. Here, Pask gave a unique expression to Price’s premises of change and permanent information exchange, envisioning Kawasaki as an ample evolving system, and expressing his own second-order-cybernetics’ interests. …Gordon Pask died in 1996; Cedric Price died in 2003 and John Frazer currently resides in Australia. They have had long lasting influences and retain contemporary relevance… [T]hey provide us with a seminal foundation for speculation about architecture’s future development, by suggesting a more evolving environment that cherishes architecture’s creative and responsive role in humanity’s cultural oscillations.' [See: Gonçalo Furtado, 'Envisioning and Evolving Environment: The Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer', PhD Dissertation, supported by FCT and supervised by Neil Spiller and Iain Borden, Bartlett-University College of London, London, 2007. / Gonçalo Furtado, 'Envisioning and Evolving Environment: The Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer', Report-FAUP/ supported by FCT, 2007.]
... [T]he presentation is very long and that several of its aspects were already covered in other presentations and papers submitted ... . The account of this project is based on primary sources examined in the course of my research of the Cedric Price Archives held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (2005). I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the following people: Neil Spiller, Iain Borden, John Frazer, Julia Frazer, Nick Bailey, Stephen Mullin, Howard Shubert, Anne-Marie Sigouin, Juan Herreros, Josep Maria Montaner, Xavier Costa, and Ranulph Glanville; and to dedicate this paper to Amanda Heitler and her family.

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