NURBS theory | conceptualizing cultural processes: from discrete categories to continuous curves

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The explosion of new ideas and methods in cultural disciplines from the 1960s did not seem to affect the presentation cultural processes in practice. Books and museums devoted to art, design, media, and other cultural areas continue to arrange their subjects into small numbers of discrete categories: periods, artistic schools, -isms, cultural movements. The chapters in a book and rectangular rooms of most museums act as material dividers between these categories. A continuously evolving cultural "organism" is forced into artificial boxes.

Pull Quotes: 

If architects adopted the techniques of computer graphics as theoretical terms to talk about their own field, we propose to do the same for all cultural fields. However, rather than only using these terms as metaphors, we also propose to visualize cultural processes using the same techniques.

The time has come to align our models and presentations of cultural process with the new design language and theoretical ideas made possible (or inspired) by software. For example, what will happen if we start conceptualizing and visualizing cultural phenomena and processes in terms of continuously changing parameters - as opposed to categorical boxes standard today?

Just as software substituted the older Platonic design primitives with new primitives (curves, flexible surfaces, particle fields) we propose to replace the traditional "cultural theory primitives" by the new ones. A 1D timeline becomes a 2D or 3D graph; a small set of discrete categorical boxes is discarded in favor of curves, freeform 3D surfaces, particle fields, and other representations available in design and visualization software.

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Luciana Gattass