What's Wrong With Plastic Trees? / Edition 1

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Krieger revisits the ideas of his now infamous article of some thirty years ago in Science magazine. His aim is to give an account of design, one that experienced designers will say,'Yes, That's just what it is like!' At the same time, Krieger offers an analysis of the tensions that design operates within; between perfection and contingency, between wholes and parts, between the talk we make about the world and the world itself.

Krieger takes design—in architecture, landscape, interiors, engineering, and in systems and computer science—to be modeled by traditional theological and artistic problems. And here, he claims, design has traditionally been a redesign of nature. For nature is, as Durkheim would describe it, a totem. Our collective ritual devotion to it allows us to enliven or animate it, and so it may animate us as well. Curiously, much of design and discourse about it now takes place in the computer software engineering world, especially among those concerned with patterns and object- oriented programming. In developing a notion of plastic trees, Krieger probes just what could be wrong with such artifices. As he illustrates, what we call nature is almost always a product of deliberate design. It is as if people make discoveries in exploration, discoveries of places already occupied aboriginally. In essence, he asserts what we actually have is a virtual authenticity, more real than any original could possibly be—since the original was never meant to be sacralized or featured in our lives. A provocative analysis that scholars and students of architecture and planning, environmental studies, engineering and computer science will find stimulating.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275967765
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 182
  • Lexile: 1280L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

MARTIN H. KRIEGER is Professor of Planning at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development of the University of Southern California. He has taught at University of California, Berkeley, University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities, MIT, and University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor, and he has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science and at the National Humanities Center. His earlier books include The Constitutions of Matter: Mathematically Modeling the Most Everyday of Physical Phenomena and Doing Physics: How Physicists Take Hold of the World.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Preface: Why God and Hegel and Paintings When Talking About Design? xiii
Acknowledgments xvii
Part 1 The Design of Our World
1. Arguments from Design 3
2. Composition and Repetition as Explanation 25
3. Exploration and Discipline as Ways of Designing 41
Part 2 Artifice and Authenticity
4. Authenticity, Rarity, and Plasticity as the Design of Nature 63
5. The Manufacture of the Sacred, the Reenactment of Transcendence, and the Temptations of Design 75
6. The Real Thing in Design 95
7. Twenty Questions, Commodification, and Friendly Monsters 113
Epilogue 127
Notes 131
Bibliography 139
Index 145
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