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09 NOVEMBER 2013

Superstudio: the radical Italian architectural group

"The collective emerged in 1966 at the moment when the technocratic optimism of the first half of the 1960s was souring. The watershed was the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China in 1966 when Mao Tse–tung gave Western intellectuals a new cause to believe in after a decade of disillusion since their faith in communism was shattered by Khrushchev's exposure of Stalin's brutalities. Events in China made Western society seem spiritually barren at a time of growing concern about the Vietnam War. In the visual arts, radicals rebelled against the extrovert imagery of Pop Art in favour of the politically engaged work of Fluxus artists like Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik. The rising tide of political frustration culminated in the 1968 student riots in Paris and copycat protests in London, Tokyo and Prague. Women formed fledgeling feminist movements such as the Women's Liberation Front in the US and Mouvement de Libération des Femmes in France. Decades of oppression against gay men and women erupted in a pitched battle in New York, when the police tried to close the Stonewall, a gay bar in the West Village and a politicised gay rights movement exploded.

Superstudio's response was to develop its 'Anti–Design' projects: themes from which were echoed in the work of other radical architects and designers, notably the members of Archizoom, a fellow Florentine group consisting of Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, Dario and Lucia Bartolini and Massimo Morozzi. Both groups were founded in 1966 and their first important project was to express their theories about the crisis of modernism in the Superarchitecture exhibition in Pistoia, Italy. A year later, they refined the ideas aired in Superarchitecture in a joint follow–up show in Modena."

(Design Museum)



1966 • Adolfo Natalini • Alessandro Magris • Andrea Branzi • Anti-Design (agenda) • Archigram • architectural thinking • Archizoom • avant-garde • avant-garde thinking • Cristiano Toraldo di Francia • Cultural Revolution • Dario Bartolini • design museum • disillusionment • FlorenceFluxus group • Foreign Office Architects • Gilberto Corretti • ItalyJoseph Beuys • Lucia Bartolini • Mao Tse-tung • Massimo Morozzi • Modena • modernismmodernist ideals • Mouvement de Liberation des Femmes • Nam June PaikNikita Khrushchev • Paolo Deganello • Peoples Republic of Chinaphotocollage • Piero Frassinelli • Pistoia • political frustration • pop artPragueradical architecture • radical design • Rem Koolhaas • Roberto Magris • scientific method • Studio Alchymia • Superarchitecture (exhibition) • superfluous objects • Superstudio • technocratic optimism • Toraldo di Francia • University of Florence • Vietnam war • visionary scenarios • visual arts • vociferous • Womens Liberation Front


Simon Perkins
05 JANUARY 2013

Epistemological Positions in Design Research

"The significance of acknowledging the differences between the aspects of these epistemologies is twofold; first it connects the theory of research to the practice of research and reveals the limits of truth claims in terms of objectivity, validity and generalisability. Second, Crotty's model emphasizes the necessity of remaining epistemologically consistent. Objectivist research must distinguish scientifically established objective facts from people's everyday subjective meanings. In turn, consistently constructionist research must place all meanings, scientific and non–scientific on an equal basis – they are all constructions, and none is truly objective or generalisable [sic]. The further one moves towards subjectivism, the greater the limits of the objectivity, validity and generalisablity of one's truth claims (Seale 1999). Being epistemologically aware requires that at each point in the research process we recognize that we make a variety of assumptions about human knowledge, the realities encountered in the human world and the interpretability of our findings."

(Luke Feast and Gavin Melles, 2010)

Feast, L. and G. Melles (2010). "Epistemological Positions in Design Research: A Brief Review of the Literature". Connected 2010 – 2nd International Conference on Design Education Sydney, Australia, University of New South Wales.

"Point of View" by Christopher Hassler []



2010academic communityassumptions • Charles Owen • Christopher Frayling • Clive Seale • constructionism • constructionist research • creative practice • Daniela Buchler • design educationdesign research • epistemological consistency • epistemological positions • epistemologies • epistemologyfindings • Fiona Candlin • Gavin Mellesgeneralisability • human knowledge • International Conference on Design Education • interpretability • Kees DorstKen Friedmanknowledge constructions • limits of objectivity • limits of truth claims • Luke Feast • Michael BiggsMichael CrottyNigel Cross • non-scientific meanings • objective • objectivist research • objectivity • practice of research • realitiesreview of literature • Roy Prentice • scholarly researchscientific methodscientifically established objective factssubjectivism • theory of research • truth claimsUniversity of New South Walesvalidity


Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2012

Towards a critical discourse of practice as research

"A problem confronting many artistic researchers is related to the need for the artist to write about his or her own work in the research report or exegesis, The outcomes of such research are not easily quantifiable and it can be difficult to articulate objectively, methods processes, and conclusions that emerge from an alternative logic of practice and the intrinsically subjective dimension of artistic production. Moreover, conventional approaches and models of writing about art generally fall within the domain of criticism, a discourse that tends to focus on connoisieurial evaluation of the finished product. How then, might the artist as researcher avoid on one hand, what has been referred to as 'auto–connoisseurship', the undertaking of a thinly veiled labour of valorising what has been achieved in the creative work, or alternatively producing a research report that is mere description (Nelson 2004)?

In this paper, I suggest that a way of overcoming such a dilemma is for creative arts researchers to shift the critical focus away from the notion of the work as product, to an understanding of both studio enquiry and its outcomes as process. I will draw on Michel Foucault's essay 'What is An Author ' (Rabinow, 1991) to explore how we might move away from art criticism to the notion of a critical discourse of practice–led enquiry that involves viewing the artist as a researcher, and the artist/critic as a scholar who examines the value of artistic process as the production of knowledge. As I will demonstrate, in adopting such an approach, practitioner researchers need not ignore or negate the specificities and particularities of practice – including its subjective and emergent methodologies which I have argued elsewhere, constitute the generative strength that distinguishes artistic research from more traditional approaches Barrett, 2005). In elaborating the relationship between a these aspects and the more distanced focus made available through Foucault's elaboration of author function, I will draw on Donna Haraway's (1991, 1992) notion of 'situated knowledge' and her critique of social constructivism which reveals how the scientific method is implicated in social constructivist accounts of knowledge. It is this alignment, suggests Haraway,that results in the effacement of particularities of experience from which situated knowledges emerge. In order to ground and illustrate the arguments and ideas presented in this paper, I will also refer to Pablo Picasso's, Demioselles d''Avignon and a selection of critical commentaries on this work by Leo Steinberg (1988), William Rubin (1994) and Lisa Florman (2003)."

(Estelle Barrett, 2006)

Barrett, E. (2006) "Foucault's 'What is an Author': towards a critical discourse of practice as research". Working Papers in Art and Design Vol 4 Retrieved from URL ISSN 1466–4917



2006academic writingart criticismartist • artist as researcher • artist as scholar • artistic processartistic research • auto-connoisseurship • connoisseur • connoisseurshipcontribution to knowledge • creative arts researchers • creative problem solvingcreative work • critic as scholar • design processDonna Haraway • emergent methodologies • established research strategiesEstelle Barrettexegesis • finished product • Leo Steinberg • Lisa Florman • Michel FoucaultPablo Picassopractitioner researcherproblem solving researchproduction of knowledge • research report • scientific methodsituated knowledgessocial constructivismstudio enquiry • subjective methodologies • traditional research • What is An Author • William Rubin • Working Papers in Art and Design • writing about creative work


Simon Perkins
12 MARCH 2011

Scientists revise their criteria of rationality as they enter new domains

"The conventional model of science, technology and society locates sources of violence in politics and ethics, that is, in the application of science and technology, not in scientific knowledge itself.

The fact–value dichotomy is a creation of modern, reductionist science which, while being an epistemic response to a particular set of values, claims to be independent of values. According to the received view, modern science is the discovery of the properties of nature in accordance with a 'scientific method' which generates 'objective', 'neutral', 'universal' knowledge. This view of modern science as a description of reality as it is, unprejudiced by value, can be rejected on at least four grounds.

All knowledge, including modern scientific knowledge, is built through the use of a plurality of methodologies. As Feyerabend observes:

There is no 'scientific method'; there is no single procedure, or set of rules that underlines every piece of research and guarantees that it is 'scientific' and, therefore, trustworthy. The idea of a universal and stable method that is an unchanging measure of adequacy and even the idea of a universal and stable rationality is as unrealistic as the idea of a universal and stable measuring instrument that measures any magnitude, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists revise their standards, their procedures, their criteria of rationality as they move along and perhaps entirely replace their theories and their instruments as they move along and enter new domains of research (Feyerband, 1978, p. 98).

The view that science is just a discovery of facts about nature does not get support from philosophy either. If scientific knowledge is assumed to give true, factual knowledge of 'reality as it is', then we would have to 'conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theories became the truth' (Bohm, 1981, p. 4)."

(Vandana Shiva, 1990)

1). Shiva, V. (1990). 'Reductionist science as epistemological violence'. 'Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity'. A. Nandy, Oxford University Press: 314.

Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society (London: New Left Books, 1978).

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).


analytical thinkingCartesiancultural valuesdescription of realitydiscoursediscoverydiscursive fieldepistemologyethicsfactual knowledgehierarchy of legitimacyIsaac Newtonknowledge • logical-analytical • logical-analytical paradigmmeasuring instrument • model of science • Modernmodern science • modern scientific knowledge • myth of neutralityobjectiveobjective reality • Paul Feyerband • plurality of methodologies • positivismproperties of naturerationalityreductionism • reductionist science • researchresearch methodsciencescientific knowledgescientific method • scientific options • sociology • stable knowledge • stable rationality • theorytraditiontrust • trustworthy • truthuniversal • universal knowledge • universal methoduniversal rationalityVandana Shiva


Simon Perkins
23 JANUARY 2011

Theory building through DNA visualisation

Drew "Berry's animations function as a tool for representing activities occurring within our bodies that could otherwise only be seen at a magnification of 100 million times. What distinguishes these works in the context of the moving image art form is the creation of a visual landscape that is extraordinary, strange and other–worldly, even though viewers are armed with the knowledge that they are scientifically exact. To follow the virtual camera through this strange world reminds them of the constant energetic presence of their own seething, pulsing, cellular functions. Watching these works, viewers become strangers in their own skin, inhabitants of a foreign landscape. Berry uses this synthesis of scientific and digital technology to create a holistic sense of the world beneath people's skin, sending a ripple across the viewers' bodies as they interact with the work, enlivened with the knowledge of their organic relation to the alien world on screen."

(Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australia)

Fig.1 Drew Berry (2003). 'Body Code' 3D computer animation displayed as single–channel DVD projection; stereo audio. 8:34 mins; colour. Sound design: Franc Tétaz. Collection: Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Courtesy: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and the artist.

[These animations demonstrate the potential of design practice for revealing insight that might not otherwise be revealed. In this way preoccupations with visual fidelity and scientific accuracy must recognised as being only peripherally important.]



2003ACMIanimationAustralia • Australian Centre for the Moving Image • body • Body Code • cellconceptualisationdatadesign practicedigital technologydiscoverydiscovery through designDNA • Drew Berry • extraordinaryfidelitygraphic representationillustrationinsightmagnificationrepresentation • scientific accuracy • scientific methodscientific visualisationskintheory buildingVictoria (Australia)visual depictionvisual fidelityvisual representationvisualisation • Walter and Eliza Hall Institute • WEHI


Simon Perkins

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