Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view



UPCOMING EVENTS: Rachel Armstrong



MULTIMEDIA: Rachel Armstrong Topics

Buildings That Can Heal the Environment

The Naked Future—A World That Anticipates Your Every Move

The Age of the inpossible

‪Momentum - Saving Venice‬

Virtual Futures 2011




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Rachel Armstrong Topics




#8 Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature

by Rachel Armstrong

In Western cultures, nature is a cosmological, primal ordering force and a terrestrial condition that exists in the absence of human beings. Both meanings are freely implied in everyday conversation. We distinguish ourselves from the natural world by manipulating our environment through technology. In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly proposes that technology behaves as a form of meta-nature, which has greater potential for cultural change than the evolutionary powers of the organic world alone.



Twenty-First Century Science

by Rachel Armstrong

We are at an extremely exciting time where many changes have been accelerated through contemporary technological advances and worldwide communications systems. We are also faced with some very severe problems, many of which have been accelerated by our own success, which are likely to result in human disaster at an unimaginable scale that require urgent attention. These changes are influencing how we consider our collective responsibilities and even ourselves, as a species.



Is there an Ecological Architectural Design Method?

by Rachel Armstrong

A talk on nature, ecology, synthetic biology and the machines of living grace, delivered to architecture students at the University of Greenwich, October 10th, 2012

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BioLime: The Mock Rock

by Rachel Armstrong

Climate change in the small town of Mossville is tackled by creating a rock-like salt that “energizes” their buildings. “Science Faction” / Biochemistry / Metabolic Architecture

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Soft Cities (Part 1)

by Rachel Armstrong

All that is built squirms. This is the fundamental reality that applies to buildings.

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Lawless Sustainability—new technology & innovative solutions for a sustainable future

by Rachel Armstrong

The problem with sustainability is that it was designed by committee rather than springing from the loins of a mature design movement.

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A Matter of Feeling (exploring interzone materials between “inert” and “alive”)

by Rachel Armstrong

All matter squirms. This is the fundamental reality that underpins our cosmic fabric. Introductional essay for the Meta.Morf 2012 conference.

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Synthetic Biology: Designing a “Metaphysical” Chicken

by Rachel Armstrong

The ultimate design material is one that understands what it is to become. By way of an example, I’d like to think about how we might design a chicken.

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Synthetic Biology as an Open System for Architectural Design

by Rachel Armstrong

Synthetic biology can play an important role in the future of our cities, via economic benefits, functional benefits, and infusing our social spaces with enjoyable, emotional qualities.

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The City as an Ecosystem

by Rachel Armstrong

Currently our urban design and development practices work within the framing of modernism, which positions humans at the centre of existence that prioritises the status of objects and operates through the technology of machines. The processes engaged by modernism involve the simplification of systems to command their obedience, without any ideological commitment to return something in exchange for their servitude.

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From Consumers to Producers - adopting the Algae Lifestyle

by Rachel Armstrong

Most of us are familiar with the sustainable citizen drill. We’ll have turned off the lights when we’re not using them, sorted the rubbish into the respective recycling bins, used the stairs instead of the lift, cut down on airline travel and are making conscious choices to buy ‘eco’ friendly products. But are our efforts working?



Sustainable to Evolvable: an introduction

by Rachel Armstrong

The monoculture of machine-inspired innovation means that we have effectively been building our cities for
machines, not humans.



Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature

by Rachel Armstrong

In Western cultures, nature is a cosmological, primal ordering force and a terrestrial condition that exists in the absence of human beings. Both meanings are freely implied in everyday conversation. We distinguish ourselves from the natural world by manipulating our environment through technology. In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly proposes that technology behaves as a form of meta-nature, which has greater potential for cultural change than the evolutionary powers of the organic world alone.



Self-Repairing Architecture

by Rachel Armstrong

All buildings today have something in common: They are made using Victorian technologies. This involves blueprints, industrial manufacturing and construction using teams of workers. All this effort results in an inert object, which means there is a one–way transfer of energy from our environment into our homes and cities. This is not sustainable.



Better Than Nature?

by Rachel Armstrong

At the turn of the millennium, miniaturized canines acquired the cherished status of living, designer handbag ornaments.  These teeny tiny photogenic doggies, which had been shrunken from generations of in breeding, were snapped up by fashionistas who pouted alongside them in front of seas of clicking cameras.



The Ecological Human

by Rachel Armstrong

The nature of humanity in the twenty-first century is, according to sociologist Steve Fuller, a ‘bipolar disorder’ beset with dualisms of identification such as divine/animal, mind/body, nature/artifice and individual/social. He notes that they have challenged our collective sense of identity as ‘human’, particularly though the operationalization of the mind/body question in new material configurations of metallic or silicon bodies [1].



Future Cities: Combined Advanced Technologies and Flexible Urban Infrastructures

by Rachel Armstrong

Mapping the landscape for agile design



Can Life Be a Technology?

by Rachel Armstrong

In 2009 the Initiative for Science, Society and Policy coined the phrase ‘living technology’ [1] to draw attention to a group of emerging technologies that are useful because they share some of the fundamental properties of living systems. The technologies fell short of being fully ‘alive’ yet they possessed at least some unique characteristics that are usually associated with ‘life’: Self-assembly, self-organization, metabolism, growth and division, purposeful action, adaptive complexity, evolution, and intelligence. Examples of this new field of technology include synthetic biology, attempts to make living systems from scratch in the laboratory [2], ICT systems exhibiting collective and swarm intelligence and robot companions.



Nature Ludens: The Natural World at Play

by Rachel Armstrong

An ingenious Russian crow that used a lid as a snowboard to slide down a snowy roof persuaded millions of YouTube viewers that animals are not merely beasts of burden – they also want to have fun. Indeed, the natural world appears to be teeming with creatures enjoying themselves in all kinds of different ways, and wildlife experts even claim that bonobos and dolphins have sex for fun.



Is the Human Body Redundant?

by Rachel Armstrong

The increasing ‘liveliness’ of machines and accessibility to the virtual world has raised questions about whether it is possible to uncouple the mind from the body in through a host of different strategies. The basic idea is that if we are able to escape the ties of our own flesh then we can upgrade them and even replace them with immortal ones.

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Little Green Cows

by Rachel Armstrong

The world is alight with algae fever.

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Bacteria “R” Us

by Rachel Armstrong

There is a domain of creatures that diffusively encircles an entire planet. There are so many of them that they occupy every conceivable ecological niche. Yet, despite their countless numbers they are so in tune with their local ecology that they have become an intrinsic part of it. Those that live in rural locations greatly outnumber those that inhabit strange cites, which are gregarious, smart and even have their own personalities. The cities consider themselves as being independent from their inhabitants, yet share their nutrition with them. They have a diurnal waste cycle that removes debris and also makes room for a new influx of city dwellers. Mature cities can even reproduce to make new ones that are immediately available for the city inhabitants to colonize.

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A Trip To The Living City Of The Future

by Rachel Armstrong

Our built environment doesn’t have to be static. With the right synthetic biology, it can respond automatically to changes in temperature or moisture level, and even react to natural disasters, hunkering down during earthquakes or removing toxins after a toxic spill.

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