Architecture _79

Entry: Computers
Focus: Acadia

Acadia was formed in the early 1980's for the purpose of facilitating communication and critical thinking regarding the use of computers in architecture, planning and building science. A particular focus is education and the software, hardware and pedagogy involved in education. The organization is also committed to the research and development of computer aides that enhance design creativity, rather than simply production, and that aim at contributing to the construction of humane physical environments.


Entry: Organization
Focus: Informal

The artist's ascribed role is as developer of new cultural products, processes and norms. It is accepted that they occupy an avant-garde position; they `test drive the future' While this is limited in scope, it reflects artists' ability to develop ad hoc, informal practices and to get things started. Successful business, however, is built on the consolidation and exploitation of that which is in development. This requires the erasure of the informal and the imposition of proper practices for the sake of efficient reproduction, management and therefore, profitability. This dominant culture works strategically to formalize everyday practices and to assert professionalism in their place. Artists occupy the privileged position of being able to represent everyday, informal practices in a range of contexts to ensure that the dominant managerial culture of business does not achieve absolute cultural hegemony.


Entry: Civilization
Focus: Dirt, The Erosion of Civilizations

Dirt, soil, call it what you want - it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations" explores the compelling idea that we are - and have long been - using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, "Dirt" traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil - as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.