Actuating Auto(poiesis)

Emmanouil Zaroukas, Timothy Ireland


This paper claims that the use of the computer as generative methodological tool for designing urban and building scenarios (when perceived systematically) is a misnomer, because the typical approach does not account for the incompleteness of computational processes. We will argue that the computerisation of architectural and urban scenarios with autopoietic and/or artificial life simulations does not account for what Edsger W. Dijkstra called “radical novelty”; and Gilles Deleuze termed “line of flight”. Typical computational methods do not open up genuine alternatives that produce radical morphologies. Our argument is predicated on the dominant notion of computation as opposed to a critique of computation per se. A critical analysis of the perception of novelty is made to support our view, and its connection with the incompleteness of axiomatic systems is explored in relation to three phases of cybernetic enquiry. Our argument draws on the ontologies of Alfred North Whitehead and Gilles Deleuze, which we utilise to reorient computational design to emphasise the potential of generating radical novelty and identify the inherent locus therein a matter of nonhuman decision-making.


computation; incompleteness; incomputable; autopoiesis; emergence; novelty; decision-making

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Systema: connecting matter, life, culture and technology (ISSN: 2305-6991) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.