Accepted paper:

Flexibility of mind by design?


Kåre Poulsgaard (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores productive overlaps between anthropological theory and enactive and social concepts of mind. It asks how recent work in cognition can help us study creativity and imagination as fundamentally situated within shifting synthetic and social environments.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will situate recent discussions in 4E cognition within the context of ethnographic work on digital design and fabrication in architecture. This ongoing ethnography considers the productive interaction of people and their social, synthetic and technical environments within the Copenhagen based architecture studio 3XN/GXN to understand the distribution of situated cognitive processes across spatial and temporal scales. As data and computation expand the scope of design projects, architects are faced with handling growing levels of complexity. Projects last years and go through phases with conflicting demands during competition, design development, and construction. Approaching the problem of organisational adaptability from a cognitive standpoint, the paper explores how architects at 3XN/GXN maintains relative flexibility of mind to deal with the many problems emerging during a project's lifetime. It does so by following the evolution of design and research projects, to analyse how social organisation and software are combined to achieve flexibility within and between design teams at the studio. The paper takes up the panel theme of stability, novelty and change and will seek to develop discussions of sociality of mind to show how shared dispositions of varied scope and durability develop, are maintained, and change through shifting synthetic and social setups. This discussion should provide a novel entry point into well-known territory for anthropology by asking how situated practice comes to shape cognition in both transient and durable ways.

panel Cog02
Creative environments, social minds