Thresholds is the peer-reviewed journal of the MIT Department of Architecture, advised by Mark Jarzombek. Issue 42: Human, edited by Tyler Stevermer prompts us to consider the past and present changing notion of ‘the human’ with regards to its physical, virtual, and psychological habitat.
In the last decade innovations within cognitive imaging, computer interfaces, communication technologies, surrogate natures, sensory mediators, and global tracking have reshaped our understanding of the self. This shift can be seen, on one hand, as a revolution of sensibilities while, on the other hand, still pushing towards an enlightenment-based, rationalist perspective of the human as a neurobiological mechanism. No matter which way this ‘human’ is being reshaped, does it not also reshape ‘the humanities’ as well as our understanding of ‘humanity’? Have we indeed formed new gateways of artistic and architectural possibility or have we forced ourselves into a deterministic and mechanistic view of both occupants and design? Humans are different than machines, after all, but how has the human/machine duality been rethought in our current age? How does art, architecture and film envision, critique, or challenge this ‘new human’?
This 192 page book features scholarly papers (which address this topic through a historical, sociological, or an anthropological lens) as well as art and architectural projects that explore these issues. Issue 42: Human, marks the first of the series that has been accepted into the Library of Congress.
Section 1: Technology
Are We Homo sapiens Yet?
Beginnings: Drawing Early Architecture
The Pharmakon and the Machine
Section 2: Perceptibility
Homo microbis: The Human Microbiome, Figural, Literal, Political
Refashioning the Microbial Body
Section 3: Cognition
Harry Francis Mallgrave
Cognition in the Flesh: The Human in Design
Hans Berger and the E.E.G.
Section 4: Medicine
Caroline A. Jones
Normal and Pathological Humanity
Treating the Body: Architecture and Biomedicine
The Milieu Intérieur
Ryan R. Ludwig
Formation and Variation: Woltereck’s Concept of Reaktionsnorm and the Potentials of Environment
Section 5: Product
Transgressing Limits: Performance and the Sentient Event
“Degrees Of Freedom”: On Frank and Lillian Gilbreth’s Allocation of Movement
The Spirit in the Machine: Mutual Affinities between Humans and Machines in Japanese Textiles
Alissa van Asseldonk