Pattern Mechanism Form

Fall 2016 - 2018
Instructor: Michael Bogan
Stanford Collaborators: Jolyn Gisselberg, Michelle Davison, Adam Idoine, Claudia Vasquez, Jacqueline Carozza

In this Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio (UDIST), students created works of design using living organisms, under the mentorship of Stanford Biology Postdocs.  Design via the Scientific Method (hypotheses formation and testing) was the core of the studio.  The course consisted of four parts. 

Part I: Algorithmic Imitations of Life Patterns (Pattern).  Students learned that biological patterns are woven of blind, bottom-up mechanistic processes.  An understanding of this was developed via algorithmic (rule-based) drawings, in which the rules were either sentences or mechanical operations.  Variations on prevalent cellular growth and aggregation patterns were explored to investigate the parameters of the biological design-space at the cellular scale.

Part II: Diagramming.  Methods of diagramming were taught in the second module, with a focus on bio-motion.

Part III: Cellular Aggregation.  Slime mold, bacteria, and fungi were grown in environments architected to produce art.  This module explored growth and design Mechanisms

Part IV: Living Art.  We often teach students to bring aspects of ‘nature’ into their work, but rarely is this based on a real understanding of the biological forms that often move us deeply.  In the final module of the course students were able to deploy actual living systems, and learn about their affordances, inertial tendencies, will, habits, etc.  These organisms became co-authors of the studio projects.  The goal was to create a work of living art or design relevant to the student’s discipline.  (Form)