Transdisciplinary Design

Orchestrated Design

Posted on December 16, 2019

In”Becoming human with others in the Anthropocene: the long view” by Fuentes, he mentions that ‘The lives of humans and dogs, are driven by the humans’ ever increasing manipulation of the world around them. Mentioning a manipulation of the world made me think that the world around us is an orchestra, and us humans are the conductor.

“Conducting” is the art of directing simultaneously the performance of several players by one gesture.[A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume 1]

The duty or responsibilities of a conductor is to understand how to set a tempo and to ensure correct entries by an ensemble and shape the symphonies. Most importantly a good conductor should know how to communicate with his musicians and guide them through the journey of a musical art piece. One should not forget that the conductor’s role is also the one of a facilitator rather than forcefully imposing his perception of a musical piece.

An orchestra, just like our ecosystem, is built of balance. Thetypical symphony orchestra consists of four groups of related musical instruments called the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. The presence of each of these four members has a specific role and is hence necessary. Then the conductor decides how to dose them to create symphonies. He sets a rhythm and a recurrence and creates a beautifully conducted music piece. Nature, just like an orchestra consists of animals, geological processes, weather, and living plants. The presence of these elements is necessary, and how we as humans have an influence on these elements, decides how nature is going to grow and flourish. When any of these “members” are missing, overly consumed and abused, the orchestra just like nature will present an imbalance, noise and chaos.

Following this metaphor; in our era, humans were considered the main conductors of a musical piece that is the “world”. However, they interpreted the musical symphonies of nature without listening and without being in conversation with the other members of the orchestra. In more than one example humans exploited the talents of nature and nonhumans without letting them implement their own harmony, almost running the natural resources to their end.

We placed ourselves at the forefront of the orchestra, and misguided the musical piece based on our needs, our consumption habits and our convenience. Making us responsible for climate change and the extinction of some species.

Fuentes argues that as species we humans are malleable, and have an influence in shaping the ecosystem and ourselves, only when we make the effort of collaborating and creating with other members of the ecosystem. And that if we are injecting the world with a human will, then we have a responsibility to manage the results for ourselves and for others.

Fuentes also claims and gives the role to humans as ‘ecosystem managers’ and I add to that we are ecosystem conductors. We can claim this responsibility as long as we have the ethical and practical responsibilities to manage the ecosystem. By learning how to live with other species we learn how to shape a sustainable future for ourselves and our ecosystem. And learning how to live with other species is learning how to be facilitators, and putting other species in conversation, and being part of this conversation rather than conducting it to a failed song.

This cross species and cross boundaries, will create the perfect flow. And while stepping aside and letting nature conduct itself while we are part of the harmony will make us learn of new ways of being in synergy with the world, and let nature lead us, and teach us new way to design, create a ‘conduct’.

In conclusion we can compare ourselves to the biggest and best conductors in the world, who allow their orchestra to experiment with their instrument and all they do is guide them and facilitate the conversation between all of the elements together. When we step aside, and when we allow nature to conduct itself, it then provides us with optimal solutions. We can see in nature, the greatest forms of architecture, of sustainable living, of culture influence and of coexistence. When humans took control, a lot of these natural resources were jeopardized. And still nature knew how to live with all the changes she was faced with, we presented in front of her. However, us as human, used nature to our benefit, to our basic needs and drained ourselves from our essential resources. All of which is making us reflect, analyze and observe nature in an ethnographical way and learn new ways in which we can coexist with nature not against it.

Silly symphonies from the Disney movies is an anecdotal representation on how nature can be orchestrated:

Ending this with Tchaikovsky Symphony NO.6 that represents a perfect balance between the instruments, making us hope that one day our collaboration with nature, will sound just as smooth.