Anirudh Gurumoorthy

MDes

Gilbert Simondon, Information, Individuation, Milieu, Technics: Rethinking Notions of Complexity in Architecture

Advised by John May

This thesis will look at explicating, understanding, and situating three concepts redefined by Gilbert Simondon—information, the relationship between an individual and its milieu, and technics—in the postwar cybernetic turn in the late 1950s and its possible place within architectural history and theory. Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989), though an important French intellectual, was, until recently, relatively unknown to the anglophone world. This thesis begins with a general overview and description of the intellectual terrain that Simondon’s thinking about the concept of individuation grew out of—cybernetics and postwar French epistemology—that led him to the redefinition of these concepts. It then goes on to provide a general overview of the historical intersection of cybernetics and, thereby, complexity sciences and architecture that took place contemporaneously in the mid-1960s, where discourse surrounding information, individual, milieu, and technics enters architecture. This overview traces the shift from a call for holistic systems thinking to one that slips into a later call for formalist, compositional complexity with computational advancements in the late 1980s. Through these two topographies, this thesis finally attempts to speculate an initial stab at a contribution that can be made through Simondon, around the concepts of information, individual, milieu, and technics, to the field of architectural history and theory.

Anirudh Gurumoorthy, MDes. A black and white photograph of Gilbert Simondon speaking while writing on a display board.
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