Playful calculation : tangible coding for visual calculation
Author(s)Ham, Derek (Derek Allen)
Tangible coding for visual calculation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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Play and calculation are often considered to be at odds. Play embraces the wildness of youth, imagination, and a sense of freedom. Calculation, to most, represents rigor, mechanistic behavior, and following inflexible rules. This work seeks to challenge these notions by putting play and calculation together. Design activities are one such place where individuals can be playful with the rigor and firmness of calculation. Shape grammars demonstrate this most eloquently by providing a playful system of design inquiry based on rules and schemas. Through embedding and shape emergence, designers can enter into a state of play or what Huizinga calls the "magic circle." It is in this magic circle that we also find Caillois's categories of play: alea, agôn, mimicry, and ilinx. The culmination of these activities found in the design process is what I call "playful calculation." In this research, I have developed a visual calculation game based on the principles of shape grammars. This game serves as a precedent for ways to teach design in schools of art and architecture; it also serves as a device to instruct young children (K-12) on rule based designed processes. This dissertation includes the findings of a five-month study conducted at the Boston Children's Museum. In the spirit of Piaget and Vygotsky, I use play to analyze the behavior of young children and to see how they creatively interact with materials. The children did the expected and the unexpected, giving insight into ways we can teach the arts and design. This body of work provides a fresh take on design and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education. Most promoters of the STEAM movement suggest adding the arts to an already packed STEM curriculum. This study views the arts (and design) as having the same rigor and basis in calculation as STEM fields. In fact, there are many ways to calculate, and visual calculation with shape grammars is the key to this understanding. In this research, I bring shape grammars into the discussion of K-12 education reform. With shape grammars we find a brand new lens to view art and design education through playful interaction.
Thesis: Ph. D. in Design and Computation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 189-194).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology