Laboratories tags: structure
Laboratories are spaces for iterative development of solutions for pre-defined problems. They also reserve the right to forget about the problem at hand totally and become spaces for play and exploration. Laboratories are essential spaces for academic tendencies to breakout of their non-stick, hands-free character and become viruses which can effect lives at large and not impose philosophical biases about the trajectories they lead to. Laboratories are wedded forever to a certain idea of industry and enterprise. If business was to be biologically grown and not fuelled by entrepreneurial lust and social warfare then maybe laboratory spaces would be of a different nature, maybe they would even be farms with ample sun and fertile soil.
Laboratories of course can also be oblivious to all of this and design a process with chaos and disarray at the foreground. It can be seen as a clown's errand, a halfway house between a space for therapy and full-scale nihilism. Doing so takes a lot of strength, so much strength that no one has been able to do it yet in the whole world. There was a time in the past when this strength did exist and such laboratory spaces did exist and that time is the sole reason for nostalgia still being meaningful. In that time there were no shared set of goals, no common objectives, humanity was a lost cause and any guess was good enough. The troops rallied in any direction that was clearly pointed out. The group dynamics was wonderfully cheerful. As no one had the answer and everyone was equally lost there was no diabolical layer to society. Politics was not about image manipulation in a terrain where no one was a star, but rather it was a game of chance where it did not really matter because nobody really cared and nobody really had any secretive schemes for taking over and displacing anybody else. Important decisions were taken over casual discussions over a marked table at the local bar. These decisions were then conveyed to the person who happened to be in charge and like a diligent clerk, the person went about implementing those decisions.
But the laboratories that we present here do not have too much to do with these histories. Maybe a little bit but not much. These individual specific laboratories do not even have distinct human minds looking after them. These are rooms in this building where diseases of different kinds can breakout, these are algorithms for predicting the pathways of outbreaks that may happen. When experiments go wrong here and things explode, things still have the potential energy to fly off in the right direction. Things still have a fair chance to conveyer belt that is connected to the main switchboard. These explosive fragments are charged with the laboratory's infectious ambience. In a way the laboratory travels in the particles of the dust, smoke and powder of things falling apart.
Laboratories do not necessarily invoke any cultural traditions at the first instance. Science, technology, industry, secrecy might be part of the history, might be embedded in the backstory but these do not enslave the idea of the laboratory, only co-inhabit it. Such co-habitations are many many and we would only be able to trace out a few here. These traces will emerge and get drawn out of things we do here and also the things we don't of course but also the things we merely sketch in words, merely write about. Because things being the way they are we figure that if you have to die you can die as much from holding a well-sculpted shred of thought in your head as you can from a bullet-wound.
- The Labour of Reading
- The Surface of Knowledge 2