George B. Johnston
George B. Johnston is Professor of Architecture at Georgia Tech and principal of Johnston+Dumais [architects]. He has over 35 years of experience as an architect, educator, academic leader, and cultural historian. George was educated at Emory University (Ph.D. in American Cultural History, 2006), Rice University (M.Arch., 1984) and Mississippi State University (B.Arch., 1979). He teaches courses in architectural and urban design, cultural theory, and social history of architectural practice; and his research interrogates the social, historical, and cultural implications of making architecture in the American context. He is author of the award-winning book from The MIT Press, Drafting Culture: A Social History of Architectural Graphic Standards, which has been lauded for its insights into the ongoing technological transformation of the profession
Articles of George B. Johnston
The Sixth Rung
Digital media and its effects on society have been widely discussed and questioned by many authors, for instance one’s additional self (selves) such as Facebook or Instagram and its later ways to behave virtually (Case 2014) or the effects of uninterrupted entertainment on memory, attention span and creativity (Harris 2015). Besides being an occupation during idle time, an internet connection and its gadgets have become an essential tool to accomplish some of the most ordinary tasks, such as track addresses or pay bills, as well as a powerful feature within the scientific-academic environment. The shift from analog to digital has probably been achieved. The philosopher Vilém Flusser argued that the inadvertent use of “technical” media could substantially change the way we process information, the way we think. Although Vilém Flusser had already highlighted the importance of idle time during which critical thought takes place, it is only during spare time that one is able to re-think about what was done, criticize it and adjust accordingly. Flusser’s major outcome is a possible reshaping of historical consciousness.
The following text discusses the gains and losses of cognitive dimensions after the digital shift and its impacts on the architectural design process, based on Vilém Flusser’s “hypothesis that human civilisation has seen two fundamental turning points since its beginning. The first (…) may be defined as ‘the invention of linear writing’. The second (…) may be called the invention of technical images”. (Flusser 2000; 7). The research looks at new media within the architectural design process: tri-dimensional modeling versus two-dimensional representation, use of smartphones and other interactive media by constructing analogies between writing and architectural representation, and how these new procedures are radically changing consciousness and the task of developing knowledge.