1. what is farming

a. farming creates [y] or [x + ] by cultivating the existing potential of some [x]
I’m trying to think about how farming is a unique type of creation as compared to, say, art or industry.

Right — cultivates is a key word, I think, particularly when applied to the most traditional uses of ‘farming’ (food).  Obviously, farming can be industrialized (with consequences both negative and positive), as well, suggesting that the line between farming and industry is not firm.

Perhaps it is in the middle of the two.  Some differences I can think of off the top of my head:

_farming creates by nurturing and developing something into something else.  It grows things.  Emergence and all that. (let’s avoid that buzzword as much as possible)
[food] Seed to plant.  embryo to meat.
[google] dispersed, un-searchable information into ogranized, cataloged information.
[energy] kinetic wind energy into potential electric energy.
industry creates by assembling many things into a new thing, or taking an existing thing and altering it / editing it.

_farming is therefore bound closely to existent potential within a system or thing.  Industry may take more liberty in how it creates – a final assemblage may seem totally removed from its parts.

b. farming also implies repetition or array, to some degree.  that is maybe what a vegetable farm, a wind farm, and a server farm all have in common — a set of containers of processes arrayed or repeated over a territory in order to cultivate some [y] or [x+].   this perhaps implies that it is worth considering to what degree dispersal is an interesting modification to farming.

c. Farming is strongly associated with process.  I suspect farming [a farmed thing] may be more acutly attuned to the history of its making than something created by other processes.  I’m thinking of this in terms of Deleuze’s assemblage theory – how an assemblage is a record of the particular history of its creation.

I don’t know how much of a “Theory of Farming” we have to make explicit in our project, but I think it would be nice to breifly grapple with what exactly counts as farming vs Something Else.  Or we could just avoid the whole question by doing something which is incredibly, obviously, intuitively farming; like growing carrots.  But I don’t think the question is one which will take some great effort to work out.

d. farming per bracket brief:

“Once merely understood in terms of agriculture, today information, energy, labour, and landscape, among others, can be farmed. Farming harnesses the efficiency of collectivity and community. Whether cultivating land, harvesting resources, extracting energy or delegating labor, farming reveals the interdependencies of our globalized world. Simultaneously, farming represents the local gesture, the productive landscape, and the alternative economy. The processes of farming are mutable, parametric, and efficient. From terraforming to foodsheds to crowdsourcing, farming often involves the management of the natural mediated by the technologic. Farming, beyond its most common agricultural understanding is the modification of infrastructure, urbanisms, architectures, and landscapes toward a privileging of production.”

2. what is being farmed
So, carrots. Obviously.

i lean towards thinking we are best off with something other than food, information, or energy, if only because those things are explicitly named in the brief and therefore likely to be well considered.  Though farming any one of those in a particularly interesting fashion or by harnessing/interacting with particularly interesting processes would also work well (3/4/5).

Or carrots.

Or [fog?]water:

3. why/how is it being farmed

there could be innovation here (and below, in 4), but i think reimagining these questions is of less interest to us than reimagining 1, 2, and 6.  which is not to say that we would do nothing with these, but rather than what we do here would (probably) proceed from what we do with 1, 2, and 6.

4. what is the mechanism of farming

5. what processes are incorporated into the act of farming; how do these processes [continually re?]shape the farm and its interactions with the territory in which it resides.

this perhaps occupies a middle ground of interest between 1/2/6 and 3/4, maybe being a little less fundamental than 1/2/6, but more closely tied to the interrogation of ‘farming’ than 3/4.

6. in what place does the act of farming reside?

This question is near to my landscaping heart.  So places might be:

the city
the mufuggin desert – see le fog
the ocean
a building
the moon
the wind
Terminal Island

[from chat:]

stephen: you remember those floating fish spheres pruned had a whiel back right?
that just drift about in the open ocean, then return to a specified place for harvest?
Sent at 10:30 AM on Wednesday
me: yeah, definitely
stephen: outstanding stuff.
Sent at 10:32 AM on Wednesday
stephen: and the novelty in that project occurs almost entirely in the “in what place does farming reside” question, though it obviously had affects on the other questions due to its unique requirements and potential
Sent at 10:34 AM on Wednesday
me: right.  as you say, the unexpected shift in “what place” triggers the project.
Sent at 10:35 AM on Wednesday
me: which is why the interrogation of ‘farming’ is useful to us, I think.  not because we want to arrive at a permanent definition, but because we want to trigger a thought about some aspect of farming which can be twisted or reimagined to achieve an excellent effect.
Sent at 10:36 AM on Wednesday

link to project:”

7. what is our intention: to design a farming infrastructure, and demonstrate how it may affect an urban condition; or to choose an urban condition, and design a series of farming-themed strategies to effect some desired evolution?

I think as outlined so far, the project is closer to the former option; and this would be my preference as it could make it more universally relevant, and a simpler and more elegant design proposal.  But after re-reading the brief, I wonder if the latter framing could allow us to do research which more closely hews to the topics they would like to see discussed.

If we choose to go with an infrastructure-centric project instead of a site-centric project, hyper local techniques, like the flooding example, might not merit substantial design effort on their own right, but could play an important role in showing how one of our primary design-element-infrastructures could work – if they play some key role in the function of the algae tubes, for example, or if they interact with the tubes to create some interesting generative urban condition.

This is an important distinction, I think, but I’m not sure its either/or.  So far, I think, the way its worked in my mind has been (1) you had an idea about fog farming (2) we talked about where fog farming is useful and practical (3) we found a city/cities (especially Nouakchott and Dubai) in which we thought fog farming would be useful and practical (4) that city has certain conditions, which begin to affect how the infrastructure is designed (because we want the infrastructure to affect the urban condition in certain ways).  Maybe that sounds more like the former, but I think its going to quickly become the later — because, having a site, we will inevitably start to make decisions, see things we want to influence (say, the flooding of the plain west of Nouakchott, or the problem of dune creep), and our strategies react to those things. So perhaps the former option (design a farming infrastructure) was starting point, but our work will move along a continuum towards “design a series of farming-themed strategies” as we get deeper into the project.  I think its only natural; you start with questions about a relatively abstract and placeless design, and it becomes something else (perhaps even something else entirely — something not envisioned at the outset) once it is situated.


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4 Responses to “BRKT: 7 questions”

  1. […] I’ve done is: made posts out of key gmail chats; and set up a second page, which along with the brkt: 6 questions page can provide a sort of running, updated sketch of our current thoughts on the project. Perhaps […]

  2. Stephen Becker said

    post updated 7pm 11/23/2008: 7th question added

  3. eatingbark said

    post updated 10 pm 11/23/2008: bracket definition of farming added

  4. eatingbark said

    post updated 12:30 pm 11/24/2008: comments on 7th question

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