“Art requires a delicate adjustment of outer and inner worlds in such a way that, without changing their nature, they can be seen through each other. To know oneself is to know one’s region. It is also to know the world, and it is also, paradoxically, a form of exile from that world.”
Flannery O’Connor, 1957
Although normally seen in a diametric relationship, Globalization and Localization are not necessarily in opposition. As early as the 1950’s, O'Connor seemed to understand that ever increasing globalization would place the creative citizen in a problematic position between their inner and outer worlds. As we are confronted with extreme and dynamic change in our environment, we also are beginning to understand that many of the large scale, universal control strategies have created devastating consequences at the local level. For example, the Mississippi River flood control system does maintain navigational standards but often at the expense of the local community (flooding, drought, dredging, subsidence, suffocation, etc.) However, localized specific solutions are not entirely successful either. In the case of traditional neighborhood designs, although successful in incorporating local historical typologies, they often fail to recognize the global diversity of their citizens. This is how delicate the adjustment is.
O'Connor reveals a paradox that, if applied to environmental design, might help us understand a more resilient relationship between human occupation and natural systems; between man and nature, local and global, control and abandonment. The delicate adjustment demands a both/and methodology. After the devastation of Katrina for instance, when given the choice to either reconstruct the 9th Ward or let the natural systems return, Flannery O’Connor would advocate for both; for them to be seen through each other. For this track we ask: is it possible to engage our practices and design methodologies in specific cultures, crafts, and environments, while avoiding provincialism? Can one adopt universal best practices without ignoring local knowledge? Is an environmental design that prioritizes local influence necessarily myopic? Can a practice or methodology be simultaneously local and global? This track invites papers that focus on the research methods, histories, practices, and design solutions involved in the ‘delicate adjustment’ of the local and global: where they are not in opposition, but ‘can be seen through each other.’
About the Track Chairs:
Michael (AIA, FAAR) and Ursula (AIA, FAAR, LEED AP BD+C) are architects and educators. Their firm's work engages in the subject of this conference. This work has been included in the 2006 and 2010 Venice Biennale, been published in the popular, scholarly, and professional press, and was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture in 2008. Their research engages themselves and their students in the subject of this conference to such a degree that they often find themselves between the global petro-chemical infrastructure and an alligator.