viii. Opposites Attract: Slow & Fast

At no time in the history of human civilization has our evolution been defined by a faster pace. Since the industrial age, that is to say our eventual introduction to planes, trains and automobiles, our evolution has gone ever faster. We have entered into what can only be defined as speed evolution. A correlation must exist, no matter how indirect, between fast transportation and fast evolution. It is true that evolution, in some respects of society, has increased in speed with the introduction of information technology, otherwise known as data transportation. But there remain times when data is insufficient and simply inept at replacing the human presence. It must be said however, that the myriad of problems we now face as part of modern life stems from our evolution towards devolution. In some respects, namely morality, our positive progress, in the greater sense of things, has been steadfast and optimistic. Yet in other facets of life, namely balance vis-a-vis our biological and mechanical selves, we have taken one step forward and two steps back. In essence, added weight in the form of strain brought a lopsidedness to our greater existence and we have in all but collectively lost touch with nature. To make matters worse, our so-called developed society, is in fact far from the ultimate goal; we are still very much in our development process. As a species, we have indeed made enormous strides during our evolutionary process, but this has been paralleled by an evolution into several bad habits. This is however, no reason to be discouraged. On the contrary, it is a reason for hope, a state of mind in which the best is yet to come, provided the appropriate energy is focused in the right places, at an adequate pace.

Obviously, serially homologous appendages can also evolve independently, an extreme case being the modification of pectoral appendages into wings in bats, birds, and pterosaurs.

p. 101, Shaking the Tree: Readings from Nature in the History of Life, Part 2: Fossils, Genes and the Evolution of Animal Limbs, Henry Gee

Like the birds and the bats, hindered by inadequate limbs and lack of wings, who’s aspiration to fly transformed misfortune into asset over time, we must shed our bad habits vis-a-vis our survival. This can only be accomplished through evolution. Radical change is a purely mechanistic invention, employed in truly worst case scenarios, whereas evolution is a natural process which has stood the test of time, and which yields the most comfortable results. If we are to survive, this evolution must begin quickly, must be swift, and must have a guided by noble and natural aspirations. In other words, we must enter a second stage of speed evolution. Whereas our first instance of evolutionary speed was purely a matter of chance and circumstance, our current self-imposed existential risks demand for this imminent second phase to be part of a charted and set course, a conscious effort towards survival and an eventual life of guiltless abundance. A quest for a synergistically woven world of natural and human design, built upon and evolving from the advancements brought to us from the initial period of speed evolution. For these reasons, speed transportation remains relevant to both our modern and future lives. A correlation between speed and speed evolution is made too obvious to ignore.

Yet we live in a time when our society has again become nomadic, in which the frequency of our travel has increased, and the line between home and away has been blurred into ambiguity. Consequently, supreme foolishness would be branded upon those who would discard our parallel embrace of slow transportation, this mobility group that allots us the ability to truly appreciate the many joys of life by moving at a less frantic pace. If our travel frequency is to keep increasing, the voyage must be placed in considerably brighter spotlight.

For Maeda, the fundamental question becomes, “How do we slow down what matters the most and speed up what benefits change and progress? We don’t want to impede progress, but we are seeking reconnection to ourselves, to each other, and with the world.”

Hurry up and Wait, The Slow Issue,, 16.10.2010

The future of transportation must give as much importance to slow travel as it does fast travel. Transportation must rely on an adequate mixture of solutions catering to both mobility approaches. As in nature, biodiversity is synonymous with health.

A case and point type scenario presents itself to us in the form of the symbiotic nature of a walk through a city urban space, coupled with a flight through the aforementioned city’s sky space.

Overflying such a spectacle, it is difficult to doubt that it is a subject worthy of description, yet at ground level there have been many who were ready to cast doubt on the worth of such an enterprise.

p. 235, An Ecology for Architecture, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Reyner Banham

Whereas walking within the limits of the space will allow man the spontaneity and discovery that is key to intimately knowing the city, flying above the space will offer a new and valuable perspective. Like the phenomenon of time dilation as described in the Theory of Relativity, where a clock’s hands will appear almost motionless to a moving observer, the aircraft’s height disguises its monumental speed of movement relative to the ground. Although the observer onboard the vehicle is moving at an impressive velocity, his height with regards to the ground creates the illusion of slow motion. Consequently, the speed of the observer allows him to slowly study an entity and appreciate its attributes from an entirely new vantage point. By capturing an overall system view through speed, the observer is able to connect the fragmented pieces of ground level information, therefore synthesizing a complete composite of the space. The better we understand a system, the better we can help it evolve in the appropriate direction, which will ultimately help us evolve into an ability to will coexistence onboard this Spaceship to all of the children of all species for all time.1

1 William McDonough

  1. Hey Julien,
    Weave transformed is an amazing project. This is the thought process more young designers need to engage in. The depth of your analysis is impressive. We have much to talk about when you return from your term off. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Karan (from ACCD)

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