Irresponsible Indecision

Is the printer the source of our problems? When we create things digitally, they remain eternally editable. They become the “sought-after, mythic unstable object[s]” we have searched for in recent decades (Wes Jones, ‘Big Forking Dilemma’). Printing them out kills that. It crystallizes them, strips them of the strength they achieve through anonymity. It forces us to make a judgment, where the computer allows us to remain forever undecided, under the guise of ‘continuing improvement’. But design is not about finding the ultimate solution. It is not about optimization, because in a field of shifting variables, optimization becomes impossible. A solution can only be generated if the equation remains the same; if it is continually changing, forever adapting and turning and mutating and reversing, it is unanswerable. A designer is one who can make a judgment for the status quo based on past, present, and future; who understands the time-bound nature of materials as well as the timeless need for composition.

Working in the computer offers us speed, and increased choice. The ability to prototype rapidly, and edit easily. To make more decisions, faster. But we have become terrified of judgment. We have used the reassurance of continual variability to comfort our fear of deciding the fate of our designs. Architecture is shelter: It implies responsibility. Time to be responsible again.

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