Episode 63
Andrew Witt — Formulations, Mathematical Design, and Writing.
Andrew Witt, associate professor at Harvard University and author of Formulations, on how mathematics and computational methods transform the way we think, design, and make art.
March 24, 2022
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2 hr 11 min
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Episode Notes

Andrew Witt, associate professor at Harvard University and author of Formulations, on how mathematics and computational methods transform the way we think, design, and make art.

Andrew Witt is co-founder, with Tobias Nolte, of Certain Measures, a Boston/Berlin-based office for design futures and an Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University. Trained as both an architect and mathematician, he has a particular interest in a technically synthetic and logically rigorous approach to form. His work has been shown at the Centre Pompidou, Barbican Centre, Futurium, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, among others. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn and Certain Measures.


Favorite quotes

  • “It’s not possible to do everything in an amazing way all at once. You have to cycle through those things. Different moments in life will create different opportunities.”
  • “One of the consequences of mass media is that [it] creates intuitions around certain concepts through imagery.”
  • "The only thing that really conveys human value to things is time.”
  • “What remains after people are gone?”

Books

Links

People mentioned

  • Alfred North Whitehead
  • Charles Johnson - Matrix theorist
  • Buckminster Fuller
  • Steve Baer
  • Bruno Latour
  • Norbert Wiener
  • Tobias Nolte
  • Refik Anadol
  • Satoru Sugihara
  • William Huff
  • Louis Kahn
  • Ben Ferhman-Lee - Graphic designer
  • Cynthia Davidson - Book series editor
  • Sean Canty, Esther Choi, and Cameron Wu
  • Aziz Barbar
  • Henri Poincaré
  • Peter Pierce
  • Sanford Kwinter
  • Paul Erdös

Chapters

  • 00:00 · Introduction
  • 01:22 · Mathematical design
  • 06:53 · Gray boxing
  • 09:28 · Black box algorithms
  • 14:26 · Knowledge anxiety
  • 20:47 · Collective authorship
  • 22:04 · Adjacent possible
  • 27:18 · The physical medium
  • 30:13 · Triangulation and photogrammetry
  • 33:40 · Voxel and pixel
  • 37:52 · The role of the designer
  • 41:10 · Formulations book
  • 43:48 · Catalogs
  • 48:56 · The eve of digitization
  • 52:58 · Artificial intelligence
  • 01:00:26 · Mass media
  • 01:02:29 · Research methods
  • 01:06:25 · Book publishing
  • 01:15:10 · Writing
  • 01:19:04 · Digital gardens
  • 01:21:53 · Creative thinking
  • 01:26:20 · Lecture preparation
  • 01:30:20 · Erdös number
  • 01:32:43 · Zines
  • 01:39:54 · Consistency
  • 01:41:08 · Time
  • 01:43:18 · NFTs as value stores
  • 01:48:44 · NFTs at Certain Measures
  • 01:50:42 · The AI design critic
  • 01:55:20 · Modern-day design collectives and influencers
  • 01:58:38 · Advice for young people
  • 02:01:08 · Money
  • 02:03:35 · Collaboration and delegation
  • 02:06:16 · Death
  • 02:07:55 · Success
  • 02:09:27 · Outro

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