首页  /  发现  /  思想  /  正文

俞孔坚:从“鬼屎”到Meta

景观设计学 2022-01-14 来源:景观中国网
原创
从眼前的安宁处境,人类必须穿越危机四伏的危险地带,方能到达远方丰美的食物和安全的家,这样的景观因此变得激越、生动,空间既有可探索的刺激,同时又有清晰的结构,因而能唤起内心深处的美感。

▼肯尼亚马赛马拉国家保护区(2016年8月6日摄)© 俞孔坚

640_副本.jpg


如果说人类起源于同一个来自非洲大草原的母亲,那么在人类进化过程中经历最漫长的时间并起决定作用的非洲草原景观(savannah),必深藏着人类关于景观和空间认知的秘密。

根据以人类的进化为出发点研究人与环境感知的学说,照片上近景的均质草地,会让人联想到安全的处境,因而会给人以安详和宁静之感;远处奔跑的角马是肥美的猎物,因而唤起人类追捕的欲望,令人亢奋;远方的两颗扇形孤树,是安全和家的符号,使茫茫的草原有了避难之所;中景有几处浓密的灌丛,往往是狮子等捕食者埋伏之地,因而是危险的景观符号。从眼前的安宁处境,人类必须穿越危机四伏的危险地带,方能到达远方丰美的食物和安全的家,这样的景观因此变得激越、生动,空间既有可探索的刺激,同时又有清晰的结构,因而能唤起内心深处的美感。



从“鬼屎”到Meta

俞孔坚

北京大学建筑与景观设计学院教授;

美国艺术与科学院院士

原文刊发时间:2021年10月


最近的两则新闻让我脑洞大开,一则来自《哈佛大学校刊》(Harvard Magazine)关于黏菌(Slime Mold)的空间认知和决策智慧的最新研究报道[1],另一则是脸书创始人马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)亲自发布的将Facebook改名为Meta的短视频。这两件风马牛不相及的事情却挑战了我们关于人类的空间认知、评价和设计的许多固有认识。

黏菌在中国古代文献中被描述成“鬼屎”,其最早记载出自唐代陈藏器所撰的《本草拾遗》[2],是一种无脑无神经系统的单细胞生物,连动物都算不上。21世纪初,被日本科学家发现具有超乎人类的空间认知能力,能够迅速设计最短取食路线,走出迷宫[3]~[5]。其设计过程是先伸展自己的细胞质并覆盖住整个迷宫平面,直至发现食物,然后缩回多余的部分只留下最短路径。通过这种方法,它能绘制出类似东京地铁般复杂的最优联系网络。如果这可以理解为最原始的刺激-反应(stimulus–response)的化学过程,那么《哈佛大学校刊》报道的这则实验发现则完全令人匪夷所思了:黏菌居然能隔空遥感远方物体的质量,并决定菌体延展的方向,表现出这种低等生物的空间感知、评价和决策能力,也就是尽量在避免无效消耗菌体物质与能量的条件下,提前设计实现目标的行动路线。同时,在这一过程中,黏菌能够产生异常优美的群体形态:从任何人类关于艺术的审美标准,诸如色彩、形体的对比、平衡关系来讲都是美不胜收的。这让我产生了多个联想:

第一个联想是前不久媒体曝光某快递公司用了类似的刺激-反应方法,通过奖励发现更短路线的快递员,制造“内卷”,不断压缩投递时间,优化投递线路,结果通过牺牲每位投递员的利益而换取公司整体收益最大化。这是一种试错方法,听起来有些残酷。时髦地讲,这是一种大数据的方法,在这方面,黏菌一点不比人类差。

第二个联想是黏菌的空间感知和决策过程正如中国围棋的空间游戏。2016年的围棋人机大战证明,人类在游戏空间的认知方面完全输给了机器。所以,人类在空间认知方面似乎既不如最低等的单细胞生物,也不如没有生命的、只能识别0或1的机器。

第三个联想是从进化论的角度来看——这也是认知心理学和景观认知学派的基本出发点——人类的空间认知能力及其审美与动物一样,源于基本的生存需求:或者是寻求食物或者是繁殖本能。所以,正如黏菌用美丽的菌体分布来注解生存和食物的欲望及本能反应,人类通过其空间运动的轨迹和美的环境的设计,将其生存的欲望和本能暴露无遗。从这意义上,“鬼屎”和人类本质上并无区别。

第四个联想是基于食物和生存欲望的空间认知,最终由于其物理上的高效性和均衡关系,而产生美的反应,这似乎为空间和景观审美找到了客观的依据,这也就可以理解,为什么围棋的空间布局也同样有美的逻辑。

正是基于这几点联想,第二则新闻就变得意味深长了。脸书所构建的元宇宙(Metaverse)是一个虚拟时空集合[6],由一系列的增强现实(AR),虚拟现实(VR)和互联网技术所组成,当然还要借助智慧眼镜来体验[7]。元宇宙将处在不同时空的人联系在一起,实现社交、工作和娱乐等活动,而不可回避的是它源于娱乐和游戏。元宇宙让空间和环境变得唾手可得,使人类的活动第一次摆脱了地理空间的约束。空间和环境不再是人类活动的预设场景,场景可以成为唯美的设计,诸如在热带雨林里或月球上约会、在海底或火山口聚餐、在云上开董事会等等。作为城市空间认知的鼻祖,凯文·林奇在20世纪60年代探讨了城市意象:即如何让城市可辨识,帮助人们认路,形成空间认知地图[8]。这一研究对城市空间的设计产生巨大影响 。而在元宇宙里面,城市意象似乎已经失去了意义,人们也无需凭借脑中的认知地图去找车站、餐厅、约会的酒吧和造访的名胜景点,一切的空间营造和景观尽在手指之间和智慧眼镜之中。所以城市和景观设计的原则将面临新的挑战,就连小学语文课关于故事开篇的写作范式都需要改变。

接下来的问题是,随着元宇宙——更确切地说是后宇宙、超宇宙——时代的到来,失去时间和地域感的人类活动是否具有意义?失去以地域、空间和时间为载体的人类文化后,人与黏菌还有什么区别!地理和景观认知学强调空间的可辨识性、可探索性及可参与性,地理认知和现象学所强调的场所性和场所感取决于地域特色和认同感,以及空间的定位和方向感[9]。场所精神(Genius Loci)作为建筑与景观设计的一个核心概念,取决于给定的天时地理条件,即天地之间的立锥之地(The Given)[10]。没有了地域性和场所性,元宇宙里的人类活动是否具有意义?或者,如何让没有地域限制的元宇宙里的人类活动具有意味?这似乎是一个新的设计问题。



以下为文章英文版本,引用格式及所在主题刊详细信息见文末 。



From Slime Mold to Meta

YU Kongjian

Professor of College of Architecture and Landscape, Peking University; 

Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Published in October 2021


Recently, I am inspired by two pieces of news: one is the latest findings about the spatial sense and decision-making machinery of slime molds reported by Harvard Magazine[1]; and the other is Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook is renaming to Meta. Although the two pieces of news seem share nothing in common, they both challenge the public’s awareness about human’s ability of spatial cognition, decision, and design.

Slime mold, a single-cell organism without brain or nervous system, was described as “鬼屎” (Demon’s droppings) in ancient Chinese literature and earliest recorded in Materia Medica Supplements by Chen Zangqi in the Tang Dynasty[2]. In the early 21st Century, Japanese scientists found that slime molds have an extraordinary ability of spatial sense, even better than humans’: they can quickly work out the minimum-length solutions to food and maze solving. After changing their shapes to cover the entire maze, slime molds can retract other cytoplasm except that on the shortest path to the food.[3]~[5] In this way, slime molds can come up with optimal connections as sophisticated as the Tokyo subway network. If we take slime molds’ behavior as a primal stimulus–response process, the discovery reported in the Harvard Magazine is stunning: slime molds can perceive the mass of distant objects across space, and then decide the direction for extension. All these behaviors demonstrate this unicellular eukaryote’s ability to spatially perceive, decide, and design—in other words, slime molds are able to design an optimal route in advance without extra consumption of material or energy. Meanwhile, during the process, the colony shapes are exceptionally beautiful, in respect of any aesthetic standards of human art (e.g., the contrast and balance of colors and forms).

This news arouses my profound reflections. First, a similar stimulus–response approach was employed in a Chinese express company which encourages expressmen to shorten delivery times by rewarding the ones who discovered shorter delivery routes. This might increase the company’s profits, but would lead to unhealthy competition and compromise expressmen’s benefits. This seemingly cruel trial-and-error technique, however, is a big data method. Accordingly, slime molds are not inferior to humans in ability of decision making.

Second, slime molds’ spatial sense and decision-making process is similar to the playing of Chinese Go. The 2016 match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol evidenced that machines surpass humans in the cognition of game spaces. One might argue that, in terms of spatial cognition, human beings’ ability seems to be inferior to both single-cell organisms and inanimate machines that are programed with 0 and 1.

Moreover, from the perspective of Evolutionism—also the basis of Cognitive Psychology and Landscape Cognition—human’s spatial cognition and aesthetics come from their instinct for food or reproduction, as other animals. As slime molds’ behaviors for survival by changing colony shapes, humans’ desires for survival are projected in their spatial trajectories of movement and designs of beautiful environment. In this sense, there is no essential difference between human beings and slime molds.

Lastly, in previous experiment, the spatial sense of slime molds, for food and survival, also represents their physical efficiency and balance, whose beauty is further appreciated by humans. This could serve as a basis for human aesthetics on spatial layout and landscapes, which also explains the beauty logic of Go board layouts.

The reflections above expand my thoughts on the second piece of news. Facebook’s Metaverse is a virtual set of space–time[6], supported by artificial reality, virtual reality, and Internet, via the smart glasses[7]. Developed from entertainment and game applications though, Metaverse connects people by breaking down temporal and physical constraints on human accessibility. The space–time scenarios for human activities can be extremely romantic, for example, dating in the rainforest or on the moon, dining together with an undersea or volcanic scenery, having a board meeting over the clouds, etc. Kevin Lynch, the founder of urban spatial cognition, discussed city image in the 1960s: how to enhance the imageability of cities so as to facilitate people in way-finding and form spatial cognitive maps[8]. This theory has significantly influenced contemporary urban spatial design. Unfortunately, in the Metaverse, the city image would become meaningless: stations, restaurants, bars or scenic spots would be erased from people’s cognitive maps. All spatial and landscape planning can be realized by fingers and with smart tools. Against this backdrop, urban and landscape design is facing new challenges. The rules of urban and landscape designs will face new challenges, and perhaps even elementary school students’ writing paradigm may change.

In the age of Metaverse—the post-universe or super-universe—will human activities be as meaningful as before when the sense of time and place is lost? There will be no difference between human beings and slime molds if human culture that roots in place, space, and time disappear! Both Geography and Landscape Cognition value making sense, explorability, and involvement of space. The placeness and the sense of place emphasized in Geography Cognition are defined by regional characteristics and identification, as well as spatial orientation[9]. As a core concept in Architecture and Landscape Design, Genius Loci relies on THE GIVEN temporal and geographical conditions[10]. Thus, a new questions for design is that when locality and placeness no longer matter in the Metaverse, how to make human activities still meaningful.



参考文献

[1] Walecki, N. K. (2021). Can Slime Molds Cogitate? Harvard Magazine, 124(2). Retrieved from https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2021/11/right-now-can-slime-molds-think

[2] Li, Y. (2002). Jilin Textual Research of “Kwei shi”. Journal of Jilin Agricultural University, 24(2), 1-4.

[3] Nakagaki, T., Yamada, H., & Toth, A. (2000). Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism. Nature, 407(6803), 470. doi:10.1038/35035159

[4] Nakagaki, T., Yamada, H., & Toth, A. (2001). Path finding by tube morphogenesis in an amoeboid organism. Biophysical Chemistry, 92(1), 47-52. doi:10.1016/S0301-4622(01)00179-X

[5] Nakagaki, T., Lima, M., Ueda, T., Nishiura, Y., Saigusa, T., Atsushi, T., ... Showalter, K. (2007). Minimum-risk path finding by an adaptive amoebal network. Physical Review Letter, 99(6), 068104. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.068104

[6] Bosworth, A., & Clegg, N. (2021, September 27). Building the mataverse responsibly. Meta. Retrieved from https://about.fb.com/news/2021/09/building-the-metaverse-responsibly/

[7] TechFacebook. (2021, October 28). Connect 2021: Our vision for the metaverse. TechFacebook. Retrieved from https://tech.fb.com/connect-2021-our-vision-for-the-metaverse/

[8] Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

[9] Relph, E. (1976). Place and Placeless. London, England: Pion Limited.

[10] Norberg-Shulz, C. (1979). Genius Loci: Toward A Phenomenology of Architecture. New York, NY: Rizzoli.


翻译 丨 田乐、张晨希、肖杰

制作 丨 闫露


版权声明:本文版权归原作者所有,请勿以景观中国编辑版本转载。如有侵犯您的权益请及时联系,我们将第一时间删除。

投稿邮箱:info@landscape.cn

联系电话:010-62747757

打赏
  • 给Ta打个赏

0

发表评论

您好,登录后才可以评论哦!

热门评论

相关文章