Marco Poletto is renowned for his project on “artificial ecology”, a quest for new hybrids promoting the end of the mechanistic paradigm in architecture in favor of a new “bio-technological” one.
What does this mean? In more fancy words it is all about an innovative work on ‘systemic’ design, a method defined by the combination and integration of ecologic thinking, computational and interaction design and digital prototyping. But he will explain this uncommon concept with more common words on the TEDxBucharest stage.
TEDxBucharest in dialogue with Marco
TEDxBucharest: How did you choose to build you career in your field?
Marco: The trouble with answering this question is that I'm not even entirely sure what is my field or my career path.
And of course we can argue that I'm an architect and I've been teaching and working within the realm of Architecture but on the other end if you look at what I do very few people would recognize that as the work of an architect; in fact all my work has very strong contaminations with disciplines such as computation, digital design and also digital crafting or prototyping and biology. And perhaps we should note that even that is not entirely correct because it is probably more to do with biomimetic engineering. If we want to go and look at it in detail perhaps I operate in the realm of alternative computing or bio-inspired computation, and so on.
So this is to say that for me today it is not very important to choose a career field or a career path but rather to have a clear ambition or agenda about what impacts, what changes you want to enact in the world. And then perhaps try and define what kind of knowledge you need to assemble and bring together. And often this knowledge comes from different fields and you become a kind of medium for these different bits of knowledge to coalesce and to create something new something which hopefully can have a positive impact in our Society.
And that impact will feedback at different levels and therefore affect different disciplines; it will have different disciplinary consequences.
TEDxBucharest: What is that drives you, that motivates you in what you do?
Marco: Well first of all I like to make things, to create things. I really get a positive drive from making a beautiful drawing or constructing a model for an installation, and so on. And of course this is never really a solitary operation so that involves engaging with a larger team and with multiple media, including living biological systems or computational systems. So I think there is also excitement in sharing your ideas, and influencing the way other people work or microalgae grow or computer codes operate.
The second point would be really a certain level of dissatisfaction that I have with what's around me. I have to admit I'm very critical of many things I see; I don't like the way cities are built or managed. I don't like the way we, as urban dwellers, are removed from the production of energy, from growing food, from crafting new things while at the same time we are told to save and recycle. I don't like the way technology is delivered to us, often as consumers rather than in a creative way. I don't like the way science is deliver to us as a kind of dogma, rather than a tool of investigation, to make discoveries, to make innovations and to improve our daily life.
So you know all of these dislikes or dissatisfactions really move me and push me to propose something new or to show another way of doing things that I think would be better, not just for me but for society at large. I hope to affect changes in the way society functions and especially the way in which society makes use of the available resources of this planet.
TEDxBucharest: What are your expectations regarding the TEDxBucharest experience and what made say yes to our invitation?
Marco: My expectation of course is to have a fun couple of days in Bucharest! No but at the end of the day the TED format is, like you said, really about spreading ideas and so for me what is really important is how professional the format is. Basically the key is extracting ideas from the speakers and communicating them to the audience, and of course the audience that is present on the day, but especially the global audience that we can reach on the web.
So I was rather impressed with the quality of the videos of past years of TEDx Bucharest and in my opinion that is really the crucial part. It's really about very professionally edited videos of the recordings of the talks which enable a really broad distribution and dissemination of the talks themselves and of the contents they carry.
TEDxBucharest: What do you want to become when you grow up?
Marco: I never grew up I'm still like a kid I live in the present. So what I want to do is realizing my current obsessions and such obsessions of course are expressed through my projects.
For example I'm seeking to build a new urban prototype, called Urban Algae Farm. So I want to start building hi-tech urban farms within the biggest and densest city of the world for the urban cultivation of cyano-bacteria. I want to introduce this new concept of public space or public environment, a cyber-garden, where the cultivation of microalgae is conducted at hi-rates and density. Where carbon dioxide is transformed into oxygen, organic waste is digested into nutrints and natural gas, where vegetable proteins are grown to substitute and replace the use of meat based proteins and where kids and youth of all ages engage with digital and biotechnologies and use their creativity to invent the protocols for the bio-city of the future.