Everything Bucky knew

Thursday 16 January 2003

Everything I know is a complete video, audio and text record of a Richard Buckminster Fuller talkathon:

Photo of Bucky from the Buckminister Fuller Institute

During the last two weeks of January 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours and examine in depth all of Fuller’s major in­ven­tions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Syner­getics. Autobiographical in parts, Fuller recounts his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization. The stories behind his Dymaxion car, geodesic domes, World Game and integration of science and humanism are lucidly communicated with continuous reference to his synergetic geometry. Permeating the entire series is his unique comprehensive design approach to solving the problems of the world. Some of the topics Fuller covered in this wide ranging discourse include: archi­tec­ture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, ge­om­e­try, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering.

I saw Buckminster Fuller once​—​in 1970 at a conference of ar­chi­tec­ture students in a crowded lecture room in the Law School in Sydney. That was the longest lecture I ever heard. The con­fer­ence organisers planned to sell film of the lecture to offset the costs of the conference. I was sitting behind the camera man, his 16mm Eclair, and a stack of 400 foot magazines. Bucky talked. From time to time the camera man put on a fresh magazine. Bucky kept talking. The camera man started signalling to his offsiders, pointing to his watch, holding up fingers to show how many magazines were left. Bucky kept talking. I found myself thinking: where would they get more 400 foot rolls of film in a hurry, did they have a black bag for loading, did the sound re­cord­ist have enough tape? As I left to get coffee, the last mag­a­zine was on the camera. And Bucky was still talking.

I also remember Bucky talking about cultural forms and social customs​—​how some got in the way of problem solving, and some were benign. Like clothes, he said. The suit and tie were just con­ven­tions, without particular design merit, but not worth bucking against. He pulled the end of his tie, revealing that it was one of those ones with a pre-tied knot attached to an elastic loop under the collar. He said that everyone expected him to wear a suit and tie, he had better things to do than argue about that, so he found the most convenient way to comply. Then he let it go​—​snap​—​and went on to the next thing.

filed under Design + Me + Society + The web

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