Your Private Sky: The Art of Design Science BOOK review [R. Buckminster Fuller]

Book Reviews
Your Private Sky: The Art of Design Science BOOK review [R. Buckminster Fuller]
Jan 31, 2000, 04:06

YOUR PRIVATE SKY: THE ART OF DESIGN SCIENCE by R. Buckminster Fuller; Lars Muller Publishing

Right, so if you don't know about Bucky Fuller, it's time to learn. Fuller, who is mostly known for the concept of the Geodesic dome, turns out to be one of the most interesting thinkers of the 20th century and Your Private Sky is the ultimate introduction to his work. The book is essentially a brilliant photo collage of his life, starting with his privileged education and moving through his brief heyday as en vogue architect and new age icon in the '60s and '70s. Along the way, you get a solid introduction to such bizarre Bucky concepts as the Dymaxion car, a sort of half car/half hovercraft built with the fourth dimension in mind, tensegity, an “anticlassical approach to structure and construction” that implies “a reversal in perception: what appears to be compactly standing and solid proves to be suspended and ephemeral.” My favorite is the Dymaxion World Map, a sort of Rubix cube globe that allows you to quickly and easily rearrange the world map to whatever geo-political viewpoint makes the most logical, analytical sense.

The great thing about Fuller is that, throughout his life, he managed to dream up, work out, and execute ideas that seemed to be completely outside the sphere of standard thought. Most of his ideas are completely counter-intuitive to Western thought (for example, structures can be supported from the top not from the base) and Your Private Sky manages to trace the evolutions/iterations of Fuller's ideas with surprising clarity and beauty. Bucky would have been pleased.

The other great thing about Your Private Sky is that it lets you get a good picture of Fuller without subjecting you to too much of his highly abstract writing. Fuller did his audience the service/disservice of assuming that everyone could follow his logic. Take, for example, his “children's book,” Tetrascroll, reproduced in full in Your Private Sky. Here's his first paragraph, you know, the one that sets you up for the more complex story to come. “Here is Goldy having a sky party with her three friends, the Polar Bear family. Goldy says the sky party is a “system” because Goldy plus the Three Bears, equals four entities (or star events), and it takes four events to produce a system. A system divides all the universe into six parts: all the universe outside the system (the macrocosm). All the universe inside the system (the microcosm) and the four star events A, B, C, D, which do the dividing.” What is Bucky talking about? It's probably best that you buy the book and find out yourself.

-Jason Cons

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