How big can we think?


The Spaceship Earth Lab is a weekend workshop (details) exploring how experiential technologies can expand and transform perceptions of our home planet. The workshop brings together polymaths, expert generalists, and comprehensivists to develop thinking tools for enacting whole systems understandings of planetary interactions. Participants will explore new ways of communicating phenomena across spatial, temporal, and spectral scales - as well as the principles and relationships that connect them.

This initial prototype workshop has a limited number of spaces available. If you'd like to attend, see the application details.

“We begin by eschewing the role of specialists who deal only in parts. Becoming deliberately expansive instead of contractive, we ask, ‘How do we think in terms of wholes?’ If it is true that the bigger the thinking becomes the more lastingly effective it is, we must ask, ‘How big can we think?’”

- R. Buckminster Fuller

Call for Participation and Contribution

In 1968, Buckminster Fuller’s Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth challenged humanity to re-imagine our home planet. Fuller posed the question How big can we think? - insisting on the need to develop more effective techniques to think in whole systems by transcending disciplinary silos. To accomplish this, he proposed developing computing and display technologies to visualize and simulate planetary interactions to better understand Earth's metabolism and regenerative cycles.

Half a century later, the Buckminster Fuller Institute is partnering with Gray Area Foundation for the Arts to host a series of labs examining Fuller’s provocations within a contemporary context. This initial workshop will examine the contemporary relevance of Operating Manual.

The goals of this inaugural lab are to:

  • Explore how experiential technologies (integrating data visualizations, immersive displays, virtual and augmented reality, remote sensing imagery, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc) can expand and transform understanding of humanity’s relationship to Spaceship Earth’s interconnected systems.
  • Cultivate an active community of practitioners creating planetary thinking tools.
  • Develop and prototype the format for a series of Spaceship Earth Labs starting in 2018.
  • Identify, collaborate on, and prototype projects (examples) to be developed through the ongoing Spaceship Earth Labs.

We invite wayward polymaths (working across the fields of design, science, art, engineering, economics, etc) currently developing planetary thinking tools that are seeking collaborations and support. Participants are encouraged to present their work and ideas in short presentations or demos, though this is not a requirement.

If you'd like to attend, see the application details.