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Making Sense

Beauty, Creativity, and Healing

Edited By Bandy Lee, Nancy Olson and Thomas Duffy

Regardless of field, from the art world to healthcare delivery, there is a growing need for practically useful theory and theoretically informed practice. The time is ripe for a collaborative, creative conversation among thinkers and doers who are concerned about the larger world and our role in it. Making Sense: Beauty, Creativity, and Healing is a collection of essays and creative expressions written and produced in relation to a colloquium that tried to address these matters at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. Beginning with a powerful essay on the individually and globally therapeutic qualities of art and beauty by Elaine Scarry of Harvard University, this volume brings together a diversity of theoretically minded scholars, scientists, artists, and healers. In the form of critical and reflective essays, alongside images, poetry, and fiction, this book allows the reader to experience the bursts of ideas and sensory triggers that respond to and extend the artistic installations and performances of the colloquium – and welcomes the reader into the conversation.
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Neural Proxies: Designing Environments that Can Heal


by Brandon Cuffy

Environment and self are concepts that have historically been interwoven in the discipline of architecture. These have become increasingly divergent in postindustrial society, which gives primacy to the mass-produced tectonic. Historically, synergies between environment and habitation initiated the first architectural act in the primitive hut. These highlighted the direct relationship between self and the habited environment; i.e., the need for shelter. Though the genesis of the architectural act began in this way, one can say that it reached its antithesis with the advent of the modernist aesthetic, which privileged the primacy of the tectonic, or the technical devoid of humanist inspiration. In addition, the assembly line gave rise to a whimsical, synthetic material culture, which has led to globally pervasive materials and subsequent globalization, creating architectural environments of homogeneous, non-identity space. This development has left a majority of spatial practice seeking efficient solutions, over beauty or inspiration, to current design problems. Moreover, increasing pressures from economic and logistic requirements of the highly regulated discipline that architecture has become have hindered the integration and reconnection with the human body.

So we can begin to ask: can one begin to reassert the identity space, that is a space wholly considered, away from budgetary considerations and toward human necessity? Designers and architects have made strong claims about the impact of buildings and spaces on the psychological and physical well-being of its inhabitants, notably humanist and phenomenological thinkers. However, many of these claims are devoid...

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