Monday, June 3, 2013

Second Skins et al

(1) Human beings owe their first skin to biological evolution.

Misha Gordon, Crowd_18, 1987-1991, via 

The perception of the second skin, in its relevant functions, is based on scientific achievements. It is (2) the atmosphere of planet Earth, a product of the biogeochemical processes during the past 4 billion years. The properties of the second skin, together with the given astrophysical boundary conditions and the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet’s surface, determine the climate.

In the cultural evolution, one can distinguish two main steps of designing new “skins”. The biological skin, a heritage of the primates, was expanded in a first step with (3) clothing, the third skin, serving not only as protection against coldness, mechanical wounds, and sun radiation, but also eventually as embellishment and status symbol in social communication.

The second step was the building of (4) houses. This fourth skin is a technical extension of the third, offering a better protection, moving toward an optimal inner climate independent of the changes outside of the house. Analogous to the clothing, the house has become a medium for the status of its residents. The house gives signals of attraction or repulsion to the viewers. (p235-6)

Metabolism of the Anthroposphere, Second Edition
Peter Baccini and Paul H. Brunner

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