The Pattern of Repetition and the Quest for Creativity

The Pattern of Repetition and the Quest for Creativity

Manalee Sunil Nanavati (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0029-2.ch019
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A common application of parametric design is observed in the field of generative processes. Offering the possibility of incorporation of variety along with multiplicity, parametric has presented new ways of creatively employing such repetitive patterns. However, the application of this creativity is often restricted up to formal characteristics, with a complete neglect of perceptual qualities of the composed space. In this reference, the chapter primarily questions whether creativity is only applicable to the formal attributes of the repetitive pattern in parametric design; and further aims to examine how parametric design can undertake a repetitive pattern to simultaneously achieve remarkable creativity in its formal as well as perceptual attributes. This aim is addressed here by proposing a particular approach of assemblage; an approach that can enable the designer to visualise the constant interaction between organizational qualities and perceptual qualities of the composition; and in turn to achieve the desired attribute of the compositional whole.
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The Repetitive Pattern

‘Repetition’, originally ‘Repetre’ in Latin, is a combination of two words: ‘Re’ meaning ‘again’ and ‘Petre’ meaning ‘Go towards’. In simple terms, it is defined as an act of recurrence (Oxford dictionary); based on which, an array formed by the recurrence of an entity is conceived as a repetitive pattern (Rangnathan, 1990). Remarkably, owing to this act of recurrence, a repetitive pattern can also be construed as the manifestation of ‘similarity’.

Furthermore, similarity is convincingly substantiated to be the primary criterion for human perception by Bohm (1987); which leads to a close relationship between a repetitive pattern and human perception as below:

According to Gestalt school of psychology, the field of human perception is directly dependent on the field of memory (Kepes, 1944; Piaget & Inhelder, 1967). ‘What we know’ has a strong bearing on ‘what we see’. Hence, our encounter with any new pattern primarily gets compared with our memory built by previous experiences. Successively, the similarities are separated from differences; and based on this categorization, the new perception takes place (Piaget, 1967; Bohm, 1987). For instance, once a particular figure is recognised as ‘column’, we identify all columns in any pattern based on their similarity, and establish a relationship among them. Consequently, any different looking element is perceived as “not column”, or ‘difference’. In this reference, the perception of a repetitive pattern is an encounter with all similar entities. Owing to their similarity, these entities establish a relationship among one another and form a new perception of the composition, which is different than that of the individual entities themselves. This point can be well understood from the figure below (Figure 1):

Figure 1a.

Perception of repetitive compositions: Although a column is perceived as an independent entity, a group of column is perceived a manifestation of space. Hence, any change in the grouping of columns, changes the perception of the space. Individual columns, even though placed at a distance, create a sense of enclosure and hold a space inside.

(Image Source: Drawn by Author, (2010-11))
Figure 1b.

Perception of repetitive compositions: By changing only the height of four central columns, the relationship of similarity changes. The taller columns now create a different group that generates the perception of a ‘space within space’.

(Image Source: Drawn by Author, (2010-11))
Figure 1c.

Perception of repetitive compositions: By placing some columns at a comparatively lesser distance than the others, the perception results into ‘a primary space surrounded by a secondary space’.

(Image Source: Drawn by Author, (2010-11))
Figure 1d.

Perception of repetitive compositions: In the space created by the grid of nine columns, by changing the central column, the perception changes as ‘a separate entity placed in the middle of a space’. (Image Source: Drawn by Author, (2010-11))

Figure 1e.

Perception of repetitive compositions: Appearance of similar entities immediately establish a relation to one another and provides a sense of continuity

(Image Source: Drawn by Author, (2010-11))

More such examples can easily be studied through softwares such as shapeshifter, where by changing even a small parameter, the resultant pattern demonstrates a different configuration with different attributes.

Accordingly, one more interpretation of a repetitive pattern can be set as a pattern made by interrelationship among ‘same’ or ‘similar’ entities. In parametric design process, the entities, called ‘units’ in architecture, as well as the interrelationship are determined by the given parameters (Moussavi, 2009; Jabi, 2013). According to these parameters, both, the interrelationship and the units, contain specific characteristics which determine the characteristics of the composition as argued by Gombrich (1979).

This argument can also be explained through the theories of atomism and holism, which employ the concept of ‘whole’ and ‘parts’ to explicate this association (Koestler and Smythies, 1970; Franz and Linz, n.d.). Herein, these terminologies of whole and parts are well-explained by both the theories, although through contradictory lines of thought; however, to include this explanation is beyond the scope of this chapter. Therefore, for this chapter, we will understand ‘parts’ as very basic independent entities which cannot be divided further, while ‘whole’ as the finite compositional entity formed by constituent parts. Furthermore, the formation of the whole is explained by Chhaya (1975) as ‘coming together of smaller parts to form a larger form a larger entity to achieve complex requirements which the smaller parts independently cannot achieve’. Moreover, this coming together of parts is a controlled phenomenon and takes shape in a particular way under specific parameters to form a particular whole.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hierarchy of Orders: The concept of a hierarchy of orders, is derived here from Bohm and Peat (1987) ’s notion of nested orders. It essentially represents a hierarchical structure of nested orders, which counts for cohesion among all the contained orders. Subsequently, every order of such hierarchies is considered to be formed by the order of its lower level, and hence is perceived as closely interdependent on the same. Koestler (1968) has developed this notion of interdependency further through his term ‘Holarchy’ and has proved the hierarchy of orders to be the root cause for comprehensibility of the resultant composition.

Creativity: The Merriam Webster dictionary defines creativity as ‘the ability to make new things or think of new ideas’. This notion of novelty is further explained as the perception of difference or variety by Bohm (1987) AU85: The in-text citation "Bohm (1987)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. . Building on the same, creativity for the chapter is interpreted in the spirit of innovative ways of differentiation brought in a repetitive pattern to offer a rich perceptual variety.

Sub-Whole: Sub-whole is defined by Koestler (1968) as any levels between parts and whole. This in-between level serves as a part for its level above, while a whole for its level below and hence can also be debatably considered a finite entity.

Part, Whole: Gestalt school of thoughts has described the concept of a ‘whole’ as a compositional entity made through certain interrelationship among constitutional entities; while ‘parts’ as very basic independent entities which cannot be divided further. Both, wholes and parts are arguably considered as finite entities. The relationship between these two concepts is studied by the theories of ‘Atomism’ and ‘Holism’, however, the approach of both has been contradictory. Atomism or the reductionist approach studies the ‘whole’ as a structure made of component parts, while Holism studies the whole as something more than mere sum of the parts ( Koestler and Smythies, 1970 ; Franz and Linz, n.d. ).

Holarchy: Following the concept of ‘Holon’, a Holarchy is defined by Koestler (1968) as the hierarchy of orders created by Holons. This hierarchy is described by Funch (1995), and Fraz and Linz (n.d.) AU86: The in-text citation "Fraz and Linz (n.d.)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. as a branching pattern where the Holons become the nodes of it. These Holons on any level, starting from the basic part to the final resultant whole, can be studied as independent finite entities which establish an order and create the Holon on the level above. Thus, each respective level is interdependent on the level above as well as level below, which calls for maintaining coherence in the resultant structure. Moreover, Koestler (1968) has derived specific behavioural attributes of the Holarchy, which in turn govern the attribute of the final whole.

Holon: ‘Holon’ is a term given by Arthur Koestler (1968) to study the structural characteristics of any organism. He has defined the Holons as a concept developed based on the notion of ‘sub-wholes’ as under: The organism is to be regarded as a multi-levelled hierarchy of semi-autonomous sub-wholes branching into sub-wholes of a lower level and so on. This sub-whole on any level is called a “Holon”. As per the concept of sub-wholes, a Holon is considered to be a whole for its level below, and a part for its level above. Subsequently, the basic part as well as the final resultant whole can as well be considered as Holons. This concept is further developed in detail for its specific characteristics of semi-autonomy, which determines the characteristics of the resultants composition (see Funch, 1995 ; van Leeuwen and Norrie, 1997 AU87: The in-text citation "Leeuwen and Norrie, 1997" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Order: Order, in very basic terms, is defined as the interrelationship among constituent parts of any composition by Gombrich (1979) . This interrelationship may or may not be physical. Furthermore, as asserted by Chhaya (1975) , an order in any system is considered responsible for providing rules to bind the component parts with each other and give each one a unique placement and value to receive the desired value of the whole.

Repetition: Based on the Gestalt principles ( Piaget and Inhelder, 1967 ) of human perception, Repetition is defined here as a pattern made by ‘same’ or ‘similar’ entities.

Nested Orders: Bohm and Peat (1987) have described the notion of nested orders as a structure of orders, where each order is generated by other orders. To explain the formation of such structures they have employed the term ‘degree of orders’, where the lowest level of order is explained as the order of ‘first degree’, while the gradual levels are sequentially termed as order of ‘second degree’, ‘third degree’ and so on. Remarkably, they have further established a relationship between the degree of orders and the complexity of the whole. Providing a conceptual spectrum, Bohm (1987) AU88: The in-text citation "Bohm (1987)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. has suggested that as the degree of order increases, the resultant whole becomes more complex. Consequently, order of infinite degree leads to chaos, which is perceived as disorder.

Similarity, Difference: Similarity is studied here in the context of human perception and is hence defined as the perception of ‘likeness’ based on Piaget (1967) AU89: The in-text citation "Piaget (1967)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ’s explanation. In other words, the term is employed for the entities that are alike. Accordingly, difference is defined as the perception of ‘unlike’ (Piaget, 1967 AU90: The in-text citation "Piaget, 1967" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ), and is employed for the dissimilar entities in the array of similar entities. In particular, the perception of all constituent entities of a repetitive pattern is considered as the perception of similarity, while appearance of any unlike entity in the pattern is considered as the perception of difference.

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