A Pattern Language: Art/istic, Institutions*ing, and Research (practices)
In analogy – or response – to the idea of a Pattern Language as Christopher Alexander described it in 1970’s the researchers at a.pass tried to understand how a pattern language could be written for the context of artistic research and especially for the creation of good conditions for the practice of research as an art form.
The team around Alexander described patterns as following:
“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to the problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million time over, without ever doing the same thing twice.” Ch. Alexander, 1977.
In general we were able to imagine the translatability of this approach to our environment, yet the here described problem-solution relationship didn’t feel appropriate for the arts and especially not for the ways research may take – from the unknown into the unknown. For the sake of workability we propose to translate problems in to needs, issues, or question and solution into (good) practice, proposition or even speculation.
However we decided to take the experiment to the test and try to apply the protocol Alexander proposes for the writing of a pattern onto our writing in order to discover where this protocol finds its borders.
The language of those patterns and it’s function Alexander describes as following:
“[The order of the patterns] is presented as a straight linear sequence, [and] is essential to the way the language works. […] What is most important about this sequence, is that it is based on the connections between the patterns. Each pattern is connected to certain “larger” patterns which come above it in the language, and to certain “smaller” patterns which come below it in the language. In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can exist in the world, only to the extent that is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller patterns which are embedded in it.” Ch. Alexander, 1977.
The order of the actual ‘sentence’ that one want to create from this language for her/his concrete case is as much free as it is in a spoken or written language. Words can’t be placed in what ever kind of order, there is always a specific syntax and grammatical structure required by a specific language – yet quite everything can be said and in most cases language finally allows for a quite a great redundancy. One can say a sentence in a grammatically ‘wrong’ way, yet one understand what you mean.