Aletheia and Poiesis


As a designer I am strongly attracted to newness. I have a bias to believe in authorship. I know some of my colleagues believe that newness doesn’t truly exist, that even the most creative are merely re-mixers. I find that discouraging. I get a lot of enjoyment out of learning and discovering new things, whether or not I was the first to do so. I feel it’s important to take enjoyment in personal discovery and openly celebrate it.

In Darin Barney’s article, ‘Terminal City’ he talks about the Greek word: Aletheia, the philosophical definition of truth (Barney 120). Barney discusses the Greek word: Poiesis, creating something that didn’t exist before and how this act of creation leads to truth. The idea that in making new things we can find truth resonated with me. The mechanism seems to make intuitive sense: true or perceived newness is unburdened by the taint of society or the animal nature of our own bodies. Newness elevates something beyond our current understanding and forces us to reset and look at our world with new eyes. The ability to see outside our current reality and can be thought of as being closer to the ‘truth’- a reality untainted by social, personal, or physical circumstance. For those that don’t believe in authorship, will truth forever escape them? Are those that believe we are merely remix and compiler meat machines less likely to encounter ‘truth’?

The proliferation of mixed reality experiences will eventually call into question the value of most social institutions just as the widespread use of the Internet disrupted some of our traditional social value systems. How will we assign value to the AR objects that will eventually litter our field of vision? For those that will author the future of immersive technologies and the system that will support it, there is an opportunity to re-address a new reality and by doing so, come closer to making unique observations about ‘truth’. The richness of these observations will be rooted in our perception of new, virtual worlds. Will my colleagues and friends who deny the existence of authorship forfeit their chance to contribute to these new, emerging virtual worlds and objects? Will they miss out on experiencing the ‘truth’?

Barney talks about the difference between living and living well. We have the option to accept or reject new technology and the ever-present data stream that comes with it. We will have the option to engage in untethered mixed reality or not. Living well versus just plain living could mean either opting in or opting out of newness depending on your personal definition of quality and what makes one happy. My delusion of authorship affords me the energy and strength to continue to create and seek truth. My colleagues who believe in the remix and compiler view of creativity likewise feel lucky to be closer to the ‘truth’ in their eyes: that there is no newness, this has all somehow been done before. Nothing new and the truth seems rather grim – why even bother getting out of bed?


Barney, Darin. Terminal City? Art, Information, and the Augmenting of Vancouver. In Crow, Barbara, Michael Longford, and Kim Sawchuk, editors. The Wireless Spectrum: The Politics, Practices, and Poetics of Mobile Media. University of Toronto Press. Pp.115-130.


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