Like the captain of a ship, I stay on course as best I can, mediating between the influences of the contractions of my heart, the movement of my breath, the approach of a thought and a fly landing on my head. I realise that there are countless processes and changes happening in and around my body in every tiny moment of my drawing and all I can do is stay as alert as possible to respond to them. Some of these influences come as a surprise, others come slowly. Reaching a destination by sailing or drawing probably means above all learning to read the signs of the wind and the waves, training your attention and adopting an open attitude that reckons with everything.
The emancipatory potential of design science lies in the restoration of the aesthetic basis of knowledge – the body – and its reintegration as an epistemological foundation into knowledge. In this process, knowers become designers and are able to have a voice and take responsibility for their knowledge. In this sense, the saying “knowledge is power” cannot apply to design science, which is always a part of its own knowledge; it knows first and foremost through devotion. Its knowledge is always also a self-reflection. Its knowledge is recursive and therefore incomplete. It never arrives at knowledge, it can only know.
This means that design science cannot follow any teleology or claim to be true. Its focus is not on a truth behind the phenomena, but on the phenomena themselves. Perhaps Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was already admonishing a design-scientific view of the world when he wrote:
“”Just don’t look for anything behind the phenomena; they themselves are the lesson.”
The kite also has no purpose, no meaning and no destination. Rather, it is an end in itself, functionality without function. You fly a kite because it is a beautiful thing. Quite simply. There is nothing behind it. The experience itself is the purpose. In reference to Kant’s concept of beauty, Umberto Eco writes that beauty is:
“Pleasure without interest, practicality without purpose, generality without concept and regularity without law. In other words, one takes pleasure in the beautiful thing without wanting to possess it, one looks at it as if it were organised to perfection for a specific purpose, while in reality the only goal towards which this form strives is its own existence, and therefore one takes pleasure as if it embodied a rule in perfection, while it is itself the rule.”
Despite its purposelessness, the kite flies with the most insistent determination. Just as the kite never reaches a goal in its flight, design science will never reach a truth, because its aim is not knowledge, but to know. The aesthetic experience is the starting point and goal of both design science and kite flying. Devotion or “serenity is part of both the attitude with which we should open ourselves to aesthetic experience and the existential state that we can achieve through aesthetic experience.” So my argument ends where it begins: with flying a kite. Perhaps the only thing we can really do to know what kite flying actually is is to fly a kite. In the light of this assumption, the only universal statement I can make is probably:
“Know for yourself!”