Complex problems cannot be solved within the boundaries of a single academic discipline. They require the knowledge and skills of researchers from different fields of knowledge: representatives from more than 40 different disciplines have been researching fundamental design processes in the sciences in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory Image Knowledge Gestaltung at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2012. The Interdisciplinary Laboratory brings together the humanities, the natural sciences and engineering sciences, medicine and – for the first time in basic research – design and architecture, with the objective to strengthen and enrich each discipline through interdisciplinary collaboration.
There are many views on how to define what an image is. For the architectural theorist Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472), an image is not just the image’s surface, but essentially everything that human beings create with minimal intervention. This broad concept of the image is one adopted by the Interdisciplinary Laboratory Image Knowledge Gestaltung. The spectrum of its research includes objects, spaces, structures, forms of motion, and sounds. Each project investigates how these image-forms actively shape the knowledge that they represent.
Since the beginning of time, the production, transmission, and storage of knowledge has been influenced by architecture, media and tools, structures and models, information channels, and images. From the layout of laboratories to the seminar room, from chemical formulas to theoretical systems – knowledge is a historically determined form of design. New processes in data virtualisation and networking as well as digital imaging processes pose new challenges for research. The question of how much creative potential lies in a body of knowledge – which is historically contingent – can and must be addressed through critical examination of the past. Historical reflection and innovation are two sides of the same coin.
Imaging and knowledge generation share many characteristics as practices: they influence perception, thought, and action. The Cluster takes the stance that creative processes make a real contribution to research in a technologically advanced knowledge society, and that research on its part should give creative processes due recognition. Examining design as the materialisation and realisation of knowledge – this is the foundation to bridge basic research and application.