Navigating the Poetics of Invention

The most formidable challenge to thinking comparatively about innovation lies in the effort of becoming familiar with distant ways of producing and organizing knowledge. Therefore, this exhibit is designed to reflect the idea that using a system such as the Traditional Chinese Imperial Knowledge System as a model for thinking in different ways is one of the key engines of creativity. 


For well over 2,000 years the traditional Chinese Imperial Knowledge System explained the universe as a dynamic space of constant transformation and flux. Ancient knowledge systems provided later dynasty rulers, thinkers, and artists with powerful symbolic tools to help them more productively navigate these transformations.


One of the most important of these concepts describes the world in terms of two interdependent forces: yin and yang. The yang force (light, bright, projective) and the yin force (heavy, dark, fluid) give rise to one another: without light we cannot have heavy, without the bright there can be no dark.  


To symbolically represent this greater degree of complexity, the yin and yang forces are organized into the eight trigrams, or gua. A trigram is a symbol made up of three lines. Because each trigram includes three lines, not two, either yin or yang will always dominate. 


Octagon Wheel

Each of these eight rooms within the exhibit connect to the eight trigrams with corresponding yin and yang symbols reflecting the pattern of change and transformation.