Directed by Lane Duncan, Architect Georgia Institute of Technology 2014
What began as a humble study of red strawberries blossomed into an investigation of the species Fragaria × ananassa, its manipulation by industry, and the implied analogies with architecture, urbanism, and society. In closely observing both commercial and organic strawberries, I realized that the two featured drastic structural differences. In the organic strawberry, I found the threads finer, the seeds rougher, and the leaves thinner. Producers of fruit have distilled the attractive power of the strawberry fruit, and they’ve mimicked those characteristics in genetically modified strawberries. When we see the vibrant color, the shape, the seeds, and the leaves, we believe we are eating healthy fruit. But is this fruit truly nourishing our bodies? Is a prematurely harvested, artificially colored, flavorless concoction from California equivalent to a traditional strawberry? Furthermore, is a crudely designed, kitsch McMansion equivalent to a thoughtfully designed, dignified home? For those who are sensitive to the world around them, the answer is obvious. But for most apathetic consumers, there is no difference between the authentic and the imitation. A surface analysis reveals identical results. Two boxes of strawberries, one commercial and one organic, have identical food labels. Two houses, one suburban tract house and one modest intown bungalow, have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Pitched roof, dormer windows, colorful shutters. Are they really the same? The quantitative evidence insists they are the same, or even that the imitation is better. But, the qualitative evidence reveals otherwise. The authentic product offers value that cannot be measured.