DRHA 2015 Dublin City University, IRELAND. Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts Digital World. Digital Responses

Conference paper (Refereed)


Many disciplines have the culture and nurturing to explore, create, and tell stories about worlds. Therefore, our contribution is about the re-discovery of an idea that has been crucial in occidental thinking and which became underestimated: the notion of gestalt. To conceive real-world (and other) phenomena in terms of gestalt helps to gain a holistic understanding of them, and the aim of our paper, therefore, is to promote a method to rediscover the world in a less analytical fashion than it has been done in the last 400 years, after an analytical-based perception of reality gained ground with the scientific method developed in the 17th century and later. At the same time, a gestalt approach helps to reframe (and better understand) recent technological developments as outcomes of an analytical way of thinking. Because analysis and the shaping of processes and entities according to functionalities is not the only or most suitable way to generate understanding, despite we got used to such a general state of mind.

To conceive the world primarily in analytical terms or as a set of functions became culturally accepted. A gestalt approach can be a promising complement to the prevalent analytical approaches, and the general benefit of such an approach lies in the use of comparative methods to create knowledge or design processes. Also borrowing ideas from Design Theory where Gestalt is analogous to a design process, we can view it as a process of knowledge acquisition and learning from the previously unknown.

Gestalt perception as well as -conception helps to develop another kind of epistemology than the prevalent analytical/functional one, as for instance cybernetics, system theories, and bioengineering already demonstrated. It transcends the border between real and virtual towards envisioning a complete reality, and out of that proves to be a method of working with unknown phenomena.