Tuesday, July 12, 2011

BUCKMINSTER FULLER, b. July 12, 1895

July 12, 1895-July 1, 1983 

at MIT 

How to describe "Bucky" Fuller?  "Bucking convention" comes to mind as one reads of some of his adventures.  "Engineer" and "futurist" seem to be two of the favorite standard choices. Stanford University, which acquired his papers, calls him (here) "an American polymath" with a "versatile career as an architect, lecturer, mathematician, writer, and social critic...."   The U.S. stamp which honors him (seen here) "shows the bespectacled Fuller, his bald head rendered as a geodesic dome, surrounded by some of his most famous inventions including the Dymaxion car, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures." 

There is a Buckminster Fuller Institute available for further explorations of the master's life and work.  They refer to him (here) as "a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary...." 

A bonus of the Institute's website is a cheerful color photograph of "Bucky" in 1949. 

Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker (here) sniffs that "The fact that so few of Fuller's ideas were ever realized certainly makes it hard to argue for his importance as an inventor. Even his most successful creation, the geodesic dome, proved to be a dud." 

(Well, Harvard kicked him out -- twice.) 

I see (here), however, that Fuller's Dymaxion car has been recently recreated and shown off in the U.K., and found to fascinate. 

And finally, there is Stanford's description of the centerpiece of their collection: 

... the Dymaxion Chronofile, an exhaustive journal of Fuller’s trajectory from 1920 until his death in 1983. Fuller had been collecting clippings and artifacts since he was a child. But in 1917, he began a formal chronological file which he would later call the Dymaxion Chronofile. The Chronofile was a vast scrapbook that included copies of all his incoming and outgoing correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes and sketches, and even dry cleaning bills. Initially, the Chronofile was bound into handsome leather-backed volumes. In later years, to save space and expenses, the Chronofile was simply stored in boxes. By the end of his life, this exhaustive “lab notebook” of his life’s experiment amounted to 270 linear feet. 

There is even more, here, about the innovator Kolbert in the New Yorker calls "Dymaxion Man."  

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