Exploring Beauty Space with Patrick Gunkel

Patrick Gunkel was an ‘outsider scientist’, although he didn’t have formal training, he dedicated his life to developing systematics of knowledge about a vast range of human experiences and ideas. He was brought into ‘the academy’ by scientsts at MIT who were intrigued by his creative and obsessive research interests. One project of Gunkel and his collabortors was the development of an ambitious website ideonomy.mit.edu, a project which has been maintained as a memorial to the people that worked on it. We were introduced to the work by a friend, Agnes, who told us that Gunkel had a significant interest in trying to understand beauty. He used an algorithm that he designed to make a spatial map of his own experience of sources of beauty (that he called the ‘beauties’). His map can be seen at the bottom of the page. We used his map as a jumping-off point, and plotted the answers to the beauty book onto spatial maps, by exploring Gunkel’s original. These are the results.

An original graph created by Patrick Gunkel Taken from the Ideonomy website