Will humanity ever produce another mind quite like Buckminster Fuller's? It doesn't seem to have done so thus far. Even in Fuller's own time, people couldn't quite believe the intellectual idiosyncrasy of the inventor who came up with the geodesic dome, the Dymaxion Car, and much, much more. "Time and again," he once said, "I am asked, 'who else do you know who thinks the way you do, or does what you do?' I find it very strange to have to answer, 'I don't know anybody else.' It's not because I think of myself as unique, but simply because I did choose a very different grand strategy."
Fuller — or Bucky, his preferred nickname — says more about that grand strategy and the experiences that led him to develop it in the interviews, conducted by Studs Terkel in 1965 and 1970, from which that quote comes. You can hear it in the video above, which brings the material to life by visualizing the elements of Fuller's life and ideas through the hand of animator Jennifer Yoo. The video recently debuted as part of The Experimenters, a three-episode series meant to animate the words of thinkers like Fuller, Jane Goodall, and Richard Feynman, concentrating on "the inspirations from each of their personal lives that helped influence their careers and earth-changing discoveries."
Fuller enthusiasts have always insisted that his ideas have only grown more relevant with time, but now that the early 21st century has found us rethinking the way we live — how we do it and how we make spaces to do it in being perhaps Fuller's most abiding obsession — his engagement with the concept of "continually doing more with less" really does sound smarter than ever. If you enjoy the patch of Bucky's universe The Experimenters exposes, consider chasing these four minutes of "Buckminster Fuller on the Geodesic Life" with 42 hours of his video lecture series Everything I Know. The man didn't just think differently from the rest of us, after all — he also thought a lot more.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.