Entropy Schmentropy

paintpeeling

I doubt the rancher who owns this tiny roadside outbuilding shares my enthusiasm for the patterns of blistered paint on its corrugated walls. He’d probably agree that it needs repainting and was a poorly executed job to begin with, or that the galvanized steel was best left exposed to the elements without any paint at all. By the time it took the paint to blister, the wall would have developed a lovely patina of blotchy moss and pitted corrosion, given the proximity to the oft-fog-shrouded coast.

Regardless, the wall got me thinking about how much I like seeing how man-made structures find equilibrium with their environment, all the more so when the decay resulting from use and exposure is anticipated. Entropy only ever increases over time. Or, as the German physicist Rudolf Clausius wrote in 1862:

The algebraic sum of all the transformations occurring in a cyclical process can only be positive, or, as an extreme case, equal to nothing. (second law of thermodynamics)

So, my digressive conclusion is that any hand wrought thing works best when the aesthetic of its own decay is considered a design requirement.


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