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PHD-DESIGN  June 2008

PHD-DESIGN June 2008

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Subject:

Re: A simple definition of 'Design'?

From:

Keith Russell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Keith Russell <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 26 Jun 2008 16:02:27 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (153 lines)

Dear Kathryn

yes, fashion, like ballet, is often at the front end of the cultural caravan.

Art has always been about affordances of one kind or another such that I refer to my own abstract creations as affect-machines - they are chairs and tables and cups and saucers for the soul.

Plato annoys this issue by placing the painter of chairs in a third order of making. First there is the IDEA of CHAIR then there is an actual chair (second order) then there is the painting of a chair (third order and trivial). We can see this progression as un-embodied ideas become embodied and then they become dis-embodied.

Obviously design stakes-out the crucial ground of embodiment but then so does art as practice.

It is the focus that shifts from the agony being in the maker or the making - I have seen hand-hammered helmets that are worthy of PhDs in that the helmets embody the agony of the making like the codex of a thesis inscribed in the hammer blows that now are mute in the continuous curve.

Similar accounts can be made of textiles and the textures of art works where the choices were made by a body in time and space in a material form.

But, so much of art is about the freedom that pertains to the perception of the dis-embodied - just like bad de-constructive literary criticism - much of art seeks to fly without wings through the shifting of focus away from the pleasures of agony to the thrills of fancy.

And yet, there is a freedom in art that must be attended to: the freedom to displace the urgent, the present, the all too physical facticity of being. We wonder and worry our wonder and disembody and embody anew and the marks remain. Some of this can get in to design through the extra-sensory, the super-saturated and the playful. Now we are in the transitional space of Winnicott and Alessi and we are tying tables to chairs with bits of string.

cheers

keith russell
oz newcastle



>>> Kathryn Simon <[log in to unmask]> 6/26/2008 3:33 pm >>>
Really great thoughts coming from each of you. I am especially impressed
with the idea of design being a generative -
however how do you respond to designers like Viktor and Rolf and Hussein
Chalayan who are working beyond a practical
context yet using design as a vehicle for exploring ideas. With fashion
expanding into media a new substance is born.

I think its time to really dig far deeper than we have in exploring what a
contemporary concept of design is. It used to the that the market made that
defining line but that no longer holds true since so much art is now turning
towards market considerations (blatantly) and design is often dealing with
issues that fall beyond its narrow functional scope.

Is there a way to recontextualize this conversation so the coordinates begin
in a less familiar place?




On Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 11:43 PM, Keith Russell <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I like the distinctions being made by Gunnar and the quotes he has
> provided, because they point to what might be called the agony at the
> center of designing.
>
> For me the agony goes like this:
>
>  If the object can be sat on, then it functions as a chair and hence it
> is a chair in its use.
>
> If the object was made to be sat on then it is a chair in its
> designing.
>
> If the object looks like a chair but can not be sat on then it might be
> art but it is not a chair and it has not been designed as a chair.
>
> Making joke chairs (subversion) is fun and such chairs obviously need
> to be designed if they are to function as a joke chair. Such designing
> does not have the central agony of making that Gunnar points to. Such
> joke making is pulled towards an aesthetic freedom that diminishes the
> agony (like saying there are no rules in wrestling, you can just shoot
> your opponent - it's fun, but not wrestling).
>
> Interestingly, Dada produced no written works that escaped the agony at
> the centre of communication - language is an excellent ironic machine
> but it retains the core issue of communication no matter how extreme its
> flirtations with the merely aesthetic. In many ways the same is true for
> design. To set out to make a faulty tap is a crime of the heart unless
> it's exhibited in an art gallery where it's just a joke and not much of
> a joke.
>
> Graphic design students often like to play the idiot game of breaking
> down letter forms until there are graphic marks but no longer parts of
> letter forms. As soon as the eye announces: "looks like part of a
> letter", then the agony has emerged. While the fragment retains its
> freedom as not a fragment of a larger form, then it is just a mark.
>
> Keith Russell
> OZ Newcastle
>
> >>>>>>>>>
>
> Gunnar Wrote and quoted
>
> Thanks to David Durling for the "art & design" explanation. Most
> graphic design education in the US is in art departments so most of our
> arguments about the definition of graphic design tend to center around
> whether and how (graphic) design is like or unlike art. ("Art," of
> course, suffers from multiple definitions even more than "design" does.)
> Kathryn Simon asks "What is art? What is design?" I'll let a couple of
> my favorite writers take a stab at that one.
>
> Kenneth FitzGerald's review
> <http://www.ephemeralstates.com/2008/06/do-not-read-me-i-am-boring/>
> of Stefan Sagmeister's -Things I Have Learned So Far in My Life- says
> "art and design differ only in the segment of the marketplace in which
> they operate. The essential activity is the same. They just answer to
> separate validating structures."
>
> Natalia Illyin's "The Man in the Irony Mask"
> <http://www.stepinsidedesign.com/STEPMagazine/Article/28843> suggests
> a distinction of attitude: "Contemporary art*s quarter-century-long
> vogue for taking things apart, for subverting the distinction between
> 'high and low,' for irony, for pastiche, for the abjuration of concepts
> of totality, unity and determinate meaning, for fragmentation*well,
> that vogue never really has sat well with design. We*ve tried, but it
> just doesn*t. 'Erasing the distinction between art and design,' which
> we*ve heard so much about in recent years, is impossible for this
> reason: Design, by its definition, is generative. It is the process of
> making things. Taking things apart is the opposite of design.
> Irony*creating distance*is the opposite of real communication,
> which is the underlying aim of graphic design.
>
> "We designers are a 'making' tribe. Unlike the Dadaists, whose pose we
> emulate, we live in a world already fragmented. As to the avant-gardism
> we still lean on--that long-ago radicalism that set out to shake up a
> Victorian worldview--its notions of chal-lenge and subversion are still
> important to contemporary art. But the importance of those notions in
> design has been eclipsed by greater urgencies. We live in a challenged,
> confused and subverted world. We don*t need to put any burrs under any
> saddles. We have enough burrs for a lifetime. We have enough distance.
> The great challenge now is to find relationship."
>
> Gunnar
> ----------
> Gunnar Swanson Design Office
> 1901 East 6th Street
> Greenville, North Carolina 27858
>
> [log in to unmask] 
> +1 252 258 7006
>
> at East Carolina University:
> +1 252 328 2839
> [log in to unmask] 
>



-- 
Kathryn Simon
VERMILLIONmedia
917 226 2860

Cultural Producer & Curator
Art/Design

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