Etikettarkiv: Design theory

Experience is for Design what …….. is for Conceptual Art


It seems that the knowledge economy or post-fordism, social innovation theory or Neo-Schumpeterianism as are its other names, is under pressure of revealing the tenets of its own future, most vividly felt in the creative sector. In cultural discourse the move from commodity to experience/identity is certainly an outcome of reacting to the burgeoning global nexus of low-cost manufacturers such as China, Korea and India. But, Professor of Experience design Ronald Jones leaves a comment in Frieze Magazine of a different kind, connecting design both with conceptual art as well as Joseph Pine and James Gilmore´s writings on the experience economy. While Jones ardently connects the current design move from goods to service, it is a somewhat staggering connection to the conceptual art field. He correctly credits critic Robert Pincus-Witten with making the division of ontological and epistemological conceptualism, but the leap to experience design from there is is not just a leap of faith, but a bit more complex than proposed in the article.

Modernism’s relation to formalism was actively leading artists from both performance, design and conceptual frameworks, to purity of absolute representation of phenomena. All of which were destroyed by the early works by On Kawara, Louise Lawler and Daniel Buren in Europe and the United States, and their works that mimicked the world of design became a natural element of the subversive move that started back in the 60ies. The questions of the these ‘idea artists’ were posed against a conventional focus of the object, or rather, remember Richard Serra and his verbs describing new ways of relating to the object (to smear, to rotate, to swirl, to hang etc) and the impact they have to destroy and abandon the object. Miwon Kwon (I have an art theoretical crush on ‘er) later on added concepts like negotiate, organize and investigate to this list of art verbs.

And after the 60ies, when art became a way of  documenting, administrating and archiving the idea was centred and its reifications, objects and installations, was thrown into periphery, and are still residing there in the post-medium condition. To trace conceptual art along the same line as designing experiences  is therefore to shrink the critical line of reasoning ushered by the conceptualist to a shallow comparison.

Design is really on the loose, though. A great new issue by Texte Zur Kunst is all over the issue, check it!

P.S. I will not even go into the connection with minimalism, saving it for a really rainy day.

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Buying and unzipping your genes – Steven Pinker + Design darwinisim

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University explores the field of genomic consumption in an NY Times article and magnificently discusses ways of buying info on your personal predisposition from everything to being an outgoing person to likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s. For $399 you can now check yourself for disease risks and ancestry data, but on the flip side, more complex things such as knowing if you will find happiness, wont be disclosed. Pinker makes the admirable effort of presenting a sane and in depth view of behavioral genetics and implications for the search of our self, an endeavour we both have been pursuing and fearing since the early days of humanity. In the pursuit of who and what we are there is always the will to simplify things: Famous plaeontologuist Stephen Jay Gould was later in his life asked the origins of his interest in biology and could with accuracy pinpoint it to the time his father took him to see the dinosaurs when he was 5.

Bullsh**, says Pinker, it is only the human being trying to understand itself. The real deal is: we have really no idea what constitutes our current personal traits, although genetics is a major part, no doubt. But the nature-nurture matrix is necessary to delve into, since we never really know when and how culture really affects a personal trait or decision we make. Psychologist Judith Rich Harris have, for example, stressed the random ”accidents” in life, dropping a ball or getting dumped by your high school sweatheart. This then translates as an event that catered to your genetic predisposition making you forget some things and remembering other, more vividly.

But important is also to stress the academic fallacies sneaking into this discussion, Pinker mentions a few and but let me also add one important fallacy theory – the Winner’s curse in academic publishing as John Ioannidis writes in PLoS. This principle uses the economic notion of the Winner’s curse looking at the possible exaggeration by researchers when seeking to publish their stuff. By then overselling themselves they might be trumpeting dramatic results that might sound very good, but later prove to be false. the truth might not be as likable or sellable as the exaggeration.

design darwin

Linda Rapell goes Darwin

From the other side of the ring, Swedish design historian, Linda Rampell, offers an interesting freestyle of the commercial and aesthetic components of who we are, or would like to be, in her book The Design darwinism. In it she surfaces the consumption of design as an important formation of homo kapitalismus, the new humanoid she tries to delineate. The most interesting notion of Rampell is that we are producers as well as consumers of the self: we buy our identity, skin color and cultural status, but we likewise try to sell this product that is me, to our peer group and the surrounding society. She also does a little Deleuze-hating by interpreting his his notion of the ”self as becoming” as a fact that further iterates today’s consuming of multi-identities. Wonder what Gilles would think of that!

Anyway: Looking forward to read her next books on the subject, even though this first one was a bit basic. Ending here with a comforting paragraph by Pinker:

Forget the “Gattaca” corporations that scan people’s DNA to assign them to castes, the employers or suitors who hack into your genome to find out what kind of worker or spouse you’d make. Let them try; they’d be wasting their time.

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