Tag Archives: idea communication

The War On Culture

The destruction of the 2000 year old Baal Shamin temple at Palmyra, Syria, by Isis militants.

The destruction of the 2000 year old Baal Shamin temple at Palmyra, Syria, by Isis militants.

It is heart-breaking but horrifically fascinating to see Isis use culture as a weapon of war. Ironically it would appear that they fully appreciate the power of cultural language embedded in design and architecture, in a way that western governments currently cutting their arts funding are failing to grasp.  What is it about these ancient historical objects that make them so powerful and threatening today? What fear is driving this extreme erasure? A small part of me gives an angry cheer at the status and value awarded these objects through the prioritising of their destruction. Isis are unwittingly making martyrs of stones and the act of destruction may haunt them longer than the stones stood. Iconoclasm has been a weapon of war for centuries, the Christian church has quite an extensive record in this area of activity. Protestant iconoclasm in the summer of 1566 referred to as the “Beeldenstorm” began with the destruction of the statuary of the Monastery of Saint Lawrence in Steenvoorde the Netherlands and continued through Europe. But what powers such a strong the fear of objects that they have to be destroyed? In a consumerist western culture it would be remarkable if Louboutin burnt down the factory making Jimmy Choo shoes, but then perhaps they are the same factory in China anyway. Maybe this points to the core of the issue, western culture has largely separated the value of meaning from objects through mass manufacturing. If something breaks we just order another one from the same mould. 3D printing will not change this, just extend our consumption to printing another at home. The slow making and skill of crafting unique objects has been side lined to the luxury market of an elite who can afford the expense and we have mostly lost the skills to make things ourselves.

In the war on culture, it is hard not to dream up reprisal acts: 3D printing thousands of miniature models of the Baal Shamin temple in itching powder and dropping them on Isis camps etc… But reprisals are never the answer and just escalate the cultural war. It is more vital to use this event to help us reflect on how valuable culture is and to invest in it now in the UK. Otherwise our descendants will be in the embarrassing position of having nothing of cultural value to blow up in 2000 years time.


Why is the Alexander McQueen exhibition so impressive?

FTM_McQueen_jpg_290x193_crop_q85

It would be easy to view a fashion designer as popular as Alexandra McQueen as overblown and over rated, whose fame is overinflated by the hubris surrounding his death. The cult of doomed youth has such a pungent smell in the fashion world that it tends to overpower the more delicate scent of genuine creativity and fresh thinking. Such a large career retrospective in a major museum does not often favour the latter. In addition, the waiting list and queues to this exhibition are likewise overpoweringly long and a real deterrent unless the visitor is armed with a suitably sharp V&A membership card to cut down the wait. However, if there is one exhibition that is worth the challenge of entry it is this one. Rarely does a specialist in a creative field seem so fresh and clear in their communication. It is as though McQueen has made his collections after entering fashion from another field, working as a skilled outsider who has not been trapped by the traditions, assumptions, and tired routines of the fashion world. Yet strangely this is not true, he spent years perfecting tailoring skills, working in one of the most stylistically constrained areas of the fashion industry.

So where does this clarity come from? how does McQueen achieve the simplified overview that is fresh, creative and approachable, interesting yet understandable by all of us? It is perhaps his ability to raise his head above specialist and localised thinking of his trade, to genuinely combine different perspectives of knowledge in a way that is intelligently enriching. This is not the form of appropriation that often happens where surface visual references are grabbed and consumed by the trend machine of fashion, but a deeper understanding of culture’s structure in a simpler and more fundamental way. His work has almost a child like in its desire and clarity, which is combined with advanced technical skills and a seemingly unending stream of creative options. Perhaps he exemplifies ‘beginners mind’ for as Shunryu Suzuki says ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.’


Limits to Growth was right. New research shows were nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows were nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

This is a sobering article, that shows research by M I T back in the 70s puts us on course for real problems in terms of consumption and mass manufacturing – as if we don’t really no this ! It makes for depressing reading as it belives it is too late to alter behaviour, and doubts whether governments have the power to respond. It is merely a case now of individuals planning and protecting themselves…


Rebellion by design: when ceramics and textiles get radical – FT.com

 

 

Duncan Grant's studio at Charleston house Sussex UK

Duncan Grant’s studio at Charleston house Sussex UK

Rebellion by design: when ceramics and textiles get radical – FT.com

Design has shown a rebellious streak in recent months. At the opening of the Subversive Design exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery on England’s south coast late last year, curator Stella Beddoe defended the ability of applied and decorative arts to challenge convention and tackle serious social issues.   …

Oliver Winchester, chief curator of the Design Museum in London, cites Italian furniture design of the 1960s and 1970s as a hotbed of political thought. “Italy was always thinking about the object itself in antithesis to the American focus on mass production,” he says. In the museum’s permanent collection is the “AEO chair”, designed in 1973 by Paolo Deganello, co-founder of the Archizoom group in Florence. Deganello was not interested in beauty, but in comfort, hailing a new era of functional aesthetic in furniture design. “Each constituent part was designed to be as comfortable as possible,” says Winchester. “The focus is on putting the parts together, transferring the power of construction to the user.” By using a network of small-scale suppliers who would produce the individual parts of the chair, Deganello connected craftsmanship to mass production.

What Deganello shared with his contemporary designers was a desire to see the consumer actively participate in his politics. Italian designer Enzo Mari was also a proponent of the blueprint, producing self-assembly kits for chairs and beds throughout the 1970s. He was opposed to mass production and believed home furniture could be a statement of an individual’s social beliefs. “[Mari] was interested in the art of constructing furniture as a way of educating people and encouraging them to appreciate the art of manufacturing design,” says Winchester.

Michael Marriott, a London-based furniture designer, dislikes the current hunger for “eye-catching work that often ignores ecological concerns. Design is now driven by image and a desire for the new as opposed to [the] better”. For Marriott, good design needs to withstand time and passing fashions; that something is robust is the most important facet of an object.

An excellent article by Harriet Baker – that highlights a shift in current design and craft.


What’s important about craft? – Norwegiancrafts.no

 

Glen Ademson writing about his thoughts whilst curating this Nowegian show

What’s important about craft? – Norwegiancrafts.no.


Lies, damned lies and Crafts statistics – Nesta

Lies, damned lies and Crafts statistics – Nesta.

this is very interesting,

 


An Essay on the New Aesthetic | Beyond The Beyond | Wired.com

 

An Essay on the New Aesthetic | Beyond The Beyond | Wired.com.

This is an excellent analysis of the New Aesthetic – theory developed by James Bridle, which can be found at:

http://booktwo.org/notebook/sxaesthetic/


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