“On Beauty


Being Just”

By Elaine Scarry

The reading starts out by describing beauty and justice. Beauty is an “object’s symmetry, equality, and pressure against lateral disregard”

Beauty “enters the world” before justice, and lasts longer becayse it doesn’t depend on human action.

We appreciate things with a glance and can view it as perhaps beautiful, but it takes actual human intervention to judge, or have justice.

Even when beauty and justice are in the world, beauty performs in a way justice can’t, by just being part of the material world.

Radical Decentering

“At the moment we see something beautiful, we undergo a radical decentering”

When we view a beautiful object, we become less selfish, by being able to appreciate something that isn’t ourselves.

We “give up our imaginary position as the center… A transformation then takes place at the very roots of our sensibility” (Simone Weil)

“We willingly cede our ground to the thing that stands before us”

Iris Murdoch, in a 1967 lecture “The Sovereignty of Good over Other Concepts”

Says that the best thing, and most obvious, is beauty, or “unselfing”.

“It is as though one has ceased to be the hero or the heroine in one’s own story and has become what in a folktale is called the “lateral figure” or “donor figure”.


Beauty might be natural and perhaps used for “good”. But it’s justice that tries to always make sure of “good”.

John Rawls lists three forms of Justice:

Perfect Justice: Knowing what would bring justice, or “good”, and how to make it happen. (food shared equally, last person slicing a cake gets the last piece, etc)

Imperfect Justice: Knowing what would bring justice, and trying to make it happen. (guilty criminals should be convicted, innocents should go free, juries help)

Pure Procedural Justice: Not knowing what is really “just” or “right”, but hoping that by sticking to the rules, the best outcome will happen.

Nonself- interestedness happens when one realizes that:

1.The beholder does not become beautiful like the objects they view. (However, the “pursuer of knowledge” becomes smarter.)

2.In radical decentering, and what happens when one is looking at something beautiful

3.In the willingness of the beholder, to create something beautiful.

4.Also, it happens among people who do not view things as beautiful. Elaine Scarry asked people who were “individually opposed to beauty” to think in terms of the future… and asked them if they hoped that when people in future centeries thought of us, would they describe us as “beauty-loving”. And the majority did.


Lourise Schouwenberg and Hella Jongerinus

Different artists, like Berend Strik, Wim Delvoye, and Hella Jongerinus, use different, ornamental techniques in their world of contemporary art and design.

Berend Strik Untitled, 1993.

He uses modern vulgar slightly pornographic themes, and ornamental embroidery, and cross stitches

Nowadays, one can easily draw from techniques from long ago, or the most modern, up to date designs.

“The handcrafted single edition has been lost to serial products made in large runs”. Since the mid-twentieth century, “at the height of the industrial era”, people became disinterested in old-fashioned craft methods.

DROOG design (or “dry design”) has been a presence in the world of conceptual design since the 1990s. They simplify clothes down to the mininum accessories needed “to give it form”. They displayed work in 1998 at the Milan Furniture Fair, entitled “The Inevitable Ornament”.

In the fashion world, certain designers have welcomed decoration and ornament into their designs. For example,

Dries Van Norten, Martin Margiela, and Walter van Beirendock


(Walter van Beirendock)

Part of the resurgence of interest in craft has to do with the ever-increasing efficiency of the production process today. “Industry has …made good design available to the masses, and is capable of supplying products that border on perfection”. However, this has also led to an increase in the production of junk, because it’s so easy to do.


Hella Jongerinus

We get very attached to products that are useful, like the first example, one’s cellphone.

However, as easily as we get attached, it’s soon time to replace it with a newer version or model.

Marcel Proust valued everyday, useful objects. Personal experiences were attached to objects, and were viewed as less disposable than objects are today.

“The value we ascribe to most goods is universal and which are programmed for disposability is, of course, a value which is universal and which is dictated by the consumer society. These products are not good vehicles for the purely personal connotations of love, belonging, or even betrayal.”

Hella also talks about the difference between consumer products and works of art. Any object is now bound with the issue of functionality. It might restrict the impact of the object as an art piece.


Our group missed IDEO very much… but thinks that it’s true that design shouldn’t be thoughtless. And that there are many different ways to use an object.



Redesigning design is the only solution Tony Fry deems possible to save our unsustainable world. In order for humanity to live on and prosper, we must change our cultural behavior. Currently, our model of production and consumption is detrimental to all human and non-human life. Instead, Fry argues the model should go from one based on production, to one based on making and destroying.


Sustainable architect, William McDonough also agrees with this close-loop design method. McDonough’s Mirra chair, which is sold at Herman Miller Inc., is a definitive example of this design system based on extracting as much material value as possible without hurting the ecosystems involved.


Fry’s Redirective Practice is based on acknowledging our current system’s inability to sustain the future. Democracy and capitailsm do not harbor close-loop design, therefore, Fry believes we must reconsider our political and economic systems to encompass and be sensitive towards all living things, including animals. He admits there will be difficulty in accepting this change, but also acknowledges the fact that designing for the common good will prepare us for what is to come.

Janine Benyus offers solutions for designing for the future. Biomimicry is based on the natural systems of the world. She poses questions including “how does life make the most of things? and how do these things disappear into systems?” in order to translate nature’s solutions into sustainable design solutions.


The one thing in common that all of these designers possess is the understanding that the state of the world is irreprable. Instead of being depressed about this outlook, they have come together and challenged and lectured against the status quo. Their motivation, intelligent discourse, and concern for our world is what humanity needs in order to remain alive.

Thursday-Vicky Chen
week 10 violence and graphics
The Design of Dissent

Mirko Ilic

Graphics “can move people to action, to acts of courage and sacrifice, overcoming habit and fear. Art can do that; art is always having those sorts of effects. Art cant change anything except people- but art changes people, and people can make everything change.”

“these posters, these work of art have a restorative power. Each is an argument that stamps itself indelibly in on the soul of the passer-by; accepted or rejected, the argument, the claim, or demand each makes becomes a spark in the dialectical engine of consciousness, of human life.”

George W. Bush points a gun to his head in a chair. This piece was found in London, England

this is the peace they bring.

Design of Dissent



One of the main themes this week throughout Mirko Ilic’s presentation and from the book Design of Dissent by Tony Kushner, is that designers have the capability to use art as a catalyst for change.

Mirki Ilic’s work, since moving to US, is mostly illustration and graphic design, typically with political or social relevance. His work from Mirko Ilic Corporation, founded in 1995, can be viewed at http://www.mirkoilic.com. A specific example of a socially and politically charged graphic is “Lady of Liberty Kissing Lady Justice”, making the statement for gay and lesbian rights with the Statue of Liberty kissing the Lady of Justice statue. The use of popular icons for liberty and justice, with their appropriate colors, helps translate the meaning of the image without using many words. The subheading says, “Sponsored by Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Bar Association,” and from here we come to realize this is a legal resource advocating gay and lesbian rights.


Ilic designed the cover for Design of Dissent; the two black bars over the title reference censorship, which he also speaks of in his lecture. Ilic firmly believes in the role of the designer as a communicator–to convey a message effectively to reach as many people as possible to spark change. Censorship is an issue when designers make bold or “offensive” statement through imagery and text. It takes a courageous person to stand behind his/her design.

As described by Tony Kushner in the introduction of Design of Dissent, imagery in this book is considered political art and thus, has the ability to speak to the collective community; using a humanist approach by appealing to our emotions and forcing us to empathize with the victim.
Kushner goes on to say that effective design includes wit, shock and clarity using simple forms that are instantly recognizable. We can appreciate these designs because they have the power to address fear and deal with the need for change. The posters include powerful images that speak for the oppressed, and the images tackle a variety of issues ranging from peace, animal rights, gun control, women’s rights, religion, the corporate world and the Iraq war.


Co-writer Milton Glaser says that in taking the opposing view of a political issue, a powerful message is visually fueled by empathy and by the idea that other people matter. “… and if one person is hurt or victimized, we are all hurt or victimized.”  This idea relates to cosmopolitanism, a term in the reading by Appiah, because of the concept that there is a shared notion of being and belonging to the community of the world.
Exploring three artists mentioned by Kushner, I found work that stood up for the oppressed and took a stand against the government.
John Heartfield was a German designer during WW2 who used art to protest against the government control of Hitler and the Nazi Party. He was the first to explore photomontage as an artistic expression. This technique strips down iconic images and combines them with text. The imagery is powerful because the realistic image is distorted in a dramatic and disturbing way to convey meaning.
• In The Hand has Five Fingers poster, the text on the orginal says, “Five fingers make a hand!” With these five, grab the enemy!” and below says, “The hand has five fingers capable and powerful with the ability to destroy as well as create.”
• Blood and Iron is Heartfield’s take on the Nazi military slogan. Blood dripping from the swastika infers that the military, made of weapons and soldiers, are all Germany needs for victory.


Kathe Kolliwitz was an influential expressionist female painter, printmaker and sculptor. I show her work here because it had an expressive language that was proven to be understood worldwide. A broad spectrum of her work expresses aspects of suffering, either with poverty and death or hunger and war.


Silence=Death is a project and a logo designed by a group of six gay men who wanted to get together and talk about what to do in the age of AIDS. Several were designers. They decided to get the word out by plastering posters, like these, around New York City. The pink triangle was a pro-gay image created by activists in the US during the 1970’s. Previously during WW2, known homosexuals were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle as an identifier, like the yellow star of David. Homosexuals were considered at the bottom of the camp social system.

The appropriation of the pink triangle shown here turned upright, was an attempt to transform a symbol of humiliation into one of resistance, gay pride and liberation. The slogan spawned other phrases like Action=Life and Ignorance=Fear. These graphics found their way onto t-shirts and buttons and became a valuable source of fundraising for the organization. These men later joined the protest group called ACT UP and offered their logo to the organization. The goal is to turn fear, anger and grief into action. This organization was started in NYC, but became nationally known. This is another example of how powerful images can help spread ideas quickly and easily across borders.
Ilic brought up the point that images can be more powerful than words. This is an example where a simple line drawing can conjure up memories of the events on September 11, 2001. This picture has 1,000 words.
These images, with political and social meassages, strive to unite people and evoke change for the greater good. They reminded me of the ideals of cosmopolitanism for two reasons: abolishment of censorship and using image as a universal language. The public can learn so much by being open-minded to different points of view, to international designers’ perspective, and political statements. Co-author Milton Glaser makes a statement before the exhibition of Design of Dissent at SVA by saying, “it is necessary for the opposing view to be expressed to protect democracy. It’s the only hope we have.”


Rock the Vote is a positive image/logo that I found played an active role in the change of the 2008 election. Backing a successful idea, the logo was designed to empower young people to vote. Rock the Vote has become a trusted source for information on politics. Their logo is fresh and simple and gets to the point. The check mark makes it seem easy and effortless to vote–just by checking a box. The “rock” term is also a great way to connect to young people through music. Bands play an important part in this campaign, and promote voting at their shows and concerts. Rock the Vote was successful this year with a record number of young voters–23 million 18-29 year old people voted!

Here, a picture says 1,000 words.


Presentation by: Christopher Miller & Andrew Tyson

Reading #1: ‘Designer as Redirective Practitioner: New Roles beyond Design’ in Tony Fry’s Design Futuring: Sustainability. Ethics and New Practice, Berg: Oxford and New York, 2008, pp.149-55

Reading #2: “Good Design,” Fry Tony, pp. 1-5. An edited version of paper given at the Brisbane Ideas Festival, March 2008, at http://www.griffith.edu.au/faculty/qca/design/programs/designfutures/preview.html

Reading #3: Matthew Calarco ‘Jamming the Anthropological Machine’ in Matthew Calarco and Steven DeCaroli (eds) Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty & Life, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007, pp. 163-79.


Janine Benyus: 12 Sustainable design ideas from nature. TED Talks: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/18

William McDonough: The Wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle. TED Talks: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/104

Cameron Sinclair: TED Prize wish: Open-source architecture to house the world. TED Talks:  http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/18

Tony Fry’s week 12 readings focus on overarching principles of design and how they relate in todays environment.  In his essay “Designer as Redirective Practionioner: New Roles beyond Design” Fry focuses on how “redirective practice seeks to displace the defuturing character inherent in so many productivist practices like design.” (Fry 2008, 1).
Fry then explains that “By Default, we now live in a world that has been made unsustainable by design (although blame here obviously goes well beyond designers). Rather, than continuing to design without directional consequences being taken rigorously into account (which is exactly the situation that unrestrained pluralism will proliferate) it is vital to have a practice that is both corrective and redirective.” (Fry 2008, 3). He points out that design procedures and the overall market demands designers to create products and goods that are detrimental to society and the environment.  These designed objects need to be identified, sorted,  and questioned. “There has to be a practice that can ethically confront and answer two crucial, but currently unasked questions ‘what should and should not be imposed?’ And, ‘what should be created, redirected or eliminated?”(Fry 2008, 3).
A good example of this process can be seen in the auto industry.  Designers have begun to identify problems with the ways in which vehicles have been designed.  They have found that the current design of most vehicles are unsustainable at best and extremely harmful to the environment at worst.  Designers are now picking apart these problems and coming up with solutions. They are building fuel efficient hybrid engines, working with fuel cell technology, creating new materials that are lighter, stronger, easier to make, and can be reused and recycled.  These designers have not totally abandon the idea of vehicles but have redirected the idea of vehicles to become more sustainable and less of a liability.  As Fry points out  “Redirection is not, of course, dislocation. It does not mean total rupture from the status quo, rather it means disclosing how a practice is being determined and then uncoupling, modifying, remaking or reframing it.” (Fry 2008, 4) This process of taking apart, examining, fixing, and putting back together is essential in the design process. Designers rarely if ever get things right on the first attempt. Instead, they work, and re-work their designs until they are satisfied.  Many times they will revisit a design that has already been re-worked and re-designed and take it a step further. In the design world nothing stays the same for long. Forward progress is essential.
In conclusion Fry states that the “redirective practice, with its ambitious transformative agenda, is not a ‘stand alone activity’. Its focus is clearly on action to create that which sustains and destroys that which does not. So said, this does not mean that redirective practice can have definitive determinant qualities.” (Fry 2008, 11).

Such a characterisation turned on Platonic notions of ‘the good’ – an aesthetically ideal form which through its realisation becomes absolute truth (thereby acquiring a transcendental value uniting the thing with the cosmos). While this process of idealisation is ancient, it lives on, as does Greek thought in general. (Specifically, Greek thought is in fact inscribed in the western mind – we all think, in part, like the Greeks). Certainly we find Platonism resident in many influential modern thinkers and designers – Le Corbusier is a good example.

Le Corbusier most influential book Towards a New Architecture (first published in France in 1923) extols the machine – specifically, the ocean liner, the aeroplane, the automobile – as the ideal form of his age. This is the book in which he famously characterises the house as a machine for living. However, echoing the Greeks, and just prior to coming to this conclusion, he spent forty pages celebrating the Parthenon as the “pure creation of mind” and as a measure of ‘the good’. For Le Corbusier ‘the good’ was an exemplary object – one ruptured from time to serve as a universal measure.

His ambition was to transpose the essence of the ‘eternally good’ onto what was new, rational and functional. His ideal mass-produced house fused with the classical, as the ‘type-form’ for future housing. Thereafter, this housing could be regarded as the agency for the mass replication of the good. Such thinking of idealised form – a form disengaged from any material or social environment – extended well beyond Le Corbusier and architecture. It influenced the entire modern movement in all spheres of design practice. :(Tony Fry 2008)

The Design of Dissent/ Tony Kushner!
“…graphic design…can move people to action, to acts
of courage and sacrifice, overcoming habit and fear.
Art can do that; art is always having those sorts of
effects. Art can’t change anything except people, and
people can make everything change.” (p.3)

“these posters, these work of art have a
restorative power. Each is an argument that
stamps itself indelibly in on the soul of the
passer-by; accepted or rejected, the argument,
the claim, or demand each makes becomes a
spark in the dialectical engine of consciousness,
of human life.”

Some of John Heartfield’s works:


Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk


After Ten Years: Fathers and Sons


Self-Portrait with Police Commissioner

Manhunt 2- “Manhunt 2,” a video game whose characters kill and torture using implements ranging from glass and shovels to a fuse box and a toilet.



<embed src=”http://www.cbs.com/thunder/swf/rcpHolderCbs-prod.swf&#8221; width=”370″ height=”361″allowFullScreen=”true” FlashVars=”link=http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3433531n&releaseURL=http://release.theplatform.com/content.select?pid=Zrbw9ZnydywF6ClCCdHboD8DVrM9t1s9&partner=newsembed&autoPlayVid=false&prevImg=http://thumbnails.cbsig.net/CBS_Production_News/556/643/eve_siebergmanhunt1030_480x360.jpg” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer&#8221; />


Bryan Bell, architect; Co-founder & Executive Director, Design Corps

 “Less than 2% of all houses are designed by architects.  Architect Bryan Bell questions the ethics and value of leaving the nature of dwelling to corporate construction companies that are not structured (or intended) to address the full spectrum of issues that flow from the social and economic inequalities of American society.  Bell offers a different approach to housing–one that is developed in partnership with its future residents and is affordable, sustainable, and culturally expressive. In this lecture, he will discuss the work of his firm Design Corps and the opportunities that an activist practice offers.”

“Designers are superheroes… Designers are empowered with a divine gift for seeing what the rest of world cannot see” (Bell). As per Peter Parker’s dead uncle, “With great power comes great responsibility”, I would translate, is the mantra to which architect Bryan Bell is devoted. As the world get immensely closer to the possibility of extinction, as Clive Dilnot points out, architects, designers begin to have shifting responsibilities to the world. Is it imperative the architects choose the socially responsible route? Or is social responsibility inherent when coming to designing places for shelter?

Clive Dilnot points out that the discipline of architecture centrally addresses inhabitation. Yes, buildings are made to house people. Simple. Do we really need architects if this were the only function to building a structure to house people? What purposes do architects serve beyond just drawing houses? One hundred thousand dollar educations need to result in some sort of expertise beyond knowing how to draw rooms, right? Dilnot also introduces that modernism was set in a time where imminent global extinction did not come to play. As architects are regarded as the holders of knowledge when it comes to advanced and current means of building design, it is necessary to integrate the needs of the world into the standards of architecture.

Bell founds his paper, and his ideology of work, on the idea of integration of the ideas of the client. His Rural Studio project selects a family with need, and addresses their needs in a collaborative effort to construct a building to their needs. I fully believe in the ethics in which Bell supports, however, I question whether or not his intents reach to far beyond his clients in his execution. Is a $10,000 bus shelter necessary in a community of 112 people? It was strange to me that despite Bell’s reuse of salvaged materials, that costs would amount to such a large amount, given the amount of community involvement in the actual construction of this building. It is true that craftsperson’s charge a fee, to every extent, but I wonder, how much of this supposed budget is wrapped around the fee of the design?

Do alternative clients, whom seem to live quietly and relatively effectively need a designer of such high caliber to fix the town’s problems? His solution, if it were effective as such, would integrate the limits of a small budget—not to match a manufacturer’s cost, but to lower the price tag with better quality. Yes, a person’s got to pay the bills in the end of this all, but should Bell be masking his good deeds with a business with a profit margin as a bottom line?

As cynical as these questions may seem, these questions are realistic in the current financial crisis in the world. Is high design necessary in a low culture world? Bell isn’t in the wrong here, though, as I would come to conclude. The world does need more from architecture. Design serves to the betterment of society in all ways, so why not strive to create objects, buildings, and things that are concurrent with the necessities of what society and the earth demands? Business, money making, should be founded on a table of ethics that demand betterment for the world, or at least to not result in detriment of the world, there shouldn’t be any sort of footprint in the result of trade. Living sustainably should not be a matter that comes into question, it should be inherent in the responsibility of both inhabitants and, as Bell and Dilnot make note, designers.


Bryan Bell is a activist architect that seeks to accommodate the needs of people by constructing structures that satisfy such needs– buildings that don’t ignore the necessities of the client. 


To Approach this, Bryan Bell uses 4 methods to developing projects: 


1. “The Personal Approach”: Simply put, is direct solicitation of the client

example: MOCKBEE & HARRIS 


1996 – 1997, Mason’s Bend, Alabama

Mockbee (Director, Rural Studio) approaches Anderson Harris for Architectural consultation.

Harris Refuses, then in convinced to agree.

Harris now an advocate of design.


2. Establishing Criteria for Participation: Interview process to determining family with “most need”, selected family is chosen to be helped.


First meeting: Family presents current housing situation and needs

Second meeting: Clarification of the impact of the resulting new house

Third meeting: Final assesment of need, final selection of project


3. Researching Alternative Clients: “”Research into a specific community or issue, which can reveal social problems in need of a built solution”


Outreach Studio, extention of Rural Studio

Address the entire community by direct solicitation of every community member, discuss solutions

The studio selects lackluster family, the Fields, to participate in community improvement.

Studio hit with skepticism, distrust, hostility

Outreach made a breakthrough, by disclosing it’s own goals and needs, rather than suggesting assistance. 


4. Surveying Needs: Construction of well-designed housing through personal, meaningful contact and community participation

Design Corps personally addresses clientele through survey
The results of such survey then generates solutions to needs of community
With needs in mind, solutions are then generated and proposed to potential clientele of the community

For a few months in 2002 I collected images to document vandalized posters in Toronto. At the time, there were a series of Botox posters someone was attacking — violently transforming,  hyper-slick, pore-free faces into ripped and distorted skulls. In fact, most of the posters in Toronto were routinely destroyed, not unlike all of the cities I’ve visited… Paris, Montreal, New York, Berlin… probably everywhere city folk are fed up with the ubiquity of advertising images in public space.

My photo collection was the support for a project to completely obscure the corporate message using a few rolls of found Holly Hobby wallpaper. This was a tactical approach to the same issues addressed by the sharpie and razor-armed artists, however while we all aimed to counteract the dominance of corporate
imagery in public city spaces in many cases the purely destructive approach generated atmospheres as grim as those it wished to overcome.

Wallpaper succeeded in both overcoming the media engine, and returning shelters — domesticating them for the service of the commuter.


The same issue arises in the work of public monument. These two, (the first memorializing the prize-winning boxer Joe Louis, the second, drug abuse tragedies at Rochdale College) might bring us to a deeper understanding of Boym Studios Monuments of Disaster series. They certainly compel me to wonder what our memorials actually achieve. Created against the risk of denying complex pasts, do monuments like these implicitly forfeit the opportunity to create actually-existing contexts of possibility? forgiveness? opportunity? engagement? change? flux?


Joe Louis’ fist balances in the center of dangerously intersecting freeways and commercial bureaucratic strips. The Unknown Student is curled in an embryonic child’s pose. Both are without plinth or support, installed directly onto the concrete; both are heavy, larger-than-life bronze statues in climates often dusting them with snow.

How dismal if the resistance forms we adopt succeed only in recreating, or concretizing the injustices they seek to replace? Worse still, do we remember the mistakes they are supposed to avert? Or do we only manifest surroundings pocketed with index of generally hostile and violent pasts?

Moving back to graphic design, particularly illustrative examples can be drawn from the work of Mirko Ilic. While these images condense complex issues into instantly communicable, shockingly simplified
form, what would the world be like if we surrounded ourselves with them?

I would suggest they couldn’t create an environment any more palatable than the existing New York City subway-scape of bunion cures and horror-film advertising.

murakamiTo my mind, another example of a co-opted aesthetic is found in Takashi Murakami’s work. Admittedly, I base this judgment on initial (possible mis)interpretation of Murkami as an ironic commentary on the themepark of brands the gentrified city threatens to become. I saw his sculptures as the blatant exaggeration of already over-saturated, sickly-saccharin surface sweetness in commercial culture, all the more insidious for what ugliness it might conceal. Simplified geometric flower faces so brightly colored we might neglect to notice their tiny, sharp teeth. Yet in these images, isn’t the constitutive reality of a Murakami-world as terrorizing as the hyper-spectacles of brand they address?

How can we develop forms / ways to create contexts that create new possibilities rather than reproducing the old? If we choose to ‘fight fire with fire’, how can we avoid burning the whole place down?

As Clive Dilnot suggests in What are architects for? cultural production involves more than representation. “What matters, today, is not expressing the objective movement of history — for there is none. What matters instead is proposing a grammar for the forms that (democratic) life can take” (4).

In the remainder of this entry I provide exemplary solutions, and questions to complicate these issues in public art and design.

In Caledon Remains (2008) by Jean Shin, the shattered remnants of Korean vases seen from a passing street are combined to form a new whole, while from a pedestrian’s view the parts emerge in their diversity.shin_mta-celadon_1

Yet, can this reference to Korean-American diaspora of Long Island area be conveyed to the passerby without prior knowledge of the materials’ significance?

doyleAnother good example is Chris Doyle‘s Commutable, where 22kt gold leaf covers the steps under the LES steps to the Williamsburg bridge, re-valuing a typically mundane space. Here, a rare material is combined with labor hours to question the hierarchies inscribed in the urban scape, uplifting the everday in a previously marginalized area.

While this process reproduces questionable labor processes and material hierarchies, does the end-result provoke critique or novelty?

In Design Corps‘ collaborative approach, members of a design’s destined community are invited to contribute to the design process, which is often based on re-using architectural materials.

Yet how can projects like the New Orleans’ summer project stop communicate this process?

Again referring to Dilnot’s essay:

“The movement from cultic to ‘exhibition value’ … is a movement from the representation of what-is (where the power of the work arises from its personifying or giving form to transcendent forces) to the presentation of what might be (where the power of the work arises from its capacity to propose compelling possibilities)” (4).

posted by course administrator: Sarah Butler

Dilnot, Clive, “What are architects for?” Scapes, Number 4, Fall 2005, New York: Parsons The New School for Design Department of Architecture, Interior Design and Lighting, pp 1-6.

Getting All Dressed Up

Appadurai defines the Consumer Revolution as a “cluster of events whose key feature is a generalized shift in the reign of sumptuary law to the reign of fashion.” He explains that it occurred as a result of various sequences and conjunctures of mobile society, sophisticated marketing, rising wages, mass merchandising, class conflict, literacy, numeracy, expert knowledge, book trade, and commodified information.

In attempting to understand consumption it is important to keep in mind that the consumption of different products maybe the result of different factors. The increase of diversity and social interaction has resulted in more fragmented consumption practices. Consumption is paradoxically an attempt at both unification and differentiation.

Appadurai identifies nostalgia is one aspect in the complex formation of fashion. Nostalgia can be defined as a longing for a past you personally experienced.

This ipod case uses a casette tape. This design is nostalgic for the pre-mp3 technology

This ipod case uses a casette tape. This design is nostalgic for the pre-mp3 technology

Ersatz Nostalgia is nostalgia for a past you did not personally experience. Appadurai explains that one strategy of advertising and imagery today is to “create experiences of duration passage, and loss that rewrite the lived histories of individuals, families, ethnic groups and classes. In thus creating experiences of losses that never took place.” (Appadurai 77)

These products refernce imagery from the 30s, a time most consumers of this product were not alive.

These products refernce imagery from the 30s, a time most consumers of this product were not alive.

Another form of nostalgia is nostalgia for the present. “Stylized presentation of the present as if it has already slipped away.” (Appadurai 77) “These images put the consumer in an already periodized present, thus even readier prey to the velocity of fashion. Buy now, not because you will otherwise be out of date but because your period will soon be out of date.” (Appadurai 77) This longing for the present is possibly the result of feeling that everything new has happened already, in another time and place.

This ad uses contemporary buildings to make the viewer feel as though the present is quickly going to be a thing of the past.

This ad uses contemporary buildings to make the viewer feel as though the present is quickly going to be a thing of the past.

The aesthetic of the ephemeral is a result of the condition of instability. In the shift from leisure to “pleasure as the organizing principle of modern consumption…the pleasure that has been inculcated into the subjects who act as modern consumers is to be found in the tension between nostalgia and fantasy, where the present is represented as if it were already the past.” (83) “Desire is organized around the aesthetic of ephemerality.”(84) Appadurai explains that “the aesthetic of ephemerality becomes the civilizing counterpart of flexible accumulation, and the work of the imagination is to link the ephemerality of goods with the pleasure and senses” (85)

According to Appadurai ephemerality is valorized through the periodization of media images, the short shelf life of products and lifestyles, the speed of fashion changes, the velocity of spending, the system of credit, and the transience of tv images. (83)

anycoloryoulike, Adrian adresses the aesthetic of ephemerality.

In his project TRASH:anycoloryoulike, Adrian adresses the aesthetic of ephemerality.

“In regimes of fashion, the body is the site for the inscription of a generalized desire to consume in the context of the aesthetic of ephemerality,” and “the body of the consumer itself potentially ephemeral and manipulable.” This creates a society where “fashion practices [of] impersonation, not indexing, is the key to distinction.” (84)

Sagmeister explores the body as a site for ephemerality.

Sagmeister explores the body as a site for ephemerality.

Fiona Candy makes the important point that in addition to understanding fashion as a symbolic game, fashion needs to be understood from the experience of wearing clothing. She raises important questions such as how does the act of dressing convey identity? Dressing is part of the daily act of self-construction and enacting the self. She emphasizes to the fact that the perception of wearing clothing changes the meaning of it. Additionally, there is a need to recognize that imagination has a role as a social force, and this imagination brings the material new meaning

In her essay “Performing Dress and Adornment in Southeastern Nigeria, Sarah Adams uses the uli body art as a case study to “focus on the discrepancy between personal, embodied performances of dress and adornment, and external aesthetic appraisals.” (109) She explores the way in which an embodied perspective of dress and adornment give agency back to the viewer, rather than assuming they are being passively inscribed with culture.

In their essay “Women, Migration, and the Experience of Dress”, Mary Littrell and Jennifer Ogle post the question of how the experience of fashion helps people construct their identities in a globalized world. They explain that “for these Indian women, their expanded experience of dress ultimately was instrumental in supporting the development of a new, multifaceted, and transnational sense of self.” (131)

In her work I am the Locus #2, Adrian Piper addresses the fluidity of identity using clothing and makeup.

In her work I am the Locus #2, Adrian Piper addresses the fluidity of identity using clothing and makeup.

Supporting Appadurai’s assertion that fashion is a system of impersonation, not indexing, they conclude that the women had “a keen recognition of the role of social context and audience in guiding one’s lines of dress behavior and corresponding identification of self. Implicit here was not so much the question, “Who am I?” but rather, the query, “Who can I be with you?” (130)

Posted by: Bareket Kezwer

Getting All Dressed Up:

How Does Wearing Clothes Affect the Way We Feel Alive?

Arjun Appadurai: Key Terms:

– Nostalgia
– Ersatz Nostalgia
– Aesthetic of the Ephemeral

Nostalgia & Ersatz Nostalgia:

– Nostalgia is the longing for pasts actually experienced in one’s lifetime
– Ersatz nostalgia is the longing for things that never were, creating experiences of losses that never took place
– Imagined nostalgia is employed to create consumer desire by placing the consumer in an “already periodized present”

Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida – photography and death –
– The act of photographing creates stasis that refers to temporality and highlights the ephemerality of existence
– By manifesting something physically, particularly in photography’s representational expression, we capture time and thus refer to its fleeting nature
– This conception is relatable to Fredric Jameson’s “nostalgia for the present” (Appadurai, Page 77)

Aesthetic of the Ephemeral

– The ephemeral arises from the tension between nostalgia and fantasy
– Feeding on a postmodern, non-unilinear history, as described by Gianni Vattimo
– “The pleasure of ephemeralityis at the heart of disciplining the modern consumer” (Page 83)

– Valorization of ephemerality through:
– Short shelf life
– Speed of fashion change
– Velocity of expenditure
– Polyrhythms of credit, acquisition, and gift
– Transience of TV product images
– Aura of periodization

Ephemerality: Body As Site

Laura Mulvey’s scopophilia – the love of gazing –

– Dictionary definition: sexual stimulation or satisfaction from looking at naked people, most often without their knowledge; a love of looking at people in this way; also: voyeurism
– Freud established two forms, one active, “voyeurism,” and the other passive, “exhibitionism”
– Often used to discuss the male gaze in art and cinema, a focus of John Berger’s; “one who looks has the power”
– “The body of the consumer itself is potentially ephemeral and manipulable” (Page 84)
– Impersonation as the key to distinction

Women, Migration, and the Experience of Dress Mary A. Litrell and Jennifer Paff Ogle

– Holisitic perception of a place is understood through “multisensory perceptions of the built environment” – when one of these elements is altered, the understanding of place is too
– “place is sensed, senses are placed; as places make sense, senses make place”
– Forms of dress create memories that provide “valued feelings” or sentiments associated with appearance
– The “transnational self” – hybridaztion of two cultures into one identity

Artists working with these ideas:

Orlan – “The Reincarnation of St. Orlan”

– “Carnal Art” surgery performances
– Artwork that criticizes the standard of beauty placed on women by altering form according to these standards
– Investigates ephemerality and mutability

Nikki S. Lee

– Uses costuming and disguise to infiltrate other ethnic and cultural groups
– Impersonation allows her to travel freely through ethnoscapes

Cindy Sherman

Exactidudes – (www.exactitudes.com) – Rotterdam-based photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece” 1965

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