18 October 2005

Kelly Rude on the detriments of design

I just got back from the MADE in Edmonton lecture given this evening by Kelly Rude, the editorial director of Canadian Interiors and contributing editor to Azure (on top of a bunch of other quality design publications). I took a few things away from this, but two things of personal importance:—

One. Over the course of his lecture, Rude presented his conclusion that design is detrimental to the spiritual discovery that (should be) inherent in humans. Design has moved into the role of providing the emotional and thematic contexts for everyone. In today's world, over-saturated with the social embrace of design, we push manufactured expression and people lose the ability to see for themselves. While I agree with Rude on this, I must think back to a post I made on Pop Occulture about design also being able to incorporate a sort of Zen archon — essentially, a self-destructing context. One that forces the user to turn away from the designed notion of a product, service, or experience, and in turn creating their own.

Unfortunately, society seems to put the crunch on whenever individuals do this. I suppose street art is a good example of this in that it changes the engineered contexts of the ubran landscape into that of a canvas. This switches from the expressionism of design to a more empathic and subjective use of the space. A use of the space as was unintended.

I didn't bring it up publicly, but after I began to understand what he was getting at, I saw the opposite in what New Zealand artist Robin Hely was playing on with the experiment that is/was Neurocam International: an alternate reality game (ARG) set up in Melbourne, Australia, which invited persons to participate in… they didn't know what. They claimed to be nothing, but members that applied and were accepted were given various "assignments" to accomplish and in doing so, they were forced to actualise their own contexts for their actions. The threat of danger, mystery, and Neurocam's enigmatic existence let the mind do what it does best: make shit up. The individuals behind Neurocam would call the cops and orchestrate events for the "players" which would drive them to a panic or get them riled up. Something as simple as a cop driving by would hardly go noticed, but persons "on assignment" doing god-knows-what for Neurocam would avert cameras, police, and would enter into a personal myth (or engineered paranoia?).

From the Neurocam website:
Some of the most rewarding experiences we have come about through random circumstances of which we have no real understanding. It is sometimes important to commit to something we know very little about if the act of commitment in itself becomes part of an experience.

This shall definitely come into play as Sheri and I begin to form out design co-op over the coming weeks. On this note, out of pride (actually, more out of a reminder to myself), I think that what Jason Baumle wrote of me this morning really might strike a further chord with what I want to accomplish over the next years with my design pursuits:
You know after watching you with our students and listening to their feedback about the class that you facilitated for them, I think that you should seriously consider marketing yourself as a designer and marketing advisor (if that is the right term) to 20–40 years old entrepreneurs and business leaders. You speak very well to that demographic and you ideas, information and drive to express not only yourself but other people's ideas will be very helpful to others (as it has been awesome for Susanne and I). I could see you doing very well with your own design business that is the marketing voice for younger more hip and dynamic business people. It seems like you give a big player voice to a small and sincere speaker through your work.

Not only is that encouraging, but it invokes me in a sort of honour and gladitorial sense that I might be able to fight to bring about a level of communication and self-worth on the level of community by helping the little guys out. This is more appealing to me than chasing after the trophy clients like most designers seek to do.

Second. The gorgeous U of A design student sat next to me at the lecture. I saw her at an industrial design exhibit back in July, and she burned into my memory for some reason. I am generally good with faces, however not names. I did see her again at Lush Halo and asked her name, but I was also drunk and ugly that time. Perhaps one day I'll see her sober. (I was drunk at the exhibit in July, too. Oops.) Out of the small audience that showed up to see Kelly Rude, at least her attendence implies she has a desire to learn her craft further, on her own. That makes her even sexier.

On this note, I have Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, by Julius Evola, and Erotism: Death and Sensuality, by Georges Bataille. Remind me to read them. Soon.

1 comment:

channel null said...

"that design is detrimental to the spiritual discovery that (should be) inherent in humans. Design has moved into the role of providing the emotional and thematic contexts for everyone..."

I was surprised to see this here, but, well, I'm in accord, to a degree. I've known people who are "inside" the design world--I am not, I'm just an underemployed character pretended to be a dillentant--and the designers don't seem to be created something horrible. That I tend to blame on two parties: passive consumers in love with passivity, and marketers.

It's like Zac said, "Did someone put a gun to your head and make you watch alla that CNN? CONCENTRATION. Chances are your mind is so hopelessly splintered and contradictory that you couldn't finish a half hour sitcom."

See, I've got some friends who, for whatever reason, remain deeply suspect of "creating their own" in whatever form. "Hey, do you guys want to..." "No, dude, I'm not into cheap thrills." Not the type you want to be around during your time off, even if you're close friends. Marketers for big firms--the boring ones--just provide an environment where this can flourish. I suspect that there's some alchemical operation being carried out on the human spirit. Or maybe it's just that neophobia tends to be a survival advantage in omnivores, like us longpigs.

Things like ARGs and to a lesser extent RPGs etc. seem like they can serve both interests: one could come to realize how malleable things were, or one could become and ARG fanboy, as it were.

In any event, the increase in availablity may generate more hylickal fanboys and Starbucks customers locked up in some marketing Ghetto, but courtesy of said marketing's omniprescence, the number of the creative, spirit-inclined who realize "i can do this" will rise.