Thursday, September 8, 2011

Response 2 - Daniel

The Slow Design Principles

In their essay "The Slow Design Principles," Strauss and Fuad-Luke attempt to convey a way of considering social and environmental responsibility while also demonstrating a multi-layered beneficial strategy to negotiating the creation of objects and spaces. Their main totem is the literal slowing down of objects. By various strategies they limit, extrapolate, and introduce reflective consideration to inhibit the current waste-based form of production/consumption.

I found the primary section very thoughtful in that the authors introduce many real-world examples (already implemented and succeeding), while also conveying that not one single strategy is the correct option. Several approaches are cited. One can pare down objects to their cores through interaction and material use in a meta self identification. There can be the expansion of current behaviors by taking known objects and altering how they are situated in the world and how/why we use them. Particularly interesting to myself is the idea of object and a representation of a living being. By bestowing our own experiences and memories upon an object we enrich that object beyond its material form. Designers are asked to also be aware of materiality in the sense of nontraditional materials and processes keeping in mind the social aspect of designed objects and spaces. Community involvement and locational responsibility are also a strong suit of slow-design. One of the most interesting aspects of slow-design is acknowledgement of material life spans. Restriction of material doesn’t have to be a voluminous concern, if one only considers the life of the continuance and durability through reappropriated materials.

Slow design, while obviously concerned with how the object/site is produced and considered also looks into the institution and socio-economic environment in which they exist. By a process of reinvention, consideration (pre, present and post existence) and reconfiguration the objects we make can have a web-like effect on the industries and communities they come in contact with. In conclusion slow design is not some revolution in materials at the forefront of technologies and green innovations of industry. At it’s core lies an approach of thinking about our current options for production and material in regards to sustainability and use management. We have in our possession a set of tools and byproducts that can be used in conjunction with socially responsible actions.

Autonomy, Participation, And

In her essay Autonomy, Participation, And Claire Pentecost attempts to question the role of art and artists in a society that is continually promoting financial and cultural independence. She questions if there is not another form of independence. It may be one not of a single cell but existing more macro in scale; what larger forces (social tissues, organ (systems), and organism) can achieve.

She wonders at one point is the general role of the gallery simply pervasive notion that art is doomed to only reference it’s forefathers (and a very few foremothers) from the 1950’s and 60’s? Is the only option a regurgitation of the same icons and language, resulting in a stifled form of creation and subsequent lack of experience. “So we wonder why what we see in the rooms is so tame and yet construed as innovation even when it replays the innovations that came and went decades ago.”

She then questions the role of the artist in this passing era. There is a new world we are living in, and in a non-participatory fashion at that. Where fundamental questions about where the source of the things we consume, produce and experience both come from but also go after we exhaust them. So it is a role that demands enlistment if you are an artist, “If artists are as ignorant as most people, the structures of participation they offer audiences reproduce existing feelings of paralysis and powerlessness and ultimately contribute to prevailing cynicism about any kind of participation at all.”

She goes on to cite several artists that envelop themselves in the current modes of what we consume and glean, through socio-cultural injection. She also cites the Yes-men as a strategy to undermine the channels that we choose to represent us in facets that we believe require professionals and experts (Media Sources, Politicians, Economists). I think this troupe does and amazing job of subverting these institutions. She goes on to beg the question, “Why don’t more people replicate the strategies of the Yes Men to steal moments of participation in the fortress of power?” and lists several hypotheticals. I believe there is a smaller class of people/artists that can fit into the shoes on the level of the Yes-men. The are variances of defiance that most can participate in that are not so aggressive. Having an objective filter to the media we consume, actively choosing which companies we patronize and support of business of healthy ad campaigns.

I believe most everything about participation, social consciousness, and active voice are imperative to foster a community that evens the level between its richest and the poorest. To make a simplified statement I believe it is the role of artist or activist to lead instances of change (with the help of any comers) and to resist through thoughtful editing of what is oppressive/lacking responsibility.

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