Getting used to the future of technology…

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Most of the big brands out there are undoubtedly shaping their new tech products with an eye on the future. Few brands are going through this process as we speak… I’m looking at you, Apple!

I am reminded of this anecdote that happened to me last week. I was searching for a new laptop to buy. I was really excited to buy this new MacBook pro 2017, I was eager to leave behind my old windows. Excitement didn’t last long: I found out that this new Apple product didn’t have traditional USB ports but newcomers USB type C ports, using Thunderbolt technology.

I was shocked.

This USB anecdote could easily fit into the case-study of french philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour who investigates in his essay “The Missing Masses” (1992) how things prescribe behaviour upon us and upon other things. “The design of things of their physical features and functions not only prescribe actions but also ‘moralities, ethics and duties’ (Latour, 1992).

The french philosopher was also interested in the process by which humans delegate action to objects. Latour’s view of technology revolves around the idea of displacing our actions on to technology, and viceversa. “Walls are a nice invention, but if there were no holes in them there would be no way to get in or out. The problem is that if you make holes in the walls, anything and anyone can get in and out. So architects invented the door, miracle of technology.” (Latour, 1992).

In order to keep using my old USB, Apple is essentially both imposing and delegating upon me to buy a Dual USB or adaptor to make it happen…unbelievable, but necessary!?

How can you, Apple, think people not familiar with this new type of USB ports will take this big change? The only answer I can think of is that someone must kick-start the future…and who better than Apple?


 

Latour, B. (1992). Where are the missing masses, sociology of a few mundane artefacts. 1st ed. [ebook] Cambridge: Wiebe Bijker and John Law. Available at: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/50-MISSING-MASSES-GB.pdf [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].

The Design Museum – Much ado about nothing (ish)…

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Despite the buzz about the new Design Museum which is all over my Facebook feed and some London based design magazines, the whole experience didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

The architecture of the venue is beautiful, with a multi purpose staircase, a Guggenheim structure spin with the walkways spiraling upwards. The design however wasn’t that well thought out, a series of photographs on the second floor and a display of 6 designs on the third floor. When you get to the fourth floor you are bombarded with information, you don’t know where to look.

The Design. Maker. User exhibit delivered a rather delightful experience, even if the exhibition suffered due to the problem the entire venue had: small spaces and overcrowding issues.

Reaching the designated floor, audiences are meant to face a large crowd sourced wall that displays what design means to people. Bottle openers, cameras, denim jeans were hanging on the wall, giving us the chance to understand how design is an everyday thing.

Entering the overcrowded “labyrinth”, there was a high-tech section that contained the history of technology and multiple examples of how things are made, like this metal casting mould used to create a £50 pound orange squeezer.

Die-cut logos of famous brands were hanging from the ceiling all around and a Vespa Piaggio was placed above our heads, which I found amusing because they reminded me of a scene taken straight from Harry Potter. The remaining parts of the exhibition were mainly written type on walls, which were difficult to read due to people standing in front of them.

In conclusion, this journey started with a really good first impression with few enjoyable moments, and ended as a bitter-sweet experience…

…much ado about nothing!

Recuperation – A lack of ideas?

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First CTS of term 2 was about Détournement and Recuperation and how this two topics relates to advertisement and art in general. Both were conceptualized by the Situationist International, an international organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artist rebelling towards a society they didn’t agree with. Both are very significant topics to dive in, but I will choose to case study a rather significant aspect about recuperation.

Speaking of recuperation means giving entirely new meaning to something. It could be an advertisement or a painting; it does not matter as long as the newly produced piace of work will have a complete new meaning or a “parodistic” mean to it, almost mocking the original piece of work. The most famous artist that made recuperation a lifetime signature was Marcel Duchamp, with his famous “Fountain”, a recuperation of a porcelain urinal, that became a proper art masterpiece thanks to its controversial nature.

My question now is: can recuperation be seen as fair? Is it fair to use an already existing idea or object and “make it your own” even if the meaning is completely (or partially) changed? As Tim showed us this morning, many brands have been using this Recuperation process as a way of displaying new ideas through already existing concepts. One of the best examples showed was the Honda Cog advert from 2003 that used exactly the same concept of an already existing Fischli and Weiss’ video from 1987. Even if Honda’s final result was great an maybe even better than the original one, personally I think we are almost talking of an act of plagiarism. Like Honda, many other have been using the recuperation process.

Creativity is endless and anyone can pinch from it, recuperation should not be an excuse to lack of ideas or poor imagination.

On the other hand, the recuperation act could also be seen as a way of expanding the meaning of the original work or even reconsider the original meaning of it.

The Ulm model – Aftermath

For Germany, the devastation of the war, both architectural and moral, had been so complete that the future could only be thought of as a starting point from an absolute beginning.

The Ulm model was created as a necessity to Re-shape the (undetermined) future after World War II required the world, especially Germany, to make a big step ahead and move on, for good. A more minimalistic approach through aesthetically pleasing, futuristic and modern design was taken into account as a starting point for teacher and students to share the same anti-conformist vision, by which the Ulm academy is mostly well-known for.

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This exhibition visually showed and perfectly described what the aim of Ulm designers was; The exhibition venue was formed of three floors, with no particular attention to the order of things. As the curator pointed out, this decision was made to reflect the uniqueness of the Ulm model with the intention of differentiating Raven Row’s venue itself from other “classic” venues that usually have some sort of order (which I rarely get anyway). Works by Hans Von Klier, Walter Zeischegg, Hans Gugelot and Max Bill were shown throughout the exhibition, again with no particular order, making the exhibition a bit hard to understand and lot less enjoyable than I first thought.

There is no doubt that the Ulm model gave us many cutting edge products (and designer aswell!) that led us to nowadays future: an example could be Hans Gugelot’s Braun first black/chrome shaver (1962), products of this type had previously depended upon the medical association of whites and putty colours. Gugelot’s re-design anticipated the development in 1960s of a new product sector in ‘personal grooming’; Another striking example is the visual re-branding for Lufthansa (1963) from former Ulm student Hans Conrad which, after more than half a century, is still pretty much the same.

Kapos, P. (2016). The Ulm Model. London: Raven Row.