Member 2292
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Contributor to project:
What happened to nature?
Olena {The Wizard} Shmahalo (29)
New York
Immortal since Aug 5, 2009
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

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    Wonders Revealed: Design and Faux Science
    Designers, [or any creatives] please read this.

    { Wonders Revealed } ‹— links directly to PDF.
    by Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel.

    { AIGA page }.


    Science is revolutionizing the world. From global warming to genetic
    cloning to persistent threats of bioterrorism, its impact upon our very
    sustainability is of enormous consequence. Remarkably, however, there
    has been little evidence of any significant response from the design
    profession, other than the superficial appropriations that suddenly
    seem to be springing up in every design annual, in every monograph, in
    every design school critique.

    it’s form awaiting content, or worse,
    serious form retrofitted with interchangeable content.

    Filtered through design’s brutally neutralizing style engine,
    contemporary design is anesthetized and stripped of its indigenous
    qualities: science, in this context, is a graphic placebo. Meanwhile,
    designers conceal their intellectual weightlessness and flex their
    stylistic muscle, producing work that strikes just the right tone of
    Lab Chic.

    The appeal of information design is that it offers instant credibility.

    It’s modernism run amok: form masquerading as content.

    Combine the urge to collect with the inclination to organize, and the
    resulting activity offers a unique assortment of scientific
    pretensions. In documenting, designers dutifully observe the minutiae
    of their efforts, recording with a detail-consciousness bordering on
    the absurd.
    Not long ago, we attended a graduate design thesis review
    featuring several months’ worth of lint recovered from a clothes dryer.

    Hegel once posited an inevitable transition of thought, brought
    about through contradiction and reconciliation, formed along a
    trajectory of thinking that began from an initial conviction and
    evolved to its opposite. In the thesis/antithesis/synthesis model of
    Hegelian dialectic, we easily locate the scientist, who migrates from
    observation to analysis to discovery. Meanwhile, the designer
    catalogues the everyday, making thick, wordless books with pictures
    that jump the gutter.

    Faux Science is the new vernacular, a methodology that, while
    highly disciplined in a formal sense, is still all about appropriation.

    Science represents an enormous opportunity for designers, but not
    if their contributions remain fundamentally restricted by what they
    know. At the core of this critique lie serious questions about the role
    of education. Why don’t design students study music theory? Why aren’t
    they required to learn a second language? And why, for that matter,
    don’t they study science? “The difficulty lies not in the new ideas,”
    wrote John Maynard Keynes, “but in escaping the old ones.” In other
    words, design beyond reach.

    I’ve been guilty as well. As attractive as I find “scientific” (truly or pseudo-) imagery, art, & design to be, the above article states concisely everything I personally hate about it; but it was easier to fall in than it is to climb out. I’m trying.

    Juxtapose this with Buckminster Fuller’s idea of “{ Design Science }” — we’re capable of so much more. And arguably, it’s the same with art… it’s more often an appropriation of its own image rather than the intellectual processes and productions of curious people. Form awaiting content — is it a byproduct of the tradition of { specialization }?

    Fri, Dec 3, 2010  Permanent link

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