Member 2051
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Marcus Baumgart (M, 49)
Melbourne, AU
Immortal since Jan 19, 2009
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My blog: A Flawed Mind
A linguistic experiment
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    Place and the designer's mind
    Designers are energised and fed by place. Where they choose to work, live and visit feeds the designer's mind, and their creative processes.

    My advice to designers seeking new places is to forget about the authentic. It's a sideshow, and a diversion. It's important, no doubt - but it is not everything. Consider, instead, what is actually going on - rather than putting energy into editing out the inauthentic.

    Most 'authentic' experiences and objects are nothing of the sort, but rather a heavily mediated simulation that conforms to the agreed conditions of 'authenticity'. The genuinely authentic - let's just call it the authentic, without the modifier - is often unremarkable, insignificant and diminutive. The authentic frequently disappoints, but the disappointment is instructive, often because it reveals the actual nature of a situation.

    I call this actuality, and suggest to my students that it is a far more interesting and less restrictive sphere to operate within. Let me give you an example. If you live outside Italy, you might choose to visit the country, and seek an experience of 'authentic' Renaissance architecture, perhaps in Florence. The architecture is certainly there, and it is the 'real deal', but the experience of visiting such buildings has little to do with any quality of historical authenticity. Or perhaps more correctly, the authenticity of the place is not the point.

    The actuality of visiting Florence is fascinating. It is a brush with history, certainly, but it is also a brush with planes, trains and automobiles; pollution, overcrowding, technology and traffic; all wrapped up in a well-geared tourist industry that seeks to immerse you in something 'authentic', generally in the hope that you will buy some of it.

    If the (non-Italian) designer is to engage with Florence as a place, he or she must also engage with what it means to be wealthy enough to visit Florence for no reason other than to have a look around; what it means to be a tourist in 2009, both the inconveniences and the rare privileges.

    In this way the traveller can become truly immersed in the moment, and in that moment begin to develop an understanding of the actual story of Florence, the story of a City that is no longer a producer of the most extraordinary art and architecture in the western world, works that will retain profound significance for as long as they exist.

    Working out how and why this is the case, and what it means for the rest of us: now that's an actual challenge. Feed your designer's mind with that.

    Mon, Oct 5, 2009  Permanent link

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    aeonbeat     Wed, Oct 7, 2009  Permanent link
    very cool short reading and food for thought. thanks