Last October I was invited to give a lecture at SVA’s D-Crit program about the distribution and circulation of design objects and the role of these processes—as opposed to aesthetics or production—in giving meaning to those objects. Here’s a little more from the talk description:
> When design writing is practiced by design producers, often an emphasis is placed on the way things look and how they get made. This talk will begin after that. How do designed objects enter the world? How does the way something’s distributed effect our understanding of it? When these objects are circulated, who sees them, how do those audiences respond, and how are those responses accounted for?
The talk was structured by a list of questions that themselves arose from a question: “How does a design object enter the world?”:
- Is its audience local or global?
- Is its audience knowledgeable or uninformed about it?
- Is it made quickly or slowly?
- Is it made cheaply or expensively?
- Is it produced as needed or in anticipation of need?
- Is it wasteful or thrifty?
- Is profit expected from it?
- Is value received from it?
- Is wealth created from it?
- Is it given or paid for?
- Is it original or repurposed?
- Is it rare or common?
I described question 01 as a “Geographic Gap,” question 02 as a “Knowledge Gap,” questions 03–09 as a “Production Gap,” and questions 10-12 as a “Usage Gap.” After moving through examples that built on each of these questions, the Coda was going to take the initial question—”How does a design object enter the world?”—and frame in terms of distance, the distance from the maker to the user or consumer. The corollary to the distance question is a question about time or duration—”How long does a design object last?”—and, taken together, these questions give us a sense of distance over time, or the velocity at which design is moving. The questions from the Coda, which asked how long a design object lasts, were:
- Is it stored in an archive or library?
- Is it ever displayed once it’s been cataloged?
- Is it written about or analyzed?
- Is it used to make new work?
Download MP3 / Time 1:12:06
Allan Chochinov kindly asked me to give this talk again to his grad students at Pratt on 05 November 2009. My slides were almost identical to the ones posted above, so it’s possible to follow along or use the slide references below if you get lost.
Below you’ll find references for all the visual slides above along with some helpful links for further reading. Enjoy.
02: Give and Take Business Card Holder (available here, discussed here)
03: If No One Sees It, Is It an Invention? (NYT)
04: Cuban posters (left and right, discussed here)
05: The Gift (available here, discussed here)
15: Arecibo Message (Wikipedia, more here)
17: The New Yorker (discussed here)
18: Mel Bochner, “Working Drawings And Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art,” (1966, discussed here)
19: Donald Judd (left), Dan Flavin (right), from “Working Drawings…”
20: Receipt for unpaid fabrication costs for Donald Judd’s primary structures show at the Jewish Museum, from “Working Drawings…”
21: 2006 Yale Graphic Design MFA Show (discussion and more photos here)
22: Microsoft Word Icon
23: ‘Sup Magazine 18 (available here)
25, 27: The Whole Earth Catalog (Wikipedia, longer article here)
28: Sniffin’ Glue (Wikipedia)
29: Stealing Beauty by Graphic Thought Facility (archived here)
30, 31: A Wikipedia Reader by ASDF— (archived here)
33: Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk (available here)
34: Mechanical Turk (Wikipedia)
35: The Sheep Market by Aaron Koblin (archived here)
37: 1941 Ford (left) and Toyota (right) models (Wikipedia)
38: 1975 Ford (left) and Toyota (right) models
41: Just in Time! catalog by Will Holder (archived here)
42: Dear Lulu by Hochschule Darmstadt with James Goggin (available here, discussed here)
44: Philip by Mark Aerial Waller, Heman Chong, Cosmin Costinas, Rosemary Heather, Francis McKee, David Reinfurt, Steve Rushton and Leif Magne Tangen (availble here, discussed here [PDF])
46: The $26 Book by M&Co (discussed here)
47: UPS Logo by Paul Rand (discussed here)
48, 49: The First Report of the (Unofficial) Graphic Design Landmarks Preservation Comission by Scott Stowell for Metropolis Magazine (discussed here)
51: No. 7 Ladderback Shaker Chair (left), Danish J39 Chair (right) (discussed here)
52: Shaker Workshops Furniture Kit (available here)
53: Shaker Gift Drawings (discussed here)
54, 55: Artek 2nd Cycle Stools (discussed here)
57: I heart NY, I heart NJ (discussed here, more here)
58: Bottle Rack by Marcel Duchamp (discussed here)
59: Boîte-en-valise by Marcel Duchamp (archived here)
60: Collected Words by Richard Hamilton (dicussed here)
62: The Beatles “White Album” by Richard Hamilton (Wikipedia)
63: The world’s largest signed and numbered limited edition artwork by Daniel Eatock (archived here)
64: My favourite cup by Daniel Eatock (archived here)
72: Moveable Type by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin (archived here, more here)
73: Kiosk by Christoph Keller (discussed here)