Design will continue to be driven by technology…It’s been like that since the existence of design.

Ultimately we want to do work that is by human beings, for other human beings. Because of the event of modernism 100 years ago people at the time decided that the machine-made should be brought to the forefront of design and architecture. Having that became the status quo of world wide anything - - architecture, design, and graphics: We actively work against that.

There is some distraction in technology. For one thing I think it brought in an incredible increase in boredom. All tools are available within the same machine, and you can do them while sitting in the same position in front of the same screen. When I went to art school it was silk-screening over here and lithography there and painting there and and you needed to change rooms and sometimes buildings to do them all. 

But we benefit from technology in so many other ways…We have a piece in our exhibition, The Happy Show, that can detect if the viewer is smiling and react to that smile by becoming a colorful piece from a black-and-white piece. Not only couldn’t you have done it 10 years ago, you couldn’t even have thought of it. You would have never come up with the idea.

Designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister, from The Creative Class #5

The whole potential of the [design] industry is completely turned upside-down now. The things that were really difficult for me when I started off… are now so much closer to a young designer or startup designer. So what’s going on at the moment is that quite high-tech industrialized techniques are within reach of people with a laptop…

This was quite inconceivable when I started.

Designer Tom Dixon, The Creative Class #2

Dixon continues,

I’m more interested in the connection between design tools and engineering tools now.

Previously, there was no common language between the tools of engineers and factories and the tools of designers, and so those worlds were completely apart. What’s happening now is that the same files can be translated from something which is just a concept to something which is real, automatically.

For a young designer starting out, the difficulty is in having enough time to be anonymous. I think that for a lot of people starting out that have one great idea, that one idea belongs to everybody very quickly… I benefited from a non-digital era where I could be, broadly speaking, anonymous for maybe 5 or 10 years with only very few people knowing what I was doing - - allowing me to create my own uniqueness, my own personality.

It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

[Christo, sitting down with three workers to discuss his proposal to wrap the iconic Pont Neuf with fabric.]

Worker: “Paintings are witnesses of the evolution of a certain era. But here there will be nothing left in the end…”
Christo: “But wait. Each era has its own means. We now have electronics. There is a camera filming us now. Imagine if under Louis XIV there were cameras. That would be extraordinary. The 20th century has developed new means of memory, and all this is a question of historical memory.”
Worker: “It gives me a feeling of uselessness because it’s temporary.” 
Christo: “Because it’s going to disappear after 2 weeks? But in the end, the experience, you can never take that away.”

From the documentary Christo in Paris, 1990

[Christo, sitting down with three workers to discuss his proposal to wrap the iconic Pont Neuf with fabric.]

Worker: “Paintings are witnesses of the evolution of a certain era. But here there will be nothing left in the end…”

Christo: “But wait. Each era has its own means. We now have electronics. There is a camera filming us now. Imagine if under Louis XIV there were cameras. That would be extraordinary. The 20th century has developed new means of memory, and all this is a question of historical memory.”

Worker: “It gives me a feeling of uselessness because it’s temporary.” 

Christo: “Because it’s going to disappear after 2 weeks? But in the end, the experience, you can never take that away.”

From the documentary Christo in Paris, 1990

"Good day, sir. I am Christo. I am Bulgarian. Excuse my French. I am a sculptor. I make large-scale projects in the landscape. Temporary projects. And I would like to cover the Pont Neuf with a silky cloth for 14 days."
- - Christo, from the documentary Christo in Paris, 1990
[Later in the film, an argument breaking out on the wrapped Pont Neuf.]

"It’s pure art."
"This is free art."
"It’s pure art, there to express what you feel."
"And this is art?"
"It’s not art?"
"If you tell me this is art, then we’re not speaking the same language."
…
"Explain to me what art is then! Explain to us what art is. Tell me what it is."
"It’s very complicated. I can’t tell you in two words. But it is a creation of the mind, a creation that transposes reality." 
"It’s an idea!"
"No, a creation which transposes reality in such a way that will express something in a sensitive way to others."
"I don’t know you. You don’t know me. If the bridge weren’t wrapped, we would have never spoken to each other. Ever." 

A tour guide observes, “Nothing will stay, it’s ephemeral. But people will look at the Pont Neuf in a different way.”
This is what engagement looks like.

"Good day, sir. I am Christo. I am Bulgarian. Excuse my French. I am a sculptor. I make large-scale projects in the landscape. Temporary projects. And I would like to cover the Pont Neuf with a silky cloth for 14 days."

- - Christo, from the documentary Christo in Paris, 1990

[Later in the film, an argument breaking out on the wrapped Pont Neuf.]

"It’s pure art."

"This is free art."

"It’s pure art, there to express what you feel."

"And this is art?"

"It’s not art?"

"If you tell me this is art, then we’re not speaking the same language."

"Explain to me what art is then! Explain to us what art is. Tell me what it is."

"It’s very complicated. I can’t tell you in two words. But it is a creation of the mind, a creation that transposes reality." 

"It’s an idea!"

"No, a creation which transposes reality in such a way that will express something in a sensitive way to others."

"I don’t know you. You don’t know me. If the bridge weren’t wrapped, we would have never spoken to each other. Ever." 

A tour guide observes, “Nothing will stay, it’s ephemeral. But people will look at the Pont Neuf in a different way.”

This is what engagement looks like.

"The work is not only the fabric, the steel posts, and the fence. The art project is right now here. Everybody here is part of my work."
 - - Christo, at a Marin (or Sonoma) county zoning hearing for the construction of Running Fence, 1976.
From a film about the project:

[Waitress, making hamburger patties]: 
If you just look at it, the poles and the guide wires, it looks nifty, because it just swirls and turns and dips. And when he gets his curtain on it… it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty… it’s different, and it looks kind of nifty, this thing just winding all around. I imagine to some extent it is attractive. I just think the poles winding, you know, around the natural contour of the land is … it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty: it’s nature pretty. 
Customer: He’s the one who put that across some canyon and the wind blew it down or something like that?
Waitress: Colorado. 
Customer: Yeah.
Waitress: He says if it stays up one day - - the whole thing - - he’ll be happy. Can you imagine? One day? 
Customer: Three million dollars?
Waitress: I don’t know how many years he just toured all over the coastline. California, Oregon, the whole coastline. And he finally decided on this one little area he decided was the most beautiful area in the whole coastline. 
Customer: Is that right?

Dialogue and stills from Running Fence, a documentary by Albert and David Maysles. 
I’m working my way through a boxed set about Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s public projects. There’s a lot of cheap talk about “engagement” in museums, the arts, culture… But Christo takes it to people where they live. Christo is the master. 

"The work is not only the fabric, the steel posts, and the fence. The art project is right now here. Everybody here is part of my work."

 - - Christo, at a Marin (or Sonoma) county zoning hearing for the construction of Running Fence, 1976.

From a film about the project:

[Waitress, making hamburger patties]: 

If you just look at it, the poles and the guide wires, it looks nifty, because it just swirls and turns and dips. And when he gets his curtain on it… it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty… it’s different, and it looks kind of nifty, this thing just winding all around. I imagine to some extent it is attractive. I just think the poles winding, you know, around the natural contour of the land is … it’s not pretty in the sense of pretty: it’s nature pretty. 

Customer: He’s the one who put that across some canyon and the wind blew it down or something like that?

Waitress: Colorado. 

Customer: Yeah.

Waitress: He says if it stays up one day - - the whole thing - - he’ll be happy. Can you imagine? One day? 

Customer: Three million dollars?

Waitress: I don’t know how many years he just toured all over the coastline. California, Oregon, the whole coastline. And he finally decided on this one little area he decided was the most beautiful area in the whole coastline. 

Customer: Is that right?

Dialogue and stills from Running Fence, a documentary by Albert and David Maysles. 

I’m working my way through a boxed set about Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s public projects. There’s a lot of cheap talk about “engagement” in museums, the arts, culture… But Christo takes it to people where they live. Christo is the master. 


"Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of the ordinary people, people who have no other resources."

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. 
Photo and bio: wikipediaQuote: from Is Twitter a Human Right? One Chinese Activist Thinks So.

Saying he spent a minimum of 8 hours a day on Twitter, Ai Weiwei said that Twitter was well suited to a language where each character is an entire word. “With 140 characters in Chinese you really can write a novel,” he quipped.
Ai Weiwei, who sustained a serious head injury after he was beaten by police while attempting to testify at a colleague’s trial, made it clear that Twitter was a lifeline for Chinese activists eager to get their message out to the world. Access is limited to approximately 50,000 people currently, however, due to both a strong firewall and to the need to register in English.

"Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of the ordinary people, people who have no other resources."

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei

Photo and bio: wikipedia
Quote: from Is Twitter a Human Right? One Chinese Activist Thinks So.

Saying he spent a minimum of 8 hours a day on Twitter, Ai Weiwei said that Twitter was well suited to a language where each character is an entire word. “With 140 characters in Chinese you really can write a novel,” he quipped.

Ai Weiwei, who sustained a serious head injury after he was beaten by police while attempting to testify at a colleague’s trial, made it clear that Twitter was a lifeline for Chinese activists eager to get their message out to the world. Access is limited to approximately 50,000 people currently, however, due to both a strong firewall and to the need to register in English.