Modernity, Anti-Modernity, and Post Modernity / Part 1

October 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

The hyper linked text below shows the mind maps that we are currently working through in Spencer’s lectures:

1) Representation_Mind Map

2) Modernism / Constructivism Critical Discourse Mind Map

Lecture write up + thoughts + listen to recording

To begin the lecture Spencer focused on going through the brief at hand, giving us a clearer idea of what we’ll be producing, in the various stages; I have made a separate post for this which you can access here.

The second half of the lecture (on 9.10.13), we looked at rationalism and the subjectivity of discourse within design systems and modernism and postmodernism. We once again referred to Immanuel Kant and his philosophies regarding modernist and postmodernist perspectives.

These are some of the notes taken from the lecture:

Kantr sets up an agenda where he talks about ideas being conditioning images. Images aren’t innocent, theirs nothing purely image-istic about images, they are structured, and have a certain symbolic power.

– Kantian lens – the way in which the lens structures the world > modernism

– he thought it was a universal phenomena, we all share this same structured experience

– a Kantian experience has to happen in time, and in space, and that’s part of what makes it an experience in the first place, an experience is rationally structured.

– In his later work, he sort of criticises himself, raising a question that goes against his own teachings.

– He vaguely works between modernism and postmodernism embodied in his thinking. We mainly associate him with modernist thought, but has the ‘germ’ of postmodern thought.

Design as a practice

– rational

– technocentric

– de-signing (taming) of a problem

> remove the ambiguity of the use of the object

> when an object is presented, but it isn’t obvious what it is, then it’s not very good at what it does

> ultimately: form follows function

> stripping away additional connotations

> an example of this is Donald Norman’s example of door handles

– moves towards the idea of different interest groups and communities

– how can their wants and needs be optimised in the design problem.

> designing the future (a sort of science fiction), transforming the future of culture – innovation – premised on the idea of existing things, that they could be better – Modernism

– This all goes against Kant’s idea of a universal perspective.

– In postmodernist thought there’s a lot of emphasis on cross connection of practices and a lot of resistance on mode of fixed representation

– The polarity of this is not thinking about what we are, but about what we can become

{I need to learn the basics of design history}

Context of modernist design practice

In the grid –

– there are lots of diagnols

– asymmetric

– playful weightings of fonts

– flat space of compositions (often)

– looked at as a sort of machine, getting everything, making it functional

– engages with technologies

There’s similar resistance [from the grid] when you look at ornamentation.

Visual Politics – rejection of ornamentation, don’t want anything baroque or coco. This is a-work in modernist thinking, especially with typography (e.g. no serifs), there’s a strong resistance to anything with a decorative overtone, instead it prefers pure and simple design – simplicity, harmony, efficiency in communications,  functional designs, utilities, clarity.

There’s a distrust in modernity because underpinning the modernist project is a commitment of a universal betterment/empowerment of people, a political movement that has a sort of colonialism about it. The modernist outlook developed though, it doesn’t start of with a set of principles, it develops them over time.

Art movements can affect the way  people live their lives:

– Russian constructivism – propaganda

– Britain and America – the signifiers of revolution and movement moved to consumerism and advertising

– The unification of this for corporate branding and identity

– keeping simplicity and using modernist views

Photo-grams and photo-montage were present in modernist advertising and branding – an evident example of modernist design embracing technology.

– There was a socialist desire for emancipation

– Propaganda > capitalist culture – and – Consumer > socialist culture

– both foregrounded and backgrounded differently in their own contexts.


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