— bureaux de vizKult

takeshi miyakawa in his studio in new york city image © designboom

takeshi miyakawa in his studio in new york city image © designboom

“At night, when it’s hung, it looks like the bag is glowing,” Lim said. “The reason he did this was to lift people’s spirits. He was simply trying to say that he loves the city and spread that attitude around.”

Artist Takeshi Miyakawa hangs a light art project on the street in Brooklyn and gets “charged with two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the first degree, two counts of placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the second degree, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of second-degree criminal nuisance.” [...] “A judge ordered him held pending a psychiatric evaluation.”

takeshi miyaka - I heart NYC bagsThis is absurd, please sign the petition to release Takeshi Miyakawa:

Complete article on Huffington Post:
Takeshi Miyakawa Arrested By NYPD For Hanging ‘I Love New York’ Artwork In Brooklyn (PHOTOS)
By MEGHAN BARR 05/21/12 05:55 PM ET AP

Consumed,Repurpose-Driven Life – NYTimes.com
“America’s shopping infrastructure is vast and abundant. That’s the problem.”

The above is an article in the New York Times about the shopping mall crisis in the USA mentions the photography of Julia Christensen (above) which documents the conversions of big-box stores in the Big Box Reuse book and BigBoxReuse website and a new book with research on the phenomenon called “Retrofitting Suburbia,” by Ellen Dunham-Jones…

A similar book worth mentioning is Rem Koolhaas and his students’ work at Harvard called “The Harvard Guide to Shopping” …if you can get your hands on a copy. $112 and up on Amazon. [We happened to read the intro to Koolhass' "S, M, L, XL" in Vito Acconci's "Aesthetics of Information class" (Spring 08) and we also read a criticism of his books by Hal Foster in Siebren Versteeg's "Workshop in Design History" (Spring 08)]

In regards to re-purposing and mix-use space, here is a film by an artist friend of mine Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, which documents a special mix-use space in Holland.

Coexistence: “Since the year 2000 this Latin American migrants pentecostal church shares their worship space with a ping pong club in Amsterdam. Each weekend they transform the space.”

Finally, this is a great little guide book from architects Atelier Bow-Wow in Japan called “Made in Tokyo“… It’s an index of all the uniqueness of Tokyo’s architectural condition: very little space…

The Way Things Go by Fischi and Weiss

The Way Things Go by Fischi and Weiss

The previous post wasn’t for nothing, I wanted to point out that in thinking about function as a factor in determining the differences between art and design, I would reconsider the charges presented in the Fischli and Weiss vs Honda (Copyright Dispute), where The artist Fischi and Weiss claimed that Honda stole their art film, The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge), to make this Honda car ad. Honestly, I would say that the film and the Ad are totally different, primarily for the fact that in the Fischi and Weiss film, all the chain reactions, in the end, have no function, that is there is no final purpose to the way things go (art); while in the VW Ad the chain reactions have a function contributing to the building of a VW (design). This clarity of function is probably the reason why the urinal designer didn’t sue Marcel Duchamp.

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917

In the end Honda did admit to stealing the tire sequence, but is that enough?  Can Fischli and Weiss copyright a chain reaction involving a tire? Have Fischli and Weiss ever seen Rube Goldberg’s work? I bet if you look long enough you can probably find a similarity or two. I guess they could argue they’ve never seen his work before.

The Hema's website version of the Way Things Go

The Hema's website version of the Way Things Go

Finally, take a look at this cause and effect website sequence by the Dutch department store Hema before it’s take down. There’s more video examples out there just do a search. (HEMA site read from provocat blog post “The Rube Goldberg Effect”)

Below are some rough ideas that surfaced during a discussion in my one and only design course this semester who’s function is to observe art and it’s relation to design, and vice-versa. Corrections and comments welcomed.

Above All there is Function.
If I had to (read had to) categorize something as being “art” or “design”, I would say that function is the first criteria that I would run it through. The more functional a thing is, the more it gets absorbed into the realm or design;  the less we can determine it’s function, the more it is swallowed by the realm of art. Don’t get me wrong, not everything is black and white, most of it is actually shades of gray… 20% art 70% design ( and 10% embellishment) Most of the time this function criteria will work, but there are two factors that greatly affect this criteria, each explained in the next paragraphs: 1. rationality (causes the equation flip), and 2. super-function (causes things to be indeterminable as art or design).


Keep You From Forgetting To Mail Your Wife's Letter - Rube Goldberg Contraption

1. The Rationality.
In relation to design, rationality can push a thing beyond it’s function, flipping it closer to the realm of art. An example would be a design that is too irrational like a Rube Goldberg contraption (above), or the opposite, something that too rational like Chindogu (below). While Rube Goldberg’s contraptions have a function, the method in which they go about functioning is too irrational – that becomes art. The Chindogu, like the Hay-Fever toilet paper hat below, which is too rational –of course you would want a roll of toilet paper on your head if you have a runny nose! –that becomes art too.

Hay Fever Hat-The all day tissue dispenser a Chindogu from International Chindogu Society

Hay Fever Hat-The all day tissue dispenser a Chindogu from International Chindogu Society

Rationality can also affect things that are normally labeled as art. When art is made rationally, that is it makes sense and is understood, I would say it is actually a design disguised as art, since all it’s parts are carefully strategized to have a function. I’m a big fan of Paul Rand who said you can’t make art, art is –if you’re lucky– a byproduct of what ever it is you are doing, be it design or washing dishes. Artist are the first to complain about this view, but I am not saying that making art is useless, but don’t be surprised or upset that the thing you finally create doesn’t feel like art, there is a possibility that another aspect of that thing –it’s byproduct– it the real art deal. I remember one of my teachers once saying he didn’t care for Brancusi’s sculptures but the pictures of the sculptures–now that was art to him!

Let’s look at the opposite, an irrational art piece can also made design by being explicated via text, or forced into having a function– then the work of art, with it’s function revealed, rationalized, or involuntarily assigned, becomes design than an art piece. Design, after all, comes from  Latin ‘to mark out’, (de- +signare), similar to designate (Latin past participle of designare Merriam-Webster). Therefor if you can designate a function to an art piece, it is design –you have ‘marked it out’, you have designed it! It is somewhat similar when the tables are turned: remove the function or a design, then it has the possibility of becoming art, that is of course, if it holds your interest. Without interest it is just a thing, neither art nor design.

Man-made and natural super-functions are illustrated in The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy.

Man-made and natural super-functions are illustrated in The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy.

2. The Super-Function.
Before talking about super-function, I want to clarify that by super I mean extreme or excessive quality –in both a positive and negative sense. The super-function arises when something has an incalculable amount of function and thus it’s state of being labeled art or design in indeterminable. In the extreme end of  super-function I am reminded of the question of the function of life as discussed in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In this sci-fiction novel, humans attempt to answer the “ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” eventually they do arrive at an answer, which is 42- duh!… Life, the Universe, and Everything, with it’s super-function is indeterminable. People often want to continue to discuss super-function of nature- forget it, it’s beyond us. The realms of art and design, for the sake of this essay, revolve only around man-made things.

[Side Note: The humans in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy don't actually come up with the answer "42" on their own, the actually design a computer called Deep Thought that took 7 ½ million years to come up with the answer to the "ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything". In the end another computer has to be built in order to make sense of the answer. This new computer is actually Earth -a planet size computer, which is often mistaken for a planet because of it's size and use of life forms within it's "computational matrix". (So that's our function!?)]

What about Purpose or Intent?
Besides function, rationality, and super-function why don’t I consider “purpose” or “intent” of the artist or designers as factors? Because both “purpose” an “intent” are only the creators’ ideal state of being –either art or design. This  purpose only exists in the mind or in a situation where it’s purpose hasn’t been realized. And even once realized there are many factors that can change it’s state. For example when something has the intent or purpose of being a design, it cannot be determined as being design until it’s function is realized, only with a quantifiable degree of function can you then make a determination. Something that hasn’t been realized should not be confused with something that may never be realized, as the latter is possibly an indication of something that has a super-function as described mentioned above. Deep Thought, although it was designer to find the ultimate answers, it hasn’t proven to function, properly, there for it is not design. In the end it might actually be art, the computer “earth” might also be art, if it doesn’t solve the problem of what “42″ is.

The Art/Design Graph?
…hasn’t been sketched up yet, but hopefully someone someday will make it and all this babbling with become clear.

(although useless is not the right word to describe Chindogu, here it is, noted in a Design Boom article about the History of Useless Inventions.)

Just by chance, we decided to drop in on an event that caught my eye yesterday. It was a reading at KGB bar in the East Village arranged by the new MFA in Design Criticism at SVA. The topic was food and 3 professors from the new department read their criticism from a podium near the bar. To my surprise the Senior Curator of the Design Dept in MoMa, Paola Antonelli was there and she read her article on Pasta, Paul Lukas read about the butcher meat chart design, and Akiko Busch read about the vegetable peeler, which we missed since we arrived after her reading. Overall I thought is was a great idea that should be carried over to art criticism. I mean, wouldn’t it be so much different if the art critics would have to face a crowd and read their criticism? I would figure that it would make critics a bit more conscious of their writing given the fact that it would be presented in front of a live audience, an audience who can immediately react to their words or not.

I also happen to be watching CoolHunting the other day when again, Paola Antonelli was in one of their videos, a video discussing “Design and the Elastic Mind”, her recent curatorial project at the MoMa. I didn’t mention this earlier but I think she will also be teaching in the department, this just adds to the list of heavy weights over at SVA. By the way, the department is still accepting applicants for fall 2008. And I think that the next DCrit reading will be at the end of June , check back on their website for more info. (I almost forgot to mention, there is a big conference on Design, The Arts and The Political being held in October at SVA. More about that later)

Boston Dynamic's Big Dog for Darpa

Meet Big Dog, designed by Boston Dynamics for DARPA. One blogger called it “amazing”, I call it creepy. When I was young I used to fantasize about a future flourishing with robots in all shapes and sizes, but during these wartime years here in America I feel less comfortable with our military’s effort to sanitize war by leaving the dirty work to robots (along with the already active mercenary groups and independent war contractors).

Dirty work drones have been in use now for some time, carrying out assassination missions in many part of the world. By their standards, some of the robot mission are considered “successful”, meaning they killed the person they were hunting, while other not so glorious missions tell eery stories like this one in the UK’s Guardian of innocent villagers’ homes being blasted to pieces in the middle of the night, like this case in Pakistan where 18 villagers were killed, including 4 children. Just Google Preditor Drone and countless other stories will pop up.

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4 of the last post here at Bureaux have been about war, so we decided to end the week with another, this one for the robotics and ethical design debate.

“DARPA’s Robot Dog Project”, Defense Industry Daily, July 2007

More of the war-focused designs by Boston Dynamics can be found on their website.

Towards a Critical Faculty by Stuart Bailey
“Towards a Critical Faculty”
reader compiled by Stuart Bailey aka Dexter Sinister

I was pleasantly surprised to find Stuart Bailey listed as one of the artist to be included in this years Whitney Biennial 2008. I’m curious as to what he will be offering to the show. From what I gather, his work is without form, or if in a tangible sense then in book form, that is, ideas put into print.

Stuart Bailey is Dexter Sinister (the occasional bookshop) is Dot Dot Dot (the design + culture musings magazine). I’ve read a few bits here and there, specifically his “Towards a Critical Faculty” lecture notes (pictured on left), which gave me, among many other things, ideas on how to move away from an object/skills-centric course and it also gave me the impetus to modify the existing design thinking process by making it more active, despite it being discouragingly labeled overly optimistic and un-pragmatic. I also learned that he taught at the Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam at some point, before my student days there (1995). Back then, I might have not taken his course anyhow since I was in the sculpture department which was a good hop skip and a jump away from the main “practical” arts building.

On the topic of the biennial’s selection, a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who mentioned that many artist he knows will be in this years Biennial, he and I had this I-don’t-know-why feeling that some how this year’s selection seems different: Not not so much “noise”, or at least not yet. Which is a good thing, Stuart Bailey/Dexter Sinister should fit right in.

More Dexter Sinister PDF publications can be found in the Library… enjoy.

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UPDATE 03/11/08:

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Paper Mag has this scoop:

” [...] Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt [...] invited 25 other artists to write press releases, to be distributed at the Park Avenue Armory.”
-All In The Family by Alex Gartenfeld, PaperMag March 4, 2008