It was September when I first saw the pine forests of northern Finland. […] I was surprised. I had thought of natural forests as packed with tall and tiny trees, all jumbled together, of many species and ages. Here all the trees were just the same: one species, one age, neat and evenly spaced. […] It looked exactly like an industrial tree plantation
“Ah,” I thought, “How the lines have blurred.”23
‘”Who am I?’ he echoed, and raised his eyes to my face.
“a reflection of the lamplight on this bottle.”14 “Lost but never alone.”21
“More than you realize.” She turned her back to the sea. “You’re a political prisoner. You wander round all day, searching for the escape tunnel, while getting more and more involved with the guards.”3
‘Choose your leaders,’18 ‘fighting is inevitable.’6 ‘He saw globalization as a euphemism for imperialism, and proclaimed that “globalization is the great enemy of art,”8 ‘it is now America’s turn to act as a creator of design and culture.’10
Good Question!’4 ‘Design is primarily an intentional structuring of some portion of the lived world in such a way as to transform how it is used, perceived, or understood.’1 ‘Scandinavian design has had more than its share of such simplistic characterization, especially in design journalism and popular history accounts, which tend to be littered with words like ‘humane’, ‘democratic,’ ‘organic’ and ‘blond.’’5
“My face is the real shop front,”22 “business is assuming the role of patron held by the church and aristocracy in past ages.”9 “So much for the distinction between authentic living humans and humanoid constructs.”15
“What happens if the young are no longer capable of producing surprises?”2
“There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 AM, after brunch.”17 ‘Her heart is a clock,’13 ‘the natural rhythmicity of the human biological clock conflicts with such algorithmic structures and inhumane rhythms.’7
‘Maintaining pitch but increasing tempo and producing the vortical, implosive whorls of sound that prompted Kodwo Eshun to call it “rhythmic psychedelia.”’20 “Strange Mathematics / Rhythmic Equations […] Enlightenment is my Tomorrow.”19 “But hasn’t the artistic impulse always been utopian, with all the hope and futility that implies?”11
‘Then he realised he could hear the regular rhythmic hammering of steel on steel, which had been there all the time, even though he wasn’t consciously aware of it.’16
Contributors: Olivia Bright, Jacob Lomas, Lily Reddie & Jess Wan Ka Po.
Complied by Sauren Blaney.
1An intimate site of consumption, the home becomes a politicised space which represents our values. But what happens when this space becomes stilted, only a veneer of progress through resurrected images of the past. Vintage, vintage-look, mid-century-inspired… Swedish Design beholds a “soft power,” its very presence eternally proclaims the social democratic values of its owner.
2What does a future mean now? Mark Fisher describes the “cancellation of the future;” the past cannot die so the present is weighed down by it. We reference the past constantly, the new becomes reboots of the old and inhibits the ability to think originally.
3Business and industry mix with entertainment and creativity.
4The 2020/21 Chelsea Space Winter Window display explored the notion of universal design standards as presented by the ILEA Collection. Being presented to children, the collection sought to create good consumers of the future. A utopian capitalist vision.
5Similarly, Scandinavian Design is crafted in the image of a utopia. Accessible objects, ergonomically made and beautifully designed, aesthetics never need progress again.
6So says the IKEA slogan, why create something new when the past is still flying off the shelves. The commodification of nostalgia.
7When time is saved and spent it becomes a currency, a commodity. Everything is more efficient yet there is less and less time. A universal currency which cannot be exchanged, uchronia is now.
8Slogans become dictums, a style becomes a lifestyle, brands are social currency.
9As the world becomes more globalised, therefore, the big fish eats the little one. An unequal dissemination of culture, the appearance of choice is a film painted over a backdrop of conglomerates.
10In 1948, the Nordic countries invited Edgar Kaufmann Jr, director of the Industrial Design Department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The countries hoped to enter the expansively lucrative American market and, in turn, the World Market. Kaufmann was not impressed as much of the design was too experimental. He favoured more industrial, mass-marketable products. Capitulation, the centralisation of taste-making.
11Writing Dispersion at the dawn of the internet, Seth Price describes art objects entering circulation through the mass market: “Embodied in their embrace of the codes of the culture industry, they contain a utopian moment that points toward future transformation.”
12Haunted by the past, petrified by the future, Hamlet is stilted from action.
13In Hamletmachine, each character is every character, the iconoclasm of the past violently boils to the surface. Hamlet unmasks himself as Hamlet-actor then re-masks himself before decapitating Marx, Lenin and Mao portrayed as three naked women.
14Encountering a social collapse where nothing is stable, Pyotr Void enters a feedback loop between Post-Soviet Russia and the 1905 revolution. Identity is shifting and confused, or doesn’t exist at all.
15Rick Deckard must question what he knows in a meshing together of spatial and temporal understandings.
16Time is a train unable to disconnect from its old, disused carriages. If you listen, the background clatter of rushing forward can be heard. But you have to listen.
17Poetry is not a luxury, it is essential in sustaining imaginations beyond now.
18Octavia Butler writes an Afrofuturist Sci-Fi: multi-racial, multi-gendered – traditional Western binaries are blurred.
19 This is clear in Intergalactic Jazz as imagined by Sun Ra.
20Textured, layered, an imagining of a world away from the linearity of Eurocentric narrativity:
Afrofuturism is expansive. It uses imaginings of the future and memories of the past to inform solutions for the present.
21Kodwo Eshun’s “rhythmic psychedelia” is consciously referenced by Hypnagogic Pop. Here, Oneohtrix Point Never evokes the comfort of sounds that have gone before whilst pushing the nostalgic into the overt.
22A queering of music, a queering of time, SOPHIE’s production blends genre into an ordered chaos of newness. Electronic futurism imagines the possibility of new sounds, new genres, new futures.
23Anna L Tsing describes society existing beyond the linear. What exists in the interstices, what can we find in the ruins of what we left behind? What grows there? This is a call to arms for post-capitalist survival.