"In the cities in which we live, all of us see hundreds of publicity images every day of our lives. No other kind of image confronts us so frequently. In no other form of society in history has there been such a concentration of images, such a density of visual messages.
One may remember or forget these messages but briefly one takes them in, and for a moment they stimulate the imagination by way of either memory or expectation. The publicity image belongs to the moment. We see it as we turn a page, as we turn a corner, as a vehicle passes us. Or we see it on a television screen while waiting for the commercial break to end. Publicity images also belong to the moment in the sense that they must be continually renewed and made up-to-date. Yet they never speak of the present. Often they refer to the past and always they speak of the future.
We are now so accustomed to being addressed by these images that we scarcely notice their total impact. A person may notice a particular image or piece of information because it corresponds to some particular interest he has. But we accept the total system of publicity images as we accept an element of climate. For example, the fact that these images belong to the moment but speak of the future produces a strange effect which has become so familiar that we scarcely notice it. Usually it is we who pass the image - walking, travelling, turning a page; on the TV screen it is somewhat different but even then we are theoretically the active agent - we can look away, turn down the sound, make some coffee. Yet despite this, one has the impression that publicity images are continually passing us, like express trains on their way to some distant terminus. We are static; they are dynamic - until the newspaper is thrown away, the television program continues or the paster is posted over.”
Bio Design | The work of bio-designers generates uncanny visions that can confront our deepest beliefs
When the materials of design are not plastics, wood, ceramics or glass, but rather living beings or living tissues, the implications of every project reach far beyond the form/function equation and any idea of comfort, modernity or progress. Design transcends its traditional boundaries and its implications aim straight at the heart of the moral sphere, toying with our deepest-seated beliefs. The figure of the mad scientist playing God in order to create a new being that turns into a harbinger of Armageddon does not, however, apply to most bio-designers. Some work with visible organisms such as plants and animals, others with bacteria and cells, others still tinker with DNA to create new beings, but they never work alone in an ethical vacuum, preferring instead teams that also comprise physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers, chemists and bio-ethicists, and sometimes even economists and philosophers. Their work is encouraged and celebrated in a few centres of “irradiation” of these new ideas, such as the indomitable Design Interactions programme at the Royal College of Art in London, the Science Gallery at Trinity College in Dublin, and the Paris-based Le Laboratoire gallery and research centre founded in 2007 by David Edwards, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Harvard, which has helped designer Mathieu Lehanneur propel himself in this realm. Many of them were featured in MoMA’s 2008 exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind and are now part of the museum’s collection.
Designers and scientists seek each other. Scientists, in particular, find in their collaboration with designers the breathing space away from rigorous scientific scrutiny they sometimes need. Experiments with design are often considered directional or speculative, and designers can indicate new behaviors and unexpected applications, a focus on human life that might at times elude scientists. Although I have always shied away from the bombastic declaration that designers can change the world, thanks to these collaborations they just might.
Symposium: I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I Want To Be There - The image in the age of visual obesity
The symposium signals emergent forms of the visual culture that surrounds us and inhabits us. It questions the nature of the so-called culture of attention, and looks at the way it influences and shapes the way we work, live and think today. How does our visual culture work, and what are its hidden dynamics? Which new tools and territories are emerging out of it? How do images mediate between us and the world? How do we deal with the ubiquitous presence of images and image versions? What kind of imagery is evolving from actual geopolitical shifts? Which possibilities does the age of configurability have to offer to the image? And how can visual literacy contribute to our understanding of the culture that we live in? To address these questions, the symposium brings together an expert crowd from the fields of design, art, journalism, neurobiology, fashion, literature and film. The symposium will address different functions of the image today: the image as a social agent, as a biological process, as the playground of our imagination, as a cultural criticism, and as a revolutionary power.