Designed relations

Designed relations

Interdisciplinary instruments for possible relational aesthetics in communication.

From: proposal is to collects writings and projects concerning collective design experiences. We are mapping this theme in different contexts: communication design, relational art, public installations, video production, exhibition design, webdesign, urbanism and much more, believing that citizen participation could be a key issue in design innovation.
Courtesy of Hisham Akira Bharoocha.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, graphic design has created a language, has achieved professional authority, has ventured to overlap with other disciplines and allowed other disciplines to model its development. A special link between visual communication and visual art has always existed: if we look at visual art as a form of expression of society values, it is easy to understand its influence on the language the designer has to create to speak to the public at large, a revision of that of everyday life, that art tries to capture in its forms. The intrinsic link between the two disciplines is particularly evident in this period: many are the personalities whose work can be placed in an intermediate field between art and graphic design. The mistake often made is trying to give borders, to define the two subjects, forgetting the interest in the work content and its communicative and social power. After all, the raw material used by the artist and the designer is the same and also the role society gives them today is similar: director, producer, stage designer, composer, programmer and we could add also DJ, called to organize, remix, give new function to existing cultural forms in new contents.
Art in its development, started to move slowly, at first only in the spectator’s retina, then by means of small motors, sometimes only moved by wind gaining more and more speed until it left the galleries as in Daniel Buren’s white and green striped paintings, invaded towns as in Nouveau Realism’s experiments, until it created experiences involving all the spectator’s five senses. Gruppo T’s environments, GRAV’s experiments, Debord’s films but also Duchamp’s first ready made do not mean anything without the presence of the spectator. Today Marina Abramovic and Vanessa Beecroft’s performances, Rikrit Tiravanija’ dinners, Pierre Huyghe’s billboards, Sophie Calle’s projects do not live without the relationship with the spectator, but they also add something more: the relationship between the work and the space it takes and most of all the relations that will be established among the public. Relational art takes the last step towards the spectator. The spectator’s participation, theorized by happenings and performances, has become a constant of artistic practice: perhaps it is better to say that the relation between work and spectator is what makes an object a work of art, as Duchamp says ce sont les regardeurs qui font les tableaux.
Nicolas Bourriaud in his essay Estetique relationelle, is the first to define this new trend in contemporary art:
After its control over the relationships between humanity and divinity, and afterwards between humanity and the object, art concentrates on the sphere of interpersonal relationships, as the first works that have been produced since the early 1990s testify.1

Continue reading at:

« […] people in the design world should begin to look deeper not only into the political scene, but also in the possibility of helping people to change. Participation may be one educational approach toward this. […] So I think that people who are experts should go to people who have lack of knowledge, and say “We can help you with our knowledge, but you can help us by the way you see things when your view is not clouded by all our knowledge of feasibility, of procedures, and so on.” In that way, you may receive an invaluable challenge to your abilities, which will force you to re-think all that you have been doing before.»Robert Junk in Cross, N. (Ed.) (1972) Design Participation: Proceedings of the Design Research Society’s Conference,
Academy Editions, London, UK.

  1. My apologies again for not making the lecture. The text below particularly resinates with me as I’m constantly treading the line between fine art, and design. I actually applied for a mix of fine art and gd courses. I saw Marina Abramovic’s show in Manchester. All people. All awkward. It was truly involving. Although her nudity at the end was a little unnecessary.

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