Saturday, 28 February 2009


Going on the hunt for some understanding of design - see the roundabout debate - the trip has found me watching and reading about Andrea Palladio and Palladianism. A recent programme on the BBC distilled the story quite well for a layman. Discussion went on to the Vitruvian Man and questions of symmetry and proportion. The latin basis being the three principles of: "firmitas"(strong), "utilitas" (useful) and "venustas" (beautiful). What a great triumverate to hold on to when critically appraising any design work. Robert Adam, the architect, discussed the "poetry of the rulebook" and said that, "...without rules you lose yourself in the labrinyth." Ah....the abyss by another name?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Estonian cyber wargames hit the streets?

Travelling out of Heathrow on Tuesday I came across a large group of Estonian soldiers in combat fatigues. I know the Estonian's are very much up to speed with all things digital but hey! a fashion statement whereby soldiers clothing mimics a digital pattern? Is this virtual reality taking over reality? Is the designer having a laugh? Apparently not according to Wikipedia here and here - this opens up a hole can of worms or anorak stuff if you are not careful!!! What would Zizek say?

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Mystique of Purity

Back to the sense of roundabout symbolism. What is that powerful draw, that essence that is sought in the perfection of design? Has Poggioli at last provided a clue....

“… this does not mean that the iconoclastic attitude can always be reduced to a vulgar gesture of protest or a brutal act of vandalism. Its more profound root is sometimes the quasi-religious aspiration toward and absolute emotional and mental freedom, the desire to reacquire an ingenuousness and innocence of vision which modern man seems forever to have lost, the anxious will to discover the eternal laws of ideal or perfect form. There is no doubt that it was an aspiration or will of this type which led Picabia to display, as if it were a painting, an empty frame, hung in mid-air; this let Kandinsky’s famous revelation, when he became convinced that his true work of art, creative and not imitative, was what had appeared for the first time to his eyes when he beheld one of his own traditional canvases put, by chance, back to. Such examples demonstrate that iconoclasm can come to be seen as the negative moment of a tendency elsewhere discussed as the mystique of purity.”

The Theory of the Avant-garde
Renato Poggioli (1962) pp 181