This last Friday we were invited to a private view at Craft in the Bay to see (mainly) the Guest Maker show by ceramicist Lisa Krigel. Inspired in part by the documentary photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher, the work evokes a Bauhaus-like aesthetic without being in any way derivative. Beautiful and, yes, fully functional.
Our imaginations, haunted by the old archetypes, have remained far behind the sophistication of the machines. The various attempts to integrate modern science into new myths remain inadequate. Meanwhile abstraction has invaded all the arts, contemporary architecture in particular. Pure plasticity, inanimate and storyless, soothes the eye. Elsewhere other fragmentary beauties can be found — while the promised land of new syntheses continually recedes into the distance. Everyone wavers between the emotionally still-alive past and the already dead future.
A mental disease has swept the planet: banalization. Everyone is hypnotized by production and conveniences — sewage systems, elevators, bathrooms, washing machines. This state of affairs, arising out of a struggle against poverty, has overshot its ultimate goal—the liberation of humanity from material cares—and become an omnipresent obsessive image. Presented with the alternative of love or a garbage disposal unit, young people of all countries have chosen the garbage disposal unit.
Our struggle is to open every moment and fill it with an activity that does not contribute to the reproduction of capital. Stop making capitalism and do something else, something sensible, something beautiful and enjoyable. Stop creating the system that is destroying us. We only live once, why use our time to destroy our own existence? Surely we can do something better with our lives. Revolution is not about destroying capitalism, but about refusing to create it.
Douglas Carl Engelbart is one of those people who should by now have become a household name, one of the pioneers of the computing revolution that we take for granted. I am saddened to learn of his death. Decent obituaries here and here. This from the latter:
In December 1968, however, he set the computing world on fire with a remarkable demonstration before more than a thousand of the world’s leading computer scientists at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, one of a series of national conferences in the computer field that had been held since the early 1950s. Dr. Engelbart was developing a raft of revolutionary interactive computer technologies and chose the conference as the proper moment to unveil them.
For the event, he sat on stage in front of a mouse, a keyboard and other controls and projected the computer display onto a 22-foot-high video screen behind him. In little more than an hour, he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing.