Aesthetics, Machines, and Rhetoric
Great technology is beautiful technology. -- David Gelerntner, 129
On a busy street just north of the inner city of Milwaukee is a new strip mail. Its "look" makes it stand out from among the usual stretch of office buildings and Burger Kings along that street. The stores are the expected mix of Walgreens, Office Depot, and so forth. But the exterior of each store is a smooth, geometric, metallic gray punctuated by enormous red steel girders emerging like a scaffolding from the exterior, industrial flying buttresses anchoring buildings to the parking lot. The whole mail looks like a factory fall of machines that might be set in motion by turning a switch, an enormous engine of commerce.
As I write this manuscript I find I am surrounded by rounded, flowing shapes, all of the same neutral light beige: my computer and its monitor, the printer standing next to it, a cordless telephone on a nearby shelf, and an electric spaceheater composed of a series of identical slim, standing, rounded rectangles with simple controls and switches on the face of the last pillar. Each quiet form hides a potent electric power to create, to communicate, to command my environment. They work, I know not how.
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Publication information: Book title: Rhetoric of Machine Aesthetics. Contributors: Barry Brummett - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 1.