System, Suspension, Seduction: Anne Bush's Critical Design Practice

By Zuern, John | Visible Language, May 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

System, Suspension, Seduction: Anne Bush's Critical Design Practice


Zuern, John, Visible Language


ABSTRACT

For the past decade, in addition to her contributions as a design historian, theorist, educator and profes sional designer. Anne Bush has created works of installation art that engage their viewers in a set of questions about the role of design in the construction of knowledge. Facade (1995). "Type" Specimen (1998), Trust (2002), and Library/Catalogue (2003) all fuse typography with a range of materials that have become fundamental to human interactions with each other and the environment-including banknotes and the basic tools of scientific research such as microscope slides, test tubes and books. With these installations, Bush constructs conceptual way-finding systems that operate on both large and intimate scales to orient visitors not only to the specific details of the spaces in which the works are installed, but also to the general systems of demarcation, classification and control that shape our comprehension of our world.

An example of rhe best design was before my eyes, the design of é seductive unity of person and machine, sensuility and playfulness, beauty of form and aptness of function. A sort affusion dream, the staging of this dream as reality and. at the same time, the most treacherous delusion.'

- Gert Selle

THE "UNTIMELY OPINIONS" GERT SELLE first voiced fifteen years ago in Design Issues recapitulate questions that have troubled designers since the consolidation of the modern design professions. From the founding rationales of the Bauhaus to Ken Garland's 1964 "First Things First" manifesto to the reaffirmation of that manifesto in 1999. designers and design theorists have engaged, but have certainly not laid to rest, the set of problems that prompted Selle's rather lugubrious reflections on the state of design in the culture of late capitalism. Of perennial concern has been the relationship between professional design practice, with its ties to industry and commerce, and the hegemonic political, social and cultural regimes in force in the world in which designers must work. How does a designer cope with the apprehension that a successful solution to a design challenge, the kind of felicitous union of formal beauty and intuitive functionality Selle so admires in the Olivetti Divisumma 18 (the tabletop calculator that serves as his double-edged "example of the best design") may constitute little more than the fulfillment of the designer's role as an under-sung minion of capitalist technocracy? And if we insist that designers are more than merely window-dressers in the malls of transnational capital, more than merely ushers in the theaters of postindustrial urban space, how do to we identify design's social surplus value, the potential for enlightenment, critique and even resistance and dissent, within design itself? How do we articulate-and, moreover, actualize in and as design-a critical design practice which "makes visible to perception and thought that which is considered invisible in design so as to understand it,"* or, as more recent formulations of the question have put it, links "the multiple degrees of separation between the everyday notions of meaning making and the specific decisions of designers"3 and effects "a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning?"4

A critical design practice worth its name would certainly have to be something more than a soy-ink-on-recycled-paper environmentalism and even something more than the outrage and good intentions of the "First Things First" manifestos. It would have to be something more, too, than wishful thinking on the part of theorists of design.

Ideally, the critical insights born of such a design practice would extend beyond auto- and meta-critique within the design community into the community at large, and the designed object or system would comprise, within the parameters of its function, a critical intervention into the larger social-culturalpolitical systems in which it plays its functional role. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

System, Suspension, Seduction: Anne Bush's Critical Design Practice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.