Wednesday, February 25, 2009

marginalization and creativity...

we now consider the powerful aspects of collective unconsciousness in the formation of judgements and opinions with respect to ourselves and others. 

it is highly unlikely that if we were put in a position to state or evaluate our position in terms of racial, gender, ageist ethics and equality, that we would consider ourselves unfair. i have always thought of myself as an 
ethically minded person that views all people as being of equal value and worth in the greater society...or at least, i think that i am. well, at least as long as i am in a situation where i do not feel outnumbered or threatened or anxious....perhaps, it is in these situations that my conditioned responses come out as biases, in these moments i have a glimpse of my mind and begin to know it a little better. 

through harvard university, a team of therapists and psychologists developed a method that measures our conscious-unconscious reactions to specific stimuli, thereby allowing us to know our minds better. these methods are called the Implicit Association Tests and attempt to measure and calculate just that: our implicit responses to stimuli that form conditioned associations or a codebreaker to the unconscious?

please refer to the Harvard Implicit Association Test website:  and go to the demonstration tests, there will be 15, please choose 10 to take..take each one twice to compare your results. i hope that you are surprised by your findings and good luck.

also, i hope you enjoy the first of our featured artists for the section: antony hegarty. please refer to his interview on fresh air
with terry gross. the download or listen is available at:

happy listening and learning.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

running amok: some more

Hella Jongerius is one of those pretty simple inspirational characters, makes a lot of something out of nothing. Her work with Droog lighting proved luminous (silly pun, sorry), plenty to be seen in how they influenced and inspired later lighting design. Product and interiors on her own with Jongeriuslab...these companies are both worth spending 
time checking into. If her work looks familiar, it is no wonder, she designs a few products and lines that end up in IKEA and are featured regularly in magazines that appreciate interesting lines and inventive design.

there are a few really funny one-off projects on the site if you find yourself wandering through it, enjoy. Her textiles are also really fabulous if you can find them.....

Then, when it comes to cutting edge design thinking...IDEO. Upon visiting their San Francisco design studios a year ago, I was struck by the deep empathy embedded in their projects. It was never enough just to imagine that they knew their client or target market, most often they spent time actually living, breathing and partying with them until they were able to come forward with a design that had been circulated in real time with real people. So, please make some time to check out IDEO and  Tim Brown's design thinking blog.

Tomorrow will find us looking at some short videos together and reviewing contracts. Please come to the meeting prepared to talk about your project and discuss any relevant points in respect to your contract. 

Signing out for now. Goodnight. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Running Amok: Conventions and Breaking Free

To begin this discussion is to have some insight into pack mentality...and approach the conversation as a consumer of mass culture, having an awareness, at least somewhat, of culture and commonplace and normative behavior within groups. A group, one that may have the makings of a small enclave of like minded people brought together by work or play, is essentially the makings of a larger cosm and eventually a subculture.... as more participants declare allegiance to the subculture, the essential qualities and components that brought a core group together become slightly watered down. So, you have a large group of people that really no longer know why they are aligned, but they have accepted certain rules about their appearance, habits, hobbies, and conversation basis. It is a safe zone by which allegiance to a loosely fitting ideal becomes a newer, larger (sub)culture, then a mass culture. And  mass culture acceptance becomes a tool by which to communicate with enormous amounts of people, a sales tool in many cases, a simple way to identify your target market, a trend. Trends have a lot of velocity. So, and you can probably see where this conversation is going, the microcosm becomes that macrocosm and the result is a very large cross-section of people having similar desires in respect to goods and services. It is a lovely grand schemata for business. Why do we allow this to happen? And how does our ambivalence and acceptance contribute to a greater cultural shift?  

In reaction to trends that are observed by mass culture, often a few seperatists can spin off to find the integrity of their ideals and desires in a smaller group, a counter culture, a reaction to and departure from mass culture....
Now, we are talking about art and design here....but, can one really separate the two, life and art/design? How do the choices we make in our everyday lives affect the choices we make in the studio? This is the point from which we begin our investigations......
Talking fashion, please take look at Hussein Chalayan, whose art and design
 projects have intermingled so that the idea of cloth
ing that bears a certain witness to war torn Cyprus and the memories of loss of family treasures, can double as a storage bin or piece of camoflauged furniture.

Or architecture, Sam Mockabee's Rural Studio group can provide shelter, homes and places of worship for those in need using old car windshields and discarded solar panels...and be featured artists in the Whitney Biennial.

Or Warren Hellman, humble banjo player, can transform his love of bluegrass into a three day event featuring some of the best Pop, Country, Bluegrass and Alternative bands  this country has to offer free of charge to San Francisco with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Just a few examples to begin our conversation, a trip to the new materials lab and a project that you have chosen to revisit...


Sunday, January 25, 2009

for this week and the project ahead..

Invention, Experimentation, and Deconstruction:

From our description of the section, I will suggest a few artists/designers to search to get the idea of how one can reinvent through inspired investigation of the past.

Roxy Paine: through his reference to nature and natural forms, he allows one to not only believe in the beauty of the synthetic representation of the natural but to question the need for the natural at all...allowing a larger conversation into what is nature in a world overrun by humans that 
are constantly designing ways to gain control and dominion over their environment.

Walton Ford: in his heroic recapitulation of naturalist studies and as a nod to John James Audubon, Walton Ford paints graphic realism into the habits of the animal kingdom choosing only to allow the application of the paint and palette choices to be made romantic and let the subject matter tell a wild animal story....this is in direct reaction and adverse to portraits of animals previously rendered in the traditional humanistic style.

Francis Alys: please read this interview:
and this blog:

Also, this week is our field trip to the Headlands Center for the Arts, please begin to talk about ridesharing as public transportation does not service Fort Barry. Above, you will see an image from the show by Francesca Pastine.

Other artists to reference or look into:
invention: Julie Mehretu, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Grotjahn, Chiho Aoshima, Franz Ackerman
deconstruction:Takashi Murakami, Douglas Gordon
experimentation:Andrea Zittel, Tom Friedman, Francis Alys

see you tomorrow for the last presentations and new project initiation...

Hello and glad that you made it..

Welcome to the Pushing Boundaries blog. In lieu of creating a wasteful and cumbersome reader this year, I thought we could opt for the immediacy of communication through the internet and a blog seemed the perfect interface.

I will be using this post to recommend readings, sites, events, etc. that are relevant and enriching to our class as well as encouraging your posts and comments to enliven the conversation and dialogue.  Thanks in advance for your participation and keep your eyes open for the first big post later this evening.