Historically, the shape, style, and decoration of every new technology has been introduced in a manner owing much to the aesthetics and thinking customary of the time. In the technological era, society became organized according to the logic of machines, conveyor belt principle, “rationally” based discrimination theories, and war technology, with an increase in fear, frustration, refusal, and protest. As a response, errors, inconsistencies of vision, of method, and of behaviour become artistic methods. Beneath our eyes there is being solved the most complex problem of culture: utilitarian form becomes pure creative form.
The guy presents himself as altruistic, telling us how ‘Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.’ Whereas what Facebook actually does is share tons of information about you with large multinational advertisers. ‘It’s free and always will be’, preaches the site: but the only reason it’s free is that – in the age of digital marketing – marketing clients of the site use it to trace what your interests are, where you shop, what you buy, and who you know. And it isn’t free for them: for them, it’s priceless.
Zuckerberg is also keen to tell us how he’s retaining ‘control’ of the company – as if this was a way of remaining pure while he trousers $30 billion. But the truth is, he’s a control freak – and unless you want to see your equity’s value disappear, whether you sell 30% or 70% is pretty immaterial: you have to do what the money-men want.
Is it possible that we have babysat art objects to death? What if their re-invigoration will require us to set them free, to let them stay out late past their locational curfew? If so, there is yet another type of movement as worthy as the three previously mentioned; it is the idea of contextual movement.
Art objects that rely on contextual movement are perceptual shape shifters in media and location, changing on the basis of their different audiences’ understanding of them. These shifts in perception necessarily produce a range of diverse reactions; the subtle differences in subjectivity that allow for a group of people to understand a given thing as entertainment, pornography, art, or blasphemy are capable of producing discourses far more complex than those of an object perceived as a work of art alone. To harness and display these divergent interests requires, at first, a kind of decontextualization. If institutions pre-empt the status of objects as art, we should look to those sites without single purposes for the objects they house as potentially liberating domains for the placement or incubation of contextually moving art: the streets, unsuspecting homes, stores, the internet, outer space, etc. Here the responsibility of the artist is both a discrete creator and silent archivist, documenting alterations to or interactions with her perceptually slippery work as it “lives”.
Quality deals with the judicious weighing of relationships, with balance, contrast, harmony, juxtaposition, between formal and functional elements—their transformation and enrichment. Further, it is concerned with ideas not techniques, with the enduring not ephemeral, with precision not fussiness, with simplicity not vacuity, with subtlety not blatancy, with sensitivity not sentimentality.
In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create. What spark of humanity, of possible creativity, can remain alive in a being dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about in suburban trains, deafened by the racket of machinery, bleached and steamed by meaningless sounds and gestures, spun dry by statistical controls, and tossed out at the end of the day into the entrance halls of railway stations, those cathedrals of departure for the hell of weekdays and the purgatory paradise of weekends, where the crowd communes in a brutish weariness? From adolescence to retirement each twenty-four-hour cycle repeats the same shattering bombardment, like bullets hitting a window: mechanical repetition, time-which-is-money, submission to bosses, boredom, exhaustion. From the crushing of youth’s energy to the gaping wound of old age, life cracks in every direction under the blows of forced labour. Never before has a civilisation reached such a degree of contempt for life; never before has a generation, drowned in mortification, felt such a rage to live. The same people who are murdered slowly in the mechanised slaughterhouses of work are also arguing, singing, drinking, dancing, making love, taking to the streets, picking up weapons and inventing a new poetry. Already the front against forced labour is forming; its gestures of refusal are moulding the consciousness of the future. Every call for productivity under the conditions chosen by capitalist and Soviet economics is a call to slavery.
Once we accept the concept of work as something meaningful — not just as the source of a buck — you don’t have to worry about finding enough jobs.
Impact. Pursuing the paycheck first and last is a great way to spend your life desperately unfulfilled. Insanely great work isn’t motivated by glittering jackpots — but by an abiding desire to, as Steve Jobs put it, make a dent in the universe. So take a deep breath and aim squarely at the lofty apex of human accomplishment — while stepping firmly onto the grimy pavement.
People. Life is about people, not product. If you’re spending 80% of your time on “product”, you’re not fully alive. Lasting relationships aren’t built by “networking” but by caring. This means investing in people, not just grinning at them. Hence, if you want to “connect,” you probably have to do what’s more dangerous than merely swapping email addresses or biz cards — you have to relate.
Purpose. What is the fundamental reason you are here? To conquer the next pair of designer trophy jeans? Hardly. Brands are for cattle, strategy is for games, and consumers are for “output.” Human life is about lasting outcomes, not just short-term payoffs; hence, I’d say the stuff of razor-sharp purpose begins there. Which human outcomes are you here to transform?
Courage. Compromising too readily with the past never creates the future. It only recreates the past. You can’t find fertile new ground by dully plodding along after the herd — you’ve got to veer off in a different direction. So dream bigger. Be hopelessly naïve. And persevere unflinchingly.
Self-respect. If your society’s going haywire, it’s up to you to begin fixing it. If your work is sucking at your soul, and you see it doing relentless damage to people and society, quit and do something else. No, it’s not easy — but odds are, the axe is going to fall over the next decade anyways. Value your inner life as much as you value your outer stuff. Stop buying into marketing’s spin-cycle of self-loathing — “Feeling anxious? Buy this, now!!” — and start investing your time, energy, and imagination in action instead of stuff.
This neurosis is the foundation upon which successive governments could declare war on joblessness, pretending to wage a “battle on unemployment” while ex-managers camped with their cell phones in Red Cross shelters along the banks of the Seine. While the Department of Labor was massively manipulating its statistics in order to bring unemployment numbers below two million. While welfare checks and drug dealing were the only guarantees, as the French state has recognized, against the possibility of social unrest at each and every moment. It’s the psychic economy of the French as much as the political stability of the country that is at stake in the maintenance of the workerist fiction.
Excuse us if we don’t give a fuck.
We belong to a generation that lives very well in this fiction. That has never counted on either a pension or the right to work, let alone rights at work. That isn’t even “precarious,” as the most advanced factions of the militant left like to theorize, because to be precarious is still to define oneself in relation to the sphere of work, that is, to its decomposition. We accept the necessity of finding money, by whatever means, because it is currently impossible to do without it, but we reject the necessity of working. Besides, we don’t work anymore: we do our time. Business is not a place where we exist, it’s a place we pass through. We aren’t cynical, we are just reluctant to be deceived. All these discourses on motivation, quality and personal investment pass us by, to the great dismay of human resources managers. They say we are disappointed by business, that it failed to honor our parents’ loyalty, that it let them go too quickly. They are lying. To be disappointed, one must have hoped for something. And we have never hoped for anything from business: we see it for what it is and for what it has always been, a fool’s game of varying degrees of comfort. On behalf of our parents, our only regret is that they fell into the trap, at least the ones who believed.
In Holland, we have two words for design. One is vormgeving; in German formgeben. And the other word is ontwerpen; in German entwurf. In the Anglo-Saxon language there’s only one word for design, which is design. That is something you should work out. Vormgeving is more to make things look nice. So for instance, packaging for a perfume or for chocolate in order to make things fashionable, obsolete and therefore bad for society because we don’t really need it. While ontwerpe means, and the Anglo-saxon word, but its stronger, means engineering. That means you as a person try to invent a new thing—which is intelligent, which is clever, and which will have a long-life. And that’s called stylistic durability. It means you can use it for a long time.