“Every reductionist who claims to deduce that which this or that thing is from that which composes this or that thing only succeeds in dissolving the very thing that they claim to account for.
Like a messiah, a prophet succeeds in thinking of history only on the horizon of its end or the determination of a final endpoint, which entails either annihilation and disaster, or success and salvation.”
1. The utility and pitfalls of branding and culture under the umbrella of an expanding global economy.
In the commercial sector all design is unconsidered because it is a projection of the self, it generates metaphor because it operates under the mask of objectivity or directly attempts to solve the problem of producing aesthetics in response to and in an effort to manipulate the market.
To be more specific, symbols generated are produced in relation to the abstract, for example the application of a logo to a brand would be ideally simplified to “‘This’ is a symbol for ‘that’” or in practice: The Nike swoosh is a symbol for a shoe company. But if that is true, what happens when you put the Nike swoosh on a backpack, or an ad in a stadium for a sports team. So in fact, ‘This’ is not a symbol for ‘that’, but instead, a symbol for the context or culture around which we should understand ‘that’. In this way, we begin to see culture and context as constructions which rely on metaphor to solidify themselves as truth.
Metaphors are powerful in that they only operate in relation to that which has cultural (or economic) authority. A metaphor is useless if it has nothing to validate it externally. Given the power brand accrue (usually in relation to their economic value) symbols generated to represent brands have the power to manipulate the context or culture they occupy. To follow the previous thread, in many ways we are beholden to the culture produced by Nike (if you happen to occupy a space that interfaces /w Nikes branding campaigns). While obvious in many ways, the point of outlining this series of relationships is to finally arrive at a space where we can begin to observe the true role of the designer, an agent operating in, but with no control over the cultural landscape they are influencing. The relationship generated between the two, designer and metaphor, is one of demolition given the aforementioned lack of control, along with the very nature of the metaphor itself.
I would argue that metaphor is inherently false. Metaphors truth comes from the cultural value of its producer, which in many ways complicates the role of the designer. While a designer / design firm may in fact have their own social, cultural, or economic capital, the success of the work (metaphor) produced is often times related to the social, cultural, or economic capital of their client. If a designer produces a work and it is rejected by the client one can argue that it is a false metaphor for the company it was produced for. After it has been accepted by the client it somehow becomes true. What’s interesting about this is that following this logic all design work produced is inherently false metaphor, and in the absence of the client, any / all design produced is equally false. Further, if we were to ignore the social, cultural, and economic capital of the client, much if not all design work produced is false metaphor, tied to nothing more than the designers themselves, their subjective histories, and limited worldview. However, in pursuit of metaphor the designer successfully create a metonym through their own relationship to the abstract concepts they are attempting to represent. The aforementioned ties to the individuals, subjective history, and limited worldview lay the groundwork for a concise metonym built on these elements. In many ways the clarity (metonym) which can be reached through the production of such metaphors becomes more powerful than the original metaphor itself, albeit metonyms are limited in scale and scope, e.g. If you understand me you will understand the work, if you empathize with me the context is already there, if you can sympathize with me there is a chance of you understanding the context, if you can’t or won’t attempt to sympathize w/ me, maybe the work isn’t for you?
2. Observations on optimization and accessibility
Optimization operates in relation to metaphor or / maybe in the same space as metaphor? Optimization, is often defined in relation to the abstract. This ‘abstract’ is culturally or contextually enforced in the same way brands are: through the validation of those with cultural, economic, or social capital. Optimization leads to negligence as it often ignores the subjective reality of the producer in favor of a false objectivity constructed by the brand itself. While this serves the brands objectives it often ignores it’s consumers and the individuals which the brand postures itself as being representative of. The process of optimization is enacted as if it is solution, when in fact it is really a value judgement which the powerless are forced to accept.
Conversely, to define accessibility in relation to a series of questions…
-Who is this work accessible to?-How is this work accessible?-How can one expand the audience that the work is accessible to?-Am I interested in producing accessible work?
…allows accessibility to become a metonym for purpose. Or / maybe the quest to produce accessible work is an exploration of ethics i.e to define accessibility through a subjective set of principles (the aforementioned questions) creates clarity around the intention of its producer.
3. Literal scene vs constructed scene:
In this particular instance, a concept rendered through time based media activates three points in relation to the viewer.
a. Surface: Compression of 3d space into 2d
b. Metaphor: Implication of concept rendered through surface but perhaps not directly contained within the initial compression.
c. Abstraction (feeling) A move to power by the viewer. Manipulation of metaphor to distort the appearance of the surface. Usually in an attempt to produce sympathy outside the initial context of viewing.
The former (literal scene), is defined by what can be immediately perceived, or qualified through the senses. The literal scene is a subjective state of viewing. In observing such a scene, the viewer is only exposed to an implication of a metaphor. The surface is unimportant, almost tertiary to the viewers justification of the existence of the surface. The surface only serves in producing the third point. The point at which the viewer abstracts the surface as a self serving agent to assist in the production of sympathy. The production of sympathy is an act of protection and isolation. The production of sympathy reify’s the viewers reality which consequently discards the reality of the surface, the surface dissolves in the absence of the viewer, only existing as a footnote to the abstraction.
The latter (constructed scene), has no life outside of it’s viewing. It destroys itself upon completion. Its existence is not reliant on the precence of the viewer, in fact the viewers position is based on chance or / maybe privilege. The surface of the constructed scene contains its metaphor internally, bypassing the process of implication. The surface assumes the role of author, a non-human agent bearing no responsibility to the reality of the viewer. Context is irrelevant, “context” in the viewers reality is nothing more than a tool for manipulation as observed in the literal scene.
The screen should be viewed as a classroom not a method of display. The notion of a collective conscious is lost in digital space, not due to gaps between the individuals themselves, but through the inevitable paradox brought about by overlapping, but incongruent networks which construct their own histories, time-lines, and narratives. The internet is not changing too fast for us to keep up, I might argue that the internet is finally giving the individual a space for reflection, and from this point of isolation, to re-approach the broken notion of our socialized state, is absolutely terrifying and unfamiliar.
Dropping a metaphorical toaster into a physical bathtub while submerged in water is not as effective as committing suicide. But at this point, the amount of time that has been used as a punchline, for a series of jokes not really meant as such, but instead thinly veiled attempts, asking for help, or, actually, it’s even less than that. Because they’re really just excuses to never get better. Art only exists to reify our own existence. In it’s absence we find ourselves devouring ourselves. Snakes in the garden should no longer be seen as a bad omen but instead bearers of wealth (albeit one must always insist on following a practice of moderation).
The snake eating it’s golden tail, a visual metaphor that allows itself the opportunity to occupy static space time (as a symbol), but also embody 3 unique narratives (given the following context).
Sujata, mother of 4 sonssons 1-3, greed, sloth, perhaps were given too much freedom as children and now rely on a rather strange contribution by the 4th brother to their familyson 4, cursed, killed, is now a snake, his tail produces gold, but only an inch at a time that his mother must cut from his body, if more should be cut, son four will enter into the next stage of reincarnation.
Prior to abstraction (or / maybe the construction of the symbol that could be described as the snake eating it’s golden tail) son 4 will enter into the next stage of reincarnation through the betrayal of his mother, a response to the greed of her (human) children.
Compressed into one isolated narrative, only being viewed in a dimension outside of its compression (time-space of the viewer as they look to the aforementioned symbol), the snake eating it’s golden tail as a singular body or character, a plane above the reality in which it’s parts have been developed, begins to take on a life of its own:
From this point forward, the symbol, a snake eating it’s golden tail will be referred to as S1.
S1 enters scene from stage left behind a series of fake cardboard cutouts of bushes, bushes that look domestic. Like something outside of a small suburban home with a freshly whitewashed fence and a beautiful family playing in the front yard while the father washes their 2006 Hyundai. A choice him and his partner decided on because they are economical, they know that a car is not an investment, so it’s really about buying something that could last until their oldest boy, Tommy, begins to drive.
Close to stage-right there is crudely drawn library. Outside on the steps, sits a boy, probably Tommy, who I would imagine is close to 15, because, the aforementioned family is economical but not crazy. Like seriously, do you really think you can get a Hyundai to last more than 10 years? I guess they’re more than optimistic. They think positively!
As S1 approaches Tommy, he notices the boy is crying, which S1 finds rather odd given how economical, pragmatic, and positive his family must be. But who are you, S1, to make such assumptions.
Caught off guard, S1 begins to speak: It’s just a switch Tommy, that’s all it takes, there is no need for you to keep eating yourself, you see Tommy, it’s just a switch. And with all my experience, and all that I have been through, just to get here. I can say with complete confidence tommy, it’s just a switch, just flip that switch Tommy. You don’t need to be sad, don’t cry, come now Tommy, lets get in this reasonably priced Hyundai Sonata with power steering and an incredible 38 MPG highway, and get you back to your beautiful family. Back to your beautiful parents.