October 2007 archives

Entry no.: 311

31 Oct 2007, 3:30 AM

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Personal Bragging about The Times

Flickr, Faces in Places, The Times

My brass robot picture in The Times — Arts Online section. Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2007.

A funny picture of mine is in The Times today—Arts Online section—featured in Olav Bjortomt's Blog of the Week review of Faces in Places.

Thank you Jody/PickupStix from Faces in Places, thank you Jo Carlill from The Times.

Entry no.: 299

16 Oct 2007, 10:28 AM

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Comments: 10

Design Communist design

Red decay, Cristian -Kit- Paul, 2004

Googlers

I see incoming hits coming from Google searches for "communist design" keywords. They drive me mad and determined me to write this post.

However, what these searches find is A communist design law in the making page about SDPR's "design law" is only fair, if not also a bit amusing.

But that's not about communist design per se, but about a professional conduct that reminds of communism: people with mindsets imported right from "the old times" and an appetite for control by monopoly and lack of choice that can only make sense in a centralized economic model.

Parenthesis

Communist economy was utterly inept at building a nice spoon.

IKEA opened their first Bucharest store a few months ago. One of the first items my friends bought from IKEA was—among other items—a tea spoon. A very simple yet beautifully designed little metal spoon, featuring a clear line and a matte sandblasted texture, almost soft to touch.

I look at it for a long time, trying to understand. How hard is to design a spoon, and—I remembered—why during communism exactly those small day-to-day domestic life objects were the most horrendous?

Because everyday life objects don't have any political propaganda potential. They don't serve the regime.

Communist economy could manufacture spaceships and send people on orbit, but was utterly inept—and will always be, in any if its iterations—at building a nice spoon.

Contradiction

Communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design.

In fact, communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design. The rudimentary exceptions you'll find can only confirm this statement, because communism and design are incompatible and mutually exclusive. Here's why.

  • Communism despises people1 while design is an effort to help and dignify people2;
  • Communism is a centralized economy which means that market competition is heavily discouraged until complete obliteration, while design is an instrument for outperforming competing players in a market economy;
  • In a centralized economy it's not the market that decides what's good—someone else decides what's good for you and what you should like: centralized taste. Design stands for differentiation and plurality, design teaches and encourages a democracy of taste;
  • Communism is about eradicating the freedom of choice by lack of options and by coercion, design is about encouraging choice by seduction;
  • Graphic design in communism is closely linked with propaganda. So closely that anything that's not propaganda it is regarded as hostile to the regime and subject to censure.2
  • Without plurality there is no need for identity, consequently identity design is either pointless or diverted to propaganda, also.

Now really, please—if you find this—quit searching for "communist design"—it's not only a deceptive oxymoron, it's plain bullshit. There could exist an appropriate term, however: communist antidesign.


1 Romania's president officially denounced the Communist regime as "illegitimate and criminal" in 2006. Before that, in July 1993, the Czech Republic passed an act condemning its Soviet-era government, and Bulgaria's Parliament passed a resolution condemning the former regime there in 2001. In 2006 also, Ukraine's Parliament passed a bill labeling the Stalin-orchestrated famine of the 1930s that killed an estimated 10 million people an act of genocide. [See article in International Herald Tribune.]

2 Informations architecture helps people understand messages better, ergonomics helps people use products with less effort, usability helps people accomplish their goals, and so forth.

3 Graphic artists and book illustrators explained me the numerous revisions that were forced upon them by the censors for mere poetry books illustrations. In one instance a Communist Party censor asked that all earrings and bracelets from a series of book illustrations to be airbrushed out because they were "decadent" and "bourgeois".

Entry no.: 286

10 Oct 2007, 1:24 PM

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Photography Everybody hurts

Everybody hurts, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2007

A voicelessly despaired brass robot head, all beaten up, scratched and dented—look closely and you'll notice those tears. Heartbreaking.

A take on that Faces in Places mildly delusional idea.

Update: Yes, it made it to the Faces in Places blog!

Later update: The picture, it seems, has been published in Scotsman Magazine.

Entry no.: 280

7 Oct 2007, 11:20 PM

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Comments: 13

Photography Come on, Vogue

Yes, I can

Listen, if The Sartorialist guy can do it, then I can, too: real-life style photography. Staggering findings of urban sophistication. Elegance. Panache. Hell, why not even style commentary—if I want to.

Design avant-garde or wardrobe malfunction? Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2005

Style and all things chic

Now really. Look at this: les annees folles of transition economy, wild parties and champagne in the morning—a few sips too many—and she hits the street dressed with a sofa cover, prettified with an assemblage of lovely fluffy tassels dangling limp like a strangled family of little forrest animals.

Quite a warning. There are things going on underneath, mysterious things. Ambiguous and intriguing things. Artifacts obliviously hanging out, probably by design—post-modernly quoting the misfortunes of wardrobe malfunction. Design should be, though, because those flowery baits will shrewdly entice your hungry eye—like a stupid little puppy—toward the vicious curves concealed underneath like boas in the jungle, unmerciful and relentless.

And then, the finishing BDSM touch: cheeky not-so-tiny golden hand-cuffs, sprinkled with blinding Swarovski crystals, teasingly barring the way to the vast carnal temptations sequestered underneath. Do sailors blush?

Entry no.: 277

6 Oct 2007, 12:07 AM

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Comments: 5

Photography Gershwin

West Side Story, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2005

"Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idealized it all out of proportion." Then, he stops, corrects himself, substitutes "romanticized" for "idealized," and continues, "To him no matter what the season, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin."1

Gotcha

Just messing with you, really—this is Bucharest, can you believe it?

1 Henry Jenkins, Tales of Manhattan: Mapping the urban imagination through Hollywood film.

Entry no.: 273

4 Oct 2007, 2:17 PM

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Comments: 6

Romania Undesigned

It's too dark to see, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest

A paralyzed man asked for my help this morning. He just crossed the road in his wheelchair and he was attempting to escalate the sidewalk curb—without a chance of succeeding. I did my best, but at one time, while climbing down the high curb, the frame touched the ground and the wheelchair got stuck.

Not without a sense of weird irony, all this was taking place on the sidewalk in front of Victoria Palace (the government building). The guards were watching.

The curbstones in front of the government building are brand new. A few days ago the old stone blocks were removed and the new ones placed in their place. Here's the catch: the old ones did have wheelchair ramps. The new ones don't.

Fuck that, why ramps? We're a healthy nation in perfect shape! Look on the streets: no infirm folks, no wheelchairs.

Because they cannot possibly afford to leave their homes.

I did not have the opportunity to share a disabled person's view on things—minor things, like high sidewalk curbs and lack of proper wheelchair access ramps turn into a living hell. Designed by incompetent morons and built by two-legged brutes, the streets are constructed against the handicapped.

A big hand of applause for the Mayor of Bucharest and for all those wonderful, decent people who run this city—thank you, guys!