Syllabus

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DESIGN/HISTORY/REVOLUTION

Whether by providing agitprop for revolutionary movements, an aesthetics of empire, or a language for numerous avant-gardes, design has changed the world. But how? Why? And under what conditions?  This course proposes a consideration of design as an historical agent, a contested category, and a practice.

Casting a wide net, the course will consider a range of geographical locations (“West,” “East,” “North,” South,” and contact zones between these constructed categories).  We will examine not only designed objects (e.g., industrial design, decorative arts, graphic design, fashion) but also spaces (e.g., architecture, interiors, landscapes, urban settings) and systems (e.g., environment, economy, communications, services, governments). Together we will ask: What is design? How does it relate to society, history and politics? Students will get to engage with how histories of the past inform our contemporary media saturated lives, and experiment with new ways to do history through use of digital media, visual materials, and aesthetic practices.

Requirements:

Please show up and speak up. You have an reading response or small assignment due every week on Wednesday.

1)On weeks when you are going to a museum you are to write a two page response to the show you saw describing its organization, the theme of the show, and major features about the curation that you noticed. These are due, by e-mail on Thursday. Questions to guide you: what ideas of history were operating in the show? What types of objects were chosen? How were people engaging with the material? How was the show designed architecturally and in terms of layout-notice things like colors, is it an open space, or closed into corridors, what types of information were you given? Think about the difference between institutions architecturally, aesthetically, in terms of users? How do you think the curatorial vision and how people respond to it link up? Are they the same or different?

2) On weeks were there is no museum visit you are to write a 1-2 page response to the readings that is due on Wednesday. You can use these assignments to help you with your final project by discussing regularly how the reading impacted your thinking about your topic of study. about the history of design, and how those histories impact contemporary environments, processes, and objects—from cell phones, to tests, to security systems? I will also offer questions to guide you.

Some weeks I will ask you to describe, draw, or otherwise (maybe do sound recordings) investigate an architecture, interface, or environment that impacts your daily life and relates to particular readings. Sometimes I will ask you to come up with counter-examples, of designs or technologies that do not operate as the readings depict. Or to think about the intention of designers and the way people actually use a space. These will be handed out a week ahead and are posted on-line in the class website.

These above assignments, attendance and class participation constitute 65% of your grade. You are allowed to miss two weekly assignments, but you are not allowed to miss ANY of the museum visits. Every other assignment you miss will be a reduction of your grade. Doing everything will guarantee you a decent grade and even extra credit.

3) You are to develop one major independent or group project that is to be presented in class and involves putting together a blog and a research paper. You are to choose by March 25 a site, object, or other “designed” environment—be creative—it can be anything from your cell-phone, to sensors, to drones. You can choose something from the museums and sites we visit. You can even be super creative and link these sites to or research (for example in the CCA archives) and write about fantastical worlds—either in fiction, or perhaps plans for cities, architectures, etc. that were never built. You can also do a history of alternative uses of a site—for example how certain parks have served as spaces for protest and control, or how people have taken over and reworked older objects—factories, lofts, etc. for new purposes. You are to figure out how to document this topic. Take pictures, collect recordings, find images. You must create a blog where you collect this material. You are also to develop a timeline, and think about the history of this object, where does it come from? Who developed it? What contributed to its development? No technology, building, or designed object comes from nowhere, everyone likes to version, your job is to build an archive (a creative one) and curate a history of this object. You are then to write an equivalent to a 15-20 page document about it. I am open to any creative projects or thesis projects, but you must do a fair amount of writing and research.

You are to present your final paper to the class in a 10-15 minute prepared presentation that will occur in the last month of class.

The paper and presentation are 35% of your grade.

4) Absences: After 4 absences, any further absence without excuse will lead to a 10% grade reduction (automatically) each time. Please don’t do it. I dislike giving bad grades.

DATES THAT MATTER:

Mid-term review February 20-27th (I’ll give feedback on your blogs and class performance).

Final Project Proposals due March 25

Final Projects are due May 3

FIELD VISITS AND CLASS CHANGES:

Cabot Square: February 8 or 9

Botanical Gardens: at your leisure (additional credit) I will lead a visit on February 16 after class (tentative, we may have other opportunities)

Center for  Canadian Architecture: March 10 (Tentative still being scheduled)

Biodome/sphere and Habitat 67: March 8

Class changes for visits and private meetings: January 30, March 13 and 20.

The Course:

Week 1: January 11

What is Design? What is Revolution? What is Politics?

  • Screening: Man With A Movie Camera

 

Section 1: CONCEPTS

Week 2: January 18

Koolhaas, Rem. “Junkspace.” October 100, no. Spring (2002): 175-90.koolhaas-junkspace

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas, Revised Edition: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977.VenturiScottBrownIzenour

Keller Easterling: Zone: The Spatial Softewares of Extrastatecraft: https://placesjournal.org/article/zone-the-spatial-softwares-of-extrastatecraft/

Deleuze and Guattari: Thousand Plateaus, University of Minnesota Press (1980), “How do you make Yourself a Body without Organs” chapter: 1000Plateaus06BWO

Section 2: Designing Life

Week 3: January 25: Rationalization, Industrialism, Revolution?

1)Fredrick Winslow Taylor “The Principles of Scientific Management” (on-line)

2)Anson Rabinbach, “The Political Economy of Labor Power”, “Time and Motion: Etienne Jules Marey and the Mechanics of the Body”, “The Science of Work and the Social Question”, from The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity, Berkeley: University of California Press (1990).

3)Michael Foucault, History of Sexuality, Biopower

Screening: Chaplin, “Modern Times”

Assignment: how is work designed today? As part of your response think about what constitutes labor in our present and pick system to discuss—it can be your phone, facebook, gyms, think about how its “designed” to shape the body, and what types of machines help us think about ourselves in the present. Pictures etc. are always welcome if you have ideas.

Week 4: FEBRUARY 2: No class

Week 5: FEBRUARY 8/9: The Training of the Observer | Designing Attention | Extreme Politics

Field Trip is rescheduled for March 8-9… we will have a unique workshop opportunity!!!

February 9

1)Michael Foucault, “panopticism”panopticism

2) Jonathan Crary “Unbinding Vision”,craryunbindingvision

3)Bauhaus, “The Workshops of Modernity” on-line through MOMA

https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2009/bauhaus/Main.html

4)Ellen Lupton: “ABC’s of Bauhaus” (on-line)the-abc-the-bauhaus-and-design-theory-psychological-test

Screening: Harun Farocki, “Image of the World and Inscription of War”/Leni Reifenstahl “Triumph of the Will”

RECOMMENDED:

2)Readings on Stereoscope, “Wheatstone and Brewster”,

Assignment: Give an example of a space or technology that demonstrates how social order is maintained through design. Discuss it in terms of race and planning as you read in the readings and engage with the exhibition

 

WEEK 6: February 16: Politics| Colonialism

Oil spill VancouverPLEASE NOTE THIS WEEK WE WILL BE MEETING IN CLASS AND VISITING THE CCA on Wednesday AT 10:30AM!!!!! PLEASE MAKE A NOTE OF IT!!!! AND WE WILL HAVE A FIELD TRIP TO HABITAT 67 and the BIOSPHERE on THURSDAY, the 16th at 1PM!!!!

REadings for the week are:ALL AVAILABLE FROM CCA SITE: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/  JUST SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM

“Glimpses of Nuclear Ontario”: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/19/the-planet-is-the-client/40788/glimpses-of-nuclear-ontario

“The Planet is the Client”: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/19/the-planet-is-the-client/40943/hostile-docile

“From Commodity to Community”: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/19/the-planet-is-the-client/41046/from-commodity-to-community

“Troubled Waters”: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/11/nature-reorganized/41148/troubled-waters

Check out the projects in “The Planet is a Client”: http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/19/the-planet-is-the-client/33730/how-to-make-seed-bombs

PLEASE SKIM THROUGH “THE OPERATING MANUAL FOR SPACESHIP EARTH” Buckminster FUller: operatingmanual_bf

 

 

SECTION 3:

COMMAND, COMMUNICATION, CONTROL, and INFORMATION

Week 7: March 1: Total War and Design

1)Shanken: 194X: Architecture, Planning and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, (2009)(in electronic reserves)

Peter Galison, “War against the Center”, Grey Room, No. 4 (Summer, 2001), pp. 5-33 , Published by: The MIT Press

Week8: March 8 | Cyborg, Computing, Digital,Design

Visit Biodome and Habitat 67 March 7 or 8.

1) Vannevar Bush, “As We May think”, Atlantic Monthly, 1945

Norbert Wiener, excerpts from “The Human Use of Human Beings”. Cambridge:MIT Press (1954) (on-line)

2) Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multimedia Architecture

Beatriz Colomina, Grey Room > No. 2 (Winter, 2001), pp. 5-29

3)John Harwood, the Interface:IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2011) Introduction

4) Felicity Scott: Outlaw Territories New York: Zone Press (2016). Excerpts

Ant Farm, “Media Van.08 (Time Capsule) San Franscisco Museum of Modern Art

http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/multimedia/audio/aop_tour_410

Screenings: All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

RESOURCES:

Experiment in Art Technology, 9 Evenings

Archigram

http://www.archigram.net/

http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk/

RECOMMENDED:

Simon Sadler,Archigram: Architecture without Architectecture,Cambridge: MIT Press (2005) excerpts

Nicholas Negroponte: “Architecture Machines”, Cambridge: MIT Press (1970) excerpts

Gilles Deleuze, Post-script to the Society of Control
http://www.n5m.org/n5m2/media/texts/deleuze.htm

SECTION 4: Ecology and Security

NO CLASS MARCH 15 and 22: Work on Collective Projects!!!

Week 9: MARCH 28-29

1) Eyal Weizmann, Hollow Land, New York: Verso (2012)excerpts

2) Return to Keller Easterling Zone:The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft, in Design Observer/Places: http://places.designobserver.com/feature/zone-the-spatial-softwares-of-extrastatecraft/34528/

3) Additional materials on urban segregation and migration (TBA)

ASSIGNMENT: PRESENTATIONS START!!!!

Week 10: APRIL 5

  • Club of rome report (excerpts)
  • Survival By Design (Excerpts) Richard Neutra
  • Peder Anker, From Bauhaus to Ecohouse, excerpts

APRIL 12: Environment and Networks

Scales of the Earth, New Geographies, Harvard University Press, Issue #4, 2011.

Jennifer Gabrys, “Programmable Earth” (Excerpts)

TBA

Presentations

Final Projects due May 3

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