Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Massive Mau

Kevin Hampson went to the Massive Change show at the AGO and I invited him to describe what he saw and how he felt about it. This is what he said:

massive change
I finally managed to get to the blockbuster show in Toronto, MASSIVE CHANGE: THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL DESIGN. I was excited to be passing through the walls of screaming text to view this much hyped show after putting it off for far too long. I wanted to be moved and catalyzed for change but, ultimately, I left disappointed.

For a design show, I found it poorly designed. The layout was awkward and any signage regarding the objects on display was often too small in relation to the space around it. There were many aspects of the show I appreciated and learned from but, for the most part, it fell flat.

I've been increasingly bothered by the declarative text drifting out of the show to the city around it. This fear was met head on when I entered the first room to a triple video projection of the new urban reality of the world. Black vinyl text on the right wall read: Reject the romantic notion of the individual. Embrace the plural. As I watched the video about reconceptualizing the world as a city subject to urban planning like any other, I couldn't help feeling a cultish chill. "Join us! Join us now!!" Bruce Mau and his horde seemed to scream. If we must develop this urban landscape in the singular and efficient manner they suggest, I wonder who will get the contract? I couldn't think of any group I wanted making large global design decisions on how we live.

The whole show was wrapped in utopian language but the creepy subtext kept leaking out. I was excited by the possibility of inexpensive self-cleaning glass that would do away with harsh cleansers and the flexible fabric lighting that could be placed anywhere. The potato and corn-based disposable food containers are a great alternative, a sort of "good" garbage or instant compost. Unfortunately they were next to the vinyl pronouncement: We will design evolution and We will seamlessly integrate all supply and demand around the world.

The fascist tone was deafening. Who chooses this design? Is it thrust upon us?

Attempts at democratic inclusivity periodically surfaced via voting booths, offering the choice of "for" or "against". Topics covered included such hot button issues as putting vaccines into vegetables in order to do away with syringes and other debates on genetically modified foods. However, the slips of paper were all used up so I could only speculate which side was winning based on the size of its pile in the plexi box. One resourceful visitor had left a note on top of the box that read, "You give me no choice". Having seen MASSIVE CHANGE, I find this response rather appropriate.

1 Comments:

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