In AGE-ISM Elise van Mourik addresses the influence that new media, the car industry and industrial production philosophies such as open source have on culture.
“I think it is our challenge, as designers to instead of looking back at progress to try to look contemporary social developments in the eye,” Van Mourik explains.
What happens is that when new technology is introduced, it merely substitutes a previous way of making, which inevitably has a cultural impact.
“The best example is how photography once substituted painting as a medium to produce a realistic image,” Van Mourik says. “This changed our quality of perception as well as our ability to represent reality in an image. But it also challenged the technique of painting to explore a new cultural relevance. You could say that photography made the paint visible as a material.”
The process of replacing the old with the new happens in every discipline. It is industry, for example, that created “craft”.
The process of progress entails replacing one man-made environment with another and this happens so rapidly, given the exponential progress society now finds itself in, that people are feeling perpetually alienated.
“All new technology has become is a new way of representing an old reality,” Van Mourik says.
In the late 60s Marshall McLuhan talked about the Rearview Mirror Concept and the social impact of technology which is always looking backwards. "Because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world,” wrote McLuhan.
In fact, the basis for Van Mourik’s second lecture program, “Rearview Mirror”, which was presented last month in the garden of the Rietveld Academy is The Summer Way - a discussion between Norman Mailler and Marchall McLuhan.
For her last lecture, “I am no Barbarian, I am an Alien!,” Van Mourik will explore the boarders of progress. “Since satellites surrounded earth and people could see the planet as an outsider, we have been able to say that nature is programmed,” she says. “Nature is really only part of our perception, and because perception and technology have developed together, what technology is actually doing is enhancing our ways of perceiving as well as the way we represent reality. In software programming the relationship between a new technological language and an experienced reality becomes especially interesting. The question is: how far can we go?”
AGE-ISM is sponsored by the Dirty Art Department at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam.
“I am no Barbarian, I am an Alien!”
The Rietveld Pavillion
Fred. Roeskestraat 98, Amsterdam
March 28 12.00 – 18.30
Free entry Images: the space in these images of the AGE-ISM lectures is designed by Van Mourik in collaboration with Laure Jaffue.
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