Design and Transparency

The publication It's Not a Garden Table: Art and Design in the Expanded Field is an initiative of the Migros Museum and the Institute for Critical Theory in Zurich. I contributed the essay "Beyond Sign Design," which develops aspects of an article that Tom Holert commissioned a couple of years ago for Texte zur Kunst's design issue. In conjunction with a number of theoretical approaches to design, objecthood, networks and systems, "Beyond Sign Design" analyses artistic practices ranging from Frank Stella and John Armleder to Hans Haacke and Allan Sekula, and to Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Sean Snyder. As the title suggests, the aim to go beyond an analysis of design in narrowly semiotic terms.

A related text is "Secrets of the See-Through Factory: Interventions in Opaque Transparency" in the new issue of Open, no. 22 (the next-to-last issue of Open in its current form). Like the design essay, this text examines a number of art projects for their insight in and contribution to a different aesthetic/economic praxis of material things. In response to WikiLeaks, "Open 22 examines transparency as an ideology, the ideal of the free flow of information versus the fight over access to information and the intrinsic connection between publicity and secrecy." In my text, I focus on the structure of the modern work of art as a means of gaining insight into the dialectics of opacity and transparency. Works by Haacke (again), Snyder (again) as well Zachary Formwalt and Agency/Kobe Matthys are discussed in this text—plus Volkswagen's "transparent factory" and Gulf Labor's Guggenheim Boycott.
Both assignments allowed me to continue my work still rather embryonic project on objecthood and thingness, which I hope to intensify once the History in Motion book is out of the way. With the intellectual and artistic suicide of the Netherlands in full swing, it will be a bumpy ride.