请登陆我们的网站首页  VISIT THE MAIN HomeShop SITE

Posts tagged ‘设计 design’

摄影 photo courtesy of // 米店 Detour

i remember a very specifically grilling moment one night at 米店 Detour, when we brought new friends from the U.S. over for dinner, and although there existed a humour in the fact that they were sitting in the low sofa next to the window that makes guests look like shrimps across the table from us, sitting on the higher wooden bench, C asked very directly, “So what is HomeShop in a word? What’s your goal, your thing, your manifesto?” It seemed shocking at the time that one could still talk in the arousing tense of the manifesto, but it is difficult to squirm so easily from the high bench out of such forthrightness, so I tried a word:


i think my answer and explanation sufficed at the time—a thinking in terms of different reaches of time: from the passing details of an everyday to the affective time of love, collaboration and friendship, to an environmental question that reaches somewhere beyond our own lifetimes. It was a spontaneous answer compiled from previous considerations not vocalised before, but since that evening the motions of passing detail, collaboration and trying to keep up with the compost build-up have pushed manifesto-like considerations to the wayside. This has been just as 自然而然 a passing of the year though, as I learned from 2007 at Xiaojingchang, so all of the openings, miscommunications and bump-stops that we’ve experienced so far at Beixinqiao cannot be considered regretful, but it is certainly now a moment to reconsider a certain form of temporality after settling into certain other kinds of situatedness, the stickiness of labels, unwanted routines, or the hearing of gossip come round.

Why sustainability and time in a discourse that has previously been dominated by considerations of place, city and the local context? They are not unrelated, of course, but I wonder how these two could have been so independently stressed among certain historical trends of socio-cultural study, from Heidegger to Sloterdijk. Today, three films put me in a sort of stylo-anachronistic quandary, but at the same time, as works or projects, they remind us of a certain specificity of place that cannot be isolated from any form of artistic production. The first two come from CCD Workstation’s Folk Memory Project, and the third was Michael MADSEN’s Into Eternity. In both place and time and somewhere in between, I cannot help but try to place the work of our own little HomeShop.

剪图 still image from // 章梦奇 ZHANG Mengqi’s 《自画像:47公里 Self Portrait: At 47 km

The two films I saw from the Folk Memory Project were 邹雪平 ZOU Xueping’s 《吃饱的村子 Satiated Village》 and 章梦奇 ZHANG Mengqi’s 《自画像:47公里 Self Portrait: At 47 km》. Visually consistent with 吴文光 WU Wenguang’s insistence upon “100% Life, 0% Art”, the two documentaries were unprofessional, sophomore attempts to make film based upon the project call to return to one’s hometown village to document the personal experiences of senior citizens who had lived through the Great Chinese Famine between 1958-61. An explicitly historical documentation is complicated by the personal subjectivities of the filmmakers, mostly born in the 80s with no real connection to the depth of suffering undergone by their elders, who—despite being family or not—were very often unwilling to lay bare the humiliation experienced by the Chinese people. As the camera shakes or the sound is drowned out by wind in the microphone, we are moved to look past the films themselves to their significance as a project, and here we can either see 老吴 Old WU’s genius or his excellent distribution of labour (we could go further into this question in another conversation). Is this a form of looking into history to redress wrongs from the past, or is it a way to recontextualise the things gone astray in our present condition? Both are equally valid, and similar to the activist work of 艾未未 AI Weiwei, it is possible to analyse the mechanics of a microsystem that make such a consideration of time possible. Documentation is important insofar as there is  a longer conception of time, whether it be in 章梦奇 ZHANG Mengqi’s decision to edit more footage of a particular woman into her final piece because of a certain personal connection to her spirit (这个讲“气场”或者“fa’r”或者“气质”?), or if we consider the importance of a generation of memories to be lost in the propaganda of a school history book.

剪图 still image from // 《Into Eternity

After biking from 798 and coming back to the comfort of HomeShop, I passed through the ghetto set-up of black trash bags covering the windows into the completely calculated time-space of MADSEN’s documentary about the world’s first permanent nuclear waste repository located in Onkalo, Finland. The irony of design calculation to be considered in the extremely controlled camera shots, editing and beautiful composition (could only keep thinking, “how many times did they have to rehearse that shot so that his speech was perfectly timed with the lit fire of the match?”) are set in stark contrast to the gross horror of nuclear disaster and MADSEN’s questioning of the human capacity to consider life “never” or “forever” amidst the limitations of technology. Can we design for  “permanent” to preserve all future lifeforms, by a machine set into water or one deep underground, and what markers above ground could be able to communicate this? Can we trust communication or should we rather trust ourselves to the oblivion of forgetting?

摄影 photo courtesy of // 刘畅 LIU Chang & 高灵 GAO Ling

Where do we place ourselves amidst history and guesses and predictions into the future? Can time only be a point of view, and do our differences about these considerations make us unable to live together in the present? To talk about sustainability in this sense is an attempt to address different scales of time, but yes, we are limited, and there will always be something neglected despite all carefulness. HomeShop is not about “forever”, you’re right. But time is relative, and all we have to go on at this point is the concreteness of a three-year contract and the temporality implicit in any of the localities we may find ourselves at any given moment. This may be the hutong, the value and “success” of our work, or the waking up in a bad mood. How much do we let go when faced with the extremes of 大自然 and 设计生活, and is trust merely a question of time?

Michael和絵美的2012年家作坊种菜计划 Michael and Emi’s 2012 planting map

I begin to doubt again most of my/our uses of language. This is spoken in the utter irony of putting thoughts down in words, because one questions (or is questioned) about the content behind the forms of a p and q, and this process of moving from what could have been imagined to be an idea, to an expression or representation of such is broken, delayed, placed on the blinks of doubt. To use the phrase “design life” is perhaps too pompous, too contrived, too strategic. But why hold me to such fixities if words are so ambivalent anyway, and why cannot a larger thinking about our forms of organisation be pointed to in the close-up photograph of a bubble of spit on the street or the details of planting which seeds in which places? Are these merely illustrations or the desiring of a wannabe editor? And by “editor” are we referencing forms of control or a just a way of seeing matters of scale? Edward‘s limbo could be a misuse of the word just as design life is, but both are trying to refer to processes that necessarily implicate questions of scale. An end product will always also point to a system and ethics of thought, but an unfinished product does so in a manner that opens up a different degree of spacing or questioning of said system. Or you could follow the route of the fallible everything any-which-how, and no one is responsible. One can simply wallow, like she, in a days’ long vat of pointlessness. We’ve been talking a lot lately about the meaning of “style”, passing through one too many misunderstandings, so “style” may just as well be the passive sister to the silly designation of “design life”, but as F says, it’s a question of accessibility, and either you are intrigued for more or bored to death. CHOOSE, you choose!

Yesterday under the warmest weather yet this year, we began our “front stoop beautification” work, which included first asking FAN laoshi about the best way to go about planting the flower seeds we bought: 柠檬薄荷 lemon balm、鸡冠花 common cockscomb(曲哥的选择,高蓓说很重口味)、小猫草 catnip (给我们小点点的礼物)、鸡蛋花 egg flower、红叶景天 stonecrop、驱蚊草 geranium (mistranslated and mispictured on the package as chamomile—we’ll see what we get). There were also two free packages of 羊角椒 sheep horn pepper seeds with purchase. Included in this undertaking is a consideration of various forms of local expertise in ways that one may not be familiar with, country-kid versus city-kid jokes, plus a tender amount of 凑合 improvising for our flower pot anti-theft system, which failed miserably in the past. “Design life” secret à la Twist: connect several pots together with iron wire that is bound to each pot through the bottom hole, anchored inside the pot with a long screw or half of a chopstick.

设计手法 002:补丁内裤

Design Technique No. 002: patching old underwear
Logged:  27 March 2012, 13.37; Jiaodaokou Beiertiao 6

Also inspired by the visit earlier in the day to 刘家奶奶 our granny neighbour’s house, an old clove of garlic that someone left on our window ledge a few days ago was spontaneously thumbed into one of the pots. Jam instructs, “不要把土!直接插进去就行。Don’t dig into the soil! Just pushing it in there is enough.” Expertise is hearsay. We’ll see what we get.

设计手法 001:神奇拖把的用途

Design Technique No. 001: suspension mop handle for clothing line tension
Logged: morning of 29 February 2012, Green Charcoal Bureau Hutong

制作已花费了很长时间,我们一直在努力将已有的资源整合并分享,现在是收获的季节 啦:
www.homeshop.org.cn 或者 www.homeshopbeijing.org 。



It’s been a long time in the making, but here we are, an attempt to gather together and share some of what we do:
www.homeshop.org.cn or www.homeshopbeijing.org.
There’s a lot of space in-between; please visit and stick around…

Go ahead and click on the link to visit HomeShop’s brand new website, then take a small walk around the room, do some stretching exercises or make tea; this website is a work-in-progress, and—like all good things—takes time…

But don’t let that stop us from multi-tasking——Michael, 何颖雅 Elaine, Fotini, 欧阳潇 Xiao, 曲一箴 Twist, 植村 絵美 Emi and 王尘尘 Cici at HomeShop wish you all fierce flights and a happy Dragon year.

(非常感谢高源翻译的英文原版 Chinese translation of the original post in English thanks to 高源鸿!!! 谢谢!!!

几个月之前,有位在2011光州设计双年展(主题为图可图非常图)非定名设计单元工作的朋友介绍了几位她的同事给我认识。他们在对祭奠用品进行研究, 大概这些用品是他们非定名设计的研究对象。我的朋友知道,我在和附近寿衣店的邻居有交流,制作了一些纸质物件,所以她研究祭奠用品的这几个同事想知道,这些店在哪儿。我给他们发了几张我制作的纸件和研究的照片,但其实我都没有给寿衣店内部拍过照。不过,我确实故意没告诉他们这些店的具体位置(其实就在我们工作室的正对面)。

这听着有点傻,但是我想声明一下,我这么做并不是因为想独占我周边的文化资源。我只是想研究这些小店同时不影响它们的真实性。这些小店从一开始,就笼罩在一片神秘之中。一年之前,我们在准备北二条小报第一期的时候,老萧和我特地去和问过开寿衣店的山东母子,要不要在我们的报纸上打个免费广告。两人拒绝了我们的提议,理由是做这种“迷信”的广告是不吉利的。政府对这种迷信产业进行着严格的监管,而同时又垄断着殡葬业。比如, 从我们对门邻居店里购买的骨灰盒,是不能进入公墓的,因为我们的邻居没有官方的批准。我想,这可能和他们本身不稳定的处境有关。他们在回答问题时,彬彬有礼而小心谨慎。所以,我们写了一篇短文,发在北二条小报上,仅向英语读者介绍这一现象。


11月的时候,我们看了Brendan McGetrick的演讲,他本人是“未定名设计”的馆长之一。他以让人耳目一新的方式,向我们呈现出了各种创意与作品。他运用简单质朴的日常物件,科技产品,甚至社会现象来扩展设计的定义。比如:“政治抗议手册,DNA条码,死刑执行程序,跨洲货币体系”等等。那么这些如何成为设计的范例呢?McGetrick写到:“本次展会的目的,就是对“设计”进行重新的定义。设计是满足人类需求的各种战略解决方案,不是艺术家为了标榜自我而造出的主观产物”。

祭奠用品的设计可谓是McGetrick理念的反义词。这些用品悉数列举了日常生活的所有物件,通常涵盖我们文化当中的奢侈商品,比如:钱、汽车、高档衣服、手机和大楼。这些用品并非照搬物品原来的样子 ,也不是按照“山寨”的理念进行的。在某种程度上说,山寨好于原装产品,有的时候山寨机还会微妙而幽默地改变原机的功能。决定祭奠用品的外形的还有另外一个实际原因:为了便于焚烧,它们是用纸做的。因为这样的最终目的,设计当中的其他元素往往不被考虑在内。制造材料一定要能够充分燃烧,这样才能尽快进入地府——虽然几乎任何材料都是可燃的。曾几何时,人们在提供祭品的时候更加慷慨。但现在人们有着当代的理解,往往选择更普通的方式祭奠过世的爱人或祖先。 现在人人都可进行祭奠活动,所以祭奠也变得不在神圣,趋于理性。但是毕竟,相比于Georges Bataille提出的,用文字寄托哀思,或Jacques Attali倡导的,寄悲情于当代音乐,烧纸钱、烧祭物,显然还是更加直接的祭奠方式。然而这些用品必须做到能物尽其用同时价格低廉。所以,与现代社会的其他产品一样,祭奠用品也是大规模的现成制品。一套九件的祭奠品仅售15元。如果钱不是问题的话,还可以定做娃娃屋大小的别墅,或者等离子电视。在北京的小店里你可以在列着上百条物件的清单上订货,然后河北的制造者就会发货过来。不过,一般来说,卖的最好的还是成捆的通胀率极高的冥币,价格十分公道。






我们周边其实有很多家寿衣店。我决定去接触临近医院的一家更为“正规”的寿衣店。和我家附近的几家寿衣店差不多,这家店也是24小时开放的。毕竟,当生命走到尽头的时候,说不好什么时候,寿衣就派上用场了。一个晚上,我和陈陈一起去了这家寿衣店,他们比我想象的更愿意谈这个话题,我本以为他们会对此缄默无言。与我交谈的女士不认为寿衣店有任何不同,她也不认为所谓的私人处购买骨灰盒不可进入公墓的说法是真的。她给出的理由是,我邻居不像他们是本地人,入行时间短,所以在与当地顾客交谈时更为敏感。这位女士还对我拿去的纸件做出了批评意见。一个星期后我拿着改进过的纸件又去找她,这次纸件上有了手绘的细节。她问我,其他的像冰箱、洗衣机、衣柜床的物件在什么地方。正是她的态度导致了我的变节,让我觉得,之前的谨慎低调都是不必要的。祭奠,本是很个人的行为;但若仅仅因为质疑这一活动的纯粹性,便以此为题,公开讨论,是会让人感觉,多少有些尴尬。(你真相信灵魂吗?)说实话,对于这一精神世界的论断,我们无可稽考;而未来人们将以何种方式祭奠先人,我们也不得而知。我们把一种行为冠以“设计”之名的那一刻,其实就已经表明,这已不再是种信仰。因为,我们看到的,不再是真相,而是某个具体的物件,被赋予了具体的用途,被视作为满足人类需求而设计的一整套战略解决方案。这不禁让我想起了Vilem Flusser的名言:“设计者都是攻于心计,巧设陷阱的算计者。但如果通过讨论,我们可以获得另外一个视角,学会在思考的时候,不只局限于融合、利用、或强行引入某种文化元素,那么,也许在这时,我们可以说,自己真正实现了外国习俗与自身艺术的水乳交融。艺术作品不是人类征服精神世界的工具;不是对逝者简单粗暴的讽刺;相反,艺术作品可以是纯粹的;但真正的艺术来不得半点匆忙。


Can you identify which pictures are from Dalian and which are from Beiertiao?

Several months ago a friend working for the “Un-Named Design” section of the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale (titled “Design is not Design is Design”) put me in touch with some of her colleagues researching paraphernalia associated with death rituals, presumably as examples of un-named design. My friend was aware of the paper objects I have been making in dialogue with the neighborhood Shouyi, so the researchers asked where they could find these shops. I sent them some images of my objects and research, as I hadn’t even taken images of the insides of the Shouyi stores. But I deliberately refrained from telling them where our neighbors’ store is (it’s directly across from us in the alleyway).

In the summer one of our turtles stopped moving. We buried its body under the shrub by the gates. 夏天的时候,我们养的四只乌龟中有一只死了,我们将它埋在门口的灌木丛里。

This sounds silly now, but in my defense, I swear it wasn’t because I wanted to be the only cultural poacher in the neighborhood. I was simply trying to remain as true as possible to the subject I am following, which from the outset of my acquaintance seemed shrouded in secrecy. When we were preparing the first Beiertiao Leaks a year ago, Xiao and I went over to ask if the Shandong-bred mother-son business team living and working there would place an advertisement free-of-charge in our small newspaper. They refused on the grounds that it was bad luck to publicize as a profession dealing in “superstition.” They didn’t want publicity and wouldn’t allow any pictures or direct mentions of their store printed. Being a sector based on spirituality and superstition, it is kept a close eye on by authorities, and we were told that the government has a monopoly on the funerary industry. Apparently, if one were to buy an urn from our neighbors, it couldn’t be buried in an official cemetery, as they aren’t officially sanctioned. We suspected part of the issue was the instability of their own personal situation. They cagily but politely answered our inquiries, though, so we prepared a short article introducing the phenomenon only to the English-speaking readership.

The title of this brief piece had the Chinese characters “寿衣“ in it though, so the day after distributing the scrappy new copies of the first edition of Beiertiao Leaks we received reprimands from some of the neighbors for even broaching the subject. It seemed from their reactions that, aside from this little shop’s ambiguous relation to the state, as an area of human activity addressing the mysteries of what happens after you die, one shouldn’t speak openly about these rituals.

We had never given it a name, so in order to wish it well, we decided on one: 龟龟 (Gui Gui). 我们的乌龟生前没有名字,但为了祝福它,我们决定叫它龟龟。

Watching a presentation in November by Brendan McGetrick, one of the curators of “Un-Named Design,” we saw an inspiring methodology in organizing a wide range of ideas and artifacts. Toward this, there was a thoughtful attempt to broaden the definition of design to examples of rustic and simple but effective uses of everyday items, scientific innovations and even protocols of action and social situations: “a political protest manual, DNA barcodes, execution procedures, a transcontinental monetary system.” So what made these diverse examples design? McGetrick wrote: “The goal of this theme is to reframe design as a set of strategic solutions to human needs, rather than an ego-driven pursuit of subjective beauty.”

Shouyi goods draw from the design world in the most flagrant sense that McGetrick was reacting against, as they itemize the essential commodities of our lives, and more often consist of the most luxurious fetishes that our cultures share, like money, cars, fancy clothes, mobile phones, and mansions. Their production process rarely results in direct copies, of course. Neither are they really intended to function like shanzhai products, which are in a sense copies better than the original, though they often include subtle and sometimes humorous twists and references to their repurposing. A simple question of materiality determines the boxy appearance of Shouyi goods: they are made of paper and intended to be burnt. The indifference of fire determines a certain indifference of production where other definitions of design come in. The material must adequately combust, thereby expeditiously crossing from the world of the living to that of the dead—but almost anything burns. Having understood this in a peculiarly modern sense, as compared with the more elaborate offerings and sacrifices of bygone times, many people normally opt for rather indifferent forms of tribute to their deceased loved ones or ancestors. The modern sense of sacrifice is that with its democratization has come its effective desacralization and rationalization. However, the ritual of burning Shouyi goods is obviously intended more directly as sacrifice than its substitution with literature (Georges Bataille) or its resonance in all modern music forms (Jacques Attali). It fulfills its function but it must be cheap. Therefore, like all aspects of the modern world, it is conventionally mass-produced and readymade. An average full household set of the nine necessary amenities costs only 15 yuan. If money is no object, one can order the larger dollhouse-size villas or 3/4-scale plasma screens, from a catalogue of hundreds of choices, as the small shops in Beijing usually have them delivered from Hebei manufacturers on request. But logically, as money is an object, the most popular sales are bundles of extremely inflated denominations of “Hell Money,” a very good value-for-your-dollar deal.

What can a turtle do with a car, they questioned. 他们在琢磨,一直乌龟要辆车做什么呢.

But why, I wondered, should this be logical? If Shouyi is about venerating the dead and trying to make their afterlives more dignified, then why are we satisfied with the most cheaply-produced replicas? Is it that the most generic commodities are the most ready stand-in for “pure exchange”? And yet if there is the allowance of kitsch (for instance, pagers and mobile phones that boast of dual-band SIM cards functioning both on Earth and in Heaven, or Renminbi with the face of a god in place of Mao Zedong) then why do we have to buy these sham-brand-name goods from dealers instead of making our own or customizing them to suit our personalities, affections and values? Does it say something about our relationships with our relatives?

With this line of questioning in mind, I produced some very basic paper objects and brought them over to the shop to see if they would accept them to sell. Turning them over, our neighbors commented on the design but confessed they wouldn’t be able to sell them. They were free to set the price and to keep the money, I assured them, while the mother asked dubiously again and again whether they needed to pay me. My only request was to report to us how people perceived them. On our insistence, they said they were willing to take a couple of them, though, just to see what would happen. In my mind, I thought perhaps that at least the sign of the object being made by hand might make a difference to someone. The shop owners said that in the unlikely event someone bought one of them, no matter the price, they were more likely to put them on their shelves and hold onto them rather than set fire to them. This was interesting but still a frustrating compromise; it neatly avoided the problematic desire for real engagement that is the intention of my work, and which determined the relative secrecy and modest scale of my project. In any case, the possibility was there: passing the doors for the next couple of weeks, I was pleased to see my colorful car on the glass counter. After some time it disappeared, though I know it was never sold. They had simply tolerated my meddling enough and couldn’t justify the use of space. We were awkward enough to never again address the topic.

A boy was asked by his mother where Gui Gui is now, and he pointed up toward the dark sky. 一个小男孩问他妈妈,龟龟去了哪里,于是他的妈妈指向夜空.

Rituals surrounding death are a commonality among almost all peoples of the world, though the manner in which I grew up included fairly few practices comparable to Shouyi. For many, death is where religion is concentrated or re-emerges, as it is one of the only unaccounted-for parts of humans’ experience, otherwise always supposed to be understood. I remember funerals of my relatives seeming rather like any other momentous occasion, though blacker in mood. Some believe in heaven, but I don’t. In this, I may differ from other members even of my own family or those close to me (though on my mother’s side, which is Jewish and so the more distinct cultural identity, you could say there is a thoroughly secular tendency among sections of my relatives: in my uncle Alex’s words in an email, “An asteroid will hit the earth and it will all eventually end. It’s all bullshit.”). Traditions, if they can be said, fragilely, to exist in our case, do so only insofar as they punctuate our disparate lives.

In a way, this is the design of culture if not religion, hard-wired or useful enough to withstand all the dissolutions of the modern world. The gestures of a priest, the words of a rabbi or the rites of a woman burning paper money on the street are in some ways designs of community. In the latter case, perhaps it is the design that recreates in symbolic form a familial system of interdependency and debt that structures the lives of the living in China, and acknowledges its extending beyond. The custom of burning paper replicas might be seen to re-establish connections that can never be referred to exclusively as material, even as the designs of the objects themselves are periodically updated or added to.

As I am speaking from a rather uninformed perspective, it is hard to go much further into what might be anthropological, sociological or religious theories of action and belief, and it is also here where theories and beliefs splinter into seemingly contradictory positions. How can we really commune with ghosts if we sympathize with their presence in so utilitarian a manner? This question raised, am I already too late? A whole slew of understandings and misunderstandings of what is real belief underpins its approach as art, pulling in the contradictory directions of doubt and identification. After all, how can we say for sure that this intimacy desired is something actually shared with the people who burn the paper objects for their loved ones? Has the ritual itself not become something “diluted” into expected tradition? And therefore, what is the relation of individuals to their customs; as the outsider, isn’t it simply not my place to enter?

There are in fact many Shouyi shops in our neighborhood. I decided that it was time to approach one of the more “official” shops near the hospital. Like our neighbors they are open all hours, to match the contingency of schedule that moderates the ending of a life. One evening I went over with Chenchen and found that they were much more forthcoming in discussing the topic, rather than more closed as I had assumed. The woman there didn’t think there was actually a difference in the level of legitimacy of Shouyi shops, and she dismissed the idea that urns of so-called unofficial origin wouldn’t be acceptable in official graveyards. The explanation that she instead provided for the difference between the shops was that her family, made up of Beijing natives, did not come from away and had been in the business a long time, so they could be more sensitive in their counsel to local customers. The woman gave me criticisms of the objects I brought her. I returned a week later with a new version of a paper car, this time with hand-painted details, and she asked me where the other items were, the refrigerator, washing machine, wardrobe, bed, and so on. Her attitude was what finally lead me to this betrayal, to loosen my hold on the discretion I felt necessary for real engagement. Activity that operates on rather personal levels sits awkwardly when shifted to a discussion that could be called public, as I am doing now, namely for the reason that doubts arise about the genuineness of the engagement. (Are you a real believer?) This can’t be proven either way, in the end, and the future of this engagement cannot be predicted. Classifying a practice as design is a sign of the removal of belief, as one sees the ends an object is put to, its actualization “as a set of strategic solutions to human needs,” rather than as truth itself (a suspicion that recalls Vilém Flusser’s assertion: “A designer is a cunning plotter laying his traps.”) But if opening up the discussion allows us to see another perspective and to extend the idea beyond fitting in, exploiting or imposing, then that may be when this external custom is made into our own ritual. Rather than reining in spirits for instrumental ends or liquidating everything into the irony that glazes the oblivion lying behind our modern world, artwork can make moves toward becoming authentic—it cannot arrive there too hastily.

Next meeting scheduled for August 20th, at 5pm at HomeShop.

To continue on some of the themes raised in lively style in our discussions of Paolo Virno’s text “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment” and its depiction of the rise of the “General Intellect,” we will follow up with two texts related to art.

A short article entitled “About the Word Design” (1990) by Vilém Flusser (May 12, 1920 – November 27, 1991; a Czech-born philosopher, writer and journalist), who says, “A designer is a cunning plotter who lays traps.”

The other text is the final chapter from the 2007 book “The Intangibilities of Form” by John Roberts. The chapter is called “Art, Immaterial Labor and the Critique of Value.”

From the publisher:
“This book looks at the dialectical relationship between skill and deskilling in art after the ‘readymade.’ Focusing on Marcel Duchamp in the first half of the book it challenges the idea that the readymade constitutes an act of anti-art nihilism or is a simple stylistic turn. On the contrary the use of the readymade represents the basis for the transformation of art’s relationship with what Roberts calls “general social technique” (the relationship between art’s place in the social and division of labour and technological transformation).”

If this question of what we do and who we are must persist, if i must excuse myself for being an artist or being a designer or explain where the (any) money is coming from, then let us turn it into a discussion and practice at once, in process. We have been looking at HomeShop, ourselves, the general context, what we are doing and what we would like to do. All of these questions are tainted by labels, the disjunctures of what we believe versus what/how things are, or how they should be presented, or perhaps if i were to tell you how i really feel you wouldn’t understand anyway, or, they are all my own failures in communication. Language is weak and inadequate.

That said, I begin this conversation with a series of descriptions, rather as a series of self-composed (from the archive of all influences, inspirations, histories and desires) groundings for what may come. HomeShop is our space, moreso a thinking-acting process, i would like to say juxtaposed upon a series of precipices that mark a critical moment of exchange, or, a spinning in the revolving door. It could be the point where one label takes over another, what was thought to be is art is not, how one understands community is mistaken. How one organises things, mentally or at the work table, becomes our most crucial, ahem, point of order, the pivot between now and tomorrow, relationality, design for life. Design is about organisation as it is about choice, and if we should coordinate things with forethought to the future, or with an idea of how we relate to our surroundings, then perhaps we could imagine design and aesthetics as a micropolitical climate by which a day-to-day ethics occur. We are designers and artists and theorists and politicians. Nothing absurd at all.

To get anywhere with the concept, you have to retain the manyness of its forms. It’s not something that can be reduced to one thing. Mainly because it’s not a thing. It’s an event, or a dimension of every event. What interests me in the concept is that if you approach it respecting its variety, you are presented with a field of questioning, a problematic field, where the customary divisions that questions about subjectivity, becoming, or the political are usually couched in do not apply.

— Brian Massumi, “Of Microperception and Micropolitics

We try to learn more about where rivers flow into lakes. Sustainability as a question of time, of slow persistence, of finding one’s own rhythms amidst enormous disparity, a Gini coefficient or a biological clock. How time relates to organisation is a kind of lifelong project, the 江湖 of HomeShop as a kind of “alternative practice”. There again, those attempts at description that feel sheepish, but let us say again that these things refer always back to the things we are doing everyday, making with hands, absorbing with eyes and ears and heart. Big brother and his wife got into a fight yesterday, and one cannot help but be coaxed out of house to try to try to nose in on the rising tension on our little street. It becomes a community affair, although Taotao’s dad says it’s “家务的事” (a household matter). Rivers flow into lakes. We try as we can to describe, as much as shape, the passing of time. This is the manyness of the event as we experience it or produce it, and such continual reciprocation is the very becoming of the project itself.