Modernism, Anti-Modernism & Post-Modernism

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Design Practice in Context 2 Lecture 24/10/13


McLuhan influences the way that people think culturally by broadening out the idea of technology. He talks about language and perspective as a technology (they are not straight forward machines) but they serve similar purposes in terms of pragmatics and how we deal with the world. He is interested in the way that language orders the world – cuts it up into labels – and they have interesting optical and technical apparatus connected to them too. Technocentric rationalism is a term that focuses on rationalising production however the other side to this is that it alienates people. He also talks about the organisation of things in time – temporal organisation. For example reading or writing as a technology structures things. As you start reading and writing you enter a very linear process with a beginning, middle and end. McLuhan was seen to treat high and low end culture as the same level – for example comic books and TV were to him the same value as theatre or novels. McLuhan’s ideas were revived during the 90s because his ideas about technology seemed very applicable alongside the new types of technology that were emerging. His phrase ‘the medium is the message’ means that any technology can be thought of as a medium – a carrier of information. 


This is the first response to the rejection of Modernism, which eventually mutates into Post-Modernism. The transition from Modernism to Anti-Modernism was a rational response where people questioned it’s tendencies. The ideas that anti-modernists did not like were the destruction of nature – the stripping of natural resources to build, fragmentation, and cultural dissolution. Moving through history in stages with these different periods of time was not exactly how it happened – the three thrived off one another at the same time sometimes. 


Running alongside Modernism, there is a critique of religious ideas that centers on the idea that we should be focussing on human beings. Problems are supposed to be complicated scenarios that have a solution. Wicked problems are much more complex and have an unattainable solution – this is seen as the norm for Post-Modernism thinking. Baudrillard’s ideas come out of McLuhan’s very much so – he is often described as the French McLuhan. Baudrillard’s cultural context is that everything is changing. Synthetic manufacture – smart materials that change properties, computing as an impact on culture in terms of how much that we deal with on a day to day basis that has been digitally produced. Buildings are influenced radically by technology – the types of material forms that we produce change due to software and technological advances. Illustration and design styles in advertising – the emergence of Photoshop feeds to a grunge design aesthetic. More modern types of design are seen to be more simplistic. The culture of a copy (the model) as oppose to the original is also a post-modern idea. Bio engineering – we actually intervene genetically to create new creatures. Baudrillard stresses that the creation of the synthetic and the idea of the copy infiltrates reality. He use influence from Plato to describe reality as a second hand experience. Two things that drive Baudrillard are semiotics and Marxism. 


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