R. Ertug Altinay
Rustem Ertug Altinay is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Performance Studies, New York University. His main area of research is gender, sexuality, and body politics in Turkey. Ertug’s articles appeared in academic journals including Women’s Studies Quarterly, Feminist Media Studies, Journal of Women’s History, and various edited volumes. His dissertation traces the multiple and shifting discourses of modernization throughout the history of the Republic of Turkey to explore how new subject positions and meaning-making paradigms emerged consequent to changes in both hegemonic and alternative discourses of modernization, and the role of fashion in regulating these processes.
Designing for the Republic: Girl’s Institutes and their Fashion Design
The formative years of the Republic of Turkey were characterized by what is often called “the Kemalist revolution”: a series of social and legal reforms aiming to construct a secular, modern, Western nation-state with an authentic Turkish essence. In Turkey’s modernization and nation-building program, women were expected to actively participate in the transformation of the country and be symbols of this transformation. A key site for the attempts to transform women’s bodies and subjectivities was the girls’ institutes. These schools combined the basic curriculum with an intense home economics education. By training the girls in what was perceived as the modern, Western taste, they aimed to create the new female citizens for the new Republic. In all institutes, there was an emphasis on fashion education. At a time when bodies were undergoing a rapid transformation, the institutes attempted to develop what they perceived to be “modern Turkish fashion”: a style that combined “the modern, Western forms of dress” with “authentic Turkish designs.” The schools also organized the first fashion shows in the country, and later diplomatic fashion shows in and outside Turkey to prove the modernity of the country. Focusing on the designs and the performances created by the institutes, this presentation will explore how this particular style and the accompanying performance form emerged in the specific socio-historical context of Turkey in the 1930s and how they gained new meanings through time. Focusing on the design process, I will also discuss the significance of a communal and anonymous design in the context of nation-building.
Daniel A. Barber is an architectural historian analyzing affinities between the history of modern architecture and the emergence of global environmentalist culture. His current research looks at the role of architectural technologies in the infrastructural transformations of the immediate post-World War II period in the United States.
Barber teaches at Barnard College, Columbia University. He recently held a research fellowship at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and has taught at Oberlin College, Yale University, and the University of Auckland. He has published in The Journal of Architecture, Design Philosophy Papers, and in numerous edited volumes.
Slow Violence and Architectural Representation at Mid-Century
In Rob Nixon’s recent book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, he defines the concept of slow violence as “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.” As Nixon notes, the distinction of slow violence is not in the relative intensity of its effects ¬but rather in the difficulty of its representation. It is on these terms that we can begin to use this concept to reframe historical conceptions of revolution, and identify new potentials for design engagement.
One of the most obvious examples of slow violence is the dire consequence of energy resource extraction. Knowledge of the social and environmental effects of resource exploitation began to emerge in mid-century of spatial and design analyses. This presentation will examine some architectural methodologies from this period – including interest in solar housing and shading devices – that were focused both on using design to minimize the energy demands of a building, and also in developing representational strategies to render visible forms of knowledge newly concerned with unchecked resource use.
At mid-century, in other words, architectural representations began to indicate an interdisciplinary knowledge base newly focused on the social effects of environmental change. By summarizing the history of such strategies, the conclusion will suggest that one important project of ‘green design’ is to make public the slow violence of environmental crises.
Regina Lee Blaszczyk is an award-winning historian and author specializing in design, fashion, globalization, business, and technology. She is a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, an associate editor at the Journal of Design History, and founder and principal of Innovative Histories, a consulting firm dedicated to showcasing America’s design and innovation heritage.
Blaszczyk has published seven books, including Imagining Consumers; American Consumer Society; Rohm and Haas; and Producing Fashion. She writes for Echoes: A Blog about the Past, at Bloomberg.com. Today’s talk is drawn from her new book, The Color Revolution, which will be published by The MIT Press in September.
Sunshine Yellow in the Cold War Kitchen:
Color Revolution or Replacement Revolution?
In 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon of the United States and Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union toured the American National Exhibition near Moscow and stopped inside the “Splitnik” model home. In the famous “kitchen debate,” they faced off next to a General Electric washer-dryer in Sunshine Yellow. A year later in the USA, the journalist Vance Packard published The Waste Makers, his stinging critique of consumer culture. “Nearly two-fifths of the things” owned by the average American,” he wrote, “are things that are not essential to his well-being.”
Color, though not the focus of either of these debates, had become an important design tool—and a symbol of American consumerism. Whereas Nixon pointed to Sunshine Yellow appliances as proof of American ingenuity, Packard saw the color ensemble—the “concept of color ‘matching’”—as a duplicitous practice. He singled out as culprits the Big Three automakers, the Bell Telephone System, and Frigidaire (the appliance division of General Motors). Who was right, Nixon or Packard? Had the “color revolution” that emerged from the ashes of World War I and transformed design practice in the 1920s remained true to its idealistic roots by expressing the American dream in Sunshine Yellow? Or was color, as Packard claimed, largely a tool of a manipulative “replacement revolution”?
Blaszczyk draws on research from her new book, The Color Revolution, forthcoming with The MIT Press in Sept. 2012, to explore these questions.
Jeffrey Brooks is the author of When Russia Learned to Read (2003, 1985), Thank You, Comrade Stalin (2000), Lenin and the Making of the Soviet State, with Georgiy Cheryavskiy (2006) and many essays of Russian politics and culture.
Humor and the Decorative Art of Murder Soviet Style, 1917-32
His paper, “Humor and the Decorative Art of Murder Soviet Style, 1917-32, will include a discussion of the design of floats, masks, puppets, costumes, and related displays in Soviet mass festivals and holidays 1917-1932. He will also discuss posters, including the famous ROSTA windows designed by Mayakovsky in 1919-21.
Gregory Brown is Professor of History at UNLV, where he has taught European and World History since 1998. He is author of two monographs on the intellectual culture of the French Enlightenment and Revolution, “A Field of Honor: Writers, Court Culture and Public Theater in French Literary Life from Racine to the Revolution” (2003, Columbia) and “Literary Sociability and Literary Property in France, 1775 – 1793” (Ashgate, 2006). His most recent book is, with Isser Woloch, the revised edition of “Eighteenth-Century Europe: Tradition and Progress” (2012, Norton). His paper today is from a long-delayed project to which he is now returning, on the tension between genteel urban housing and municipal urban redevelopment in eighteenth-century France, focused on the villa Beaumarchais.
Inside looking outside in Revolutionary Paris: Robert’s caprices, Bélanger’s gardens, and the imagining of urban exterior space at the villa Beaumarchais
This paper will consider the relationship among interior décor, landscape, and the visual representation of urban space using as a case study, the villa Beaumarchais constructed on the eastern edge of Paris in 1790. The villa has been little studied, either for its material culture and design elements or for its social and political meaning as a genteel country home, situated incongruously on an in-fill site in the heart of the rapidly growing, industrial Faubourg Saint-Antoine, just adjacent to the Bastille and the obsolete eastern rampart of Paris.
Almost all that is known of the urban villa (technically a folie) including the main building, designed by Paul Guillaume Le Moine; its Anglo-Chinese gardens designed by François-Joseph Bélanger; and the interior décor designed by prominent painter Hubert Robert, comes from a very few visual sources –engravings based upon architectural plans and color paintings of the house and gardens. Several of these images, including the best-known representation of the houses façade and its topographical emplacement in the gardens and surrounding quartier, while widely circulated as engravings in the early decades of the nineteenth century, appear to have been created originally before the completion of the gardens and the house in 1790 – 1791. Indeed, Le Moine, a prominent architect who had won the prize of Rome, and Bélanger, probably the most active architect in the domestic construction boom of the later decades of the 18th century, appear to have been active in publicizing their work as exemplary of the wave of Greek-revival neo-classical domestic architecture of late eighteenth-century Paris.
The paper focuses on one particular aspect of the design, execution and promotion of the estate – the decoration of the central salon. In 1789 – 1790, Beaumarchais – likely through Bélanger — contracted Robert to execute a cycle of eight “caprice” paintings depicting antique statues set in imagined pastoral landscapes. These floor-to-ceiling panels, still in the possession of the City of Paris, were hung to alternate with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the gardens.
David Ciarlo is currently an Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003, and has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of Cincinnati. His first book, Advertising Empire: Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany came out with Harvard University Press in 2011, offers a visual history of advertising and of commercialized colonial culture in Germany from the 1880s to the 1920s. (This book won the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize in 2012.)
Designing Colonial Power: Advertising and Empire in Germany circa 1900
Advertisements in European nations in the late 19th century frequently offered scenes that presented either docile colonial subordinates or vicious racial caricatures, particularly in the promotion of new mass-market products such as brand-name soap. Scholars have used these commercial images to argue for the centrality of an ‘imperial culture” to the construction of national identity in nations such as Great Britain and France. The commercial imagery of Germany, too, offered gripping images of colonized labor and racial “Otherness.” At the fin de siècle in Germany, the brand new professions of advertising and graphic design fashioned a stunning array of images of colonial power and of racial difference to promote products as widely-divergent as coffee, ink pens, and accordions. Yet, surprisingly, these colonialist (and often racist) designs neither drew from the propaganda of Germany’s powerful colonialist lobby, nor were they reflections of German popular culture. Instead, designs of colonial and racial power emerged and circulated through German advertising primarily because they were commercially useful. Images of colonized Africans, in particular, offered advertisers and graphic designers an opportunity to present tableaus of visual power to German viewers—and would-be consumers—in a way that vividly extolled the depicted commodity, but masked the illustration’s operations of power by displacing them onto a subordinate figure of “difference.” After 1900, colonialist imagery proved preeminently useful in these operations of visual power; and advertisers, though they had no ideological investment in colonialism whatsoever, thereby disseminated racialized, colonialist visions to an audience of unprecedented size and social breadth In this way, advertising offered a means by which a broad German national identity itself was transformed—forging a new identity starkly infused by visions of colonial mastery and racial superiority.
Azra Dawood is a first yr. PhD student in MIT’s History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program & the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. She previously graduated with an SMArchS degree from MIT in 2010. In the intervening year, she was the SOM Foundation’s Travel and Research Fellow. Azra has previously worked as an architect in New York and she has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.
Egypt by Design:
The Architecture of the New Egyptian Museum and Research Institute at Cairo (1926)
The deployment of design to ‘re-present’ history and create new geo-political narratives has important implications for fields such as architecture. This paper focuses on such a political deployment and its stylistic implications in Egypt – at the end of the First World War – through an architectural and urban analysis of an un-built museum project intended for the neighborhood surrounding Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
In 1926, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Egyptologist James Breasted proposed a New Egyptian Museum and Research Institute – a stunning neo-classical, neo-pharaonic complex that would be situated along the Nile, near the existing British and French-built Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian government rejected this gift and the museum was never built. While the Americans attributed the project’s failure to “Egyptian vanity,”1 the archives demonstrate otherwise.
I show that the project was an example of U.S. cultural imperialism, disguised as a gift of “science,”2 from the “great Democracy of the West,”3 to an Egypt desirous of independence from Britain and France. Faced with entrenched European empires and a nascent Egyptian nationstate, the Breasted-Rockefeller team imagined the United States as the ‘civilizational heir’ to both modern Europe and the ancient Near East. Challenging Egypt’s sovereignty, France’s “archaeological protectorate,”4 and Britain’s military interests, the team sought to create U.S. presence in Egypt through appropriation of Egyptian antiquity and the neo-pharaonic aesthetic. I show that this strategy’s failure had architectural implications. Refuting the Breasted-Rockefeller team’s ideological and political narrative of Egyptian antiquity and the modern country, Egyptians symbolically re-appropriated the rejected museum’s aesthetic to create a new nationalist architectural style in Cairo.
1 “Egyptian Museum Negotiations: 1925-1926. Report by Chauncey Belknap,” Belknap to Rockefeller, March 10, 1926, folder
258, box 25, series 2E, RG 3, Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York.
2 The New Egyptian Museum and Research Institute at Cairo (England: Oxford University Press, 1925), 13.
3 Ibid., 14.
4 Quoted in, Donald M. Reid, Whose Pharaohs? : Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to
World War I (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 175-76. See also, Maya Jasanoff, Edge of Empire : Lives, Culture,
and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850, 1st ed. (New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2005), 120.
Christopher Dingwall is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Chicago, where he is a member of the Object Cultures Project. His studies focus on American cultural history and the history of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. His dissertation, “Selling Slavery: Memory, Culture, and the Renewal of America, 1876-1920,” explores the period of cultural transformation between the ending of slavery and the rise of a mass consumer society. It asks in particular how Americans used memories of slavery to grapple with and adjust to the nation’s commercial and technological “rebirth.”
Designing Slavery: Cultural Commodity, National Rebirth, and The Souls of Black Folk
Asked by his editor to choose between two covers for a volume of “essays and sketches,” sociologist and historian W. E. B. Du Bois replied that he “greatly prefer[ed] the black—it suits the title best.” Drawing from this moment, when The Souls of Black Folk was “suited” with a black cover, this paper explores how the design of trade books became a key site where the memory of slavery was revised in an increasingly commercialized national culture. At the turn of the twentieth century, as American grappled with the rise of corporate consumer society, many sought aesthetic renewal in the voice of black slaves. The search would be vexed. By analyzing the illustrations and book covers which decorated the romances of the “old plantation” and comic specimens of “Negro dialect,” I will show how memories of slaves reappeared in the elite literary marketplace as beautiful things—and as mechanically reproduced and mass-marketed commodities. More than nostalgic escapes from the politics of cultural transformation, the beautiful books of slavery—from Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus tales to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s collections of poetry—suggested “uncanny” equivalences between the old world of human commodification and the emerging world of cultural commodification. A product and critique of this phenomenon, the production and reception of The Souls of Black Folk reveals these tensions in detail. Offering black souls as a font of renewal for a nation becoming “a dusty desert of dollars and smartness,” Du Bois nevertheless sold them with a shrewd sense of commercial style.
Amanda Gluibizzi is a PhD candidate in the History of Art at Ohio State University specializing in modern and contemporary art and design history. Her dissertation is titled “All the Visible World”: Art, Design, and 1960s New York.
Making New York Understandable”: Revolutionary Proposals for a City in Crisis
In his 1974 introduction to an anthology of speeches given at the International Design Conference in Aspen, Reyner Banham noted that, “Aspen has tried quite hard to tackle the major problems of the social responsibilities of design. But this is true only of the more recent conferences. [A]t the beginning it was… chiefly a matter of getting designers and executives together for their mutual benefit, and the discussions were largely business oriented.” What Banham identified was nothing less than a revolution in American design, a move from advertising and promotion to politically-informed manufacture and communication, and one that suggested that designers could and should turn their attention and skills to civic concerns. In New York City, this revolution took the form of protest-inspired “design ins” and mayoral task forces, all of which called for greater design attention to the needs of the city. Focusing on design’s “civic turn” that occurred in New York, this talk will examine the 1972 exhibition “Making New York Understandable,” held at the city’s Cultural Center. While the exhibition was hailed in design publications as addressing at last the pressing concerns of an urban center in crisis, the majority of projects was never put into production and one of the most anticipated designs, Massimo Vignelli’s New York City subway map, was replaced by the MTA only seven years later amid charges of its foregrounding the city’s “cynical reality.” Questions remain of the exhibition nearly forty years later, most notably: Can design’s revolutions revolutionize cities’ realities?
Nina Harkrader is a Panofsky Fellow at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and recently completed a term as a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Global Research Institute in London. After receiving an MA with distinction in the Archaeology of Buildings from the University of York, England in 2000, she worked in historic preservation and buildings conservation for seven years. Her teaching and research focus on nineteenth and twentieth century architecture and urbanism. Her dissertation addresses unexplored questions of this period in Great Britain, analyzing buildings constructed for the poor from 1850 -1910, and their contextual relationships to medico-social thought and to the urban landscape itself.
Building for “The Other”: Spatial Aspects of Architecture and Poverty in Victorian England.
In the wake of explosive urban growth during the nineteenth century, beliefs about the poor, which had remained relatively consistent over the previous century, changed dramatically. In Victorian England, the poor were increasingly investigated, categorized, mapped and ultimately defined as a distinct and separate underclass—a barely human Other—by the rising middle and upper classes. No longer regarded as subordinates, for whom charity was an obligation, the poor were to be reformed, and thereby become self- sufficient.
Architecture played a significant role in the reformative process. Between 1850 and 1910, new buildings and building types to house, teach and heal the poor were developed and constructed by the middle- and upper-classes throughout England on a scale previously unseen. These represent a rich area for exploration and analysis of social change. In addition, the relationship between poverty, morality and disease, a prominent theme in the social history of nineteenth-century medicine, to date has been absent from analyses of buildings for the poor. In fact, evolving Victorian poverty theories and changing medical models mutually reinforced and influenced each other.
As poverty theories and medical models changed from 1850 to 1910, coeval buildings constructed for the poor not only reflected these changes in their forms, plans, and iconographies, but themselves helped construct the social programs they embodied. Indeed, themes of contagion, separation, containment, control and reformation are reflected in both the exterior, visible, forms of buildings for the poor as well as in their interior spatial conceptions.
Matthew Heins is a PhD candidate in architecture at the University of Michigan, with interests primarily oriented to urban design and infrastructure. He has a joint master’s degree in architecture and urban planning, has worked in both fields, and is a licensed architect. His dissertation is titled “The Shipping Container and the Globalization of American Infrastructure” and focuses on how the container, a globally standardized object, has entered into the domestic infrastructure and territory of the United States.
The Quiet Revolution of the Shipping Container
The shipping container is a seemingly banal steel box, most commonly 40’ long, 8’ wide and 8’-6” high, that has impacted global freight movement in a revolutionary fashion, helping bring about unparalleled worldwide commerce and far-flung globalized manufacturing. Yet the container, despite a few recent encomiums to it from enthusiasts of globalization, is a generic object that usually remains unnoticed in the background. In addition to its unremarkable appearance, the container through its spatial dimensions and physical characteristics is carefully designed to work by fitting into existing modes of transportation, rather than replacing them or imposing wholesale change. While the intentions of many designed objects are boldly evident, the container exerts a quiet revolution through its presence in the systems that structure our world.
The fields of architecture and urban design have begun to pay greater attention to topics of infrastructure, standardization and regulations, as scholars and designers become more aware of the deep and pervasive power these seemingly mundane technical or bureaucratic factors actually possess. A standardized object that travels in a nearly seamless way around the globe, the container exemplifies this type of power, put in place at a previously inconceivable worldwide scale. However, containerization succeeds by working within existing infrastructures of the nation-state that possess their own well-established spatial qualities. As a device operating at a global level, the container must work very differently from the more typical infrastructures and standards that are generally embedded at the local or national scale.
Kathleen Hulser teaches public history and museum studies at the New School. Her current project in public history is “Oh, Say Can You See” which uses mobile phone technology to explore issues in the War of 1812. (http://war-1812-1814.blogspot.com) Recently she published “Exhibiting Slavery at the New-York Historical Society” in a Routledge anthology about slavery and public history, and with co-author Steve Bull, an essay “Click History: Anytime, Anywhere” in Creativity and Technology: Museums, Mobiles, and Social Media.
The Right Look and the Right to Look: Billboard Advertising and Visual Rights
Billboards exemplify the new visual environments designed by consumer capitalism. Outdoor advertising sparked friction between commerce and culture, shaping new habits of seeing. But the revolution in perceptual habits associated with advertising led to a corresponding legal revolution that drove a wedge for visual rights in public space. “The Right Look and the Right to Look” probes the issues that sprang from the public response to billboards and outdoor advertising signs. These issues illuminate the conflict between public and private interests in clashes over public space and visual rights, marking a battle in scopic regimes associated with urban development and car culture.
As American advertising business flourished in the 1890s, proliferating billboards led to attacks on signs. Reforming billboard foes helped legitimize the look of the surroundings as a political issue of public visual rights. Business claimed the right to advertise, and replied that the citizenry could not legislate aesthetics.
After decades of legislative battles, the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that aesthetics could be a proper criterion for the exercise of police powers, saying in effect, that the public had visual rights. This offered a novel, albeit limited, protection to the public’s sense of sight.
Perceptual habits and legal developments did not smoothly track one another. Just as the post-modern embrace of the roadscape and collaged cityscape gained traction, sign control became a legal possibility – the zoning rules which underpin laws that now protect “viewsheds” and view corridors.
The obscure origins of these systems of visual regulation foreground how the ambivalent response to billboards spurred legislation affecting these broad design and visual rights issues. This presentation illuminates the peculiar evolution of visual habits and their legal doppelgangers in American public spaces
Kasia Jezowska is a MPhil/PhD student at the History of Design at the Royal College of Art in London. Her professional interests focus on intersection of design history, exhibition design and curatorial practices.
Design Exhibitions and Exhibition Designs: Representing Poland between 1945 and 1975
In summer 1969, an retrospective of Polish design celebrating 25 years of the Polish People’s Republic was presented on the grounds of the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy, Moscow (VDNKh). Five thematic displays featuring ceramics and glass, textiles, furniture, industrial and interior design that initially were presented at home, for Moscow become united under the title “Man and his house”. One part of the jubilee show was excluded from the main section and presented separately. “Designing exhibitions and mass events” was originally presented in Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw and organised in partnership with the Association of Polish Artists (Interior Design section) and The Bureau for Cooperation with Consumers. It displayed examples of industrial, cultural and historical expositions, both temporary and permanent, that were conceived between 1944 and 1969 by about 60 designers.
This exhibition of exhibitions is an interesting example of how important the discipline was for the socialist country. Polish stands and separate pavilions, “salons” of interior designs and model “living interiors” were presented at international trade fairs, industrial exhibitions or in galleries. They aimed to illustrate prosperity, however, what was showcased by no means reflected the status quo: models, prototypes and images of goods that were never to be produced were displayed in settings arranged by architects, artists, graphic designers, who normally had limited opportunities to realise their innovative concepts in a large scale.
In my paper, I will present an initial research into the use of images, mainly photographical, in post-war Polish exhibition designs. It is a part of my PhD research on representation of Poland through design exhibitions between 1945 and 1975.
Barrett Kalter is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he teaches courses on eighteenth-century British literature. His book, _Modern Antiques: The Material Past in England, 1660-1780_ (Bucknell, 2012), presents antiquarian scholarship as a source of modern notions of historical time, which were spread and contested by the period’s literature and consumer culture. Research for the book was completed with support from the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and Architecture and the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University. He is currently working on a project about food, taste, and historical reenactment.
Antiquarian Design and Queer Temporality
This presentation will consider antiquarian design as a queer aesthetic practice. Accounts of male-male desire in Romantic-era Britain have focused on Horace Walpole and William Beckford, each of whom constructed neo-medieval homes (Strawberry Hill and Fonthill Abbey). I will argue that the queerness of these environments resides in their union of untimeliness with homoerotic passion. Antiquaries were represented as men whose nostalgia removed them from contact with the present into a realm of fantasy. Their socially-marginal desires were thus conflated with anachronism. Furthermore, contemporaries often represented the antiquary’s deviation from the forward movement of time as sexually perverse, as in Thomas Rowlandson’s “Antiquaries à la Grèque,” in which two effete connoisseurs voyeuristically gaze at a sarcophagus that is painted with a man’s face. Lee Edelman and Judith Halberstam have argued that queer individuals exist outside of social structures – centrally, the family — that function within chronological time. Antiquarian collectors like Walpole and Beckford disrupted the transmission of property from generation to generation by removing goods from the “natural,” linear time of inheritance (as well as from the domestic sphere that inheritance supported) and bringing those goods into interiors that were designed to evoke the medieval past primarily for the pleasure of male friends. I will conclude by showing that the practice of historical reenactment has fostered queer sociability across time, too, as evident in Dennis Severs’ House, a twentieth-century camp recreation of Walpole and Beckford’s own period that also commemorates the history of London’s protohomosexual molly subculture.
Diana Martinez is a Ph.D. candidate in architectural history and theory at Columbia University. Her current research, on the architecture of the Progressive era focuses on American architectural interventions abroad, with particular attention paid to the planning and execution of Daniel Burnham’s 1905 master plan of Manila. She holds a B.A. in architecture from UC Berkeley and received a Masters of Architecture from Columbia University where she has taught both design and history courses since graduating in 2006. She has practiced as an architect in San Francisco, Manila and New York.
Tutelary Urbanism: Daniel Burnham’s Master Plan for Manila
Victors in the Spanish-American War, the United States suppressed a native revolution already in progress in the Philippines (against Spain), barely one hundred years after its own revolutionary war. Then President William McKinley famously acquired an archipelago that famously he could not locate on a map. Soon the President learned of Manila’s value as a bustling entropôt, with already existing trade ties with the theretofore impenetrable markets of China and Japan. In McKinley’s words the Philippines presented a “…commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent.” Under these conditions Daniel Burnham was charged with the absurd task of ideologically positioning the plan of an American colonial city against the idea of Empire itself.
Burnham, fresh from his travels to Europe with the Senate Park Commission incorporated design elements plucked from plans associated with a spate of urban reforms that followed the revolutionary events of 1848. Imbedded in these drawn elements (among them Hausmann’s Boulevards and Franz Joseph’s Ringstaße) was a tension between a nascent ‘liberal’ nation-state and an attempt to restore monarchical potency.
My paper will on the one hand be a close-reading of Burnham’s plan, examining how the urban planner attempted to sublimate the aporia of “American Empire.” On the other hand this paper will reveal how Burnham’s “tutelary urbanism” masked the design of a more expansive and largely informal plan of a new global trade network.
Andrea Merrett is a fourth-year PhD student at Columbia University. Her dissertation is on the history of feminism in American architecture, c.1968-2001. In 2009 she was awarded an Oral History Prize from the Buell Center, which enabled her to conduct several interviews that led to her dissertation topic. She presented her preliminary work on the Women’s School of Planning and Architecture at the 2011 General Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians. Before studying at Columbia, Andrea obtained her professional and post-professional education in architecture at McGill University, and practiced for five years in Montreal and Dublin.
Designing Against Discrimination: Feminism and Design in Architecture
What role did design play in the feminist movement in architecture? Influenced by the ‘women’s lib’ movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, women in architecture took up feminism and challenged the profession. Unlike, arguably, in the work of feminist artist such as Judy Chicago, feminist architects never produced a particular aesthetic. Instead, they were usually more concerned with the design process and the relationship to the clients. This led to foundation of groups, like the Women’s Development Corporation (1979), concerned with using design to improve the lives of underserved women.
This paper investigates the relationship between design and feminist activities in architecture. There were a number of characteristic responses in the 1970s and ‘80s, including the belief that women had something specific to contribute to the built environment, and that design was a means to create a better world for women and other groups identified as disenfranchised. I will focus on the work of Leslie Kanes Weisman, feminist organizer and architecture pedagogue, to examine these early responses. In her polemic book, Discrimination By Design (1992), Weisman forwards the argument that patriarchal structures are embedded in the design of the built environment. Weisman was a founding member of the Women’s School of Planning and Architecture (1974-81), and co-taught a workshop, with Phyllis Birkby, which asked women to explore their environmental aspirations. She also brought her feminism into her teaching at NJIT, where she pioneered an innovative approach to teaching studio. Through her work I will demonstrate how design was crucial to feminism in architecture.
Joanna Merwood-Salisbury Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Architectural History at Parsons The New School for Design. She received her doctorate from Princeton University in 2003. She is author of Chicago 1890: The Skyscraper and the Modern City (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and a co-editor of After Taste: Expanded Practice in Interior Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). She has published articles on architecture and design in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of Architectural Education, AA Files, Grey Room, Lotus International, and Design Issues.
“RED MOBS BATTLE POLICE”: Union Square Park as Revolutionary Landscape
Urban landscapes are both repositories of social memory and facilitators of civic life in the present day. This paper will examine Union Square Park in New York City as a politically charged public space; one in which design has been deployed to assert and divert social meaning. Originally planned as an amenity for a quiet residential enclave, the Park soon played a central role in the political life of the city and of the nation, beginning with mass rallies during the Civil War. In 1871 the Parks Department acknowledged this new role when it commissioned landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to complete a renovation. Olmsted and Vaux’s design included a parade ground and cottage on the north side of the Park, a new kind of urban space that was soon linked to radical political gatherings. This paper will focus on early-twentieth-century attempts by the Parks Department and local business groups to remake Union Square Park as a memorial to the war of independence and the ideal of American democracy. The new design promoted passive memorialization of an historic revolution in order to suppress active political demonstration in the present day. Current debates about the availability and designation of public space in New York City for political protest will be addressed briefly in the conclusion.
David Parisi is an Assistant Professor of Emerging Media in the Communication Department at the College of Charleston. His scholarship examines the interface between touch and media technology, from eighteenth century electrical machines to contemporary computing devices. He received his PhD from NYU’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. Prior to joining the College of Charleston, he held a postdoctoral fellowship in New Media Literacies at the Rutgers University Center for Cultural Analysis. His most recent work, “Tactile Modernity: On the Rationalization of Touch in the Nineteenth Century,” appeared in the collection Media, Technology, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century: Image, Sound, and Touch (Ashgate Press, 2011).
A Crisis of Perception: Haptic Interface Design as a Response to Ocularcentric Media
In this paper, I discuss the way that haptic interface designers have consistently responded to the crisis of the “overstimulated” sensorium by nominating touch as an alternative channel for communicating coded information. Doing so has required interface designers to define touch with increasing specificity; as they seek to make touch a sense capable of receiving coded messages, they fundamentally transform its constitution. This sense of touch is therefore not a stable formation, but rather one shaped by the interactions between designers, engineers, and marketers as they attempt to reroute information away from the eyes and ears into a purposively redefined haptic channel.
To inform my analysis, I draw on both historical and contemporary examples of haptic interface design discourse, including material from Princeton University’s Cutaneous Communication Lab, MIT’s Laboratory for Human and Machine Haptics, and recent conferences on the process of “haptic rendering.” My aim is to show the way these designers participate in a conversation about sensory epistemology, conceptualizing their design practice as a tacit challenge to the dominance not of vision, but of the visualist paradigm in media interfacing.
Where Marshall McLuhan identified the unbalanced, visually-dominant cultural sensorium as a problem overcome by all electronic media (which he understood as fundamentally tactile), haptic interface designers identify a similar problem, but claim instead that this problem can be solved by the design of a specific type of electronic media interface, one that act directly on the user’s sense of touch. By speaking “the tongue of the skin,” these interfaces mobilize an alternative sensory epistemology, one explicitly formulated as a response to what designers understand as a crisis of perception resulting from ocularcentric practices of interfacing.
Timo de Rijk
Timo de Rijk (*1963) is Premsela professor of Design Cultures at VU University, Amsterdam and associate professor Design History at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. Timo is art historian and received his Phd on The Electrical House (1998). Booktitles include Art Deco in the Netherlands (2006) and Norm= Form. On standardization and design (2010). He published in general and academic journals as Journal of Design History and Journal of Modern Craft. In 2006 Timo de Rijk was convener of the international DHS-conference Design and Evolution. He is editor in chief of Morf. Magazine for Design, of the Dutch Design Yearbook. Timo is/ was member of the Advisory Board on Culture of the Dutch Government, the advisory board of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, and chairman of the Association of Dutch Designers.
A Radical Music Carrier
A radical music carrier In 1963, Philips brought a new magnetic tape on the market in a small plastic casing. This compact cassette was meant to be used with a Dictaphone, a small recorder that was specially intended for secretaries, designed to record dictated documents. Playing around with the Dictaphone’s microphone, curious Philips employees and their children quickly realized that this piece of equipment also offered an excellent way of recording music from the radio and playing it back. In 1964, the Philips design department reacted very quickly to the new functionality and brought a cassette recorder/player on the market that was extremely affordable as a result of its single-button operation and combined magnetic recording/playing head. What Philips understood was that the consumer success of the cassette and the player depended on the acceptance of the new device and the cassette as a standard, and therefore decided to offer the license to the system free of charge upon its first introduction to consumers and competitors. A crucial aspect of the system’s appeal was the at that time unique possibility of recording music flexibly oneself, and playing it back anywhere one wanted, an early and mature example of co-creating. The relatively poor sound quality definitely did not stand in the way of worldwide acceptance by very different groups of consumers. In this paper, the author discusses the design of the first cassette player for sound recording and playback. The author goes on to discuss how the compact cassette was accepted by (and defined) groups such as the punk movement (do it yourself), Japanese skaters (mobile music with the Sony Walkman) and African lorry drivers (free exchangeability of local music). Finally, the spread of illegal political messages in India and Iraq is also briefly addressed.
Head of the Design Theory and Processes Department. Universidad Autónoma
Metropolitana Cuajimalpa. México.
Ph.D. Theory and Design History (UNAM, Mexico). Masters Degree in Product Development, Birmingham University, England. Masters Degree on Design Theory UNAM, Mexico. Industrial Designer, graduated at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico.
Has collaborated with small and medium firms, developing products and business strategies. Was head of the Design Department and the Master Degree on Strategic Design and Innovation at Universidad Iberoamericana.
Has collaborated with Mexican and Latin American universities as visiting professor: National University, UNAM (México), Universidad de Guadalajara (México), Universidad de San Luis Potosí (México), UNISUL (Brasil), Universidad de Quito (Ecuador), Escuela Superior de Diseño (Cuba), Universidad del Istmo (Guatemala).
Has written five books on Design Theory and Design History and numerous articles on national and international magazines.
México 68: Graphic Design as a political tool
1968 is a synonym of social and students protests throughout the world, in México it represents two major events: the XIX Olympic Games and the student’s movement that started a political change that resulted in today’s definition of México’s political system. Both events were supported by outstanding graphics.
The purpose of this presentation is to show the contrast between two approaches to visual communication: one represents the government’s aspiration to establish a modern image of the country and the other pursuing to communicate to a vast majority the need to reject the idea of “modern” signified by the official graphics of the Olympic Games in México.
The official visual communication system was designed by Lance Wyman and Eduardo Terrazas as a result of a well balanced mixture of op and pop art and the functionalism of the Modern Movement.
The graphics of the message from the students and intellectuals was a mixture of traditional styles inherited from the muralist painting, the clever use of scarce resources and the need to produce graphics in a manner suited to the repressive atmosphere that prevailed at that time.
The graphics for the Olympic Games gave birth to Graphic Design as a profession in Mexico, since the first school of Graphic Design started in 1968, based on the impulse of the work developed for the Olympic Games. On the other hand, protests gave birth to a political awareness that eventually changed the political system of Mexico.
Katerina Romanenko has completing her Ph.D. in Art History at the City University of New York. A specialist in the twentieth century visual culture she currently focuses on the Soviet mass-circulated magazines and studies their role in the visual culture during Stalin’s regime. She presented her research in various scholarly venues and published her papers in the Design Issues (2010) and Zimmerli Journal (2005). She teaches art history at Kean University (NJ) and works as an educator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Design and Celebration of the Revolution: Representation of the Celebratory Rituals in the 1930s’ Soviet Illustrated Press
This paper focuses on the role played by visual culture and art in aiding individual transformation of the pre-revolutionary peasants and urban dwellers into “proper” Soviet citizens. It studies the ways in which the masses learned the new “Soviet” visual language. My project discusses the mass-circulated illustrated magazines and their design features as an artistic, cultural, and socio-historical document and aims to contribute to a better understanding of the process involved in cultural encoding through mass media. This paper focuses on the Soviet printed media’s role in the establishment of the Soviet celebratory rituals as the new cultural practices. Specifically, it discusses how two magazines for women – Rabotnitsa (female-worker) and Krestianka (female-peasant) represented celebrations associated with the October Revolution. Intended for the general consumption these publications provide representative examples of the periods’ iconographic and stylistic conventions. At the same time these magazines served explicitly defined segments of society, respectively – working and peasant women, thus they offer a unique opportunity to see the process of shaping a specific cultural paradigm. New Soviet holidays were “performed” as state-wide rituals, with Moscow as a central stage. The magazines illuminated these performances by visualizing holiday discourse using photography and photomontage along with fine arts illustrations and graphic images. This paper revisits the still persistent belief that the period of the 1930s had abandoned the photomontage as the emblematic Modernist medium and traces some of the ways this medium was adopted by the totalitarian modes of expression associated with the Stalinist regime.
Kristin Romberg is currently the postdoctoral fellow at The Phillips Collection and George Washington University. She graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a dissertation about media and political form in the work of the Russian constructivist Aleksei Gan.
Paper Architecture: The Constructivist Journal’s Extensive Structure
The Russian Revolution was a coalition of interests, with varying relationships to the idea of power. Some believed in a dictatorship of the proletariat led by a vanguard party. Others placed faith in cultivating lateral forms of governance facilitated by mass-media networks. The latter can be considered a mode of governance facilitated by design. This paper examines one such attempt by looking at the magazine and kiosk design projects of the Russian constructivist Aleksei Gan. Gan is best known as pioneer of a pared-down and typographically efficient constructivist graphic style, exemplified by the layouts for the cinema and constructivist architecture magazines Kino-Fot (1922-23) and SA (1926-30). This paper forgoes analysis of graphic style in order to examine his print and kiosk design work in terms of an “extensive structure” intended to work in conjunction with contemporary reality in creating the infrastructure for a radically democratic form of social movement, the technological viability of which has only come to realization now.
Daniel Talesnik is a PhD candidate in History and Theory of Architecture at Columbia University. He is currently working on his dissertation entitled The Itinerant Red Bauhaus, or the Third Emigration. He studied architecture at the Catholic University, Santiago, Chile (2006) and holds an MSc in Advance Architectural Design from GSAPP, Columbia University (2008).
Hannes Meyer and the Red Bauhaus Brigade: Subjects of the Post-revolution or Revolutionaries?
At the beginning of the 1930s, the architect Hannes Meyer along with a group of former Bauhaus students moved to the Soviet Union to place themselves at the service of the first Five-Year Plan; the group came to be known as the Red Bauhaus Brigade. Revolution in the Soviet Union was an evolving concept through the 1930s. The decade started with an inclusive project that welcomed architects and technicians from the West, whose expertise by the middle of the decade was on its way to be hastily disregarded. A series of cities are a testimony of the role played by foreign architects. Ernst May’s Magnitogorsk, Hans Schmidt’s Orsk and Meyer’s unbuilt plan for Birobidzhan are all part of the rise and fall of a progressive line of city planning—revolutionary if you will—that was partly nursed in Germany in the 1920s and that found in the Soviet Union a unique test bed. The evolution of the concept of revolution in the first years of Stalin’s regime will be scrutinized parallel to Meyer and the Red Bauhaus Brigade’s Soviet stint. With a theoretical frame that includes ideas of Reinhart Koselleck and Paul Ricoeur, amongst other authors, this paper will address the Red Bauhaus Brigade in relation to issues related to belatedness, timeliness and anticipation. If design is considered a historical agent and at the same time a mode of historical analysis, then what exactly was ‘revolutionary’ in Meyer and his brigade’s designs? Were Meyer and the Red Bauhaus Brigade subjects of the post-revolution or revolutionaries?
Alla G. Vronskaya is a Ph.D. candidate in the History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture at MIT, working on a dissertation that explores the impact of psychophysiological aesthetics upon Soviet avant-garde architectural theory and the consequent reconceptualization of tasks, goals, and methods of architectural practice. She has received junior fellowship from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington DC in 2011, and was awarded Getty Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship for the 2012/13 academic year. Her research has been published in Thresholds and The Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
From Analysis to Synthesis: Soviet Modernist Architecture as Organization
In his Tektology: Universal Organization Science (1913-1922) Russian revolutionary and cultural ideologist Aleksandr Bogdanov defined revolution as organization, the goal of which was empowering humanity to master the external world. My presentation examines how in the 1920s Bogdanov’s ideas impacted Soviet architectural thought, in particular the theory of composition developed by Nikolai Ladovskii and his followers (so-called Rationalists). I trace the genealogy of the notion of organization as used by the Rationalists to argue that it functioned as a means of asserting modernist architecture’s revolutionary potential, a demiurgical power of creating a new—architectural—world.
I start by discussing the philosophy of empiriocriticism (developed by an Austrian Ernst Mach and promoted in Russia by Bogdanov), which the Rationalists used as the methodological foundation for their theory. Mach suggested analyzing the world as a sum of subjective sensations, claiming that in order to understand reality one had to study these sensations as its elements. Dissatisfied with the lack of practical output of empiriocrticism, Bogdanov transformed it into tektology, which was preoccupied not with analysis, but with synthesis of elements. Rationalists, too, made their architectural theory more practical: while their educational course at the VKhUTEMAS started with an analysis of the structure of spatial experience, it culminated with a synthesis of separate architectural elements into new spatial forms. Finally, I point out that it was Bogdanov’s “organization theory” that informed the Rationalist synthesis, which, elaborated as the theory of composition, became the core principle of their theory of architecture.
Jonah Westerman is a doctoral candidate in the Program in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research focuses on the different ways art’s political capacity has been imagined and constructed through the modern and contemporary periods, with specific emphasis on how works attempt to position, describe, influence, and/or transform their audiences. His dissertation is about the relationship between technologies of mediation and subjectivity in European performance art since 1989. He has taught courses in modern and contemporary art at Brooklyn College and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Hurry Up and Wait:
Socialist Realism, Avant-Garde, and the Poetics of the Threshold in the Moscow Metro
Building on Lenin’s famous formula, “Communism equals Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country,” art historian and theorist Boris Groys asserts “The electrified night is the only true daytime of utopia.” Here, Groys alludes to the Moscow Metro’s position as a chief repository of the utopian aspirations of the Stalinist regime. Following Groys’s lead and, arguably, Stalin’s as well, this paper takes the Metro as both object and metaphor for analyses of the Soviet re-construction of the physical and psychic worlds during the 1930s. At stake is a discussion of the particular type of “new man” the Soviet utopia sought to produce, by what means this was attempted, and what it might mean to consider the venture a success. This paper examines official pronouncements about what the Metro was meant to achieve practically and signify ideologically, surveys the early history of its construction, and visually analyzes Metro stations and promotional materials. By demonstrating that the Moscow Metro was a municipal project organized under the aesthetico-political imperative of Socialist Realism, this paper will detail how the Stalinist total manipulation of context sought to usher in the new by selectively destroying and/or repurposing the old. This manipulation generated a threshold temporality perched between the past and future, protecting the possibility of action in the present. The Metro was a symbol and a lived experience of Soviet progress’s double edge. It achieved victory over both nature and history, but it couldn’t take the “new” Soviets anywhere they hadn’t already been.
Bess Williamson is Assistant Professor of Design History at Columbia College Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Delaware, and her Masters in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from Parsons. She has published in Winterthur Portfolio, Design and Culture, and Boom: A Journal of California. Her current book project, on the history of design responses to disability rights, is tentatively titled Designing an Accessible America.
Accessible, Universal, Ugly: Designers Confront Disability, 1970-2000
In this paper, I examine the multiple responses from the American design community to th Disability Rights movement. Design took a starring role – to many designers’ dismay – in this new civil rights cause of the late twentieth century. More than any prior movement, Disability Rights advocates made a claim that everyday design, from government buildings and public transit to the minute designs of elevator buttons and household appliances, had the power to deny or affirm civil rights. In response, some designers embraced the challenge of creating accessible designs, whether because of personal experience or political conviction. Others, however, rejected the mandate of access, viewing these concerns as governmental meddling in the design process.
Many tales of design and revolution highlight progressively minded, heroic designers (perhaps thwarted by conservative political or economic forces). This story is comparatively ambivalent. The tensions between the grassroots rights movement and a largely elite profession came to the fore in the 1980s and 90s, as major legislation passed to require accommodations for the disabled. Aside from a few practitioners engaged with the movement, the leading voices of design and architecture showed little interest in the topic from an aesthetic or theoretical standpoint. In a story still unfolding today, leaders in both the rights movement and the design world asked whether the aesthetic and commercial goals of design could be aligned with a revolution in thinking about the rights of the disabled.
I got my specialist degree in Art History in 2008 from the Ural State University, Russia. In a year after that I received a Fulbright grant for MA program in SUNY Buffalo (Department of Visual Studies), from where I graduated in 2011. Since Fall 2011 I have been working as a lecturer at the Ekaterinburg Academy of Contemporary Art in Ekaterinburg, Russia. I teach courses in History and Theory of Art and Morphology of Contemporary Art. My research interests are outlined by Russian and American 20th century art, exilic art, art and politics in contemporary Russia, landscape and memory.
Place, Politics, and Religion: Redesign of the Post-Soviet Urban Space
The paper explores Ekaterinburg (the third largest political and economic center in the Russian Federation) as a unique place on the map of the post-Soviet Russia. Starting its history from the late 17th century, Ekaterinburg’s landscape today combines signs, which refer to various chronological and symbolic layers, such as the Russian Empire’s times, Soviet period (with unique constructivist architecture), and current rapid constructions for private businesses. The examination of the relationship between the structural elements of the city’s landscape manifestly witnesses its active redesign from the end of the 1990-s: some of them are being recreated, built or invented, some – ruined or illegally demolished. The analysis, therefore, discovers the city as a complicated structure of visible and invisible signs, in which, I argue, the chief determiner of the new visual policy, lead by the city’s administration, is a historical event – the execution of the last Czar’s family by Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg during the Russian Revolution. Furthermore, building upon Barthes’ concept of ‘myth’, I demonstrate, how the story of the execution functions in Ekaterinburg’s visual space as part of a newly developed ideology of the post-soviet Russian government. From this perspective, the city’s current metamorphosing landscape reveals the new ideology’s etymology in the mid-19th century dominant ideological doctrine of the Russian Empire “Orthodox, Autocracy, Nationality.” My argument also stems methodologically from Pierre Nora’s notion of lieux de memoires and Edward Said’s theory of interaction of landscape and memory.