Sunday, February 26, 2017
Since I moved to Amsterdam I regularly visit the Stedelijk museum. The last time I was here it was different. Normally I just wander around but this time I was looking for something. A surface that would be interesting for me.
The last Text I wrote on the design blog was about the Iridium coated Oakley glasses with a colorful reflective surface. The object I want to write about this time, Slaapkamer-ameublement, is very much related to the previous text. It is a bedroom mirror designed by Elmar Berkovich in 1930.
A mirror is a reflecting surface, historically made of obsidian , silver, bronze, or aluminum. Today, most mirrors are made of glass, with a silvery, metallic, or amalgam backing. They serve many purposes, ranging from personal grooming to exploring the universe and they are also a common theme in art and Philosophy. x
Elmar Berkovich: slaapkamerameublement, 1930 [x]
At its simplest, the mirror reflects what is positioned before it. In viewing ourselves in a mirror, we see what we recognize as self although this reflection is an image reversal of what others see in looking at us.
Sometimes I have some weird experiences when I look into a mirror. You know that you are looking at yourself but sometimes it feels like it is not you that is looking at yourself but rather yourself observing another person. We recognize ourself but actually, we do not know how we really look like. We only know how other people see us with the help of a mirror.
The philosopherJacques Lacan, based his ideas on the human infant’s response to its image in the mirror.
Lacan’s theory is not about the mirror as a reflection of self, but about the mirror as the constitutive element in the construction of the self and self-recognition. This theory is interesting in my opinion because it suggests that we define our selfs by what we see in the mirror and therefore what others see in us. We describe ourself for what we are, but we cannot describe ourselves from outside or in formal terms. It is not us, it is just a reflection.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
At the design section of the Stedelijk Museum I felt an attraction towards objects that glitter and sparkle instantly. The jewelry collection was filled with extravagant pieces made from expensive materials and with a shiny finish that effectively seduced me. But in the middle of all of these flashy designs I found a simple and minimal bracelet made from lusterless rubber and with a small bulge in the middle as the only detail. As it was in such contrast to the other items, it raised my curiosity.
Otto Künzli, Gold macht blind (1980)
galvanized rubber, gold
Otto Künzli created his jewelry piece ‘Gold macht blind’ in 1980. It’s seemingly just a simple rubber bracelet, but Künzli claims that under the surface a ball of pure gold is concealed in the rubber. Instead of letting the gold do its job by shining and seducing the viewer, Künzli has decided to cover it up by a cheap, industrial and unpolished material. He raises the tension between what you experience on the surface and your desire to dig inside and reveal the gold. This way the bracelet comments on our destructive greed towards everything that glitters: “If the owner wants to know with certainty whether gold is concealed in the armband, he must destroy it.” (x)
Ron Arad, Concrete Stereo (1983)
Concrete, steel wire, electronics
Gold macht blind was made as an effort to undermine the expectations we have that jewelry is supposed to be decorative and flashy symbols of status and rank. This way Künzli’s bracelet has a lot in common with the industrial-looking record player covered in concrete, Concrete Stereo, Ron Arad created in 1983, which I described in my last text (x). Both works play with notions of value, and whether objects with lusterless surfaces can be desirable, and both artists create works that devalue status symbols. While Arad was part of the punk movement, Künzli is known for his humorous “stick it to the man”-attitude [x].
It’s obvious how ‘Gold macht blind’ with its matte rubber surface is in huge contrast to the sparkling works seen in the collection LUSTRE from Designing The Surface. Just like Arad’s Concrete Stereo [x] I find it fascinating how Künzli can convey his anti-elite opinions by playing with our expectations to what the surface of a piece of jewelry is supposed to look and feel like. By removing the shine and luster, the jewelry piece appears valueless, even though beneath the surface gold is hiding.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Gebr.A.R.& P.van der Burg /wood and marble painting examples in color 1876
Supplementary Surface Show Under Construction
20 students of the Rietveld Academy’s Basic Year visited the exhibition “Designing the Surface” organized at the New Institute Rotterdam (2017).
The intriguing aspect of surface, an issue that is generally avoided in a discussion about the context of content, raised our curiosity.
The exhibition and the accompanying publication was inspiring as were other additional exhibits like ‘Screen Savers’ or various shows in adjoining musea.
/FAUX /PATINA /LUSTRE /TEFLON /AGENCY /SLIM
Curious for our reflections on these subject?
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We assembled this small supplementary research show for you to enjoy.