Art In the Age of Uncertainty
-Norman M. Klein
My friend Aimee and I found out about this lecture whilst trudging the streets of Liverpool during the Biennial. I have notes on every speaker (although I think we missed the first two as we were late) but to do a write up on each one would take a long time and would be tedious for you to read. I will talk about the best bits and what I took from it.
(Although we see many guest lecturers at uni, and I get inspired by looking at their work (not always what they say...) I find I get more inspired by these sorts of talks. Not directly related to design, but that can feed into it. This is why I used to enjoy the Bill Robb and Don Limon lecture series. I used to feel my research was not valid because it was never strictly design based, but there is no right or wrong as for as what you research as it is all about what makes you as a designer/writer/human being tick. But Enough of this, the talk.)
Norman M. Klein urging us to forget all we know and start again as all we have learnt and know is soon to be past it's sell by date.
Norman Klein was perhaps the most influential speaker for me. I wrote down numerous quotes. His particular interest lies in memory. In fact reading through my notes I notice that I have started to quote him often and refer to him in my writing...
"Utopia only happens when there's is nothing left to do"
He also commented on how, as generations change, so changes the perception of the future. Once upon a time it was all cyborgs and utopia. Now it is all paranoia and dystopia.
"Nothing Dates like the future"
There also came a talk form a group of graduates, (product design) really pushing the naivety of invention, and how to truly invent something new, naivety is essential. Michael Burton spoke of how we are reliant on medicine and have become squeamish about dirt and nature when this is how our immune systems are formed. It is quite interesting to think how, Man as a species seems to be disassociating it's self further and further away from nature when really we should be incorporating nature into our lives as much as possible. Technology to incorporate nature rather than emulating it. There designs were based around this. Real bizarre, real thought provoking stuff. I started to read new scientist after this. From time to time.
The remaining speakers became interested in the idea of sustaining life. There was a lot of talk about downloading thoughts, and life through cyborgs, the physical not being the thing that makes us but merely got us to where we are. Which to me isn't anything I think we as a species should be striving to achieve. Our uniqueness and individuality comes directly from nature. Variation. How can we vary if we are all cyborgs? Ok our thoughts and memories could live forever, but we would never self improve we would just remain. Same old stories, same old cyborg. Downloading each others knowledge and thoughts until we are all just a generic species. All the same. Never changing. Boring. Steve Fuller seemed to touch on a few things that I often get round to thinking of, for example what happens to us when survival is no longer an issue. Now we are all striving to leave a legacy. Something to remember us by. Not necessarily fame, but something. A trace of ourself. Something greater than the Dinosaurs leaving bones. It seems that now, that in rich countries, survival is no longer the thought preoccupying people. It is eternal life. Who will remember 'me'? Why would they want to?