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At the end of the industrial age, design is in a profound crisis, remarks Vilém Flusser on the “state of things,” in a book rst published in 1993. Because design always pretends to be able to solve problems, without actually being in a position to do so, it generates rst and foremost “obstacle[s] for/to the removal of obstacles” (The Shape of Things, 1999, p. 58). At the same time, he claims, we are at the beginning of a post-historical age of technical images: concepts are breaking down into dimensionless dot elements, and we need a new power of imagination to recombine them using calculating and computing gestures or to recombine them into technical images. Hence the linear-causal concept of the world offered by historical thinking up to now and the programmatic, nonlinear thinking of post-history are worlds apart. The latter conceives the universe as an entropic process and the world as a random realization of arrangements, of “programs,” whose center is occupied above all by contingencies. Flusser sees in this a liberating potential; he writes: “Freedom consists not in choosing and deciding, but instead in countering the entropic tendencies of the world with the improbable: […] opening up future, hitherto unsuspected areas for decisions.” (Nachgeschichte, 1997, p. 221; translated from the German)*

From a post-historical perspective, design means thinking “programmatically”; that means, first, bidding farewell to purpose-driven and deterministic thinking of linear-causal necessities in categories such as “motive,” “objective and cause,” and “consequence.” In that same spirit, Peter Weibel wrote in the mid-1990s of the liberation of the object by the code: “coding as design,” as “the attempt to apply the free manipulation and variability of the digital [image] to the world of objects” (Weibel, “The Liberated Object,” in: Teichgräber, Peter Weibel: Hypothetical Products, 1994, n.p.); this means thinking of the world in variables.

* Editorial note: This passage does not exist in the English edition.

Original article by Clemens Jahn in Flusseriana

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design.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 by