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March 27, 2007

Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby, and Critical Design Practice

Regine at We-Make-Money-Not-Art has posted an interview with Anthony Dunne, head of Design Interactions at London's Royal College of Art. Dunne and his creative partner, Fiona Raby, have been making provocative artifacts whose existence question and challenge. A favorite is the Globally Positioned Table from 2001. The work is a side table, a cotidian piece of furniture. The table has been enhanced so that it always knows where it is. It has been embedded with a global positioning system tracker and the readout is centered nicely the table's surface. It is a clever domestic piece that will never be lost. It will forever be able to know exactly where it is.

Criticism has been (had been?) the domain of literature in the arts. It has been (was?) logocentric, which is to say, it has been expressed by and through text. In the past fifteen years several camps have forwarded proposals that practitioners should evolve critical practices, in addition to critical vocabularies and critical languages. The thought is that writing is necessary but often insufficient when critiquing practices and media other than writing. One opinion famously describes a situation where writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Dunne and Raby's work takes up the challenge to make critical artifacts, and to engage in critical practices. We at SWEAT have likewise attempted to take up this challenge. We have been attempting to critique the medium of the videogame through and with videogames. We've done this as a kind of a test, to find the expressive and critical potential of videogames. This has all been terrifically experimental, in the truest sense. We've had no idea of what the potential outcomes could be. We don't yet know the limits of the domain of practice. We're all learning together, at the same time, how to engage in a critical practice.

Regine is an exceptional chronicler of the emerging scene(s) in Europe, and she has found another exciting development in the formation of critical design practices. She is covering an exhibition entitled Designing Critical Design, in several posts:
Jurgen Bey, Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby and Martí Guixé have in common their critical stance towards mainstream product design. While they seem to keep their distance from the commercial design world, they use its mechanisms to ask questions about their own discipline, technology and society. The "citical" designers are the protagonists of an exhibition staged by Z33, a gallery located within the charming surrounding of the Beguinage at Hasselt (Belgium).

Designing Critical Design part 1: Jurgen Bey
Designing Critical Design part 2: Marti Guixé and Dunne and Raby

I want to go deeper into critical design practice in another post.

Posted by SWEAT at March 27, 2007 12:58 PM