This summer, Charlie Evans (2014 BA Design graduate, and currently a Technical Tutor in the Department) is spending two months in Taipei, on a Designers in Residence program for the British Council in Taiwan. Charlie will send us regular correspondence with impressions from his experience; we’re publishing his fourth letter today.
I’m watching David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Crash. There are two sweet spots in the most famous exchange:
What about the reshaping of the human body by modern technology? I thought that was your project.
A crude Sci-Fi concept that floats on the surface and doesn’t threaten anybody. I use it to test the resilience of my potential partners in psychopathology.
This is a really useful, succinct manifesto for design: a superficial, material territory that allows us to look much deeper into things*. For me, exploring the (re)shaping of the human body is a way of accessing and challenging the more discrete political forces governing us.
I’ve been wondering how best to explain this in a reasonably clear way. A nicer example so far came from a conversation with Ivan Chenh-hou LIU of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee:
Taiwan is a country with an ambiguous international standing which manifests in the obscure title, Chinese Taipei. This is a point of contention for the people of Taiwan, who increasingly identify as Taiwanese. In this context, the Olympic Games becomes a political forum for cross-Strait relations and fundamentally demonstrates how the elite practices of sport render the body as a political object.
*It’s why Ballard is so important for designers. He’s all about the external/physical and internal/mental landscapes.
Charlie is also keeping a visual blog on Tumblr.