Foreword 1

“Here it is! ThRAD’s first issue.

ThRAD´s nº1 issue starts off with a long forgotten essay/paper written back in 1956, “The Idea of Modernity” by Adolfo Casais Monteiro, whom of which discourses about the end or collapse of Modernity. Casais Monteiro, a Portuguese poet and critic, was self-exiled in Brazil in order to live outside the suffocating blanket of Salazar’s dictatorship. He had prolifically written poetry and literature before WWII. At the end of the 1950’s, his conviction was/he was convinced that modernity had ended.

Long after the gap of despair caused by Hiroshima, a somewhat ridiculous concept of post-modernism arose in Budapest, almost erasing the previously emerging philosophical inquiries about the post-modern condition (in other words, the “post mortem” condition of modernity). Monteiro’s essay testifies the original concerns of theorists and critics as to what they thought to be a dying concept. There is not much hope in his thesis, but alas, it was written in 1956 and all ended up very differently to what Monteiro anticipated.

Following Monteiro, you may read a review of “Ethics? Design?” by Clive Dilnot’s Archeworks lecture, in number two of Volume 1 of “The Archeworks Papers” edited by Stanley Tigerman in 2005. Dilnot gives us his account of what are still the echoes of WWII and of its subsequently cruel developments. In a way, it is a response to Monteiro´s theory.

Luz del Carmen Vilschis Esquivel sends us back to the late 1960’s in Mexico where revolution and graphic arts walked together totally embedded to one another.

Zeynep Tuna Ultav gives us an essay that methodologically goes straight to the local editors´ hearts. Using literature and other arts as a reference for cultural understanding of Design is ThRAD´s crucial call/aim/goal. Tuna Ultav’s reading of Ballard’s “High Rise” places us again inside the frail thread of modern life in a post-modern condition.

With Carlos Duarte we have the confirmation/we have proof that “Kondratieff cycles” rule us all irrevocably. Monteiro and Dilnot speak from the bottom of the waves at the beginning of the rising part of the cycle. After the great catastrophes of 1945 and 2001, the “High Rise” stands, coincidentally, on the early seventies peak.

With a 50-year long career, Daciano da Costa intensely/intensively gave form to the Design Profession in Portugal during the second half of the twentieth century. Graduated in Fine Arts, he embraced all the areas of design as well as a whole generation of architecture and design students. Daciano was responsible for, among others, the interior designs of the Gulbenkian Foundation main Building, the National Library, the Belém Cultural Centre, the Rector’s Building at the University of Lisbon and the Casino Park Hotel in Madeira with Oscar Niemeyer. He called/referred to himself as a “Designer of Public Service”. João Paulo Martins, one of his assistants both in academics as in practice, gives us a good account of the master’s production. For the time being, this will only be available for Portuguese Language readers.

“Fluxus” is another example of a long-lasting `career´. Ken Friedman gives us an account of half a century of intermedia art production with an inside view of the twelve Fluxus ideas. These ideas are considered to be the twelve core concepts for contemporary design.

Continuing with our inquiries about Design occurrences, following the/in the lines of Shakespeare, we scrutinized Lemuel Gulliver’s account of some bizarre islands such as Liliput, Blefuscu, and Balnibarbi’s capital city Lagado, where the great academy of projectors is installed and where one should expect succulent clues about the use of the word. We wish not to surpass Swift’s irony by this selection. The reader must be the judge of this.

A final note: after ThRAD´s nº3 issue, a group of selected essays (elected/chosen by the international boards) will be published in the bilingual annual paper version: The “Radical” Designist Magazine. After ThRAD´s nº4 issue, we will subscribe to the on-line library platform SciELO where the papers/essays will be indexed.

1956 – The Idea of Modernity

Adolfo Casais Monteiro

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I walk among rows of words, easy and difficult ones, staring at each one. They do not answer me. Today they do not answer. I suppose they are far from me, I can not see nothing in common between them and what I would like to say. The idea of modernity does not please them, or maybe I am being too particular about it. Both of us are right, I believe. What is the point of questioning an idea, opening our way to it among rows of words? But I wonder if this is not the path that can lead me to the dark cave? Of course, it is an attribute of modernity that words and men do not understand one another. Maybe the beginning of modernity is precisely there. Isn’t it? Didn’t poetry wish to change itself into music by taking all the potential accords from words, all their possible harmonies? And was it not in this wish of becoming music that they began loosing their outlines, they turned into magic, stone, cry and they became at last the great instrument of men’s disbelief on truth, on reality, on any kind of security?

Modernity became a myth just like any other. Modernity is over. It is no longer the “Great Pan is dead” to which one can listen, coming from the bottom of the forests. Now among the sound of skyscrapers, one can hear: “modernity is dead”. We need a new name, because some other thing is born. If it isn’t born, it needs to be, because the man of modernity is dead and while there is no name for the new age, how can it possibly be born? Modernity died with the discovery of the atom bomb. Modernity is not apocalyptical enough, and there is no room in it for the strength and determination that can make man stronger than the atom bomb.

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 01/08 | Past Radical Propositions

(Book review) “Ethics?Design?” by Clive Dilnot 

Eduardo Côrte-Real

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“Ethics? Design?” by Clive Dilnot in Stanley Tigerman (Ed)
The Archeworks Papers, Volume 1, Number Two (Chicago:
Archeworks, 2005)

“Ethics? Design?” is a 46,000 word text resulting from a lecture by Clive Dilnot to the audience in Archeworks a School founded by Eva Maddox and Stanley Tigerman in Chicago. The author explains in an introductory note that he decided to preserve the lecture format because of pedagogical reasons. So the reader may expect to sometimes hear the lecturer. However, those not familiarized with the School of Frankfurt style mastered by Theodor Adorno, for instance, may expect some difficulties in reading it.

Only during the twentieth century the concept of “Design” gained its full global meaning, a century in which the human actions especially challenged the millenary notions of Ethics.

Clive Dilnot faces this demanding coincidence: When Design as a concept inflated up to the dimension of encompassing all of the artificial production, no longer being innocent in the existential drama, a century of unexpected methodic destruction and suffering occurs. Therefore, a reasonable number of thinkers about Ethics have something to say, or to be read, about design. On the other hand the particular audience of Archeworks is related with architecture by disciplinary institution linked to Ethics.

One must not expect in Dilnot’s text a simple engineered structure of arguments; the text has a complex musical structure, almost symphonic even though if only with two greater movements: The first digresses through the Ethical thinking of the past century ending with some chords, through the notion of Heterotopia that annunciate the second part, propositional in its structure. It can also be described as the confection of the mille-feuilles gateaux with arguments being folded and pressed, folded and pressed on and on.

The grand themes come from Giorgio Agamben and Herbert Simon in a permanent confrontation of content and form respectively. Agamben last exhortation about art becoming the artness of Design, in Dilnot’s argument, is consecutively constructed by a myriad of authors ramifying from Theodor Adorno and Martin Heidegger.

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 02/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Graphic Design and Revolution in Mexico, the 60’s

Luz de Carmen Vilichis Esquivel

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A revolutionary movement was conceived and developed in Mexico in 1910, in which a government regime that was the result of the assimilation of the old order into the conquering forces became part of the political system, allowing for the reaffirmation of national identity through the promotion of its culture and social development. The Revolution is established due to historical necessity and in defence of its internal and external enemies. A doctrinaire pragmatism is established along with an authoritarian democracy centred around the president’s relationship with the official party and the official party’s relationship with the organized popular movements, introducing practices that allow it to keep its power, to maintain social balance, and to continue its political ideology whose various tendencies allow for the convergence of several ideologies: from Madero and Carranza to Zapata, Calles and Obregón, to lead the people toward democracy according to the times and opportunities: women’s right to vote in 1953 with Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, privatization of the natural resources with Lázaro Cárdenas, or Adolfo López Mateos’s political reform.

However, a failure to remember the Revolution results in the government not fulfilling its commitments with the people, avoiding its return to national identity and its own educational project, allowing for an amorphous democracy that is self-satisfied by its deep thoughtlessness. 1968 is a transcendent year in which the various social movements taking place around the world influence Mexico and contribute to sharpening the political, economic and cultural crisis. In all this, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico plays an important role, its students participating in an important movement of protest that, in a short time, glues together social forces of all levels and turns the student conflict into a serious national problem with tragic consequences: on October 2, 1968, a betrayal of the movement is promoted and, with it, the cruel massacre of civilians by a section of army and paramilitary groups.

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 03/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Reading Science Fiction Novels as an Architectural Research

Zeynep Tuna Ultav

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1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to emphasize the position that architectural discourse should systematize the social and spatial clues within texts. This theme is conceptualized -in the way to explore how it is — as reading the spatial elements within the texts of science fiction novels and particularly, reading that of J. G. Ballard’s High Rise (Carroll & Graf Publishers NY, 1975) with the belief in necessity to convey the future predictions of science fiction to the realm of architectural discourse in a systematic way. At this point, it can be argued that people within the realm of architectural discipline refer to the mentioned spatial elements from time to time, but we can claim that this information should not be dispersed, but systematized for a scientific relationship between architectural discourse and this knowledge, because people tend to read in different ways in relation to their socio-cultural differences.

This study, taking language as a departure point, will take into consideration the notion of interdisciplinarity which expresses the relationship of modern research methods with several other disciplines without limitation to one. Pavel (1985) elucidates this necessity in terms of linguistics as follows:

Modern research on literary narratives developed in relation to several factors: the gradual abandonment of impressionism in literary studies in favour of more objective methods, the rise of modern linguistics, and the prevalent ambivalence of interdisciplinarity in the social sciences, which encourages methodological and conceptual cross-fertilization… The development of modern social science enhanced this direction, on the one hand by the growing willingness to share methodology, on the other hand by the realization that many problems encountered in one discipline cannot be solved without recourse to research in some other discipline. Thus, anthropology became tributary to linguistics, linguistics to cognitive psychology, text-theory to formal logic, etc… (Pavel, 1985)

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 04/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Kondratieff Wave Concepts VS Golden Age for Industrial Design

Carlos A. M. Duarte

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This paper is about new perspective on the history of golden age for Industrial Design. It can be a promising approach to correlate Kondratieff waves, especially the dominant technologies in the respective periods; to cycles / periods / fashions / ideologies / ... of design. All along the 20th century the strategies used by economic agents to create competitive products have lead to the evolution and diversity of Design. It was a time characterized by the systematic application of scientific knowledge to the resolution of economic problems, aiming the sustainable growth of the life-standard of people.

The new materials and the new technologies at principle of century XXI are a challenge for designers. They begin to make use of a bigger shared area of action. They provide a very important and accessible operating principle bridging science and history, and their understanding would fill the existing lack to operacionalize the long wave approach as a useful forecasting tool. We consider that there exists indeed a connection between what happens in the global socio-economic realm and the evolution of Design that, as we know, is strongly related to the context of the technologies developed in the corresponding periods. This finding allows alerting Designers to the probably time span involving the entire life cycle of a product, since its conception till elimination of the market; however the variety of products and forms will probably continue to expand. The importance of Design will continue to grow.

Within this general picture of reference, the role of Industrial Design can be synthesized as the activity that relates the technically possible with the culturally acceptable. Such activity allows confronting the set of relations depending of numerous interactions among the aggregation of several elements that connect them, and make them multidisciplinary. It is known that the values of product design are located in between the identities of things and the time at which they are embedded, in the realm of the effective socio-economic systems.

Some recent discoveries are presented suggesting a strong relationship between some socio-economic aspects of the long economic cycles (Kondratieff waves) and the known periods of the history of Design. It was found that amid the apparently random oscillations of the informational content, at least two characteristic periods of 25-30 and 50-60 years were present. We may conclude that there exists indeed a connection between what happens in the global socio-economic realm and the evolution of Design that, as we know, is strongly related to the context of the technologies developed in the corresponding periods. This finding allows alerting designers to the probably time span involving the entire life cycle of a product, since its conception till elimination of the market. The paper is a preliminary exploration of a challenging and difficult topic, linking design history with broad economic and technological cycles...

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 05/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Daciano da Costa, Designer

João Paulo Martins

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Daciano da Costa (1930-2005) was with no doubt one of the most outstanding figures of Portuguese Design in the twentieth century second half. He worked in several design related areas and had an extensive professorship at university level.
This paper examines the master’s production from the point of view in which the designer’s work, as Daciano would put it, crosses disciplinary borders and traces the historical Fortuna of a professional activity that was accompanied by a theoretical and pedagogical evolution. From the ephemeral to the limited industrial series and the interiors grand projects, the paper discusses Daciano’s methods and ethics as well displayed over a 50-year career. The volume and the cultural awareness of Daciano’s lifetime work places him in the world pantheon of contemporary designers.

O design de Daciano da Costa (1930-2005) tem sido muito justamente valorizado pela crítica e a historiografia portuguesas devido à sua coerência, rigor profissional e maturidade de desenho; pelo equilíbrio no uso dos materiais, pelo acerto da proporção, a elegância do detalhe; pela exemplar ligação que estabeleceu com a indústria, pelo modo inteligente como soube integrar a cultura do seu tempoi. Esta ideia — reforçada por uma prática pedagógica de décadas, reclamando a definição de uma nova classe profissional, levando gerações de jovens arquitectos a "ver pelo desenho", conferindo sentido universitário à formação dos designersii — é também uma consequência da sua militância na defesa e na consolidação da disciplina, fazendo a apologia de um método, empenhado numa causa, intransigente.

No entanto, este é um retrato necessariamente redutor, simplista, demasiado linear. O seu percurso profissional, mesmo se resumido em breves parágrafos, deixa adivinhar a complexidade que o tem caracterizado. Muito cedo, Daciano optou pelo abandono de uma carreira promissora nas artes plásticas, investindo convicta e irreversivelmente nas disciplinas do projecto.

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 06/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Twelve Fluxus Ideas

Ken Friedman

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1. The Fluxus Idea, 1962-2007

1.1 The birth of Fluxus, more or less
Forty-five years ago, the first organized Fluxus festival took place in Wiesbaden, Germany. This generally calls for anniversary celebrations on the decade – the mid-point between forty and fifty offers a good moment for reflection, and an opportunity to reflect on the relation between Fluxus and design.

Emmett Williams once wrote, “Fluxus is what Fluxus does – but no one knows whodunit.” This concise description makes two radical statements. The statement that no one knows “who done” Fluxus rejects the idea of Fluxus as a specific group of people. It identifies Fluxus with a frame of action and defines Fluxus as a cumulative, aggregate of Fluxus activities over the past forty-five years. I never asked Emmett what he thought of this interpretation of his playful conundrum, so I don’t know whether he would have agreed with me. Dick Higgins did.

Dick explicitly rejected a notion that limited Fluxus to a specific group of people who came together at a specific time and place. Dick wrote, “Fluxus is not a moment in history, or an art movement. Fluxus is a way of doing things, a tradition, and a way of life and death.”

For Dick, for George Maciunas, and for me, Fluxus is more valuable as an idea and a potential for social change than as a specific group of people or a collection of objects.

As I see it, Fluxus was a laboratory. The research program of the Fluxus laboratory is characterized by twelve ideas:
the unity of art and life,
presence in time, and

1.2 Ideas and Issues
The Fluxus idea is distinct from the specific group of people. The Fluxus idea existed long before the specific group of people identified with Fluxus....

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 07/08 | Past Radical Propositions

Design Travels

Jonathan Swift

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   [I] thought it the most prudent Method to lie still, and my Design was to continue so till Night, when, my left Hand being already loose, I could easily free myself: And as for the Inhabitants, I had Reason to believe I might be a Match for the greatest Armies they could bring against me, if they were all of the same Size with him that I saw. But Fortune disposed otherwise of me. When the People observed I was quiet, they discharged no more Arrows:
accessed 12 March 2007

  [T]he People had notice by Proclamation of my design to visit the Town. The Wall which encompassed it is two foot and a half high, and at least eleven Inches broad, so that a Coach and Horses may be driven very safely round it; and it is flanked with strong Towers at ten foot distance.

   [B]ut I shall not anticipate the Reader with farther Descriptions of this kind, because I reserve them for a greater Work, which is now almost ready for the Press, containing a general Description of this Empire, from its first Erection, through a long Series of Princes, with a particular Account of their Wars and Politicks, Laws, Learning, and Religion: their Plants and Animals, their peculiar Manners and Customs, with other Matters very curious and useful; my chief design at present being only to relate such Events and Transactions as happened to the Publick, or to myself, during a Residence of about nine Months in that Empire.
accessed 12 March 2007

The Blefuscudians, who had not the least Imagination of what I intended, were at first confounded with Astonishment. They had seen me cut the Cables, and thought my Design was only to let the Ships run a-drift or fall foul on each other: but when they perceived the whole Fleet moving in Order, and saw me pulling at the End, they set up such a scream of Grief and Despair, that it is almost impossible to describe or conceive.

ISSUE 1 | November 2006 | 08/08 | Past Radical Propositions