Category Archives: History of Design – G2

HOD: Manifesto

Selflessly selfish you are, I’d like to be selfishly selfless. Because art should always be created for the purpose of others, for the “greater good”, that when I make something for my own sole desire, I am deemed selfish for my work has no purpose. But if you say that my art should only be for you and never for me, have the tables not been ironically turned?

But to fight for selfishly selfless behaviour is to do exactly that – to create purpose. So you know what? Stop thinking. It’s going to get worse.

Maybe, art well made is thoughtless in its process.

It will always be better an oops.


I refer to several art movements that no matter how unintentionally purposeful you may think they were made to be, all served a purpose one way or another.

Art Deco was purposeful, aiming to infuse functional objects with artistic touches. De Stijl was purposeful, in attempt to remake society in its aftermath of WWI, for a greater world. Dada questioned purpose as its purpose, focusing on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects that generated difficult questions about society, the role of the artist and the purpose of art. The Bauhaus obviously aimed to reunite creativity and manufacturing for its fear about art’s loss of purpose in society. The Art Noveau sought to revive good workmanship. Even Minimalism, you would think was about not being concerned about what others think of as “art”, ironically creates works that purposefully and radically eschew conventional aesthetic appeal.

So, is purpose, especially for the benefit of the public, what defines good art?

I then refer to this excerpt of an article by typographer Paula Scher, which pretty much speaks for itself:

And after thinking so much into this, I came to realise: We often beat ourselves up for not being able to come up with the most top-notch ideas, but sometimes, things that are created by chance without a care in the world, could mean so much more than those that have been crafted for long hours with its core focused on pleasing everyone’s expectations (and even when we’re trying to go against expectations, we ironically end up coming back full circle anyway!). Basically saying the more you think, the worse it gets. 

So maybe, in a similar concept to Beatrice Warde’s “type well used is invisible as type”, art well made is thoughtless in its process. 


Although, already translated into text above.


Hyperessay: Hunt (2002) by Marita Liulia



Hunt is a 40 minute contemporary dance performance that combines live multimedia and animated images. It premiered in Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, The Venice Biennale, 2002, and has been performed 177 times in 38 countries.

Tero Saarinen had choreographed and performed a mesmerizing solo to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, which was described by himself to have brought out the “violent, primitive and animal side of man at the same time as the spiritual and sacred”. He performed as both the hunter and the hunted of his inner demons – relating to the interior conflicts of the individual, his interpretation being an “offering of himself as a sacrifice rather than being a victim of society”. These symbolisms are enhanced by a stream of animated images that Martia Liulia generates on the spot and projects on his body while he dances, resulting in a genius combination of music, dance, light and images in one sublime to converse a message.

While many have commended Saarinen’s stunning movement and have also recognized Liulia’s projections, few have looked at Liulia’s multimedia involvement as significant, in the sense where they do not seem to recognize how much these images actually affect the way the audience interprets the performance as a whole. In fact, some have even questioned her involvement:

“There’s a danger that the dance’s layer of technology overtakes its physical expressiveness.” – Francois Fargue, Donald Hutera, Dance Europe, 2002

Begging to differ, I believe that Liulia’s technological layer of live multimedia on Saarinen’s body does not “overtake the physical expressiveness” of his contemporary movement, but rather acts as an amplifier towards creating a stronger sense of immersion with the piece, therefore allowing for a better transmission of intangible, imaginative concepts behind the solo towards the audience.

[To demonstrate my point, please refer to 5:10 – 6:10 of the video with sound on.]

Saarinen stays bent over for a good 10 seconds, then slowly rolls up with his eyes wide open for the rest of the minute, while questionable images and eyes are projected all over his body and costume by Liulia, in correspondence to the intense music.

Now, imagine watching Saarinen roll up for a long minute to the intense creeping music, without any form of trippy projection of light and images on his body. Would the performance have had the same effect on you, your thoughts, your interpretation of what’s going on? Very bluntly, no.

I, personally, felt a sense of suffocation that was maybe what Saarinen was trying to portray. What are all these big, intense, scary eyes? Why are they all staring at me? Why are they coming from all over the place? It is through this projection of images by Liulia, combined with the movement and expression of Saarinen as well as the music,  that I am able to interpret my own understanding of the concept of hunting and being hunted. The eyes are those of society and/or my inner demons, and I am being hunted by them. They would not leave me alone! As the performance goes on, we get to see how Saarinen eventually offers himself as a sacrifice, rather than be a victim as he seems to be in this segment.


Ivan Sutherland had managed to give people a chance to “gain familiarity with concepts not realizable in the physical world” through his invention of “The Ultimate Display”, which created an augmented reality that allowed people to see the calculations of what is not recognized by the common. In my understanding, he basically created a world of his own rules, and made it possible for other people to enter and see for themselves through visualized mathematical calculations.

Although in not as literal of a manner as Sutherland’s “The Ultimate Display” in allowing people to see and understand something not currently realizable, I believe Hunt has also managed to immerse audiences in identifying an intangible image and/or message created by the combination of choreography, music, lighting design as well as Liulia’s multimedia projections. The message, of course, being Saarinen’s interpretation and physical translation of the music score as described before.


“The scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.” – Norbert Wiener

Communication is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”, hence despite Hunt not being an interactive piece between the performer and the audience where the audience affects the performance’s outcome through feedback, communication still exists where a message is still being transmitted from performer to audience.

With that, as discussed in class, there is an indefinite amount of combinations for the process of cybernetics, and this is what I’ve observed in Hunt:

Performance (Mixed mediums) + Data in individual audience’s minds = Interpretation

Every individual is bound to have their own interpretation of what is trying to be communicated, given that there are no words mentioned to help convey any specific message. Every individual has had their own experiences leading up to the point of time of watching the performance, and at the time would also be going through a particular phase unique to him/her that will essentially affect their thought process (input+data) resulting in their output (interpretation).


Given that the stream of communication only exists between performer to individual audience members, I would not say that the effects of Hunt is like hypermedia, which focuses on a nonlinear network of information as it seems more linear than not. Perhaps in another world where mind reading exists, the different outputs that exist in each audience member’s mind could act as intangible “images”, “movies”, “graphics” or “text” that others could tap into, therefore forming an intangible sort of nonlinear network of information.

(949 words)



Hyperessay: Key Work Selection

HUNT (2002)

By: Tero Saarinen Company and Marita Liulia (live multimedia, photos)

Hunt is a 40 minute contemporary dance performance that combines live multimedia and animated images. It premiered in Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, The Venice Biennale, 2002, and has been performed 177 times in 38 countries.

Tero Saarinen choreographed and performed a mesmerising solo to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, which was described by Saarinen to have brought out the “violent, primitive and animal side of man at the same time as the spiritual and sacred”. He performed as both the hunter and the hunted of his inner demons – relating to the interior conflicts of the individual, his interpretation being an offering of himself as a sacrifice rather than being a victim of society. These symbolisms are enhanced by a stream of animated images that Martia Liulia generates on the spot and projects on his body while he dances, resulting in a combination of music, dance and video images in one sublime to converse a message.


It has been argued that Liulia’s technological involvement with the dance performance through her live multimedia projections could have acted as danger towards the dance’s physical expressiveness, yet I believe it could instead be the opposite, where her involvement helped amplify the audience’s sense of immersion with the piece, therefore allowing for a better transmission of intangible messages.

Hyperessay: Artist Selection


The artist that I have chosen is Marita Liula, an artist-director from Helsinki and Heinola, Finland, working in her own production company Medeia (est. 1997).

“The limits can only be found by experiment”

Marita started her artistic career in the theatre, starting her experiments with different art forms during the 1980s, including media art productions, paintings, photography, stage performances, short films, books and games. She has never stopped experimenting ever since, and her unique quality of integrating all these media forms together is what I find so intriguing.


History of PD: Historicism & Industrial Revolution


The Industrial Revolution is a term popularised by English economic historian Arnold Toynbee, to describe Britain’s economic development from 1760 to 1840 (Britannica, 2018). The revolution began in Britain in late 17th century, known as a period of transition from an economy that consumed handicraft and agrarian goods, to one that thrived on mass manufacturing in a machine-driven industry. With a politically stable society and being the world’s leading colonial power at the time, the demand for British goods increased as Britain’s colonies could serve as a source for raw materials and a marketplace for manufactured goods. As such, more cost-effective methods of production were needed, therefore leading to the rise of mechanisation and the factory system (“Industrial Revolution”, 2009).

The Industrial Revolution was split into two periods, the first being largely bound to Britain from the 1760s to 1830s. To remain ahead in the economy, the British disallowed exportation of machinery, skilled workers and manufacturing techniques abroad. However, with potential profitable industrial opportunities abroad, knowledge eventually spread to other parts of the world, where Belgium then became the first country in Europe to pick up the revolution, with developed machine stops in Liège. The “new” Industrial Revolution then took place during the late 19th and 20th centuries where previously centred in iron, coal and textiles, the industry began to utilise natural and synthetic resources such as lighter metals, new alloys, plastics and new energy sources. Developments were also made to machines, tools and computers that led to the rise of automatic factories that heavily impacted the manufacturing industry in the second half of the 20th century.


Key Features

The expansion of technology and invention of new machines during the revolution brought great transformation to the textile and steam engine industries. Prior to the revolution, textiles such as wool and cotton were hand-spun and produced inefficiently in local homes (“The Spinning Jenny: A Woolen Revolution”). Various inventions through the revolution had allowed the industry to advance in terms of efficiency, quality and cost. The most prominent invention credited to have moved the textile industry from homes to factories is known to be the Spinning Jenny, invented around 1764 by Englishman James Hargreaves. It was the first hand-powered machine to enable individuals the ability to produce eight threads simultaneously instead of one, thus reducing production time. By Hargreaves’ death in 1778, there were over 20,000 spinning jennys being used across Britain (“Industrial Revolution”, 2009). Other significant inventions include the Water Frame by Richard Arkwright in 1769, which was the first textile machine to be automatically powered by water (Bellis). This invention enabled the shift from local home manufacturing to factory production of textiles due to the large size of the machines and need for large water bodies for power. Samuel Compton also invented the Spinning Mule in 1779, which formed a hybrid of the moving carriage of the Spinning Jenny and the rollers of the Water Frame. The Spinning Mule allowed for large-scale manufacturing of high quality thread that worthed a better price in the market, paving the way from an agrarian society to an industrial economy (Bellis).

Steam power was also another key aspect of the Industrial Revolution. In 1712, Englishman Thomas Newcomen invented the Atmospheric Steam Engine, which was the first mechanical engine to pump water through the use of condensed steam (“Newcomen’s steam revolution”). This invention became an important method that allowed mines to be emptied further without having to employ large number of horses to do the pumping. By 1778, James Watt then further improved this invention in terms of fuel efficiency by adding a separate condenser and cylinder seals (“Industrial Revolution”, 2009). As such, the Industrial Revolution observed significant technological advancements that undoubtedly heavily impacted Britain, and eventually the world’s economy and society.


Influences and Impacts

The Industrial Revolution observed significant technological, social and economic impacts. Seen through the advancements in the textile and steam engine industries, the Industrial Revolution saw an abundance of technological improvements. This includes the shift in the types of materials used for manufacture, such as from wood, bricks and stone to exploiting materials such as iron and steel, as well as generating energy from an abundance of coal in place of burning depleting supplies of wood and water wheels. Telegraphs also allowed for almost instantaneous communication across the country and subsequently all over the world, while the invention of steam engines also led to locomotives, improving travel efficiency (Britannica, 2018). These technological changes therefore allowed for efficiency in use of natural resources as well as in mass production of goods.

While the Industrial Revolution brought about a greater volume and variety of goods, raising the standards of living for the middle and upper classes, there was a heavy drop for those of the working class. This includes having low wages for factory labourers while working conditions were dangerous and monotonous, as well as an instability of job security for both unskilled and skilled craftspeople who could easily be replaced by machines. Child labour also saw many younger than 15 working long hours for hazardous tasks, such as cleaning of machines. In the later part of the 19th century, the British government started various labour reforms which helped to improve conditions for the working class as they gained rights to form trade unions (“Industrial Revolution”, 2009).

However, despite the problematic social downfall, the Industrial Revolution promoted the idea of globalisation and pushed for better designs with new technology, where the technological advancements served as precursors to many modern inventions. Major critics who feared for the impersonal, mechanised direction of society during the revolution led to the Historicist movement that comprised of artistic styles aimed to emphasise the importance of history and meaning in art (“The Arts & Crafts Movement”). One of the main movements confining Historicism is the Arts & Crafts Movement, founded in Britain around 1860, which sought to reunite creativity and manufacturing in both fine and applied arts. Admired for its use of high quality materials and focus on functionality in design, the movement was spread to the United States in the 1890s and lasted until the 1920s. However, distinguishable attitudes were observed between Arts & Crafts artists and designers from the two places. While those in Britain saw the role of the machine in the creative process as a threat to quality of art, American artists saw it as an advantage for mass production and therefore a better market tool, rather than a hindrance to quality.

The advent of the Arts & Crafts Movement led to Bauhaus, arguably the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century founded in Weimar in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius (Museum & Digital Media, 2013). The Bauhaus came as a reaction to how the First World War had disrupted social values in the western world, as well as how industrialisation had made production methods inefficient. Its approach to teaching and understanding art’s relationship to society and technology attracted some of the key features of Modernism, and had a major impact in both Europe and the United States even after its closure. Also aimed to reunite creativity and manufacturing to revive both soul and purpose in art and products in society, artists sought to focus on the basic elements to make things convenient and accessible for people again, thus beginning a search to redefine constants in design such as shape, space, colour and movement (“Bauhaus Movement”). This resulted in a new market for design, the most innovative invention being the cantilever chair, with two legs instead of four, first designed in 1927 by Dutch architect Mart Stam. Modeled after a recent design innovation, the use of tubular steel for furniture pioneered by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus, the chairs appeared visually and physically light, demonstrating the Modernist goal of weightlessness and transparency (Museum & Digital Media, 2013).

As observed, the reactions to the Industrial Revolution provided wonders for people, where inventions created helped to improve the efficiency of people’s lives. Additionally, newly-efficient travels from steam engines also made way for trade boosts, as different groups of people were able to come into contact, thus allowing for more exchange of ideas and access to new technology in different places. For instance, the start of trades between Japan and Europe allowed for the aesthetic and philosophies of Japanese design to become popular, leading to the rise of Japanosim, the introduction of Japanese iconography and concepts into European art and design (“Japonism Movement”). One such example is how artists in search of new alternatives to the Renaissance tradition of illusionistic painting were attracted to the bright colours and new perspectives of the Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints, such as unique cropping and contrasts of objects near and far. As a result of such interconnection, there was also competition to produce better and more attractive design, therefore improving design standards across the world.

Hence, in spite of causing great social issues between classes of the society, the Industrial Revolution was the reason for heavy advancement in the globalisation of art and design, pushing for innovations that can still be observed in today’s modern inventions.

1,469 words


Works Cited

Bauhaus Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Bellis, M. (n.d.). Meet Samuel Crompton: Inventor of the Spinning Mule. Retrieved September

1, 2018, from

Bellis, M. (n.d.). Richard Arkwright, Textile Revolutionary. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Britannica, T. E. (2018, April 11). Industrial Revolution. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Industrial Revolution. (2009). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Japonism Movement (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Museum, A., & Digital Media. (2013, January 31). Modernism: Building Utopia. Retrieved

September 1, 2018, from

Newcomen’s steam revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

The Arts & Crafts Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

The Spinning Jenny: A Woolen Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2018, from