Research Design Histories

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Essay question:

Deconstructivism is a design tendency that emerged as a branch of postmodernism in design. Analyse the characteristics and affects of deconstruction through TWO cultural artefacts from TWO different design fields. For example, a building and a garment.

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What is a cultural artefact?

A Cultural artefact is a modern or an ancient object that may offer significant insight to a societies economic development, social structure, archaeology, agriculture, ideologies, technological advances, and many other its of information that can tell us more about the specific lifestyle by the people from when the cultural artefact was made. Even the simplest object found in the footsteps of ancient civilisations like silverware or pottery can tell us a lot about ancient societies hundreds of years ago. The design behind each unique item can tell us how they ate their food, how they caught their food, how they passed information around, what social practices they took part in, and could even tell us stories about their spirituality.

A lot of the objects we use in the modern era could also be used and considered as a cultural artefact as so much of the items we use in out daily lives has a design that reflect on how our lives operate. For an item such as an Iphone stand can tell other societies that we preferred to keep our hands free during some activities. It would show that we may have used an iphone for so many purposes that many small gadgets were invented and designed around improving the convenience of many of the iphone’s functionality that revolved around our lives. Even our phones itself can be considered a great example of a cultural artefact as so much of our lives revolves around it both as part of necessity and convenience.

Two examples of cultural artefacts I would like to properly analyse would be part of the post modernism movement as I would love to analyse the use and the design of the cultural artefacts we create today and its function towards out livelihood and culture. I would also analyse the post-modern movement and its influence towards the deconstructionism. Post-modernism is the practice of questioning and criticizing many aspects of what we currently understand about design, the world, ethics, science, architecture and how we behave. It asks deeper questions more on why we do certain things rather than how. It breaks down what we have learned to accept in hopes to better understand the subject and hopefully change it for the better.

Deconstructivism is a movement that derived from post modernism that takes more of a focus to deconstructing the way we view architecture and the way buildings are shaped and utilised in our daily lives. It breaks down our conventional way of thinking how a building should be made or look and uses new and innovative ways to challenge ourselves on refining architecture and design of buildings. No matter how unconventional the outcome of deconstructivism turns out to be, it always comes out with a lot of benefits and disadvantages due to its unconventional design. And at times many buildings under deconstructivism would have to be reworked to fix some of the unforeseen outcomes of such a unique design.

The first example I would like to talk about is the great Walt Disney Concert Hall located at 111 South Grande Avenue in Los Angeles, California. This Post-modern styled building was designed by the architect Frank Owen Gehry. The project started in 1987 when the widow of the founder of Disney, Walt Disney, donated $50 million dollars for the building and had its first completed designs in 1991. It was officially completed on the 24th October 2003, but was held off from being open to the public until later on in the year so that the Orchestra and the Master Chorale can adjust to the newly designed concert hall. The building was made to host and present great classical, contemporary, world and Jazz music. Its built with a stainless-steel exterior with Hardwood panelled for its Auditorium to create state-of-the-art acoustics for the countless pieces that will be played within its auditorium.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall has a unique Post-modern design that takes a lot of influence from deconstructivism as many conventional designs for buildings were re evaluated and altered to accustom design choices to better amplify the acoustics of the auditorium and concert halls. The unique unconventional redesign of the Concert hall had originally created uncertainty about how the sound will be affected in the auditorium, but overtime it was greatly accepted and a massive success to the quality of the music being preformed in the Walt Disney concert hall. ‘The sound, of course, was my greatest concern, but now I am totally happy, and so is the orchestra,’ ‘Frank Gehry, Walt Disney Concert Hall Photographed by Khalid Salih , Viewed 19 10 2019, https://www.amazingarchitecture.com/index.php/post/frank-gehry-walt-disney-concert-hall-photographed-by-khalid-salih ‘the sense of fluttering sails in the wind… a sense of the dignity you get from those tall ships and also the excitement you get, and for a concert hall to have a visual excitement seems appropriate.’ Hardiman, Alan 2004, Walt Disney concert hall, Vol.15(1), 11861797, pp.26-29.

The Exterior of the Walt Disney Concert hall is built with stainless steel curvature that covers most of the entire building and with white limestone for the office wing. This idea was not the original idea Frank Gehry had in mind when he finalised his design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The project was resumed after a four year gap which removed some of the original buildings and had a redesign of the original material of the exterior. Initially Frank Gehry wanted the exterior to me made of stone because ‘at night stone would glow,’ ‘Disney Hall would look beautiful at night in stone. It would have just been great. It would have been friendly. Metal at night goes dark. I begged them. No, after they saw Bilbao, they had to have metal.’ Frank Gehry told the interviewer Barbra Isenberg. “Jackie Craven, 2019, Gehry Responds to Disney Reflection – Not His Fault, Fixing Controversial Designs, ThoughtCo. , Viewed 19 10 2019, https://www.thoughtco.com/gehry-responds-to-concert-hall-heat-178089 . Which was to symbolise musical movement and the motion of sound. With a more malleable material for the exterior, a more adventurous and ambitious design could have been made to bend and curve the exterior more as a visual aesthetic and helped separate the design of the building from the concrete ground surrounding it. And additionally, engages light throughout the say as an architectural medium. And thus, was what caused the initial design of a stone exterior of the Walt Disney Concert hall to go into a Stainless-steel exterior.

This change did make the building as aesthetically pleasing as seen today, but this design change did create issues especially with the incredibly reflective surface of the stainless steel exterior. Due to the smooth curved surface, certain parts of the Walt Disney Concert hall exterior became incredibly reflective and its curved surface ended up concentrating significant amount of light to a single point, causing numerous thermal problems on nearby surfaces. As the Mayor of Los Angeles , Jim Hahn, Said during a dedication ceremony “This building has a UV factor of 100” (L.A. Times, 10/21/2003) , Many surfaces such as pavements and roads were affected by this concentration of light that Certain parts of the pavement surrounding the building became unbearably hot that could go up to 60 degrees Celsius. And additionally the light reflected created interference with traffic with the blinding reflection of sunlight, creating a safety hazard to the vehicles passing by the building at certain times of the day. These issues came about due to the decision to change the stone exterior into a shiny metal one. Solutions needed to be made to overcome the hazards made from such an unconventional design.

Digital simulations and dataloggers were made to identify which parts of the building were giving off the most amount of problems and it was apparent that every part of the building was providing a different problem at different parts of the day. The solutions was to sand down the reflective metallic panels of the exterior so the light would not reflect as much as it did. This did create a less blinding light reflected from the metallic surfaces, and created less heating issues with the Deconstructivism design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The effects of Post Modernism Deconstructivism may have brought upon new aesthetic ideas and help us rethink how we design our buildings, but with new changes and improvements also comes with new unforeseen difficulties and hurdles we need to overcome.

The Second Cultural artefact I would like to analyse is from an unconventional cartoon that has challenged the way we think about reality and conventional storytelling in a very post-modernistic fashion. Rick and Morty. This TV show explores and deconstructs many universally accepted beliefs and truths and even denies any universal truths within its own world. The two main characters, Rick and Morty, are themselves a parody of two existing characters from the movie “Back to the future” as the characters Doc and Marty. The show itself is aware of its reference to other pop-culture media and ideas and deconstructs the messages and beliefs from almost every topic and pop-culture reference it brings up.

One occasion of the show expressing post modernistic ideas comes from the first episode of the ‘Pilot Season 1 Episode 1’ (Rick and Morty 2 December 2013) Television programme AdultSwim,Netflix at 2:50 to 4:00 when the family is having breakfast together at the dinner table and Morty’s family is concerned for Morty’s health and education because his grandfather Rick forces Morty to go on adventures with him late at night. Rick snaps back criticizing the social concept of everyone needing to sleep at night claiming it’s a waste of time, casually denying the existence of god, and claims school is a waste of time and not for place for smart people as he believes that Morty should learn as much as he can from first hand experience on adventures with him instead of sitting in a mundane routine classroom accepting whatever is being taught. It has been shown in the first episodes that Rick has many unconventional opinions about the way the world works in a very Cynical and Existential point of view. This is also clearly prevalent and consistent with the rest of the show as Rick constantly denies the basic construct of what we accept in society and claims so much of what we do is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

The show also sways back and forth between Modernism and Post-Modernism as a way of comedy. There are times when the show becomes grounded ad sentimental, then just as we are expecting a conventional outcome, the show switches to a postmodern narrative and makes a joke about it. I have 2 examples of this. The first one ‘A Rickle in time Season 2 episode 1” (Rick and Morty 26 July 2015) Television programme Adultswim, Netflix at 19:00 to 20:15 Rick is in a position where He and Morty messed with alternate realities, a particular device is needed to be attached each of them to fix the issue but Morty reveals his device is broken then accidentally dropped his device into a void. Rick, who usually shows little regard to the safety of Morty, decided instead of using his device on himself, he saves Morty by using it on him instantly transporting Morty to a stable alternate reality, Rick sacrificed himself to be alone in a collapsing reality and to himself he accepted his own fate. This first part of the story is a Modernistic narrative to storytelling. Almost immediately after Rick’s sacrifice he finds the broken device meant for Morty floaring around in the void. Rick’s self acceptance for his own sacrifice was comedically dropped instantly and he attempts to fix the devide on the spot calling out and praying to God to help him in his time of need. It doesn’t take him long to fix the device and the second he manages to save himself, he takes takes back all of his prayers to god. The show time and time again exercises its perspective of a Postmodernist mindset by constantly comparing it back and forth with modernism as a unconventional way to both tell a narrative and question the objective ideas we have come to believe and expect from a Modernistic narrative.

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