This time we were given the task to
Find a manifesto or position in art, craft, technology or science that dates before 1900 and explain what makes it relevant for our time.
I decided on the famous statement of “Retour à la Nature” which is attributed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although he never came to mention it in this way.
But it is undeniable, that from the very beginning Rousseau never tired of lamenting the depravity of civilisation and glorifying the unadulterated state of nature as the measure of all things.
He argued on the self-estrangement of the human being through the modern civilisation and even saw civilisation as an aberration for the human being, which he made clear in his writing “Discours sur les sciences et les art (1750)”.
With his statements he clearly addressed the style of living that emerged from places like Versailles and the way of painting at that time. The etiquette of Versailles was regarded in Europe as the model of civilised behaviour par excellence, but at the same time also as a model of deceptive appearances, of dissimulation, hypocrisy, feigned politeness and secret resentment, not least of over-cultivation, and their way of life of idleness was regarded by Rousseau as the beginning of all vices.
He holds civilisation responsible not only in its excesses, but in and of itself for the grievances, in all their characteristics and historical manifestations.
In conclusion this position of “Retour à la Nature” should be understood as a critique of the forming societal boundaries and rules at that time with the romanticised wish of approaching the state of nature again. He clearly idealised this natural state and described nature as the positive and culture as the negative.
I think this topic of idealising the state of nature and wishing to turn back to a time before now regarding certain areas like technology is gaining more and more recognition these day. And I think it’s important to keep the discourse of how we want our society to be civilised going as I feel like the world we are building is making us increasingly unhappier.
Here you can see my spontaneous answers to questions we got asked in class:
Who am I?
So, who am I? First of all, I’m just a human as all of you are. I don’t think there is a lot that separates me from others. If I think about who I am, funnily I try to point out things that separates me from others or that I think makes me outstanding in comparison to the rest. And if I think about that, I would say it’s my curiosity and the interest in understanding how opinions were formed or things work. But all in all I think I just am a part of a whole that only exists in cooperation with others. I mirror myself in others and the other way around. Maybe we’re just a big organism experiencing itself.
What is my ambition?
I think the conception of my ambition changed a lot through the last couple years. I started with wanting to get rich as child to making the world a better place by inventing something useful. In the mean time, I’d say my most important ambition in every part of my life is to spend my life with things that I’m passionate about and make me enjoy life with causing as little suffering to others as possible. This ambition forces me to only deal with topics I’m really interested in and passionate about and therefore creates the most value for me and for others I guess. I think following this ideal will make the world a better place.
Pick a topic of interest and what has no one ever heard about it before?
I’m going to read to you a sentence no one has ever heard before. It’s from a deaf-mute person: You literally won’t hear what I am saying right now. (Reading it out loud in class - lol)
After sharing this in class I was told to search for something serious. But, as our teacher mentioned later on, this exercise was all about creating an aha moment with our research. I guess my answer to the question of what has no one ever heard before clearly states what I want to stand for as a designer – making me and others enjoy life by playfully encountering tasks or problems and finding unconventional solutions / alternatives. To shift perspectives on certain topics.