Is there any combination between art (idealism) and design (function)?
Who doesn’t know beautifull football a la Brazil?
Golden pairs of feet play as if guided by samba rhythm, entertaining and enchanting millions of eyes all over the world. As if they were artists, dancing for perfect ball deliveries, creating a game to make football lovers shiver. Individual instincts and intelligences are inter-connected, producing a sport masterpiece… Brazil is the place where football-artists-cum-world-legends are born.
But what is happening now? Modern industrial demand has changed football into a collosal drama commanding football players to care no longer about ‘aesthetics’, or even sportsmanship in sports. Everything is fair in winning a war. A bad team could score goals by awful ways in order to win. Even Brazilians change their pattern, chasing anything for a victory—including changing the ‘aesthetics’ of their strategy. The result, as we all knew: Brazil was defeated by France in the 2006 World Cup quarter finals! The public then frown; Tragedy… The Maestro has lost his identity.
Many questions arise amidst a deadline. Could Brazil win without loosing their idealism?
Why must we care about harmony of art and design?
College is one of the most beautiful periods in life, besides the fact that we find ourselves falling in love easily, there are new things we learn in our thirst for knowledge. But, there was also where my first anxiety came out. After I came back from the second KMDGI in ITB, I no longer had any passion to continue my study in Graphic Design. The plan then changed; fine art seemed more challenging than its applied counterpart. A proposal for changing majors was starting to take shape.
But everything changed again, when a German graphic design maestro; Uwe Loesch, arrived in Jakarta, in 1995. Seeing his magnificent posters, my sensitivity was greatly unsettled, seeing how graphic design can be so seamless, eliminating linguistic constraints, creating thinking spaces utilizing beautiful visual typography, combined with visual coverings, resulting in meanings that could be understood universally. I then smiled, as if I just had gotten out of a fine art gallery, being enlightened within.
I then dreamed, if the Brazil team was trained by ‘Uwe Loesch’, I was certain that a harmonious bridge between idealism and its application would be built, just as in art and design.
It reminded me of a story of a friend who worked as a graphic designer during the day, and turned into a ‘public enemy’ by night, armed with tens of spray cans to fulfill his needs for expression and idealism. Wild markings painted walls of the city. Could the balance of art and design expression be that shallow?
Is there still any boundary for art and design in the dynamics of global visual culture?
In one opportunity, I was interviewed by a curator from France for the possibility of doing an exhibition there (even though France is my favourite team, but this time it had nothing to do with football). Several works were presented perfectly, but after a long dialogue the most difficult question I have faced in my entire life arised. A simple question: “Are you an artist or a designer?”
Cold sweat broke, my palms were getting moist. I never thought he would ask such question. Then I answered firmly: “I’m a graphic designer”. His facial expression obviously changed and he looked resistant for any further dialogue, bad news; I failed to have an exhibition in Paris.
Is there any exact combination to unite them?
My heart beat so fast in Senayan Indoor Stadium, flags so unique, they looked like belonging to indigeneous tribes in remote areas of Tibet. The playlist was on, songs with thick ethnic elements created a strong ambience, things that could enchant me for few hours… the music beat… the flashes of light stroke… a beautiful barefooted woman ran around, thousands pairs of eyes followed her, she moved her body in such an unusual harmony.
I could not believe that Bjork sang in her powerful voice before my own eyes. Digital percussion, touch screen synthesizer, and rhythm producing musical devices that were so hard to understand by the majority of people in the studio where I worked. Why couldn’t I stop being hysterical for the 2 hours of seeing her perform, the ticket price of Rp. 750.000 seemed to be so cheap for music that my mother could never understood. I conciously had become an object of Bjork’s idealism and I was so willing for that.
Which one is more important, aesthetics or function?
Lately, I have a new activity: examining the originality of various celebrities’ breasts in mass media, from balloon-shaped a la Victoria Beckham untill melon-shaped ones owned by Pamela Anderson. Rendered by pragmatism, I judged few celebrities that could be having original pairs as not: Megan Fox, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Biel. Fashion changed too, BCL lower her tube top even more, the cut on her dresses got lower. Glossier cleavages became an aesthetic that could attract the camera wherever one goes… Oh my was all of it was done only for the sake of beauty? Do those breasts still function well? Even now in Indonesia, we can fix our pairs following our wildest dreams for the price of only 23 million rupiahs.
What I knew was that the owners of those implants was brought to a point where she had to decide the biggest thing of her life, that was to choose aesthetics and to put function aside. Once again it’s an individual choice! But for me, breasts were complex body organs that contain various meanings and functions. Eliminating their function is like installing Windows in your MacBook Pro.
How is a perfect combination of aesthetic and function?
This is a sad happy story, about Mobi. Everyday I walk him around the housing complex, he had a cute face and his fur dangled like doll, ran happily here and there, approached any children, asking them to play hide and seek. A little girl once said with sparkly eyes; “The first time I saw him, I love Mobi instantly”. Mobi had lost his personality as a dog, he felt that he had became part of his master’s life, he wanted to get in a car, played balls, swam, and enjoyed his favorite Walls ice cream. How could this animal undergo the great evolution and become the man’s best friend?
It turned out that men have a major role in creating the breed, the breeders combine the excellent race and then eliminate the negative genetic that they do not want. To be exact, dog’s evolution have been controlled in such a way for the sake of aesthetic perfection and creating new function of this hunting animal, making them into social species with “man-made” temperament, rendering their beastly characteristics non-existent.
On his fifth year Mobi suffered a kidney failure, the perfect combination of aesthetic and function were not based on a strong ‘basic genetic’. That loyal dog laid helplessly limped, I cried at the time of his departure.
Lessons I have learned
- The harmonious combination of aesthetic and function can be reached well if it has a good basic genetic (basic forming elements). In this case, it can be about exploration, research, technical, execution and creative process. In that level, design is about vision, and according to the development of contemporary art, it even has become a part of it. A process is then studied and interpreted by its freedom and depth, so that it’s not understood superficially. The limitation stating that design must convey a message has been surpassed, because within itself, design is able to interpret more complex symbols. Design has a chance to be responded and be appreciated to the same level as objects of art.
- Even though limitation between art and design has become less distinct, it turned out that they still cannot be perceived as equal. A designer who do personal works does not automatically create art works, but the works could be similarly valued as art. Design exists based on a valued structure, while art does not. When a design has the courage to come out of the framing of stlye, trend, market demand, or short-term need, then it could attach the spirit of art, and be perceived as a work of art.
- An object is considered as design if it has aesthetical conciousness, strategy, parameter, pattern, precision, as well as function.
- Art is the womb of design, when art meets industrial need, then it will be considered as design. Art and design works on different platforms; Design moves to the direction of function. Meanwhile art serves and ‘conquers’ itself, it also has the freedom in its spatial choices, creating new interpretations, possesing an understanding of the result is more than the sum of its parts.