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Design: On the Global (R)Uses of a Word

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Abstract:

This article looks at the transition in notions of authorship from the Enlightenment to the industrial revolution. Key here is the shift in the formal status of the "copy," whose journey from classical mimesis to the reproductive technologies of the industrial revolution was given strong qualification by Kant. Kant's critique of the predicative autonomy of the subject can be seen to be conceptually necessary for the rise of "design" as an institutional prerogative in mid-nineteenth century Britain, a prerogative which moreover contravenes the anthropological non-referentiality of the Kantian critique. Thus, on the one hand, the "universal" compass of Enlightenment thought provided nineteenth-century "design" with a predicative generalizability – a faculty that could apply to all objects. On the other hand, the putative universality of design was simply an alibi for the creation of a global market for European goods, a market defined by its attendant sets of anthropological exclusion.

Keywords: "ORIENTAL" ARTISANRY; AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY; AUTHORSHIP; DESIGN; INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY; KANT

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175470709X12450568847370

Publication date: July 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • This is the age of design. Even as recognition of its social, economic and cultural force grows, however, the design field's largely unseen “edges” are increasingly becoming its driving forces.

    Design and Culture examines these developments, looking for rigorous and innovative critical frameworks to explore “design” as a cultural phenomenon today. As a forum for critique, the journal features a substantial reviews section in each issue. Moreover, in-depth essays analyze contemporary design, as well as its discourse and representations. Covering a field that is increasingly interdisciplinary, Design and Culture probes design's relation to other academic disciplines, including marketing, management, cultural studies, anthropology, material culture, geography, visual culture, and political economy.
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