in Design

Inevitability or possibility

David Byrne on Mau’s Massive Change exhibit

It comes across as a sort of gee whiz science museum exposition, one that proposes that the solutions to many of the world’s problems are not only within our grasp, but that their solution is inevitable. And Design, with a capitol D, has the answers. If only we would listen to the designers. Every room begins with an affirmative statement in huge type — We WILL do this, we will do that. That in itself might be a little off-putting to many people, as if Mau knows our destiny and is simply telling the rest of us what will happen. I also found it disturbing, the whole project, for its optimism, and especially what I took to be its utopianism…

The future is partly limited by what we can imagine it to be. Granted, events sometimes intrude unpleasantly on our imagination, but John and Yoko might not have been too far off the mark — urging that if we could but imagine a new and better world, then, and only then, could it come into existence. They didn’t claim its inevitability, merely its possibility. That’s where Mau’s we WILL diverges with their more gentle utopianism.

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