Friday, 27 March 2009

‘the trouble with clay is you can’t store it on a memory stick’.

Don't you just love Victorian Baths

This is a rationale for the harrow ceramics degree course being cut.
Has such a facile statement ever been uttered about this subject.You can't put blood in a a memory stick but that doesn't mean haematology courses are being cut. Its all thanks to materials such as clay that humans are technologically competent, developped the opposing thumb which finally led to our industrial revolution and thus manufacturing silicon chips then to memory sticks. It was one of the first materials humans began to fashion into objects, along with stone/flint, bone, wood. 24000 years ago humans began to make clay objects-silicon chips have only been aroung-say 50 years. Arrogance isn't the word.

This was said by a senior manager about the ceramics degree course at Harrow which has been targeted for being cut out completely. This is an extremely short sighted course of action as the course at Harrow is reputably the best in the country.

Several Issues are raised by this course of action
Bruce Mau in his Incomplete Manifesto says about making/designing-No 24 "avoid software everyone has it. We need to keep the old technologies alive",
NO 38- "Explore the other edge.Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential".No 42 "Remember.Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself".

If Westminster University want to produce world class design this type of 3D design is essential to a design culture.

one of the other problems is that we live in a market driven economy. With this recession many people are beginning to reevaluate the rationales for underpinning our education and health systems with these economic infrastructures.
What do business managers know about ceramics, education and health.

one of the percived problems with ceramics courses and why they may be undervalued is that in the west people don't understand the conteporary relevance of clay/ceramic knowledge to the world even though they use ceramic objects everyday of their lives.

For example we would not have sewage or clean water systems but for technological marvels of the Victorian mass produced, salt glazed ceramic pipe. Without this technology the modern world would never have come into existance. yes plasti, stainless steel can now replace this material for certain objects but we all choose to have white porcelain WC's in our loos, ceramic, not plastic tiles on the wall. Ceramics is much more durable. Just think of the senior manager using his loo and not being able to see the relevance of ceramics to the contemporary world. I b et his sewage is fed away in ceramic pipes. And if we ever run out of oil we will again make ceramic pipe for all clean water and sewage systems. London and thus the senior managers job wouldn't have ever come into existence without this ceramic technology. His office is probably right over these 120 year old sewers that still keeps the air fresh in that part of London.This is not a joke I am deadly serious. Without this technology London would never have expanded,given us all our disease free citeies, a model which has been repeated the world over ad infinitum.

Another problem is tht objects are not theorised say like 2D media-Visual Culture Studies or Art History.
Baudrillard has written his System of Objects. Material Cultural studies is an emerging discipline. This is multidisciplinary in nature, including not only archaeology and anthropology, but also sociology, art history, philosophy, psychology and cognitive science. and the there are now deparments and courses devoted to the study of our material world in some of our universities.

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