Right now, there is a text book that I very much regret selling back to the bookstore as we had a whole unit on the Dadaism Movement and its role in design and culture during the Weimar Republic. This time period in Berlin has always been described as a period where the arts were able to flourish. I have a paper written about this, unfortunately it is not written in English.
Dadaism, as defined on Wikipedia,
The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature, poetry, art manifestos, art theory, theater, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. In addition to being anti-war, Dada was also anti-bourgeois and had political affinities with the radical left.
Known as the anti-art, this is the same art movement which Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain came out of (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573). It was an era of critical design, where one did not really want to look at the past, but rather look at the future critically, asking if what they have now is the path they should be following and using art to find these new paths. The movement stripped away the conventions of all traditional art, design, and politics in order to find their own future. As seen in the piece of our time, titled Der Geist unserer Zeit, which translates to The Spirit of our Time, Unfortunately, many who took part in the original Dadaist movement did not survive the Second World War and the philosophy ended when Nazism began.
So what’s my point? As written in the chapter by Ilpo Koskinen, part of the argument focuses on asking are designers also artists? Koskinen points out, “As they key early publication, the Presence Project, related, ‘we drew inspiration from the tactics used by Dada and the Surrealists, and especially, from those Situationists, whose goals seemed close to our own” (91). He later goes on to quote Dunne, where he said that designers must fight being labeled as artists (98), stating that “What we do is definitely not art in terms of methods and approaches, but that’s it…Art is expected to be shocking and extreme” (98). Is critical design not shocking and extreme? Would anyone look at Dunne and Raby’s Poo Lunchbox or Blood Bag Radio and just shrug their shoulders saying they were expecting this? Shocking and extreme was at the center of Dadaism, a movement that helped form an entire culture, through both art, design, politics, theater all working together hand in hand in order to shape the future together — why do they all need to be separate now? In Der Geist unserer Zeit, by looking at that image, can you see all of those things?