chapter  14
8 Pages

Identity aesthetics

One afternoon early in May, and early that afternoon, I see a wee chunky man coming down Sauchiehall Street as I walk the other way. He’s wearing a dark blue Hilfiger fleece with a flag-shaped logo across his paunch: TOMMY DESIGN. Bellied out, this looks so like TUMMY DESIGN, I wonder is he in on the joke as well as in it? The framing of the question is equally a question of framing for the aesthetics of industrial societies represent an ordering-orderings-of our common culture based on repetition and control, implicitly the means and the measure of mass production (Virilio 1998:72). As dandy Warhol (Finkelstein 1999: photos 84-85) explains, ‘never buy used clothing, it’s like wearing someone else’s personality!’ A parallel, perhaps, to the Andy anomaly: empty cans are meaningful…

More broadly, the erosive Semiotics of communal consumption (Quinn 2002:50) have made a mundane arrangement of the dislocation built into Bauhaus structures and artefacts. By an irony of industrial proportions, what was originally intended as a visual, and visible, revolution, signifying a clear break with every established hierarchy of authority and taste (Libeskind 2001:21-22), has become a portent of globalisation, the international style Gropius (1965:90-91) never imagined:

Efficient and well-oiled machinery of daily life [sic] cannot of course constitute an end in itself, but it at least forms a point of departure for the acquisition of a maximum of personal freedom and independence. An intellectual economy naturally takes longer to perfect than a material one, since it requires more knowledge and self-discipline.