Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Machine Aesthetic

Photo: NREL

"Since it is correct to say that culture in its widest sense means independence of Nature, then we must not wonder that the machine stands in the forefront of our cultural will-to-style.... Consequently, the spiritual and practical needs of our time are realised in constructive sensibility. The new possibilities of the machine have created an aesthetic expressive of our time, that I once called 'the Mechanical Aesthetic'." --Theo van Doesburg, 1922*

Culture, nature, and the machine can not in any comprehensive sense be separated in the 21st century. It's amazing to imagine the days when speed was new, but today it's part of the landscape. The byproducts of industrialization are changing the environment in ways that presage adaptation. Conscientious people speak in terms of 'saving the world,' but that's not a useful goal in the confines of a lifetime. The machine is part of the evolved human being and the question now, since there's no going back, is how to use it conscientiously. The machine of the future lives in climatic harmony with nature.

*Quoted from, Reyner Banham, Theory and Design in the first Machine Age, MIT Press, 1980, pp187-8.

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