Production, Dissemination, Consumption

“Art is a mode of production. We sell our labour. It would be very strange to think that artists had perversely different intentions, ambitions and desires from any others in society.”

(Dinos and Jake Chapman quoted in ‘Brilliant Bad Boys of the Galleries’ by Megan Tresidder, The Guardian, 7th October, 1995, p.29)

Within this quote, I am particularly interested in the line “We sell our labour.” I think this does sum up the definition of a designer as it is all about a process. Without this process, the final outcome would not be achieved and the designer would be far less wrinkly.

PRODUCTION STAGE: being created, designed and made

DISSEMINATION STAGE: becomes available to audience

CONSUMPTION STAGE: audience uses the product etc

PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION STAGES: Without the production there would be no consumption and without consumption there would be no production. The product only becomes meaningful when it is consumed, “the product only obtains its ‘last finish’ in consumption”

Karl Marx Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of the Political Economy (1973) Penguin, p: 90-94

Without a consumer, the product would be useless. Same theory as supply and demand, one depends on the other.

DISSEMINATION STAGE: Dissemination does not only apply to physical things. You may disseminate an ideology, theory, belief, value. This is evident in the spreading of religious and political beliefs. We are forever challenging main ideologies (traditional ideologies), not only through design but vocally as well.

Ideas of modernism have been disseminated through manifestos throughout history. Artists have expressed there ideologies through text to communicate to the public, for example in the Bauhaus manifesto.

Dissemination can happen at any time in a product or designers life. The appreciation for the concept or object may be subjective to time and exposure. This has been evident through history with artists like Frieda Kahlo, a feminist icon appreciated after lifetime.

During Dissemination, it is important to use consensual/shared visual language to communicate with the audience. The artifact is usually also produced to look a certain way in order to communicate the meaning to the audience.

Formal innovation- designers feel restricted by consensual language and want to push the boundaries of society. Creating new formal languages that is more appropriate to time or circumstances in which they are living. An example of this is the Swiss Cottage Library, designed after a round spinning book case. This is contrasted by the Houses of Parliament that were recreated in the Gothic style to appear traditional.

Formal innovation is seen within music as well, through the creation of punk/rap which challenge the existing idea of how music should sound. Digital technology has also allowed for sampling and layering of music, adding a whole new feel to music. The digital age has also allowed anyone to become a designer. The accessibility of materials to help create are no longer restricted to those able to afford them and are now open to the amateur public. This weakens the, originally strong, divide between amateur and professional.

McQueen- formal innovation- S/S 2009 Paris Fashion Week

A/W 2009 RTW MARCH- beautiful traditional pieces walking beside rubbish pile (dig at the consumerist society of the modern world)

A/W 2009 Menswear- Use of fur within mens clothing, with traditional businessman wear, connotations of femininity as fur originally associated with lavish female.

Developments in technology- allowed for a growth of industry, development on mass production, technology of travel and communication.

Growth of industry- pieces can be created at a faster pace, ideas can be imagined visually, mock ups can be created in a matter of seconds. This allows ideas to be generated almost automatically. Also makes everything easier to create, less impressive? Lack of personality within it as no personal artist defects?

Development on mass production- repeat pieces can be created at a fast pace, each worker is given a stage to complete on each piece rather than finishing individually. Lack of connection between artist and artifact. Quicker production of pieces, less important, more importance given to limited edition items- adding value to fine art pieces and one of a kinds.

Technology of travel and communication- travel innovation has made is easy to spread products and ideologies worldwide. This means everyone is competing with everyone, it is almost harder to get recognized but easier to spread your creation worldwide once you have been. Development of communication through social media and other modern forms allows for ideas to be shared faster, making a huge database for concepts and innovations to be created and spread. Again, this allows for a blend between the amateurs and professionals. It also allows for people to be recognised for their designs from any area of the world/society.

Developments in technology also gives for a new subject matter in work- e.g dynamism of automobile presented in art work.

Introduction of new materials/ new combinations of materials/ materials used in new way- allowing innovation.

Mediating agencies- part of consumption stage- Any artifact/ ideology discussion was mainly in the form of print until the improvement of technology. There was an increase in mediation agencies after introduction of film, broadcasting and web based media. Ways to discuss and promote artifacts has increased.

Mediating agencies deal with exhibitions, catalogues, films, publication of books, after the production but before the final stages of consumption. They tell us what we should be thinking. However, we have to be cynical as the people publicising are also often making money off the product- must look at who mediating agent is.

Macroeconomic scale (large)- the amount of money in society or the state of the financial sector will have an effect on the work that is produced.

Microeconomic scale (small)- work is often made to a brief therefore it is given an allowance or a fund. Much of the brief is dictated by the consumer and leads to question who the designer really is.

Causal factors:

Politics- ideologies of the state and government have some play on the type of work created. Obviously less so in this modern day society, but there are some restrictions on the type of work people are willing to be shown. Design is also used to exercise power, show a message. Evident in Afro American music, a frequent theme of racial politics. This music established an identity and expressed the experience.

Rise of Feminism- .there was an increased consciousness of the lack of females, so beginning the emergence of more artists and the revival of the overlooked e.g Fried Kohlo.

“Do women have to be naked to get into U.S museums?” Guerilla Girls 1989


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