From the Toolbox of a Serving Library

The proposition to reconsider the Bauhaus foundation course through the lens of a Photoshop-inspired toolbox operates both literally and metaphorically. Our weeks are structured around particular tools: we began w/ the Type tool and have moved on to the Lasso (cue silly jokes about pronunciation here). The Pointer, the Crop tool and the Spinning Pinwheel lay in wait.

The way the tools are used within Photoshop are vague points of departure in an attempt to articulate what the tools are doing to the information they manipulate, to feel out their reverberations in the physical world. The Type tool became a way of knitting together the world, our impressions of it and writing (itself a metaphor for whatever tool one uses to give shape to experience). The emphasis of this week was on the fact that while writing describes the world, it also shapes it; our ways of looking affects what we see. The Type tool stands in for the practice of typography, which is a system of reading and writing simultaneously, a self-reflexive, self-conscious, cross-sensorial medium of embodiment. Reading is the product of content and form. Or, rather, the meaning of what is read is affected by both what an author is trying to convey and the vessel by which a reader receives it. But there is also the question of meaning, how it happens at all. It is like magic, that we are able to use an arbitrary system of 26 characters to share with each other a significant breadth of our experiences of the world.

The lasso is a method of capture for something that is moving and awkwardly shaped (historically, sick animals). As a Photoshop tool, the Lasso retains this sense of coming fully round shapes that are irregular or unsymmetrical, but it is only in the final move from past to present to science fiction that the tool regains its relationship to motion: the Lasso is a consideration of how to grasp the current condition while irrevocably in it.

In the spirit of the Lasso, here is an insane list, the product of a collective attempt to circumscribe our current condition while in the midst of it (rather unedited, highly speculative, off the cuff):

– The tyranny of the trivial

– A false sense of agency // the fiction of choice

– Hyperstimulation of the self as a subject

– The expectation of immediate response

– A constant re-mapping of time

– Continuous partial attention

– Permanent states of exception

– Information glut // data deluge

– Statelessness (consider global capital, terrorism, the European Union)

– Nations become corporations, which become individuals, who become brands

– Mobility and nomadism

– Prosthetic expansion of the body

– Human relationships are mediated by machines

– A reduction of the idea of value to numbers

– An expansion of possible experiences

– “Innovation” // instrumentalization of creativity

– Cultural tourism // gentrification


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