Art and Industrial Production

In “Art and Industrial Production,” from Telos 57 (Fall 1983), philosopher Albrecht Wellmer provides an ethical-aesthetic account of art and industrial production by analyzing the nature of their intersection in twentieth-century architecture. Wellmer charts parallel trajectories of philosophical thought and architectural endeavors, from the progressive aims of the German Arts and Craft Society through a critical response in postmodern principles of design. Through explicating the recurrent failure of realizing ethical praxes in both modern and postmodern architecture, Wellmer reorients the discordance of industrialized art production and the goals of living subjects from an overestimation of “production-aesthetics” to an insufficient account of “use-aesthetics.” Wellmer’s exegesis conveys an urgency of revising and clarifying the sociopolitical affordances of design and production in order to advocate for an ethical communication of industrial culture.

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From Shanghai, Facing North

In this series of entries, Jacob Dreyer investigates the spatial forms of modernity in China, notably that of the Metropolis (e.g., Shanghai) and the Wasteland (e.g., Heilongjiang). In his last piece, he read the two regions through Schmitt’s dialectic of land and sea; here, he reads Shanghai through Dostoyevsky’s vision of the Crystal Palace; the next piece will subject the exterior, the “Great Northern Wasteland,” to a similar analysis.

If the goal of the project of modernity in China is ultimately the integration of the entire territory of PRC China into an urbanized “interior,” with no useless or wild zones, of universalizing the social practices of the metropolis, then an investigation into the unique spatial forms that did not emerge until modernity—and their shadow in consciousness, visible in the work of philosophers, writers, and architects—is necessary. As discussed in my previous post, Chinese literati have been exploring the territory since the beginning of civilization in Asia. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say that the beginning of civilization is created by the initial architectural division between “inside” and “outside,”[1] created by architecture—physical edifices, no doubt, but also the structures of thought and language which tend to divide the world into two zones, interior and exterior.

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