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By Vilém Flusser

Contributor note: Martin Pawley (Introduction)
Publish yr note: First released 1993

This booklet provides for the 1st time in English an array of essays on layout through the seminal media critic and thinker Vilém Flusser. It places ahead the view that our destiny is determined by layout. In a chain of insightful essays on such usual "things" as wheels, carpets, pots, umbrellas and tents, Flusser emphasizes the interrelationships among artwork and technological know-how, theology and expertise, and archaeology and structure.

Just as formal creativity has produced either guns of destruction and nice artistic endeavors, Flusser believed that the form of items (and the designs in the back of them) represents either a probability and a chance for designers of the long run.

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Flusser’s liberated perspective authorized him an incredible freedom of expression, a freedom, one may perhaps say, the ultimate in modern layout literature. for that reason, his writing grew to become through turns pyrotechnic and wither-ingly serious, in addition to stinky with that means. All expressed in brief, stabbing essays replete with fantastic generalizations which turn into supported via an impregnable constitution of argument drawn from fact itself. Vilém Flusser the thinker was once born in Prague on 12 might 1920 right into a kin of Jewish intellectuals. His father, Gustav Flusser, was once a Professor of arithmetic at Charles college; his mom used to be an artist. yet regardless of his safe bourgeois history, his relatives together with his local state have been destined to be brief and tragic. The Republic of Czechoslovakia into which he was once born had just recently been shaped from breakaway provinces of Austria-Hungary and had purely nineteen years of lifestyles prior to it. Flusser grew up during this fragile production of the Treaty of Versailles and, opposed to all chance, was once destined to die in 1991 in its newly liberated chilly conflict successor, for even supposing he left Prague on the age of 19 and didn't go back until eventually he used to be seventy-one, he died in a motor vehicle crash at the outskirts of town. The Czechoslovakia of Flusser’s formative years and formative years was once one in every of Europe’s such a lot cosmopolitan and avant-garde centres of paintings, and layout. Occupying the commercial heartland of the previous Austro-Hungarian Empire, it inherited – in addition to a inhabitants of purely 14 million – a huge way over uncooked fabrics and an commercial means enough for a inhabitants of 60 million or extra. From its inception, the recent republic used to be an commercial manufacturer and exporter, and its exports opened it as much as global affects. glossy layout flourished within the arts and in structure, within the plane and motor industries and within the manufacture of army gear. through the mid-i930s, Prague was once boasting the main complex choice of glossy structures on this planet. open air the capital, the version business urban of Zlin used to be deliberate via the Swiss architect Le Corbusier because the first and basically urban to be three-dimen-sionally modular. within the comparable method, the Bata manufacturing facility urban of Brno boasted the 1st and in simple terms development to be built with cellular places of work in lifts. no matter if Flusser’s curiosity in layout was once brought on by way of this uniquely glossy history is very unlikely to assert. as a minimum, the window of chance for the small nation used to be already last. Czech independence used to be threatened once Germany and Austria reunited in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles; inside a 12 months, Hitler had annexed the previously Prussian Sudetenland and included the 2 provinces of Bohemia and Moravia into the Reich. This final occasion, the second one of at the least 5 radical restructurings the nation of Czechoslovakia used to be to suffer within the 20th century, positioned the younger Flusser in mortal hazard. In 1939, in his first 12 months as a pupil of philosophy at his father’s collage, Flusser narrowly escaped the appalling destiny of lots of the Jews trapped contained in the frontiers of Hitler’s Germany.

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