10 (2007), Nr.3/September


Plasmic design. 2910 Zeichen.


Morphogenesis, modulation and dissimulation – all this is plasma as the ancient Greek meant it: something artificial, art in the sense of materializing. For physics today, plasma is the forth state of matter besides the solid, the fluid, the gaseous, a state when electrons have become detached from the atomic kernel, the phenomenon applied technologically to plasma screen display and visualized in the plasma effect of constantly moving forms on computer screens. Hence plastic, not only in the sense of the art of Plastikformerly the complement of sculpture in the strict sense in German language – , but in the sense of 1950es material as well (Barthes) is now superseded by plasma and the plasmic. A material state beyond being fluid and gaseous and at once transparent like air and yet solid if wanted, plasma represents permanently being shaped into any form imaginable. Plasmic thought, this is design today. In the most comprehensive sense it takes over what used to be the domain of the spatial/visual art of architectural design. Design a building, a plate, a needle! The primary approach will be glass or any other of the new materials that have become fully perspicuous. To be sure, in order to reinforce the construction finally wanted, you need metal and, for the floor, some concrete. That’s it. Like the new Berlin central railway station, artistic design has dissolved into the material proper. Vanished has the architect who audaciously responded to urban challenges in earlier modernist times as there are no singular architects, sculptors or product designers anymore. Nowadays glass formations adapt to any situation. Varying in degrees of transparency they testify to a frozen design-in-actu. The process of plasmic glassy design has become a symbol for an anything goes. Words, numbers, ornaments, surface forms cast, colours in any depth, you name it. All of them are expressed, realized and carried by that glass. The plasma is not so much akin to water as to fire, as a match inflamed as filmed in by Yoko Ono with a high speed camera and rendered in slow motion. It suggests a zone of fire that so beautifully occupies a space shown against the dark ground with sharp borders not unlike those of a balloon inflated with water or those of lava lamp bubbles. Unlike thedesign” of inconstant forms as sustained by air or water, today’s design is digitally automatic too. Nowadays, large scale glass production companies do it all by themselves. They promise to deliver the whole thing tomorrow or, even better, today. Plasma however determines this production in a way that could be scarcely less aesthetic. What originated from the plasmic forms of art nouveau and expressionist architecture has now become boring, meaningless, anti-social and totalitarian. Is this another consequence of the crisis of foundations by solid givens as deplored twenty years ago? Is a morphogenetic figural plasma and the corresponding aesthetic susceptibility for the given now forced to anaesthetically resist the techno-scientific appropriation of time-space? It might well be that plasmic aisthesis, the utmost possibility of purest reflective judgement, opens up to a re-treat into a faculty of synthesizing without laws, as was once the utopian point of reference beyond the rationality of knowledge and action.


© Peter Mahr 2007

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