Of Other Spaces

I came back here after years – to find the Sacred. Or as MF says: “All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred”.
While Foucault went off and constructed a discourse of perfection – I am keen to keep tings a bit more dynamic and fuzzy. The oposition is not important – not certainly as much as the malevolence that stalks the sacred, the vulnerability, open-ness, resistance and so it goes the tension.

Michel Foucault, Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias

The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis, and cycle, themes of the ever-accumulating past, with its great preponderance of dead men and the menacing glaciation of the world. The nineteenth century found its essential mythological resources in the second principle of thermaldynamics- The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment. I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein. One could perhaps say that certain ideological conflicts animating present-day polemics oppose the pious descendents of time and the determined inhabitants of space. Structuralism, or at least which is grouped under this slightly too general name, is the effort to establish, between elements that could have been connected on a temporal axis, an ensemble of relations that makes them appear as juxtaposed, set off against one another, implicated by each other-that makes them appear, in short, as a sort of configuration. Actually, structuralism does not entail denial of time; it does involve a certain manner of dealing with what we call time and what we call history.

Yet it is necessary to notice that the space which today appears to form the horizon of our concerns, our theory, our systems, is not an innovation; space itself has a history in Western experience, and it is not possible to disregard the fatal intersection of time with space. One could say, by way of retracing this history of space very roughly, that in the Middle Ages there was a hierarchic ensemble of places: sacred places and profane plates: protected places and open, exposed places: urban places and rural places (all these concern the real life of men). In cosmological theory, there were the supercelestial places as opposed to the celestial, and the celestial place was in its turn opposed to the terrestrial place. There were places where things had been put because they had been violently displaced, and then on the contrary places where things found their natural ground and stability. It was this complete hierarchy, this opposition, this intersection of places that constituted what could very roughly be called medieval space: the space of emplacement.

This space of emplacement was opened up by Galileo. For the real scandal of Galileo’s work lay not so much in his discovery, or rediscovery, that the earth revolved around the sun, but in his constitution of an infinite, and infinitely open space. In such a space the place of the Middle Ages turned out to be dissolved. as it were; a thing’s place was no longer anything but a point in its movement, just as the stability of a thing was only its movement indefinitely slowed down. In other words, starting with Galileo and the seventeenth century, extension was substituted for localization.

Today the site has been substituted for extension which itself had replaced emplacement. The site is defined by relations of proximity between points or elements; formally, we can describe these relations as series, trees, or grids. Moreover, the importance of the site as a problem in contemporary technical work is well known: the storage of data or of the intermediate results of a calculation in the memory of a machine, the circulation of discrete elements with a random output (automobile traffic is a simple case, or indeed the sounds on a telephone line); the identification of marked or coded elements inside a set that may be randomly distributed, or may be arranged according to single or to multiple classifications.

In a still more concrete manner, the problem of siting or placement arises for mankind in terms of demography. This problem of the human site or living space is not simply that of knowing whether there will be enough space for men in the world -a problem that is certainly quite important – but also that of knowing what relations of propinquity, what type of storage, circulation, marking, and classification of human elements should be adopted in a given situation in order to achieve a given end. Our epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of relations among sites.

In any case I believe that the anxiety of our era has to do fundamentally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space,

Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it, contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctified (apparently unlike time, it would seem, which was detached from the sacred in the nineteenth century). To be sure a certain theoretical desanctification of space (the one signaled by Galileo’s work) has occurred, but we may still not have reached the point of a practical desanctification of space. And perhaps our life is still governed by a certain number of oppositions that remain inviolable, that our institutions and practices have not yet dared to break down. These are oppositions that we regard as simple givens: for example between private space and public space, between family space and social space, between cultural space and useful space, between the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred.


Holy Cash Cows

Finally someone come up with the story. I have heard of this for years – as casual cab conversations – about the ‘bogus’ colleges being run by Indians.

Where work experience certificates can be set up. But outright purchase was new to me. This I guess is the ‘dilli wallah’ in Australia.

Wendy Carlisle looks at the dirty little secrets behind Australia's education export industry.
Four Corners – 27/07/2009: Holy Cash Cows

Reporter Wendy Carlisle reveals how dodgy business practices are being used to rip off foreign students seeking legitimate qualifications in Australia. At the same time she also shows how vocational training for foreign students has become an immigration scam allowing thousands of foreigners to come to, and then remain in, Australia under false pretences.

For ten years now Australia’s foreign student education sector has been on a massive growth spurt. First it was foreign students seeking university degrees. More recently it’s the vocational education sector that’s been expanding.

Last year more than 70,000 Indian students came here to buy an education. Egged on by immigration and education agents, many were told if they enrolled in cooking, hairdressing and accounting courses they would not only get a diploma but they could also qualify for permanent residency in Australia.

Now a major Four Corners investigation reveals that foreign students in this country have been targeted by unscrupulous businessmen, who have set up training schools that supply qualifications that sometimes aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets

The indigenous in rites of passage
Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets

Welcome to Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets. Our goal is to provide our customers with a coffin or casket that reflects their ancestry and beliefs.Our products are handmade by Native craftsman utilizing birch, spruce, maple and pine, and lovingly decorated by a Native artist. Each casket or coffin is customizable to reflect your clan or band affiliation. Colours, artwork, paint, stain, upholstery material, shape and design can be custom made to suit an individual.

Aboriginal Links Page

A huge set of links with interesting project descriptions.

AMMSA’s Aboriginal Links Page – Your single source for links to Aboriginal sites and resources on the web!

One of the most comprehensive list of links on the web. If you start here, you may not need to go anywhere else! Currently off-line

Lenore Dembski

Lenore Dembski: Paperbark Woman

Lenore Dembski is a contemporary Aboriginal fashion designer influencing current trends. Her designs feature textiles designed and produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and reflect her cultural heritage and contemporary focus.

For almost 30 years Lenore has been designing and manufacturing clothing. Lenore’s labels which feature men’s, women’s and children’s clothing suitable for resort, day and evening wear, include:

* Lenore Dembski Paperbark Woman (women’s wear)
* Oakman (men’s wear)
* Aunty Lenore (children’s wear).

The clothing she produces is made using fabric designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. Lenore purchases fabrics from a pool of about twenty designers and organises the manufacture of garments. Lenore is also the owner of a retail outlet, Paperbark Woman.

Lenore Dembski also holds a number of other positions. She is the Manager, Staff Development and Training of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in Darwin and is a newly appointed member of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Arts Board. The Board assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to “claim, control and enhance their cultural inheritance”. (McGauran, 2000: 2)

Paperbark Woman: the history so far
Lenore Dembski was born in Darwin, and with the exception of about four years in the early 1980s, has lived there all her life. Lenore has been married for 24 years to Andrew Dembski. Her family name is Calma.

Lenore Dembski says the Paperbark Woman name comes from her Aboriginal group, the Kungarakan people, who are known as Paperbark people. Oakman comes from her husband’s name. Dembski is Polish and means Oaktree. As well as designing and sewing the clothes herself, Lenore also sub-contracts the sewing to several local clothing manufacturers and individuals.

To many locals, Lenore Dembski is known for her public service work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and training area and her involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. However, she was actually a designer and maker before she even thought about a career in the public service. At high school she was intending to go into the clothing industry and had taken the entrance examination for a Sydney design school. When she was not accepted she arranged an apprenticeship with a local tailor. Her father however, convinced her to stay at school and complete Year 12. On completing school, he suggested she join the public service and sew later. After 25 years, the later came in the year 2000 when she opened her shop.

Sewing as a child
Lenore was taught to sew by her mother when she was about eight. To start with, she made dolls’ clothes and costumes for plays put on by her sisters and friends. She began sewing for herself and her brother and sisters by the time she was twelve and started designing, drafting and sewing clothes for other people by the time she was thirteen. Lenore learnt some formal skills in sewing when she did “Sewing” during first year at Darwin High School. Between 15 and 18, Lenore modelled in a number of fashion parades and worked on weekends and school holidays for Woolworths selling all forms of clothing, materials and haberdashery.

By her mid-teens, Lenore knew how to do knitting, crocheting, tatting, beadwork, tapestry, batik, tie dye, macrame, applique, patchwork and various other art and craft activities. She used an Elna SU sewing machine and a Contesser overlocker. She attended a number of short courses put on by Elna in applique and machine embroidery, men’s wear, swim wear, lingerie, and stretch materials. In Adelaide in 1982, Lenore did a twelve hour course to learn formal techniques in drafting.
End hot link

Lenore formally started her sewing business in 1979 when she moved to Adelaide. She manufactured children’s clothes, women’s sportswear, lingerie, and curtains for several outlets, designed bridal and after-five wear for individuals and costumes for concerts. On returning to Darwin in 1984, Lenore sewed on a casual basis for family and friends and did a small amount of children’s wear for several outlets.

In 1996, to coincide with the Aboriginal Development Unit’s project to help promote Aboriginal fabrics to designers and the general public, Lenore started to actively produce resort wear, and evening and glamour wear using Aboriginal fabrics.

Symbols, motifs and ownership: marketing and copyright issues

The Powerhouse museum has a bit of material looking at the issue of indigenous design

Symbols, motifs and ownership: marketing and copyright issues

Exploitation of creative work can be a problem for any artist. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the problem is often more complex as the symbols and motifs used in their designs also hold cultural significance for a particular group. Exploitation of the design impacts not only on the artist but also on the group.

A positive example of the use of copyright law by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander would be the use of Jimmy Pike’s artwork by Rowe Fabrics, Sydney for an interior fabric. This was Pike’s first licensing agreement in home furnishings.

Jimmy Pike,

…entered into a series of business arrangements with Culley and Wroth of Desert Designs. These would protect the integrity of his art (and separate the paintings and the production/marketing of limited edition prints) but enable additional income to be derived from the licensing of his designs and the strategic development of the Desert Designs company. (O’Ferrall, 1995: 3)

Not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had such positive experiences.
In 1994

… a case of theft of Aboriginal imagery occurred when a businessman …had carpets made in Vietnam with images stolen from Aboriginal paintings, and falsely labelled them to give authenticity. The artists took him to court and won. He was ordered to pay compensation but went bankrupt.
(The Koori Mail, 1998: 15) this became known as The carpet case.

Another significant case involving the infringement of the copyright of an Aboriginal artist has been resolved. The case, brought by the Sydney-based artist Bronwyn Bancroft with the assistance of the Aboriginal Arts Management Association, was listed for hearing in the Federal Court on December 12, 1991.

The clothing manufacturer Dolina Fashion Group Pty Ltd supplied Grace Bros stores with an ‘exclusive’ dress design for a major promotion through its network. It was alleged that Dolina’s stylists had requested an Aboriginal look from the Japanese fabric maker Sastani to present as the front line of their fashion range.

The fabric maker supplied a print in three colour ways, which, it was alleged, was a direct copy of an original artwork by Bancroft, Eternal Eclipse (1998), which had been reproduced in Jennifer Isaac’s book Aboriginality: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings and Prints.

The clothing manufacturer and retailers claimed that they were innocent of the infringement and the fault lay with the fabric maker who printed the design. The case raised a number of interesting issues in copyright, especially in relation to Aboriginal art.

Copyright law, in its present form, functions best to protect the individual artist from the unauthorised use of his or her work. For artists to have their work pirated represents a theft of their intellectual property and a distortion of the intent of the artwork. Although, in Bancroft’s case, it may be difficult to prove who was directly responsible for appropriating the image, the design used by Dolina is a copy of Bancroft’s painting. The artist has suffered the shock and embarrassment of seeing her original artwork trivialised. Bancroft also has an established reputation as a fashion designer of original garments, at a different level of the fashion market from Dolina’s styles for major retail outlets. (Cochrane Simons, 1991)

The Label of Authenticity
Bronwyn Bancroft’s case is one of the cases that motivated the development of the Label of Authenticity. The National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)

…through funding from the Australia Council and ATSIC, are in the process of developing a national system of labelling that will distinguish art and cultural products from the fake products. As a certified trade mark the Label of Authenticity will be attached to a product or used in relation to a service originating from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. (NIAAA)

Why do we need a Label of Authenticity
For some time concern has been growing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designs and symbols have been incorrectly used, most often without permission. Examples include artwork, tourist souvenirs and carpets, to name a few.

The primary responsibilities of the NIAAA as the national peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural service include the continued and increased recognition and protection of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. NIAAA provides culturally appropriate advice, information, referrals and support services to indigenous artists and organisations. (NIAAA, 1999)

Label of Authenticity. Courtesy: National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)

NIAAA logo. Courtesy: National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion design

Paperbark woman: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion design

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers are today expressing their cultures in graphic design, jewellery, textiles and fashion. Their work sheds new light on traditional themes and motifs, revealing contrasts between the different regions of Australia. The energy and imagination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design reveals a culture with a continuity that remains through the fickle changes of fashion.

Textile design techniques range from traditional fibre crafts to screen-printing, batik and hand-painting. The techniques reflect external influences such as training opportunities, travel and market forces.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers often reflect the Australian landscape in their work. The symbols and motifs they use vary from region to region and have great cultural significance. This raises issues of ownership, copyright and licensing agreements.

Clothing is perhaps one of the most immediate ways that a person can express how they feel about themselves and their culture, their political views and aspirations. Community-based enterprises have provided a network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers whereby they can sell their designs and work together to solve production and distribution problems. Young workers can be employed in work schemes and many communities find this has far-reaching effects upon their self-image and financial status.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design is popular for its fresh and dynamic graphic qualities, which contrast with mainstream fashion. The influence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design on non-indigenous designers can be seen in the collections of a number of contemporary designers. How the textile design is acknowledged and how the designer is rewarded is of critical importance.

Indigenous Australian Design


(picture above – David Lancashire)

On Monday I was asked to be a ‘respondent’ ( my first time as a respondent!) at this event – Culture Shift:

Culture Shift: An Indigenous Future for Design

There’s a global shift in design towards greater collaboration. In Australia, designers have learnt greatly from working with Indigenous communities. But as with the new wave of Indigenous film directors, there is also an emerging generation of Aboriginal designers in fields such as architecture, fashion and interior design. Join a discussion about how our future will be shaped by Indigenous design.

INDIGO is an international platform that asks – What is Indigenous design? As an Icograda-led initiative of the IDA (International Design Alliance), INDIGO is a multi-disciplinary network of designers and stakeholders generating a community and presenting a series of projects to explore the meaning and interpretation of Indigenous design culture throughout the world.

During the State of Design this free public forum will bring together Indigenous and non-indigenous designers and commentators to look forward, examining how their architecture, product design, craft or art practice can step between cultures, drawing benefit from both, and generating a new proposition for Australian design language.

I saw some work that was spoken of as connecting to land, country and culture. The speakers spoke to motifs, colors, forms and process – all as distinct with a desire to produce something specific and precise. The specific and precise is my way of constructing a category of the ‘meaningful’ in design. Design is often utilitarian – of course – and here were designers and architects working to add an extra dimension – in the porcess hinting at the existence of an indigenous ‘way of design’. I am intrigued by this suggestion of the redesign of the design process itself.

My response was as usual all over the place and spoken very fast ( there was very little time and a lot to say ). I am at this very moment writing a piece on ‘design and the sacred’ and suddenly I was furiously rewriting the main points because the ‘sacred’ was being replaced by the ‘significant’ or the ‘uncanny’. Many people walked away that evening with the notion ‘ anything can be made sacred’ – which was me doing Durkheim. I also threw in a generous dose of the roots of design in India. I said that at that time in 1854 there were three parts to the “project” of design for indian crafts – one was a school ( a curriculum- lithography, pottery and so on), the other was the ‘institute’ of art in industry( to bring industry – read clients – and artists together) and the last was a journal (to influence opinion).

Four things are interesting here – as a construction of the elements of the theory of indigenous design:

Re Designers: There are two parts to this one indigenous designers doing design ( indigenous inspired – Alison – or just normal design) and the other is non-indigenous designers (David) doing indigenous inspired design.

Re works: The focus of this work is either for consumption by indigenous communities (troppo, merrima) or by all (Page jewellery, David).

Re Genre: Are we arriving at a specific class of artefacts, designs, experiences that classify themselves as indigenous? Is there a new design process, or is the artefact valuation (appreciation) different?

Re Context: I am inspired by David’s location in NT and the opportunity for immersion. Indigenous imbued-inspired artefacts in natural settings and in contrast in urban settings.

Which has started me off on thinking about INDIGO and a hypothetical project – indigenous australian design practice.

1. What is it: There are many practitioners who are pioneers in Australia and are making a mark. This jewellery is by Alison Page – who is striking out on her own in defining ‘aboriginality’ in design. Some very exciting stuff. Others are Troppo and David Lancashire. Then there is indigenous design in the Americas. (I went looking for some of this stuff – see following posts)

https://i0.wp.com/www.artsmidnorthcoast.org/images/alison-sm.jpg https://i1.wp.com/www.sydneyarchitecture.com/images/troppo_house2.jpg

(images above – Alison Page, and work by Troppo Architects.)

Diamond Dreaming – Rare and beautiful jewellery, Sydney, Australia

Mondial Neuman Jewellers have collaborated with Indigenous Designer Alison Page to create an unique range of contemporary Aboriginal jewellery using natural coloured diamonds and precious metals. Diamond Dreaming is the first range of jewellery of its type in Australia.

2. Why is it this way: The project is an amplification and appropriateness, or a quest for the indigenous and a grounding of the design in context. So this is one way of describing the project of ‘doing the indigenous’

3. What else can it be: The main work is now happening in ‘industry’ as commercial projects, a lot of it is state funded projects – there is however very little from the universities. hat can be the location of an initiative.

4. What should it be: A three year project to build a multidimensional action research project. Some design, some research and some teaching – just three things.

(this is writing in progress)

Do you have a comment to offer? How would you answer – what else can be done?

Writing workshop

I did a writing workshop for PostGrad students in Applied Communication. Seth in the group posted this(below) to his Blog.
I got all excited when I saw this post – so I sent him an email (reproduces below here in italics in serif).

… and WOW again

thanks for the post
I like the voice of assurance and the ‘wodehousian’ turn of phrase – “A light-hearted approach with a touch of cynicism relaxes the writing process.”
simple beautiful
almost like food

Seth Keen › Writing workshop

Assoc Professor Soumitri Varadarajan gave a workshop a couple of weeks ago to MCD postgrads on writing for publishing within the context of the field of design. Soumitri’s Zero Waste blog. My own notes from the presentation. A key thread underlying his presentation was clarity. Clarity of purpose and delivery. He started with the SeVeRe acronym which translated into:


This seems quite rigid but Soumitri stressed not to take all this writing/publishing business to seriously. A light-hearted approach with a touch of cynicism relaxes the writing process.

“Clarity is only possible if you know the material really well”. Sketch out a structure but be open to change. “It is useful to have a toolkit of different structures for different scenarios” Know the context before you come up with the structure. For example the context of the journal and what previous papers look like. Some publications want essays and discussions for example some design journals. Other publications want a clear argument. Soumitri uses the tool mindnode to map out structures beforehand. “Take the existing structure from a journal and mind map that structure.”This can be down to the paragraph level with a word count also down to this level. He even will often look at balancing the number of paragraphs in each chapter to have an equal average. These paragraphs on average aim at a 300 word count.

Voice. There needs to be a clear goal behind the writing, an aim, an argument. Soumitri spoke of his own critical and opinionated take on issues as an example.

Clarity is achieved by “picking the arguments carefully” and using pace, rhythm to work and develop that argument. A quick energetic start for example that levels off into a steady rhythm that rises and lowers in varying ways throughout. Clarity and substantiation in a tone that is unapologetic. Boldness of purpose and delivery is crucial. “Tell the reader the argument, tell the reader how you will argue it”.

“Commit to a perspective and start.”

Other quotes:

“Take shots but sit inside your field”


Soumitri referred to an interest in Foucault and the concept of Heterotopia.

With a social science background he referred to a thick description.

Listening to factual radio is useful in relation to the way radio shows are introduced. These introductions are succinct, clear and tell you what will be discussed and how. All in an interesting way to catch your attention and ear for the duration of the program.

A paper example Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum that demonstrates clarity.

The post industrial media wiki SynchronicThickDescription written my AM with reference to Geertz.

Roots of Design Education in India

I have till this point been looking at secondary sources for information on the impact of the South Kensington initiative/ report in India. This is an amazing document that hints teasingly at a 10 year period of a private institution, and at a blank period before EB Havell takes over. By 1896 we are sure that the mechanical arts are not taught anymore. Thats means the first 46 years were of a school of design more or less with the same curriculoum as the first school sof design in the UK such as the Glasgow Scool of art. Design at that time was either ‘Industrial Art’ or ‘Art in Industry’.

What is also interesting is the actual dialogues between the people at the college and the ‘bhadralok’ who are stated to ahve exercised some gentle pressure to move the collge from its blue-collar focus towards a fine arts focus.

Many thnks to Kim Schuefftan for pointing me in thsi direction.

Click on this link to read the full report: Quinquennial Report of the Government School of Art, Calcutta for the years 1927-28 to 1931-32

1. History and policy of the Institution: In order to appreciate the policy of the school it would of help to know something of its past history and of the contribution of its most prominent Principals in shaping the art education imparted therein.

The Government School of Art, Calcutta, which was then known as the School of Industrial Art, was started in 1854, as a private enterprise, by a number of Indian and European gentlemen who formed themselves into a society under the name of the Industrial Art Society. Such eminent men as Dr. Rajendra Lal Mitra, Maharaja Sir Jotindra Mohan Tagore and Mr. Justice Pratt were members of this society. The school was first situated (1854-55) at Jorasanko (now residence of the Mullick family), and in turn moved (1856-58) to Colootola (now the Medical College Eye Infirmary), (1859-1863) to Sealdah and (1864-1892) to Baithak-khana, Bowbazar. The subjects taught were ornamental drawing, modeling and casting in plaster, the manufacturing of pottery, wood-engraving, lithography and photography. The school was chiefly maintained by private donations and fees realised from the students, but from time to time the Government helped the school by substantial grants-in-aid.

In 1864 the school which was handed over to Government became a Government institution, and its name was changed into the Government School of Art. The house at Bowbazar was found unsuitable for the accommodation of the students and the art exhibits, and the school was moved to Chowringhee at the site where now stands the United Services Club. In 1892 the school was housed in the present building at 28, Chowringhee Road. To the Art School was attached an Art Gallery which consisted of exhibits bought by the school, and presented by the Government and public.

The students were, from the beginning, taught art on European models. It was Mr. E. B. Havell (1896-1905) who first directed his attention to the indigenous arts, and under his direction the students were taught to cultivate the Indian tradition in art. This was a turning point in the history of the school, and although much adverse criticism was then leveled against the policy of Mr. Havell, he was firm in his belief and carried out his policy. Mr. Havell got great assistance from Mr. Abanindranath Tagore C.I.E., Vice-Principal, Government School of Art, Calcutta (1905-1915), who in fact founded the modern Bengal school of painting. Mr. Havell and Mr. Tagore cleared the Art Gallery of a number of bad exhibits and cheap imitations of European art and filled it up with fine specimens of medieval and modern Indian painting.

Service design for India

Soumitri Varadarajan – Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum | Re-public: re-imagining democracy – english version

It was in the 1970s, a full ten years after the new design schools had been set up in India, that you see a lot of activity on the contextual discourse of design for India. The imported curriculum from the west needed to be realigned to suit a developing country. Two events are significant for us in understanding how this realignment was discussed. One event hosted in London titled Design for Need (Bicknell and McQuiston 1977) has designers from India and Brazil where the focus was upon (a) seeking an agreement that design needs to focus upon ‘need’ (basic necessities) and not wants (consumption), and (b) showcasing projects and experiences in product design in a developing country context. The group is in agreement that design can make a contribution to the less privileged in society by designing new objects. Such ideas of change through technical innovation were at that time also being made popular by the Intermediate Technology movement. The second event happens in India and is a special ICSID-UNDP event that is similarly situated and emerges with a declaration, the Ahmedabad Declaration (NID 1979), that has a more ambitious agenda of transforming society by design. The focus of the declaration is upon the poor, which at that time is more that three quarters of the population of India, as needing design intervention.


the emergence of post-professional society

A really great take on the post professional society. Reproduced here – with the link to read it

in an iPod world – the emergence of post-professional society.

On January 16, 2009, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has announced the grand prize winners of “Celebrate and Collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma” competition that he ran in collaboration with Indaba Music. Ma invited musicians of all kinds to join him in performing Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace). He made the cello track of his recording of the song available to the members of Indaba Music community, a social networking music site that allows members to virtually collaborate to record music. Out of about 250 entries made by some professional, semi-professional and amateur musicians, two musicians – Toshi O. from Canada (although originally from Japan) and Kevin McChesney from Colorado Springs, CO, won the first place prize. They will be performing with Yo-Yo Ma for his next album. The movement of open innovation that started software has found its way to classic music industry.

In his book Remix, Lawrence Lassig has the following quote from American Composer John Philip Sousa.

“When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evening you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cords will be eliminated by a process evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”

A common thread that connects these two stories, separated more than 100 years in history, is the concern about the dominance of professionalism in the society at the expense of richness of everyday life experiences. This is the same concern that was expressed in the writings of John Dewey on art. In Art as Experience, he wrote:

“The collective life that was manifested in war, worship, the forum, knew no division between what was characteristics of these places and operations, and the arts that brought color, grace and dignity, into them. Painting and sculpture were organically one with architecture, as that was one with the social purpose that building served. Music and song were intimate parts of the rites and ceremonies in which the meaning of group life was consummated. Drama was a vital reenactment of the legends and history of the group life.”

But he further notes, the arts that were so intimately integrated into everyday life experiences in neighborhood were slowly removed from the realm of everyday life and transformed into “fine arts” to be stored away in museums. Arts are taken away from common folks and safely guarded and sanctioned by professional curators and artists. In this case, the vocal cord was not devolved. It was emasculated. Dewey notes imperialism and capitalism as two driving forces behind this professionalization of arts.

“The growth of capitalism has been a powerful influence in the development of the museum as the propoer home for works of art, and the in the promotion of the idea that they are apart from the common life. The nouveaux riches, who are important byproduct of the capitalist system, have felt especially bound to surround themselves with works of fine art which, being rare, are also costly. Generally speaking, the typical collector is the typical capitalist.”

Last century was the period that was marked with the scientific rationalism and the industrialization of economic activities in the society. The development of industrial technology and later information technology were the engines that carried out these two forces, which led to the emergence of large and complex organizations such as multinational corporations and mega churches. These large organizations as represented by General Motors and Wal-Mart require a large number of professionals who are specialized in a particular task. The emergence of professional class inevitably led to the separation of production function and consumption within the society. In a traditional society, producers and consumers were typically members of the same local community. A farmer buys meats from a butcher, who in turn buys furniture from a local carpenter, who relies on the supply of bread from a baker, who gets his eggs from the farmer. This is the time where Sousa saw young people singing together in the corner of streets.
With the emergence of a modern industrial society, all of this changed. Consumers only consume products and services that were produced by these large organizations managed by professionals. Consumers consume products that were produced tens of thousands of miles away. At work, their roles were radically reduced in scope and skill in the name of specialization. Their vocal cords were emasculated.
Now as we move deeper into the 21st century, we are experiencing yet another fundamental change in the society. We are seeing a profound reconfiguration of the production functions and consumption activities in the economy. The development of information and communication technology fundamentally altered the production cost so that virtually anyone with an idea and will can participate in the production functions. As we see in YouTube, Wikipedia and Linux, consumers are no longer satisfied with mere consumption of products and services. They want to actively engage in the production process. An individual now can easily learn a basic knowledge necessary to design a product through Google, use SketchUp to design the product and send the design to a Chinese firm that can quickly produce a product prototype and ship it back to him. In addition, the proliferation of “higher education” for everyone in the developed countries produced over-educated population who cannot be satisfied traditional jobs and mere consumptions of products and services. They want to be a part of value creation. So has the post-professional society emerged.
What is interesting here the changing role of technology. At the dawn of industrial revolution, the invention of steam engine and the development of modern communication technology led to the emergence of professionalism. Now, the Internet and mobile technology is turning the tide the other way, empowering non-professionals. One technology brought in the era of professionalism, and the other its demise.

Now, the question we must ask is what is the role of professionals in this post-professional society. The work of professionals — whether they are doctors, lawyers, MBAs, or professional musicians — will not wither away in the post-professional society. Certainly, we will not go back to pre-industrial age. But, as the knowledge and tools once available to those with professional educations increasingly available to everyone, we will certainly see the changes in the role of professionals. The significance of the work by Yo-Yo Ma, therefore, is that it might be a foreshadow of a professionals might work in the post-profession society. What he did was architecting innovations by others. He produced intentionally incomplete track and put it out there. He, then, invited others to complete his work. This incomplete architecture of innovation led to the multiplicity of innovations. And, the incompleteness invites the dynamic changes in the innovation.

Alice’s Critical Synopsis extract




All images from here.

Alice Ciccolini wrote up a conversation I had with her a month or so ago. I remember different things about/from that conversation. But in her enthusiastic prose it all sounds marvellous. Have a read:

The establishment of design process as a critical manifestation of design itself has high profile figureheads such as Hilary Cottam, a social entrepreneur whose work for the Design Council won her Design of the Year in 2005 and Davos Global Young Entrepreneur the following year, and her new organisation Participle, the central focus of which is exploring the power of creativity to enable the individual to overcome their own challenges. Design, and the skill of the designer to problem solve, is frequently an integral part of her practice. At the heart of Cottam’s approach is the principle of collaboration between professionals and the public in the re-visioning of public services; key to this is the notion that professionalism’s boundaries are not impermeable, that training confers upon us capacity but not necessarily sole capability to operate within a discipline.

Case Study: Soumitri Varadarajan, Professor of Industrial Design, RMIT, responds to the proposition behind Participle, founded by Hilary Cottam, Designer of the Year 2005.

Hilary Cottam writes of her practice: “I try to tackle some of the more intractable social issues of our day, designing services and solutions that start from the perspective of the individual and the community. … It’s an approach that is both bottom up and top down.

I see myself as a problem solver, inventor, and facilitator. … The project work I do is: collaborative – its about putting people first and working as part of an inter-disciplinary team; innovative – its about creative problem solving and new solutions; delightful – I hope the solutions are covetable and the process is fun; affordable – a promise to deliver something within existing budgets and often saving money; and most importantly practical –simple solutions that really work every day.” [14]

Cottam described RED, the Design Council project that won her the Designer of the Year, as a “’do-tank’: developing new thinking and practice on social and economic problems through design led innovation.” Participle, her latest project, is a small studio focused on engaging with ‘peripheral’ communities such as the elderly and disconnected youth. Cottam writes about Participle:

“At Participle, we do two things: Firstly, bring together the widespread community level ideas and creative activity, and mix it with world-leading experts in any given field; Secondly, drive forward thoughts and actions around developing a new social settlement which can deal with the big social issues of our time. …

A radical new vision for our public services is required. We call our vision Beveridge 4.0. … If we were to distil our approach to developing new types of public services down to two principles we would say firstly it is about motivating deep participation, and secondly about encouraging social connections and contributions. … The freedom to live a better life will be reflected in a person’s capabilities and this is the starting point of the five shifts we propose:

–    Moving from a system focused on needs to one more concerned with capabilities;
–    Moving from services that are targeted to ones that are open to all;
–    Moving away from a financially focused system to one focused on resources;
–    Avoiding centralised institutions in favour of more effective distributed networks;
–    Relaxing the absolute focus on the individual including more of a focus on social networks.”

Participation and contribution depend on a bigger narrative, one that all of us can relate to: a story about dreams, capabilities and aspirations, not problems and needs; a story that starts with our own lives and encompasses others.” [15]

Cottam is a controversial figure in the world of design. Arguably, confirming her as Designer of the Year marked the beginning of Alice Rawsthorn’s demise as Director of the Design Museum, proposing, as it does, a way of thinking about design that moves beyond the more formal understanding of the term as a act of creation within the realm of industry, thinking that proved unpalatable to a board of directors dominated by designers of the industrial kind (e.g. James Dyson). Rightly so, argues Soumitri Varadarajan. “I think the whole world has turned upside down; designers can’t practice professionally, only as artists. Or go the charity route and design for the other 90%, the glorious irony of urban centres designing for the periphery. And fortuitously, then you have Gordon Brown who says “is it true you can design services? Come and redesign our public services” – I can’t think that any other nation would do that.” Varadarajan continues,

“The UK has a strong mechanical background, a strong rationalist way which somehow never gets through to design. When a Hilary Cottam wins a Designer of the Year, it indicates that the funds for research are only available for service design rather than mechanical design. The non-object, the non-aesthetic is not design, it’s a curiously British construction that this constitutes design – because nobody else is picking up or talking about service in the same fashion.

The Japanese agencies are networking focused, not policy focused, which is why they are successful; the UK has taken the RSA and thrown away its historical background and asks it to do all this new policy stuff. Is this a post-professional world? … [Y]ou can see why [some people might argue that when you look at] Australia, because industry left Australia, it was destroyed it in the way that Thatcher did in the UK … [and now] Melbourne is a place where nothing is made, but with a large proportion of industrial designers – they’re like musicians, with only piecemeal gigs, no contracts, so they can’t talk the ‘60s talk about function, they can only do the Marcel Wanders, Dutch kind of thing of furniture as a provocation. Or re-design public services.”

Where do Cottam’s practice and Varadarajan’s response lead the idea of collaborative design? Varadarajan argues that design for industry is in principle always socially engaged since its output is focused on the transformation of the lives of many; he sees the genesis of this understanding of design in the second world war, of the idea of industrial design as a powerful tool for creating “things in the most efficient way, that put everyone at the same level, disturbed class distinctions and took out the idea of design for consumption.” Comfortable with the concept of the celebrity designer when that design is transformational (he cites Jonathan Ive at Apple), he suggests that even in iconic design collectives such as Pentagram, where naming designers was an anathema to their philosophy of “functional design that will make more money for clients who [they were] at service to,” a job always rested one designer. To deny that gave rise, in Varadarajan’s view, to the designer as flamboyant celebrity embodied by Neville Brody, and has taken us to where we are today.


I got this today from Ashish Jain. This is an agency that came out of the IIT Delhi Campus Recycling Project. And is doing really well.
Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), Pollution Controller , Environmental Educator in India,

The Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA) is a not-for-profit, non-government organization (NGO) registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, Foreign Contribution Registration Act and Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act at national level.

The organization established in 2001 with the support of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and comprised of a multi-faceted group of environmentally conscious individuals who are from the business, legislative, legal, engineering, finance, energy and environmental sectors. The diverse group of individuals allows IPCA to reach out to both the public and private sectors and to educate them the importance of incorporating issues such as, environmental considerations, and self-sustainability, into project or policy development for India. In the short span of our existence, we have…

Foreign Students from India in Highest Risk Group for Visa Violations

Australia: Foreign Students from India in Highest Risk Group for Visa Violations : Global Immigration Counsel

A review conducted by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship regarding the student visa program found that Indian students breached their visa conditions at a rate three times higher than the average breach rate. As reported by The Australian, the review ranked Indian students alongside Bangladeshis and Cambodians as a level-four risk, which is the second highest risk category (no country currently ranks at the highest risk category).

As a result of these findings, rules for Indian students have been tightened: Indian students now must prove they have enough money to support themselves for the duration of their studies and must pass stricter English language tests. Critics of the tightened standards argue that they fail to distinguish between university students and vocational training students (who account for almost 80% of all Indian students in Australia).

History of immigration from India

Origins: History of immigration from India – Immigration Museum, Melbourne Australia

In the early 19th century a small number of Indians arrived in Australia as convicts transported by the British colonial government in India. Others arrived as labourers with British subjects who had been living in India. They included 14 servants brought out to Victoria in 1843 by wealthy landowner Major Alexander Davidson. Attempts to recruit Indian labourers on a large scale were not supported by the general population.

In the late 19th century more Indians came seeking work, mostly as hawkers and agricultural labourers. They were made welcome because India was a British colony. By 1901 the India-born population of Victoria was almost 1,800. The White Australia Policy was introduced that year, restricting further Indian immigration, except for Anglo-Celtic colonials.

After India became independent from Britain in 1947, an increasing number of British citizens born in India immigrated to Australia along with Anglo-Indians. By 1954 over 3,000 Victorians were of Indian birth. Most were Christian and probably Anglo-Celtic. Following the relaxation of Australia’s restrictive immigration policies from 1966, a broader range of Indians began arriving. They included professionals such as doctors, teachers and engineers who initially accepted work in regional Victoria.

The India-born community in Victoria increased significantly after the end of the White Australia Policy in 1973. By the late 1970s around 12,000 were India-born. In the early 1980s employment opportunities in Victoria saw increasing numbers of immigrants with technical and computer skills arriving. By the turn of the millennium, over 30,000 Victorians were India-born.

Today, the India-born community is culturally diverse. Half of the community is Christian; almost one third is Hindu, while around 15% are Sikhs. A few are Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish. Half speak English at home, while smaller numbers speak Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and Bengali. Over one-third work in professional roles; many others work in clerical, sales, production and transport-related roles. The vibrant cultures of India are maintained through a range of organisations and events, including the Australia India Society of Victoria and the Academy of Indian Music.

Spore Vehicle Editor Tutorial

Vehicle Creator tutorial

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Mark Webber took his first pole position

At last!
The Official Formula 1 Website

Mark Webber took his first pole position after changeable weather contributed to a gripping Q3 shootout at the Nurburgring on Saturday, which saw the Australian, Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel, the Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren all in contention for the top slot.


This is a discussion – but it raies all manner of issues. I am not sure I agree with the conclusion. It looks like there is a clear food safety issue in the US – and this program doesnt really go there properly.

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Three Questions: HR 875

Collecting HR 875 material.

Three Questions: HR 875 | Gaiatribe

HR 875 is food regulation gone wrong. This bill proposes a tremendous increase in inspections and other obligations. The problem is that, interpreted in certain ways, it could stamp out organic agriculture, small farms and businesses, even family gardens. A bill that’s worded so loosely as to allow very different interpretations is a poorly constructed bill that must not be passed.

HR 875 Would Essentially Outlaw Family Farms In The United States

Under a heading described as protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of food it creates a “Food Safety Administration” within Health and Human Services. Oddly, it doesn’t just add regulations to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is also under HHS. And don’t we have the USDA as well? The bill applies to all manner of “Food Establishments” and “Food Production Facilities” (note the following excerpt).

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

It all sounds so reasonable when seen from the perspective of legislation. And its all so wrong.

HR 875 – Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 | The Nourished Kitchen

HR 875, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa Delauro – a democratic party member of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut – in February of 2009. The title of HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, sounds innocuous enough – even comforting, but its implications yield a much, much different story.

HR 875 as it is written today, could very well mean the end of the vibrant and growing local foods movement. Yes – if it passes – it could herald the death of farmers markets, most CSAs, farmstands and even small family-run farms altogether.

Ostensibly, HR 875 or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 would bring greater accountability to our imperiled food system. Indeed, with salmonella-infected peanuts and spinach laced with e-coli, who isn’t crying out for improvements in food safety?

However, HR 875 fails miserably in promoting food safety. Rather, than promoting true accountability and proper farming techniques that minimize the risk of introducing pathogens into the food supply, it simply will create greater barriers for our already struggling small farms and farmers markets.

HR 875 mandates that anyone who produces food of any kind – meat, milk, fruit, vegetables et cetera – and transports that food for sale be subject to warrantless government inspections of their farms and food production records. These random inspections can be conducted at the whim of federal agents without regard to farmers rights or property rights. Further, the law would allow federal agents to confiscate records, product as they see fit as part of the inspection process.

Agents could also implement draconian restrictions regarding how farm animals can be fed, how fields can be managed and the end result of these restrictions could mean the end of organic, biodynamic and sustainable agriculture practices if these practices are deemed “unsafe.” Farmers refusing to comply would be subject to penalties.

The penalty for denying federal agents unlimited, random access to a farm’s fields, properties, products and records is up to $1,000,000. The penalty for not registering is up to$1,000,000.

Danone’s yogurt strategy for Bangladesh

Milk being delivered in churns to the factory in Bogra

Nobel Peace Prize winner Profesor Muhammad Yunus
BBC NEWS | Business | Danone’s yogurt strategy for Bangladesh

When French dairy food firm Danone ventured outside the troubled business climate of Europe and the US, it was not expecting to start a business that deliberately avoids paying dividends to shareholders.

But a meeting between Danone’s Franck Riboud and the founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, led to the opening of a small factory in Bangladesh that does just that.

Danone made a profit of more than $1bn in 2008 and expects that to rise by 10% this year, despite a downturn in sales in Europe.

The company has set its sights on South Asia. But to succeed there, it has to learn how to sell to low-income customers, many of whom live in the countryside.

In Bangladesh, Danone has teamed up with local experts to build a yogurt factory with a difference – what Professor Yunus calls a social business.

Targeting malnutrition

The factory, which produces nutritional yogurt for poor people, is a joint venture between Grameen and Danone.

Danone’s Emmanuel Marchant explains that the enterprise has to make enough money to be sustainable, but it also has a social goal.

“With a social business you ask: what are the priorities in terms of social needs?” he says.

Bridges Built Entirely of Recycled Plastic

Bridges Built Entirely of Recycled Plastic – Earth911.com

Not all recycled food and beverage containers are recycled into traditional products like new containers. Case in point: The New Jersey Pine Barrens features a 56-foot-long bridge built completely from recycled plastic. Constructed by Axion International, the bridge can support 36 tons and has an anticipated lifespan of 40 years.

Plastic lumber is actually one of the more common products created from recycled PET, the material used for most plastic bottles. Axion was able to mold discarded plastic into beams that are flexible, lighter than wood lumber and require fewer fasteners to build structures.

Axion is currently building bridges for the U.S. Army, as the Army needs structures capable of supporting at least 70 tons, and current wood bridges provide only 6-ton support. Axion built its first Army bridge in 1998, which according to Army representatives “has had virtually no maintenance and still looked like new after nine years.”

Plastic is not the only recycled material that can be used in construction. Glass bottles and cardboard can also provide a sturdy, yet sustainable, design. In addition, most of the world’s steel is actually recycled content, and steel is among the most popular building materials.

One of the primary benefits in building with recycled content is that it significantly reduces the ecological footprint during construction. Energy use is typically much less in manufacturing a recycled material, and in the case of plastic, a disposable bottle can be molded into a beam that supports cars and people for 40 years.

Marc Green – Recycled Plastics Applicatiions in Construction – Sustainability Forum

CFL Recycling Law for Manufacturers

While Maine is the first state to pass the CFL Recycling law, companies around the country, such as Home Depot, accept CFLs for recycling. Photo: Charlesandhudson.com
Maine Passes CFL Recycling Law for Manufacturers – Earth911.com

Maine is the first state to pass a law requiring companies that manufacture compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to fund recycling programs. Known as Legislative Directive 973, the law also establishes standards for the amount of mercury present in each bulb.

Similar recycling legislation is currently being reviewed in California, Massachusetts and Vermont, while California already passed a law enforcing mercury content.