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The Choreography of the Console: The Design of Electronic Environments and their Operators in the Cold War

This talk was given in Zurich at ETH in autumn 2014. In the late 1950 and 1960s a new kind of non-human actor appeared on the movie screens and televisions around the world. The console – an electronic panel or unit operated with dials, switches or buttons – appeared in numerous Cold War thrillers and … Continue reading

Interview with Herito magazine

In May Herito published an interview with me on socmodernist architecture in Eastern Europe – you can read it here.

Staging for the End of History: Avant-garde Visions at the Beginning and the End of Communism in Eastern Europe

In 1967 Stanislav Kolibal, the Czech artist, was commissioned to design the August-September cover of Výtvarné Uměni (Fine Arts) (fig 1). This was to be a special issue of the periodical, commemorating – like many other magazines and newspapers published in the Eastern Bloc that autumn – the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. He … Continue reading

Bruszewski, Gramophone, 1981

A Little Music: Sound Works by Wojciech Bruszewski

This essay will appear in 2015 in a book reviewing the work of artist Wojciech Bruszewski. In 1982 Wojciech Bruszewski compiled a number of experiments with sound that he had been making since 1976 in a short VHS compilation called ‘A Little Music’ (‘Trochę Muzyki’). Short films like ‘TV Music’ (1979), ‘Sternmusic’ (1979) and ‘Behaviour … Continue reading

Jānis Osis design for the Celebrations exhibition, Riga, 1972 (LCCA archive)

Empty Plots – Art and Environment in Latvia in the 1970s

This short essay was written for a publication accompanying the Visionary Structures exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels, opening in January 2015. In the early 1970s Environment occupied a central place in the lexicon of art and design on both sides of the Cold War divide. It was not, of course, a newly-coined term: more than a … Continue reading

Echo Translation

In his book La voix au cinéma (The Voice in Cinema), Michel Chion coined the word ‘acousmêtre’ to describe a character that can be heard but not seen on screen. Rather than nail down his term with a comprehensive definition, Chion introduces his readers to various kinds of disembodied voices in the cinema. They include … Continue reading

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Design Exhibitions Today – Answers and Questions

This piece appears in Disegno magazine, 7, 2014.   Design museums and galleries have long been in the business of celebrating things. Walk through the ornate doors of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London or into the airy lobby of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the building itself tells you … Continue reading

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Review of Liverpool Biennial 2014

This review appeared in Frieze, Sept. 2014.   You can imagine the bemusement when the commission arrived. British artist Chris Evans – a participant in this year’s Liverpool Biennial – invited Boodles, the celebrated luxury jewelers in the city, to craft a piece of jewellery in response to the art festival’s press release. This is … Continue reading

Nervous Systems: New Machines and Bodies in Polish Art and Film after the Thaw

This essay was published in the catalogue accompanying the Cosmos Calling! exhibition at Zacheta, Warsaw, summer 2014.     In 1973 Krzysztof Zanussi made a movie, ‘Iluminacja’(Illumination), to explore the ways in which science, the state and religion understood life in its most immediate sense, that of the living human being. Relaying the fictional career … Continue reading

Rajkowska's Peterborough Child, 2012-ongoing - sketch - from http://www.rajkowska.com

Public art and its opponents

This is a review of two books – Joanna Rajkowska’s Where the Beast Is Buried (Zero Books, 2013) and Tom Finkelpearl’s What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013) – which appeared in Frieze magazine.     Recently, a work of art returned to Warsaw after spending almost two years in an … Continue reading

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