|the container principle
And they all get put in boxes, and they all come out the same.
Be it metaphorical containers like in category tables, flow charts, computer programs; be it real, material boxes, from tupperware to shipping container to prefabricated house once a system of boxes has started working, its contents become irrelevant. Boxes reduce heterogenity to the minimal difference between addresses, thus installing pure processability. The logic of closed boxes is logistical: a second-order-logics, strictly „formalizing“ the different by putting it into standardized and serialized larger units that can be easily processed.
Since the 1960s, the metaphor of the box has become an integral part of the language of social criticism against the „uniforming power“ of industrialization, namely in the discussions about modern architecture. Today, the standardized shipping container has become an icon of globalization, used in films like Kaurismäkis „The Man without a Past“, in avantgardistic architectural design for „post-modern nomads“ like those by New-York based office Lot-Ek, or in art, by groups like Atelier van Lieshout or etoy, and large international art-events like the documenta and Art Basel Miami. Yet, the box-principle reaches far more back, and operates on many more levels, combining the worlds of industrial production, information organisation, personal living, and cultural reflection on a logistical basis.
The seminary wants to examine the modern history and development of the idea of the box and its critizism. Starting from the proposition that „design is invisible“ (Lucius Burckhardt) it focuses on systemic aspects, cultural frameworks history, politics, economics and discursive interrelations. It will throw flashlights on different periods and aspects of containerization and modernity: the cellular concept of modern architecture, logistics and the container shipping system, packaging and the invention of brand design, suburbanisation and the pictogrammatic house, mobile living, concepts of box-appropriation.