Now everything is designed. Conceptual design group Metahaven more or less situate their practice within this grammar of conflation and indifference that Foster rails against. Yet it is possible to understand this situation as structural rather than willed. How exactly these strategies are deployed and developed is not completely clarified in the book, but they do signal a move away from a politics of opposition towards overidentification, indiscernability and the deepening of contradictions. A preoccupation across several contributions involves establishing differences between forms of network and soft power.
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It is a power that can be harnessed for good and bad. And sat there. Big and imposing, it takes some courage to actually open and start reading it. We are still in the process, but before we publish our take on what it all means, we wanted to let readers know how to get their own copy and hear directly from the writers.
It delves into political theory and visuals to suggest - and possibly prove - that the two cannot be separated. Ultimately it reveals the failure of the normal critiques of capitalism to properly capture what is happening in a globalized world. If branding is accepted as the unavoidable by-product of a global economy, it has to be asked what branded states and organizations are hoping to sell, and who is deciding this?
If states and cities make efforts to brand themselves for the purpose of increased sales in a globalized world, what will be left of the public domain?
What will left of public space, public goods, public services, and welfare - all the domain of governmental authorities put there through whatever means to represent people? Of particular interest to Van der Velden and Kruk is how globalization leads to an unfolding of standards rather than the unfolding of a single culture.
By standards they mean services that both enable and limit people - Skype, Facebook and cheap airlines, for example. Things like taking an easyJet flight to attend a conference on Marxism, buying organic chicken from Albert Heijn or banging out an essay on the evils of Bill Gates using Microsoft software … In order to carry things out, you have to comply with standards.
The mindless copying of existing approaches to branding is what makes the results often boring and predictable. We need more experiment and a bit more imagination too. Food, architecture, strategists, designers and philosophers are employed to reveal the substructure of a globalized economy governed by ideas that are often little more than brands.