Third International Competition [NAGOYA DESIGN DO!]
Theme: The Power of Fragility
Man is fragile, with neither sharp fangs nor fur. Instead of following thehistory
of evolution, this "naked ape" has made a wondrous leap. Man hasrejected
biological specification and metamorphosis. By accepting his "fragility"
and evolutionary immaturity, man maintains a strength andflexibility within.
This is what makes us human and spurs us on to make akind of wager with
our intrinsic fragility. As we enter the next millenniumwe need to rediscover
the value of our fragility, and overcome the misguidedsearch for "strength"
so intensely performed in the 20th century.
We do not need to annihilate modern civilization to rediscover this strengthwithin fragility. Nor should we symbolize the search with such na•ve slogansas "environmentally-friendly" or "user-friendly". Look at the recently touted"universal design", aimed at the weak, the physically challenged. Does itgive rise to the strength born from fragility that characterizes mankind? Man relates continuously to his environment, to things as yet unfamiliar tohim, and by doing so produces new information, on his own initiative. Heuses this new information to reorganize the knowledge he has of himself andthe world around him. Things and environments designed to be "convenient" infact thwart us in our natural inquiry into the world, and keep us fromacquiring any skill at all. Our fragility is an unlimited source ofplasticity, and is only fettered by these supposedly convenient designs.
We should not try to supplement or hide our fragility, but look on it as arich source of creative power. When we encounter a deficiency in ourenvironment, tools, or people around us, we are given the chance to workwith diverse, unknown factors, and turn that deficiency into a resource forcreativity. This transformation--changing absence or deficiency into aresource--liberates our imaginations, frees us from the fetters ofinstitutional systems and conventions, and helps us develop into a morevaried species. The fragility of our partners on this earth and in thislife, whether these partners be the tools we use, other people, or ourgeneral environment, is what brings out the power of fragility.
What kinds of robots will be designed to coexist with human beings in thefuture? They will likely not be perfect machines providing perfect services,but the bearers of some imperfection, through which they will be more usefulto us. They will of course have some physical fragility, so as not to hurtus in physical interactions, but they must also have some absence thatallows for the possibility of a mental partnership. This absence will createa deliberate and valuable distance in the relationship.
As an example of the misguided competition for "powerful progress", acompetition to become harder shelled and ever faster, we can look at thetyrannical, violent highway environment of the 20th century. It is time tocultivate instead a fish-like flexibility and a sense of lateralcommunication.
In contriving a "design of fragility," we must recognize the important valuestandard of the problem of limited time. Limited time relates to theephemeral nature of man, and to the fact of aging. In the history ofbiological evolution, sex -- a design strategy open to diversification andrelation-- has emerged in union with the mechanisms of dying (deification)and aging, both strategies to limit the span of our existence. We cannotbut doubt that any robot, which would not be programmed to age or die, wouldbe an appropriate partner in a vision of our future world. For it could notshare the awareness of time
(memories and our personal histories), soimportant to mankind. Instead, in this century, as designers go about their work, they may just rediscover that this weakness, this inability to transcend temporal limits,is the basis of security for humans, life, and creativity.
This year the international design competition of Nagoya Design Do! is aninvitation to embark on an expedition in search of a new metaphysical-designparadigm: a "design of fragility" that secures the "power of fragility".
The following theme committee members were responsible for this yearÕs theme: Shigeru Uchida, Taku Satoh, Shinichi Takemura, Hiroshi Naito, Shin Mizukoshi, and Yuichi Yamada.
Something beyond the visible or touchable, that is, the existence within theinvisible --- let"s consider what strong messages they communicate. Howmuch influence do non-material objects have on us, compared to materialobjects? Throughout the 20th century, we have placed too much emphasis onthe visible, considering that they are only concrete things. Now however, anew way of thinking is required, in opposition to traditional values. Theworks we have selected in this competition all display these new values.
Mr. Kazuo KAWASAKI
As opposed to works that expressed mere fragility, works that directlyproposed some problems or works that challenge us were selected in thiscompetition, themed "fragility". I did not want to stress too much onskills of expression. Take the work that received the gold prize,"Hand-y-cap", for instance. In the beginning, this work made me feel sadsomehow. My first impression was that a handicapped person is deliberatelyexposing his/her own handicap. I even felt disgusted. However, I came torealize that the provocative expression inspiring such strong feelings toviewers is the attraction of this work. Such strength in expression is wortha prize.
Mr. Taku SATO
The theme, "fragility", is something we usually leave out of our conscious mind. This theme is not trivial enough to end with the finale of the competition. This theme has to be developed into a proposal of problems for environmental issues as well as for our self. When we are able to eradicate the existing image of "fragility", a new world with infinite possibilities is likely to open up. It is towards this new world to which we should advance. The most important task of this competition was to find the "crossing point" enshrining such infinite possibilities. The theme posed various problems to me, the judges, as well as the applicants. Many entries expressed points of view that were new to the judges. The theme was so appealing that would be a shame to end it after merely one competition. One minor impression I have about this competition is that the presentation of works, except the ones in the graphic category, could have shown a little more ingenuity.
*Entries with which I was impressed The entry that received the grand prize was splendid in every aspect, including the interpretation of the theme, the viewpoint, and its expressiveness. Personally, I was attracted to the delicately dangerous expression of "Dialogue: Made in Misapprehension" (awarded silver prize) and the new viewpoint of "Key Parts" (also awarded silver prize), extracting experiences of familiar eggshells. I also felt that "Wow! 1! 2! 3!" (awarded silver prize) with its minimal expression has potential in a way that arouses various thoughts to the audience.
I would like all of the applicants for this competition to always embrace this theme within themselves hereafter.
Mr. Shinichi TAKEMURA
With the theme, "fragility", I wanted to cover not only the negative sideof fragility but also the creativity and strength that can be derived fromfragility in order to exist in humanity or life. Some works criticized theimmature and insensitive solutions of present-day civilization, insistingthat fragility should be valued as a resource that humanity and lifeoriginally possessed. I wanted to praise such criticism as well as theexpression of fragility itself. Also to be noted is that this competitionshould serve the role of collecting applicants" messages and sublimatingthem to social opinions, as well as that of scouting for young talentedartists.
Mr. Shunyo Yamauchi
This competition taught me that "fragility" exists not only in comparison with "strength" but has an existence of its own. I learned a lot from the various answers of people who prove their own fragility by putting it in armor and of people who discover the 'existence' of that fragility. The work titled "Ant" reminds me of the techniques we develop when faced with "fragility". "Touch History" inspires a light feeling, the sadness of an ephemeral footprint, to viewers who have forgotten to "feel" in living the modern social life.
In the poster I designed calling for entries, I tried to express the "fragility" of human beings and the theme of this competition, by drawing numerous water drops. In the poster for the exhibition of the prize-winning works, I tried to express the existence of human beings found in the existence of limitless "fragility". The color gold expresses the honor of prizes and the desire that people commonly possess. Looking back on the competition, there are some works I still remember well. There were many entries that helped to show me the future direction of my own career.
*Mr. Shunyo Yamauchi took charge ofwas responsible for overall all graphic designs used, including those in the application procedures, application posters and for the exhibition of the International Competition 2002 Nagoya Design Do! Exhibition.
Ms. Karen BLINCOE
The entries to 'The Power of Fragility' competition were many, nearly1800, coming from all continents and submitted by professionals and students alike.This does give an indication of the relevance of the theme of the competition,that it inspired so many people to comment professionally on the conceptof fragility and their individual relationships to it. The entries awarded communicate the Power of Fragility both through subtleas well as more obvious ways, and give us the strength and hope that the unique elements of our heritages can withstand the changes which at present sweep across the globe. That innocense can be protected, that small can also be strong, that there is room forour histories and our differences. Some works communicate this in a subtle way: the footprint of history, the ant and twig, the blue sphere with the white dividing line, the screens of incense and light -and some convey more obiously the power of fragility: The fist/pepper, the egg, the poster of life and decay. I went away inspired both by the concepts, the international -, the gender- as well as professional mix'.
Mr. Alex KELLY
I judged the grand prix work most highly as it expressed the theme,"fragility" in the most varied ways. History is easily forgotten, and afootprint on the sand as expressed in this work is also fragile and easilyerased by wind or wave. Footprints in this work even represents human beingswho travel through time. The image of people walking barefoot on the sand isinteresting, as the idea is unique to Asian culture and is completelydifferent from that derived from Western culture. This work reminds us thathuman beings think with the feet as well as with the brain. The horizontallines resembling noises on TV screen seem to be implying the way that theinfluence of media is declining.
Mr. Ross LOVEGROVE
I set my criterion for this competition so as to select works clearlyoffering some solutions to the problem presented in the competition, and tochoose works offering these solutions with exceptional expression. I wasparticularly intrigued by entries from China. China is one of the mostquickly developing countries in the world at present. There are naturallypains in the process of development, and strict self-analysis must be madedaily. In a global sense, it can be said that what is happening in China ishappening all over the world. Many entries from China conveyed strongmessages challenging conventional environmental policies.
Mr. Ken YEANG
One of my major criteria was how the proposition presented in the worksinfluence the public, as well as how the concept and theme were interpreted.I appraised works conveying social messages. The grand prix work stimulatesAsian sensibilities. The gold prize work, "ant", looks like a blank paperat a glance, but in fact, a tiny ant and twig are drawn on it. It conveys avery simple message: Such a small and fragile being as an ant can achievesomething such big. Or in other words, size does not matter. It is alsointeresting that the twig the ant is leaning on resembles an "antenna".