How modern cinema affects our society


I'm sitting at the desk and I'm tired. The day was long, the night before the children slept badly and so did I. Now they are back in bed. Finally time to work. At the top of my to-do list is this text about the Bauhaus and the question of whether design can change society - and the dining table, which is not yet covered. How can the height of fall between the historical Bauhaus, the social design and the dirty dishes be withstood? Or to put it another way: Why should one concern themselves with the Bauhaus when there is still so much else to do? And does it make sense to take a look at the Bauhaus for what needs to be done today?

In short, the historical Bauhaus was faced with the question of which new, unconventional design approaches could solve the problems of industrial production, which were virulent in its time, and create a modern culture and just society. So it was about how to develop design in such a way that it no longer fulfills bourgeois or even aristocratic desires for representation, but gives expression to the ideals and constitution of the emerging democratic society. Or better still: how to translate their noble ideals and ideas into lived reality and material culture. This included residential construction, but also everyday items. For example the famous furniture like the cantilever chair, on which you don't sit like a throne but, as the name suggests, swing freely; a little insecure maybe, always on the move - but also free. The attempt to reform modern industrial production and to give modern society its own aesthetic expression by means of the new design was also reflected in the handling of form and materiality. The Bauhäusler used modern materials and technologies: concrete, steel and glass offered new possibilities. Simple, minimalist forms were created, and superfluous decor was dispensed with.

Today we are faced with the shambles of global modernization, which has neither managed to cover a minimum requirement (supply of housing, education, health) on a global scale, nor to build a just society. On the contrary: Modernity has left a trace of ecological and psychosocial destruction and has intensified the global injustice that future generations will have to grapple with. At the same time, the technological possibilities have developed further than could be imagined or wanted to dream 100 years ago. With artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanocomputing and neuroengineering, the question of the "new man" arises in a completely different way than the avant-garde of the early 20th century imagined. All of this means that today we have to radically rethink the terms "design" and "composition" - comparable, but quite different from a century ago. In the following I will outline a proposal for this.

What design is it about?

Survival design
In order to cope with the oppressive, even overwhelming legacy of modernity - industrial, world-destroying mass production and the natural-forgotten logic of growth - design today faces a fundamental task: It is important to ensure the survival of mankind. This safeguarding of survival begins with the fight against the destruction of the ecological basis of life, which our society continues to pursue. Plastic waste, climate change, overfishing - the list could go on and on. Contemporary designers have to develop equipment for a lifestyle that does not destroy their own livelihoods, but at least preserves them - and at the same time makes this new lifestyle appear desirable, attractive and worth living in.

Security design
While there seems to be a fairly large societal consensus on the design of survival - although this consensus includes refusing to accept the consequences of the findings that are undisputed by a large majority - the main question is what "security" is and how it can be achieved, great disagreement. The spectrum of - classic, because material - design tasks ranges from building walls (be they on the border between Mexico and the USA or on the borders of the EU) or bollards (in pedestrian zones, in front of embassies and Christmas markets) to the design of Reception camps and refugee shelters. Less material - and therefore more difficult to grasp - is the design of invisible forms of the current "security construction"; the subtle forms of surveillance - from video surveillance, payback cards to smartphones. Monitoring, which is covered as a service, is primarily used to create profiles of us that are used for control, prevention and control.

Whether you like it or not, these are forms of security design and belong to what the Swiss sociologist Lucius Burckhardt described in the 1980s as "invisible design". However, there are forms of security design that do not lead to freedom, but to submission. One of the tasks of design in the present is therefore to oppose security in all functional areas of society. These include projects that undermine the strategies of deterrence, such as, for example, the material manifestations of the welcoming culture in the form of initiatives, events and networking. However, a democratic security design also includes withstanding real uncertainty and developing tools that help us with this.

Society design
The way in which we think security and create it in our everyday life determines or - to use a design-related term - determines the degree of freedom in our society. Whether visible or invisible: Design controls, shapes and controls society and individuals. It influences the ways we live together on a material and immaterial level. Whether we are fearful or courageous, free or unfree, lonely or in community, is not only but also guided by design, in line with Marx's dictum "Being determines consciousness".

Formulated too abstractly? A couple of specific examples: Take housing construction. Imagine you want to open a kind of pensioner flat share, that is, to live with other people, but no longer on a student level, but with your own bathroom and a large kitchen in which you cook and eat together. Do you know of a new building that offers the right floor plan for it? Or imagine yourself in a young family where the parents are just separating. They cannot financially afford two apartments with children's rooms, but there is no such thing as an apartment concept that is suitable for patchwork - for example with separate entrances. The result: the children stay with one parent in the apartment, the other parent takes a small apartment, the children come to visit every 14 days on the weekend and sleep on the couch. Yes, that is normal, you will perhaps say now - but it is not normal because it is the wish of those affected, but because floor plans are not planned in mass housing that deviate from the traditional family model. But that would only change if, in addition to the architects' powers of imagination, the funding principles in social housing and the housing policy framework were changed - because design encompasses more than just spaces and things.

In our time, however, design has to be radically rethought because the objects of design have changed. The Bauhaus, the avant-garde of the early 20th century, dreamed of the "new man" who is now appearing again on the horizon - if not as a cyborg, a hybrid of man and machine, then as a semi-synthetic product between mind enhancement and plastic surgery and modern prosthetics. And if that still seems too crazy for you, you should be reminded of the self-design that has become contemporary everyday culture between the gym, anorexia and selfie madness. We are all design objects - and whether we like it or not, we have all become the designers of ourselves. And that's not that easy at all, it has to be learned and practiced, otherwise the possibilities of self-design threaten to drift into a compulsion for self-optimization. Because there is a great danger that we will more and more submit to smartification instead of designing moments of freedom with the help of new technologies.