Every day we encounter an abundance of warnings that the ecological doomsday is nigh. Society’s vagueness in terms of its reactions and ability to take action at the prospect of this threat is even more worrying. Will we manage to save the world in time? Regardless of whether or not we do so, one has to ask whether we really want to. Surely the aim of life seems to be to make things as comfortable and convenient as possible!
Let me explain. Many people would assert that the origins of the ongoing climate change are to be found during the modern ‘project’ and the industrial era, of which we are still a part. One of the main principles of this project is to create better economic and social welfare for everyone in the world. Life is seen as something positive – something that gives us the opportunity to realise our dreams. Design and art are part of this journey of world change. Part of the remit of designers is to reduce sores and pains in the backside and to make things as comfortable and convenient as possible.
But these pains now seem to have assumed a new form – a fatter form, so to speak. One of our dreams is to live longer and improve our quality of life – including during old age. But this trend now seems to have been broken. It was recently ascertained that the generation now growing up in many parts of the world will not live as long as the previous generation. Whilst 800 million people are starving, 1.5 billion people are overweight – 300 million of them morbidly so. And 115 million of them live in developing countries.
The reasons for this are unhealthy eating habits and too little exercise. This has already had consequences in the world of design: as a result of this development the rides at the Disney World amusement park need rebuilding. Read more? Click here.
The new media age we are in the middle of is driving this development. Art and cultural consumption are increasingly fattening up our bodies. Gaping for an identity means that we unfortunately seem more interested in buying ourselves a sporty look than in doing exercise. You’ll soon probably be able to find corsets at Intersport. We will in all probability get fatter and unhealthier in a world that is heating up. So if we are now trying to look after our planet it seems we are forgetting to look after the people living on it – if one is of the opinion that people want to live a little longer, that is.
If we play with the thought that the earth will be habitable for a maximum of 1,000 more years, a shorter life span might mean that more generations could be fitted in. Surely that would be a good way of looking after future generations!
In the short term such a development means that more resources will be needed to take care of all the sick people – because unfortunately ill health and disease go together.
What has this development got to do with a college of art and design such as Konstfack? A lot, I would say. If we are doing our utmost to make our students reflect and learn to deal with environmental issues, we must at the same time also ask ourselves questions about the way we see ourselves. How can you influence an increasingly fat world, for example? Is it a good situation, or do we want to do something about it? Can one work on design that helps us become more aware of these issues and influences our behaviour? But of course!
How does one make culture proactive rather than just interactive? Is art debating these issues? How is it influencing the way we relate to each other? An important question in the context is connected with social class. What can we do to bridge the gap and help social classes who cannot afford to live healthily? If we at the same time have to become more aware of our external world, then why not take the opportunity of reviewing our state of our health.
And maybe an environmental approach will lead to an increasing awareness of ourselves. It goes without saying that environmental destruction and junk food go together. So to start with, how about finding out what junk design is. And instead of making the seats wider, make them narrower. Only then will people’s attention be drawn to the problems of our society.