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Factories and the artist

Marcello Nizzoli, one of the organisers of the Industrial Design section at the 10th Triennale, explains in these notes the function of the artist in designing industrially manufactured items for use

 

The nature to which art alludes is of an interior, subjective character; and it is in relation to the object selected – as a starting point or as a goal – that the language used to achieve mutual understanding is established.

An evaluation of this relationship is not influenced, case by case, by the practical or impractical utility of the resulting work of art; it will be solely the intensity with which it reflects its own values of form (and the references these carry with them) that will measure its level, attesting to the depth of experience the artist has acquired and “expressed” to achieve the goal.

The rebellion against traditional methods initiated by modern art and the new aesthetic concepts of criticism are responsible for overcoming the naturalistic limits imposed by academic art, and have retaught an interior view, independence, and the many possibilities offered by the tools of art.

Because people work and organise themselves to improve the relationships that constitute their lives, both as individuals and as a society, it is clear that we try to impress a character on everything around us and on all the things we need.

Thus, a primitive craftsman within the relatively wide or narrow range of his activity produced the first human artistic results by producing items to be used (weapons, dishes, furnishings), handling the material available to him according to his own sensibility, determined by and contained within the terms of a culture and a ritual.

Every action has within it a nucleus of research, so as humankind slowly organizes itself and improves its life in an increasingly broad social group, the horizon of technical possibilities also expands, leading to a similar number of possibilities for using the materials available, and tends to fulfil the endless new demands that arise from changes in living conditions.

The manufacture of complex objects in wide demand is now fulfilled by the only source capable of doing so: large organised industry. But this does not mean that a criterion for an aesthetic evaluation cannot be found for objects produced in large numbers: I would say instead that this criterion must be found in every case, for moral reasons. The form of a mass-produced object is born out of a precise fact, from specific needs: it has a goal. Thus, it can have sufficient aesthetic qualities.

For example, volumetric ratios tend to point to a human meaning: form can arise from cold geometric calculation and become style, finding an aesthetic level.

Artists have versatile resources.

Coordinating the voids and angles on a technical or user product, studying its joins, optimising its materials and connections, the suggestions imparted by paint, the relationship between its angles and rounded edges and the relationships between these and its surfaces, the deftness of a closure, a lever, or a control – all these are problems resolved into “form” when they are coordinated according to the artist’s sensibility, and in their relationships achieve style.

But these problems must be resolved by adhering to the technical qualities: they must not be the result of a pre-suggested form that randomly overlaps the technical aspect of the object.

The relationships between the form and function of the product, between form and mechanism, between form and manufacturing process, progressively acquire integrated solutions as an object is “designed”, and these relationships make it possible to bring to the market actual evidence of the intimate collaboration between technical structures and the artist’s creativity.

A result that carries these characteristics with it, being fully usable in all the aspects that it offers to a society, is a part of coordinating its own use and helps make it appear coherent.

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