First Day, 2017

Design Ethic

Nothing More, Nothing Less is a design ethic that reconsiders the way in which we generally encounter and engage given material conditions as the basis of artistic production and design. It is premised on the thought that matter is fundamentally complex, dynamic, and abyssal, and is so to degrees that cannot ever be fully comprehended or decisively put to work in the service of art and design. Inexhaustible, interminable, exorbitant, matter resists any attempt to subdue it. It eludes the willful imposition of stabilizing forms, the despotism of which is no match for it. Matter stirs below the forms imposed upon it. It is largely anonymous and goes largely unnoticed.

One hears in Nothing More, Nothing Less the design slogans “Less is More” and “More is More” of Minimalism and Maximalism respectively. Nothing More, Nothing Less ardently resists the imperatives given in these slogans. Resisting the subtractive operations and austerity of Minimalism and the additive operations and excesses of Maximalism, Nothing More, Nothing Less proposes to leave matter more or less intact. Its intent, though, is not simply to preserve the empirically given, but to coax from it its inherent, enigmatic possibilities. Once released, Nothing More, Nothing Less lets these possibilities abide in a mystery made visible, no less mysterious for being visible.

This, in the first instance, requires an attentiveness to the empirically given, to matter and its conditions. Attentiveness is only attentive provided its gaze is not caught in the snare of consensual, self-evidence and any particular formal state. It calls for unorthodox means of approach, oblique pathways convoked by and broken according to the imperatives and directives of matter itself, and not by and according to the formal ideas of an autonomous and imperious creative subject. The creative subject is a spectator, not an actor; an operator of new technologies and trials, not a designer bearing established skills.

Despite any meaning attributed to it, despite the consensual self-evidence that gives matter meaning, matter carries on its life in a profound aura of mystery and enigma. Meaning does not adhere to matter. It is something more and something less than matter. Meaning compels matter to circulate in ways unfitting to it through economies of use and function. Matter takes revenge in the form of deterioration and disease. It is primarily for this reason, though not only so, that Nothing More, Nothing Less as a design ethic, is specifically ecological in character.