Distinctions & Directions

Bruce Sterling’s “The Importance of Constraints” (2009)

I quite enjoyed this reading; As always, Sterling’s work is illustrative and laced with references. The use of our practice’s (design) jargon to describe his own practice, accrue a sense of familiarity over the reading. Furthermore, I appreciated his description of Literature and Design in sequence: it made for a much easier comparison, especially given the background case (and very specific example) he makes for Literature. All said, I felt his traction abruptly ended when the article’s narrative races back up from specificity to ambiguity. Though, to note, this could very well be his method of intention.

Matt Malpass’s “Between Wit and Reason” (2013)

This article hit home. More than that, Malpass’ work comes across thorough, precise and a tad dense. However, Malpass is able to construct his point by lassoing in every example, author and project from around the world’s best practitioners. As such, this paper resonated well with me. I’m personally interested in pursuing Speculative or Critical Design (what can I say? I guess I’m just drawn to Juvenalian Satire) as a career-discipline. Having already read Dunne & Raby’s manifesto of sorts, I found Matt Malpass especially helpful in navigating the subtleties between the three critical disciplines: particularly between speculative and critical design. As a student with some awareness of the constantly-shifting field, I am glad this reading was assigned up-front—but I am weary of its publication date that may imply the distinctions could not have be

Julian Bleecker’s “Design Fiction” (2009)

I’m a fan of Bleecker’s curiosity. This works reads like one man’s monologue in a public forum. It’s in the distinction of terms that I found myself drawn to, as a reader. Coupling science fact and fiction, products and provocations, etc, Bleecker set his works up in sequence—allowing me to follow, backtrack, then continue along with him. More over, I appreciated Bleecker’s image+text pairing: making this article feel the most well-founded. Whereas Sterling’s work was seductive and humorous and Malpass’ was thorough and clinical, Bleecker’s work emerges as the most thought-provoking. Even still, it maintains it’s own order, though his work is submerged in personal reflection and curiosity. 



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