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authors Baker, R.
year 1993
title Designing the Future: The Computer Transformation of Reality
source Thames and Hudson, Hong Kong
summary A coffee table book on computer applications? Well, yes, because it does deal largely with matters of graphic design in architecture, fashion and textiles, painting, and photography; but it also has items which might be of interest in its sections on digital publication, typography, and electronic communication in general. It also seeks to discuss the way in which these applications may force us to change the way we think. Robin Baker writes in an unfortunately stiff and abstract manner about the impact computer programmes have had on the world of art and design, but the graphic images and extended picture captions help to keep the reader awake - even though the main text sometimes disappears for two or three double page spreads on end. There are also smatterings of pretentious art-world-speak about 'solving certain spatial problems' (in the design of curtain fabrics or teapots) and the introduction (inevitable?) of new jargon: 'shape grammar'(a list of so-called shape 'rules'), 'repurposing' (putting somebody else's work to new use) and 'genetic algorithms' (sculptural designs based on re-processed organic shapes - most of which look like stomach tumours). In his favour, Baker very generously credits students and commercial designers who have produced the effects he describes and illustrates so well. For writers, he sketches in the possibilities of Hypertext and Hypermedia and points to the future of Hyper publishing which he (and Rupert Murdoch)believes will be with us before the end of the century. He seems to have a good oversight of what is possible and practicable - though one wonders how up-to-date the view is when his book may have begun its life anything up to three years ago. He usefully points out that much new technology exists in or drags along with it the forms of earlier periods - so that in an age of electronic communication we still have printed books as a dominant cultural form. Maybe this is as it should be - but Baker makes a persuasive case for the claim that All This is Going to Change.
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last changed 2003/04/23 13:14
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