Monday, 16 February 2009

Oscar Wilde & wallpaper (Objects and Identity)

A less famous story, but instructive none the less - when asked why he thought America was such a violent society, Wilde replied "because you have such ugly wallpaper". Now, the start of the following theory i have to attribute wholly to Stephen fry - but it supports my theory so there you go ... The argument runs that human beings have done our best to despoil the greatest beauty available - nature. Compounding that is the fact that so many of us choose to live in 'ugliness' created by ourselves (Wilde was an aesthete, and a pioneering interior designer), so what must that do for our sense of self worth and how we value others? And finally, living in ugliness, and devaluing ourselves and those around can only, eventually lead to violence...

I like this line of thought particularly because it makes explicit the fact that we do value our surroundings, the things we own and use, and the relationships between all these things. We spend our lives building an identity - for the outside world, and for our internal world. And we do this through the stories we tell about ourselves, and also through the objects we collect around ourselves. Through an implicit and explicit selection process we build a visual version of ourselves that we trust to help tell our stories ...

Which leads me to the fetishisation of objects. Check out Apartamento Magazine for a beautiful realisation of this process in a magazine. It's fun and thoughtful, and honest. And it allows the stories of the interviewees to come to the fore (through their stuff and their selections), and to not be overrun with stories of the designers or producers of the objects (in contrast to other publications).

So while this post is leading nowhere in particular - and there are a few incomplete and under explored ideas here - it will be a recurring theme over time.

One to return to and explore ...


1 comment:

  1. - I blogged about this same subject.

    If man does have immense creativity, then why is it all being wasted on ugliness?