“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” -Sol Lewitt
For my project I am attempting illustrate the cycle of an idea; it is an idea that will fuel a concept into something tangible; concept driven by a plan to produce art that will advocate the image of a city. It is to find an intentional function behind design taking into considering mass consumerism. Through manipulating found objects I found it explores deeper associations, and builds framework that provokes conversations bigger than the fabricated object.
The project is inspired by the interest to understand the intangible bond that is forged between an object its viewer; and how that relationship can be used to the advantage of jewelers. I find people interpret the world and their place in it through the things that they use, the surrounding environment, and the material conditions of our lives.
My work focuses on the art of consumption to better understand what drives a consumerist society. Exploring wants, and demands for an object of adornment through its compromise to be socially responsible. I ask: “How can we consume in a more meaningful way? Design a strategy to engage socially responsible citizens? Develop a sustainable brand that creates local business?” These questions remind me of the task at hand and remind me to explore unconventional patterns of manufacturing multiples can support a need for purposeful consumption. Inspired by the design aesthetics of work by Tone Vigeland, contemplating juxtaposition of Pat Flynn’s materials, and admiring wit of Philip Crangi have all influenced my collection of jewelry.
Wicked Problems-design solutions that create more problems, have fed conventional consumption methods, but social innovation can shift this paradigm. Societal marketing concept model taken from Marketing: and introduction, shows how an organization can determine the interests of a target market. It’s task is to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors by preserving and/or enhancing the consumer’s and the society’s well-being.
Figure 1: Adopted from Marketing an Introduction (Kotler et al, 1993) Illustrating the relationships between Society, Company, and Consumers to design with intention and impact.
The scope of the project focuses on the landscape of Detroit, Michigan. Being labeled as part of the ‘Rust Belt,’ Detroit is a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution and generally, negative perceptions have been perceived about the region. I want to represent the industrial fabric of the city in a fiscally and socially responsible way, pull out the history, and give it back to the people of Detroit.
The crux of this project will ‘UP cycle,’ as illustrated below, extracted metal mined out of abandoned homes and buildings that are spattered throughout the city. I will begin working with local organizations such as the ASWD (Architecture Salvage Warehouse of Detroit), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that keeps building materials out of landfills. I intend to team up with machinist and blacksmiths to repurpose reclaimed materials-nails, nuts, bolts and screws to be re-fabricate into objects for adornment.
Figure 2: Illustration of a concept model ‘Up’cycle through ‘Re’ by Kate Bordine
I want to preserve the integrity of the original design and push the concept of reuse by embellishing the raw materials with silver and gold; both to appropriate repurpose and aesthetically please a wide audience. This is a design opportunity to collaborate with the local community to promote social awareness through an object.
As an artist, I am inspired by the power of place, the pragmatism of art, and development of design strategies by use of symbols that evoke patriotism and civic engagement. During the Industrial era, the rise of Detroit was due to the increase of manufactured industrial goods that fed the economy. Now, I am proposing that art can capture that piece of history and make it available to the citizens and promote informed consumerism. Through an effort of a socially conscious making, my project will return the foundations of the city back to the people who helped build it.
Figure 3: Art from the PowerHouse Project Detroit, MI Photo by: Kate Bordine, Summer 2011 Artists taking initiative with their own hands to transforming neighborhood houses with works of art recreating, and repurposing the otherwise ignored.
My products promote social engagement through responsible consumerism, foster local job opportunities, and promotes the image of the city. The citizens of Detroit, MI will participate by consuming the product that tells the history of people who lived before them because there is beauty in what they intended to build. This narrative is communicated through the jewelry pieces and the story is shared simply by wearing. To further communicate the concept of this jewelry, information will be on the tags attached to the pieces. These tags refer the audience to websites that articulate the collaborative partnerships, and the production process. Potential outlets for purchase will be through the web, local boutiques, craft/art fairs.
Intentionally, this collection of jewelry will harness the relationship of people with an object that represents a specific place. Recognition through wearing and word of mouth prompt conversations to organically happen around the jewelry, hence evoking a response. Perhaps, jewelry that is bigger than the object through concept connects people in a larger community, to each other, and to a place. A goal of this collection is to reclaim otherwise left behind materials into recycled fabrications for adornment to make available to the masses.
Figure 4: Examples of Detroit’s cityscape. Photo by Kate Bordine Summer 2011 Typically buildings in Detroit found on most city blocks. A potential resource for mining industrial materials for repurpose.
This project is designed for the greater good and is by a called for action by socially responsible consumerist. Through participating in a conversation that is initiated by wearing my jewelry, individuals will be able to form their voice that is supported by a robust perspective.
Figure 5: Concept Illustration (Visual Understanding) by Kate Bordine, Perception is the input that drives an interpretation which eventually outputs an opinion.
The success of this project lies in the support of the citizens of Detroit. The citizens are the motivation that drives the image of the city and promote the future of Detroit in a positive trajectory. Empowering the voice of the individual through an object will solidify a sustainable relationship.
A campaign will be developed to represent the concept of the collection to better communicate the cause by way of a press kit for media use. The jewelry designs are objectified visual metaphors that capture the foundations of what built the city of Detroit, Michigan. Through this jewelry collection and the process considers the triple bottom line-people, planet, and profit to connect consumerist to something larger than themselves. In this quote by Sol Lewitt, “all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” Perhaps this is a business model that can be use in other cities.
Figure 6: Illustration of a Concept by Kate Bordine, Adopted from Knox, Paul (2009: 27) Reaction how to build a sustainable brand that considers all the above. The interdependencies are illustrated and how they can both conflict and reinforce each other.
“Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”, Artforum, June 1967
Kotler, Philip, and Gary Armstrong. 1993. Marketing: an introduction. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Margolin, Victor, and Richard Buchanan. 1995. The idea of design: a Design issues reader. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Kotler, P. (1972) “What consumerism means for marketers”, Harvard Business Review 50(3), 48-57