the comparison between art and design

By way of generalization it can be said that the comparison between art and design reveals not only two fields between which there is no meaningful overlap, but also that these fields belong to logical types of different levels. To make the difference between art and design as pronounced as possible I will first stress the pobrization characterizing the central teikencies of each of these two realms of human activity, and only aftenvards mill I show where the connection between them is to be found . Just as the evolutionary connections between design and art were already established in the furthest reaches of human evolution, so too were the profound differences between them_ I therefore propose beginning there, at the beginning The most conspicuous difference immediately evident there is that between the designer as toolmaker and the artist as not ator. Evolution required two to three million years to bring man from the one stage to the next. The ordinary use of stones to break something, or as a digging implement, and later the intentional selective alteration of
the stones shape to adapt it to its function, as a hand axe, for example, all represent extensions of the hand. Painting by contrast is an extension of the brain. The paintings on rocks and in caves were man’s first attempts to preserve information outside his skull by means of symbolization or pictorial notation. They were the first attempt to build and preserve personal memory outside the organic biain, thereby transforming personal memory into a collective asset and collective memory.

A number of profound differences between the two domains follow from this difference. One of these domains is instrumental while the other is cognitive. One gives man a means for acting in the world, the other gives him a means for constructing reality itself through images, symbols, theories etc. and for constructing connections among the things in the world (things, the relations among them, and their meaning are all modes of connection in the world). One deals with the organisation of material and the articulation of objects, the other deals with the organisation of symbols and systems of symbols. One concretizes an image or symbol, the other symbolizes the concrete. One concretizes order, the other deals with invention, depiction. or the metaphorizing of relations of order. One effects changes in concrete states of affairs, the other effects changes in states of mind. One is intended for use, the other is intended for reading, communication and preservation of information. Or more generally. design moves from unity to multiplicity, from consciousness to reality, from the abstract to the concrete, from the general to the particular, while art and the other cognitive fields move in the very, opposite direction.

These domains represent different and opposite directions of thought the basic thought processes in design and technology are for the most part deductive. for they derive an object from an image, concept, plan, or theory. On the other hand. the mode of thought manifested in art is fundamentally inductive, classificatory, and generalizing. Already at this stage it is clear that the differences between design and art are in the broad sense the same differences as exist between design or technology on one hand, and science, philosophy or any other high level cognitive activity on the other .

The focus of comparison at this stage is the object as compared to the symboL Objects are always discrete, specific particulars, which are not necessarily related. Symbols. on the other hand, are never discrete or contingently related. Each symbol is always a universal (verbal or pictorial) and necessarily related to other symbols as a node in a network. Each symbol or concept exists only as “a node in a network of contrasting concepts and its meaning is fixed by its peculiar place within that network” (Churchland, 1984, p. 80). The connections and interrelations among objects are always spatio-temporal and mechanistic.

Leave a Reply