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Graphic Design Discourse by Henry Hongmin Kim

Graphic Design Discourse by Henry Hongmin Kim

Author:Henry Hongmin Kim
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Published: 2018-03-25T16:00:00+00:00


The Party

Much has been written on the decline of the political party, and thus of the socialist project. But one factor that has been largely ignored is the transition from the written (flexible, decentralized, affordable) to the audio-visual (industrial, expensive); the diminishing stature of print and the modification of printing techniques. Photocomposition destroyed the last cultural bases of the workers’ movement; both the bookmakers’ craft and its traditional caste of pundits and commentators were rendered technologically redundant. Print lost its lead, the critical intellectual his milieu, socialist politics its reference; all three were thrown into crisis. If ‘the first freedom of the press is that it is not an industry’, it should be added that, from 1881 to 1970, the press was also an industry. Now it is an industry first and foremost. It is hard to conceive that, in 1904, Herr, Blum and Lévy-Bruhl—a librarian, a lawyer and an academic—could have launched a daily paper such as L’Humanité, with a first edition of 138,000 copies, on a single subscription drive of 850,000 francs. Media companies have changed their nature along with their size. The concentration of titles, the determining weight of advertising budgets and the size of investment needed have pushed the price of a newspaper directorship well beyond the wallet and technical capacities of a handful of penniless intellectuals.

The separation of the print producer from his means of production in the journalistic sphere coincides with that of theory from practice in the political domain. Although there are electoral machines—still called ‘parties’, out of inertia—that issue internal bulletins to their indifferent representatives, the arc that once linked action and the future, parties and intellectuals, has been broken. The parties have ceased to be issuers of alternative ideas, while writers and thinkers must throw in their lot with the broadcasting networks that have acquired an industrial and commercial life of their own, as foreign to intellectual creation as to utopian ideology. The shift from graphosphere to videosphere has dissolved the connection between the party’s technical base and its doctrinal logic. The distinction between left and right in politics relied upon a means of dissidence production: a craft-based network of newspapers, reviews, research institutes, book clubs, conferences, societies and so on. No class struggle without social classes; but no factional struggle without a clash of opinions, no politics without polemics; and no battle of ideas, when money has become the only sinew in the war of airwaves. In its stead comes the struggle of images and personalities, the battles of the scoop and the soundbite. No need for parties here.

The proceedings of socialist congresses were formerly published in full, six months later—those of the 1879 Congress of Marseille, which united the French workers’ movement, took up 800 pages—in a volume that would become the Bible until the next sitting. The political world has never seen as many forums, conferences, conventions as there are today, but you would search the bookshops in vain for their bound record. Participants ‘talk’ ideas as one talks clothes.



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