The Revenge of Kitsch

[Chapter for essay on Design, the “D” word – in progress.
So much more on the subject, just not right now.]


Kitsch shall swing periodically onto focus and the world will keep on turning, and somehow incorporate/psycho-analyse the occurrence – yet in these times of acceleration by fractal choice, the vapid waste of pure thought is heart-breaking. So much technology, so little relevance: there is nothing to be said about kitsch, its essence a void of dense paralysis. Turbo silicone coreographies courtesy of lip-synching suburbanites, come rain or shine. Come Christmas time, a parade of readily rehearsed youth will smear their steroid-fueled health literally in the face of the bed-ridden, an obscenity broadcast live on Portuguese TV, all involved seemingly oblivious to the irony. “Hey, dying man, check out these biceps!”… They call it “The Christmas of Hospitals”, and indeed, once upon a time it was – immersed in guilt and ambivalent self-pity, “we are all in that bed” – now a violent tyranny of euphoria vicariously and un-interestedly consumed as the noise it is.

As one types, the municipality of Vila da Feira readies itself for what will possibly be their largest endeavour ever… yet: the creation of a Medieval Theme Park, permanent inheritor of the regular Medieval theme fairs that have regularly brought business to the land. One slight issue: the reconstruction lacks any actual relation to the historical reference, save for the term. Just make it all a bit brute, and we’re on: kitsch has always been the oblivious absence of context, just as it has always been the exhaustion of discovery.

One step higher in the design ladder (i.e. what the metal can afford in terms of distancing from the masses, as wisdom surely seems to play no significant role), a parade of self-professed genius, a self-rewarding “Oscar” community self-re-asserting a profoundly entrenched paradigm of supposed taste and sophistication. No harm done, it is a fine game and a legitimate construction as far as entertainment goes, yet as an actual contextual learning tool, a humble lesson on authenticity, the ambivalence of taste and the dynamics of human creativity, more shall be learned so much more from one of “top ten worst” lists of various kinds, than can be learned from Creative Review’s April 2011 issue on the top 20 logos of all time. Not to say Creative Review does not fulfill its role, yet the landscape is beginning to feel rather more relevant elsewhere. Sophistication suddenly the ultimate kitsch: was is ever anything else?


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