Moholy-Nagy in Motion: Re-designing an Intellectual and Cultural Legacy
In the frameworks of contemporary design capitalism design is generally understood as the chief booster of profit maximization whereas leading Bauhausler, László Moholy-Nagy, always regarded it as a fundamental means of the practical criticism of capitalist production system. Likewise, he is often considered as a pioneering design promoter of capitalism even though he proved to be its sharp-eyed critic understanding very early the potential of design to humanize capitalism and decrease alienation. His heterodox vision of designing – not a profession, but an attitude – shows how he conceived of the idea of integral human instead of sector-like human beings nurtured by capitalism. As he put it in his Vision in Motion, “all problems of design merge into one great problem: »design for life«.” No matter how apocalyptic it may sound, today, design for life is nothing else than design for survival, searching for answers to lead us out of the consequences of global ecological, cultural and social crises of the unsustainable posthuman condition.
The editors wish to emphasize the importance and relevance of Moholy-Nagy’s cinematic work within this context, and suggest a critical analysis of his films from at least three perspectives: the role of projection and the notion of Lichtraum within his art theory, the aesthetic value of his films in the context of experimental film and expanded cinema, and the political aspect of his filmmaking and his links to leftist film movements.
On the occasion of his birth anniversary, the next issue of Disegno will be dedicated to the critical re-interpretation of the legacy of László Moholy-Nagy and to the memory of Victor Margolin, editorial board member of Disegno. The goal is to provide options for understanding the relevance of Moholy-Nagy’s ideas and activities as designer, artist and design educator within a contemporary design cultural context. However, this issue also aims to assess his legacy in the widest sense, welcoming papers on design culture topics that do not closely investigate his contribution, but analyse processes, practices, discourses, products, services in the spirit of his philosophy.
We suggest the following topics, but welcome any relevant approach to the issues outlined above:
- design: a tool for criticising capitalism then and now
- a design history / intellectual history of the oeuvre
- a critical assessment of Moholy-Nagy’s concepts and approaches
- what does ”design for life” mean today?
- socially engaged design in relation to the legacy
- Moholy-Nagy as design educator – education in his vein today
- criticism of current trends of social design in the light of Moholy-Nagy’s thoughts
- relevant questions of design semiotics and product semantics
- Victor Margolin’s approach to Moholy-Nagy
Those interested in publishing a research paper (5-7000 words), an essay (c. 3000 words) or a book / exhibition / film review (c. 2000 words)
are asked to submit the following
- an abstract (300 words),
- major bibliographic references (3-5)
- a short bio (150 words).
The deadline for abstract submissions is 10th March 2021, an answer on acceptance will be provided in early spring, and final manuscripts will be asked for mid-May 2021.