Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cross-Disciplinary Cultural Movements

You've probably noticed that when some sort of artistic or literary movement takes hold, it often migrates into other fields, like the modernist movement, for example. Its influence spanned multiple disciplines, such as art, literature, design, poetry, and architecture. The same thing is true, to a greater or lesser extent, of the minimalist, post-modernist, and deconstructivist movements, and probably others as well. We see examples of those movements in art, literature, architecture, and design.

But there are some cultural movements that don't cross disciplines so well. I'm thinking in particular of dadaism and surrealism. They were firmly established in art and literature, as well as in the theater and movies, but they never crossed over into architecture and design, mostly for practical reasons, I imagine.

I'm not even sure what a surrealist house would look like, for example, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to live in one. And if I did, I'd definitely want to rent it instead of owning it.

First of all, if I owned it and wanted to sell it, I'd probably have a hard time finding a buyer. It's difficult enough selling a modernist house -- not because there's anything wrong with them, but because there's something wrong with the home-buying public. For the life of me, I don't know why a decade into the 21st century, people still want houses that look like they were made in the 18th century. I think it's because people are mostly ignorant and stupid. Or maybe they're just resistant to anything new, even if, as in this case, "new" means between 50 and 70 years old.

But I'm covering old ground here, so I'll move on to the second reason, which is that if I rented it, I could move out any time I wanted, and that might be important because I don't know how long I'd want to live there.

On the other hand, maybe I'd really love living in a surrealist house and I'd want to stay there forever. I can't really say, because, as I already mentioned, I don't even know what a surrealist house would be. The first thing that came into my mind were the buildings in the movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but I'd actually consider those buildings to be more like precursors of deconstructivist architecture, and the movie itself is an example of German expressionism. So maybe a surrealist house would have design motifs like the arms coming from the walls in Roman Polanski's Repulsion. Or maybe it would take its cue from some of the earlier films of Luis Buñuel and combine playful elements that seem to be pulled out of thin air. Maybe I'd really like living in a house like that.

As for what dadaist architecture and interior design would embody, I'm at even more of a loss. The house would obviously have to be some sort of non-house, and as for the furniture, I don't know, but it seems like sitting on a dadaist couch would probably be really uncomfortable, if not downright impossible.