Liam DEE

Making radical theory pay: What is the use of edgy research?


Despite the humanist ideals surrounding art and design pedagogy a tension persists between critical speculative experimentation and providing technical skills for entertainment/communication functionalism. In this relationship radical theory is always a secondary partner that is tolerated as long as it does not take up valuable resources or fundamentally contradict state-corporate utility.

Yet this talk will investigate the ways in which radical art and design theory is being made more useful for the marketplace, not because radical critique has any real value for prospective employers but because the aura of revolutionary dissent is so eminently marketable. Particular attention will be paid to the way in which the radical anti-capitalism of Situationist theory has been domesticated and become foundational to the ‘edginess’ of contemporary design practice. The question will then be asked about the possibilities of art and design teaching going beyond the legitimation of ‘acceptable resistance’.

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Liam DEE:

Liam Dee is a lecturer in design history and theory at the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia. He recently completed his doctoral thesis on aesthetics, art and globalised commodity style from the Department of Critical and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University and his current research interests include design and entropy, negations of art, and anarchist critiques of work culture.