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The Playground of the In-Between

Source collection of The Playground of the In-between


Philosopher Martin Buber published ‘Ich und Du’ in 1923, in which he accentuates the ‘in between space’, a dimension in which ‘being with the other’ manifests itself. Aldo van Eyck (1918-1999) designed as a starting architect 760 children’s playgrounds, in which his great strength immediately emerged: he could empathize with the feelings of the users, small or large. Based on the philosophy of Martin Buber, Van Eyck conceived the ‘in-between’ as the common ground where contradictory polarities (such as subject and object, inner and outer reality, small and large, open and closed, part and whole) can once again become twin phenomena: Van Eyck embraces the relativity of everything; everything must be related to each other in a reciprocal way. See also: The Masonic Lobby.

Jan Bons

Jan Bons is characterized by the symbiosis of commitment and fantasy. Bons came up with new images, behind reality. A paragon of freedom and independence, which acted as an independent artist and not as an accomplice of a client: “The only way to transcend mediocre work, talentless clients and uninspired is social engagement.”

Gert Dumbar

“I chose that form at the time to protest against the exaggerated, almost religious respect with which Mondrian was treated on posters and in publications.” Gert Dumbar’s complex and staged images appealed to the feeling, caused confusion or caused irritation. They were seldom unambiguous, explored the limits of legibility and took “time” from the viewer.

Jean François van Royen

Starting at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Dutch Postal Services strove for fine designs for all their activities; it was the first state-owned enterprise to pursue such a policy. Stamps played an important role in this respect, together with advertisements, mailboxes and furniture. Jean François van Royen, a man of many talents, is credited with initiating this policy. He was of the opinion that the state ought to play an active, educating role in society, particularly with regard to design.

Democratic Enlightenment

In Democratic Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel demonstrates that the Enlightenment was an essentially revolutionary process, driven by philosophical debate. Israel demonstrates the vital connections between the French Revolution and the Enlightenment, best characterized as the quest for human amelioration occurring between 1680 and 1800. Driven principally by ‘philosophy’, leading to revolutions in ideas and attitudes first, and actual practical revolutions second, or else the other way around, both sets of revolutions seeking universal recipes for all mankind and, ultimately, in its radical manifestation, laying the foundations for modern basic human rights and freedoms in representative democracy.

Jan Van Toorn

The work of Jan van Toorn observes, memorizes, improvises, varies, plays; it disconnects elements and reconnects them in a new context, to elicit an active interpretation from the viewer. It leaves all options open for interpretation; it invites us to reflect, to think along, to add, to complete. While graphic design often does little more than give visual form to the status quo, Van Toorn focused on meaning rather than smooth stylistic expression and developed critical alternatives to the usual design conventions. Van Toorn aligned himself with the reflexive tradition of art and communication exemplified by Brecht and Godard.

El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky did not make static, finished works. His creativity was dynamic, public, full of plans and projects, full of life. In addition to being a painter, graphic artist, designer of architecture, furniture, books and posters, writer, photographer and tireless traveler, he was also a true mediator between the culture of Soviet Russia and Western Europe. Inspired by innovations in technology and science, the artist searched for a new, revolutionary visual language in the 1920s. In doing so, they wanted to depict a utopian reality. In Russia in particular, artists use this visual language to build a new socialist society.

Viktor Shklovsky

The term “defamiliarization” was first coined in 1917 by Viktor Shklovsky in his essay “Art as Device”, as a means to “distinguish poetic from practical language on the basis of the former’s perceptibility. Essentially, Shklovsky states that poetic language is fundamentally different than the language that we use every day because it is more difficult to understand: “Poetic speech is formed speech. Prose is ordinary speech – economical, easy, proper. The goddess of prose is a goddess of the accurate, facile type, of the “direct” expression of a child”. This difference is the key to the creation of art and the prevention of “over-automatization,” which causes an individual to “function as though by formula”. This distinction between artistic language and everyday language, for Shklovsky, applies to all artistic forms.

The Revolt of the Masses

In his The Revolt of the Masses (1929) Ortega Y Gasset traces the genesis of the “mass-man” and analyzes his constitution, en route to describing the rise to power and action of the masses in society. Ortega is throughout critical, contrasting “noble life and common life” and excoriating the barbarism and primitivism he sees in the mass-man. Ortega states that the mass-man could be from any social background, but his specific target is the bourgeois educated man, the señorito satisfecho, the specialist who believes he has it all and extends the command he has of his subject to others, contemptuous of his ignorance in all of them.

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