What could it mean today to be modern, after the concept of modernism and its dark dialectic of enlightenment have been thoroughly discredited and its successors of postmodernism and post-postmodernism as well as various retro movements have also run its course? Or have we never been modern – yet? It is time to revitalize modernism’s old rallying cry of “Make it new!” and apply it to the notion of “being modern” itself. The ideas of the Bauhaus, once the epitome of modern lifestyle, are the starting point for reconsidering the concept of “being modern”. In its fourth year, the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 thus investigates past, present and future modes of being modern: as aesthetic practice and as structure of feeling, in digital culture as well as in architecture and urbanism, in the arts as well as in fashion, design or food culture.
Peak IndividualismHosted by Holm Friebe
If there was one single overarching megatrend of the 20th century, it was individualism. Ongoing individualization is at the core of Western Modernity, bridging 18th-century Enlightenment with the 19th-century Industrial Revolution and 20th-century Consumer Capitalism. It got, as Adam Curtis argues in his most recent movie-essay, another boost in the 1970s through “HyperNormalisation” and the age of Post-Politics. But – like oil consumption and the world-population – individualism can’t grow forever. Peak Individualism is nigh, if not yet passed. The very concept of individualism as a booster of “being modern” is under attack – not dead yet, but already smelling funny. On a broad scale – from Adam Smith’s prosperous egoism via the cultivation of elaborate individualistic taste toward Stanford’s new take on Californian Ideology called “DYL” (Design Your Life) – a growing minority is fed up with the selfish culture of narcissism and alternatives are surfacing. The hipsterish turnaround of “Normcore” – dressing up like “ordinary people” – might just be an ephemeral symptom of the erosion of Western Individualism. But the success story of 1.3 billion Chinese people rising from poverty pursuing a diverging path to social prosperity fueled by an aspirational lifestyle somewhere between social collectivism and luxury conformism can hardly be ignored and cries for interpretation and extrapolation. We humbly take up the challenge in this collectivist conference track.
Archive of previous Digital Bauhaus Summits