author: Breda Bizjak
magazine: Kontrast Magazine
volume title: Transformation
volume: 01/07, March 2007, pg.134-135


In the current discourse on transformations let us briefly focus on growing importance of body care, obsession with the body and predomination of the visual-external, the corporeality, and different ways in which these phenomena impact the common comprehension of the space, besides human bodies. Evaluation of the body is taking over the field of aesthetics adding it a superficial connotation.  

On the other side, taking care of the body, in the sense of maintaining and sport activities, presents the only way of filtering the physical and psychical endurance, in today's stressful environments.

Finally, reaching the category of beauty is the highest quality to most of creatively involved professionals. However, this fertile ground made possible for terms like "style" and "lifestyle" to appear, thus imposing deformed and emptied pseudo principles and destroying real self-expression. What we have today is an illusion of creativity and freedom of choice. Brainwashing trendsetting global machinery makes you to follow it's ways.

If we wanted to describe the current period with a single expression, we would certainly use “aesthetisation ”. If another one were to be added, we could not avoid “individualisation”. And a third one as the marketing response to the first two: “market niches”.

Human body, oppressed and disregarded throughout the western history especially among social circles inspired with catholic orthodoxy and in cultivated middle class, started to be recognized and valued when pluralistic postmodern period came along. The increase of the free time and leisure have developed a new practical philosophy of a lifestyle, which enforces hedonistic values and revolutionizes the view on aging phenomena and middle-aged people.

Postmodern conditions created a situation where individuality is thought to be maintained  by and through the public presentation of the body.

New living trend is implying changes of the working ethics, the shortening of the working week, the premature retirements and great accentuation on sports and recreation in all forms.

Consumer culture reinforced with television and film industries, advertising and press encourages the individual to adopt the instrumental strategies of contemporary society to improve the physical appearence and conquer the natural process of aging. Being old is not appropriate condition of today's lifestyle and the only way to overcome this inevitable consequences is to become subordinated to the mass - pilgrimage of body maintenance. Images of the body beautiful, openly sexual and associated with hedonism, leisure and display, emphasizes the importance of appearance and the "look".

The production of the good impression through the appearance and attractive life and style is getting ever more important for "personality".

Hedonistic-narcissistic personality appears as performing and representative-self in a new middle class of experts and managers, who have the time and the money to cultivate their personal performance. (1)

The fundamental accent is in active role of today's individual, who jogs, exercises, forms his body, climbs the mountains, jumps with a parachute or paraglides, participates in rafting, trekking and besides that, he skies and plays tennis. This is an individual who trains, maintains his body and prepares it for ever greater efforts because mass media implicate the idea that everything is possible. (2)

Yet, body is finite. On the other side, ideas, art, architecture are infinite, overcoming the process of decay and disappearance.

„Good impression" of an individual commands the attractiveness of one's home. It is a metter of prestige and reputation. A home has long been the place where individual has satisfied the basic needs of shelter, safety, affection and nourishment.

As for today, we can discusss a new need - a need for "best performance and representation" of the owner which is transforming a home into a stage, an enviable background for photo shooting.

Technologies and informations available through the means of mass media make the design process of the representable home very easy for him. Ofcourse, care for an "aesthetic" and organised household does not end with basic furnishing, it has now been "enriched" with leisure and work decorative gadgets. Fitness tools and computers have become status symbols of a well-formed and well-informed educated globetrotter. Decades ago, before popularisation of digital technology, the similar effect would have been accomplished with book shelves bought in kilograms.

In this scenario, architects are needed to reach the photogenic character of a space, an illusion of healthy, beautiful and successful middle class individual, to furnish him with all the "right" equipment from latest magazines.

The other day, an artist told me she was commissioned by an architect to paint a 2m x 2m painting in colour matching the clients sofa. By an architect?! Please!

After Duchamp's art revolution, anything goes for an art piece... why shouldn't than a multifunctional fitness equipment be placed as a decorative element or a sculpture in everybody's sight, in the middle of the room?

Everything is being aesthetisized. Everything is being banalized and resumed to decoration. A vase doesn't hold flowers, a book is not read, a sofa is not been seated into, a light doesn't light and let's be honest, how regularly is fitness equipment really being used? This is a reality.

And architects are needed to materialize reality.