[This illustration is a part of my Solana NFT Collection on exchange.art ]

TL;DR : Forbidden Design + Occultism ≈ Use value maxxing.

There were two major steps in my journey as a designer: my encounter with Cody Wilson’s work and my reading of Marx’s “Das Kapital”. I will delve more into the former in this blog post, but first, I need to explain Marx’s concept of “use value”.

Use value is essentially the purest interface between designer and consumer, represented by the amount of money that the consumer is willing to pay for the product created by the designer. With this definition in mind, a design school could be reduced to just a room of 3D printers and a Shopify frontend, with a smart contract minting design degrees on the blockchain for the most successful product designers. It would be the purest extrapolation of design = use value.

However, design schools have their own raison d’être, their own value to maximize: the informational value, comprised of photos, PowerPoint presentations, theses, conferences, and videos—anything that promotes the school and thus attracts what is vital to it: new students and subsidies. Human-centered design was school-centered design all along.

And if we could learn a lesson from Cody Wilson’s 3D gun enterprise*, it is that not only is use value something alien to informational value, but informational value and use value can be negatively correlated. Guns, Bitcoin, AI, micro-nuclear reactors: the more you maximize use value, the more backlash it generates on the informational plane.

In this particular example, the dynamic of information parasitizing the design process is artificial, resulting from the steering of institutions and legacy media. But it could also be organic, with no apparent human actors. In his recent conference on Plasticity, Wilson talked about the events that led to the arrest of J. Stark and other developments in the 3D gun printing scene. In this very organic way, as if pushed by algorithms themselves, members of the scene were caught in a reckless urge to craft Twitter personas, which, given the nature of their project, could only lead to a series of arrests and other legal troubles. To use Wilson’s words: “Plasticity has led us to impotence”.

Social media became a parasite rather than a means, algorithmically undermining the design process for the sake of its own information production. This is where the word “hype” comes from: it is an informational hyper-virus**, designed to reproduce in human brains as fast as possible before the designed object is eventually launched. It craves singularity for the postponement of its death, materialized by the product finally being shipped to consumers.

But how to escape this great evil of information? The response is both obvious and counter-intuitive: the Occult Designer needs to engage himself in a process of destruction of information. 4chan and Bitcoin are great examples of this design process: obscuring names and identities to escape the slavery of information production and eventually produce the great creative works of our century.

* To learn more about Cody Wilson and its philosophy, I really recommend the excellent documentary Jessica Solce, Death Athletic.

** This idea is developed in Nick Land’s Hypervirus.


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