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Visit Exhibition Collections Calendar Education
Issue 15
June 2016 - November 2016
Dissemination and Diffusion between the Spaces
Nathalie Cohen / September 19 2016

"L'écriture ne commence que lorsque le langage, retourné sur lui-même, se désigne, se saisit et disparaît" (Maurice Blanchot) [1]



The exhibition nendo: the space in between provides us with infinite wandering experiences. The most interesting (and challenging) is probably by diffusing and getting lost, especially if we follow Jacques Derrida's concept of ‘dissémination'.
The term ‘dissémination' first appeared in Derrida's writings in 1969 in analysis of novels within literary criticism. It was presented as an open system of differences and additions, as semantic polysemy (multiple meanings that are also related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field). In fact, the concept of ‘dissémination' opens up the contextual web and gently proposes breaking the boundaries of the text. It is a striving toward multiple meanings in sensory experience, creating an infinite number of continuous manipulative-emotive effects without simple present or origin.
According to Derrida, language in itself is diffused, and absence is inherent in it. The notion of ‘dissémination' began from the dissemination of terms in a dictionary, when the meaning and definition of a word refers us to multiple contexts and synonyms. In fact, the French word ‘dissémination' alludes to a connection between the wasteful dissemination of semantic meanings, signs, and disseminating imagined and random semantics.
If we borrow this reading for the purpose of a reading of design and a comparison with the process of understanding the sensory experience in the Museum and its exhibits, Derrida would have no doubt suggested that the reading and interpretation of the object not be closed - neither in structure nor in the limits of its possible interpretations. For example, in the process of cataloguing the content of the exhibition, all the information is diffused into tags, materials, locations, names, definitions, years, different languages, and a wide range of parameters typifying the character and content of the exhibits. Every box in the exhibition holds the possibility of accelerating potential triggers for perceptual experiences and different thoughts. Even after three months, during which the exhibition has been showing, the dissemination process continues to replicate itself between the boxes.
The epitome of dissemination is clearly revealed in rain bottle for which the multiple words for rain in Japanese served as the inspiration for their visual representation in the transparent bottles. Maya Dvash, the Museum's editor-in-chief and acting chief curator, describes the experience of translating the content for this exhibit as a powerful one for a Hebrew language editor. Thus for example, in the Design Detectives tour the children are asked to invent new words in Hebrew for sun and expand the dictionary definitions that often seem limited to us. This is also one of the intentions of nendo chief designer Oki Sato, to accentuate for us the doorways to imagination and stretch the edges of our curiosity.

Rain bottle | Photographer: hiroshi iwasaki

Dissemination also dwells in products that simultaneously serve a number of different functions in different areas. For example, MINIM+AID, a cylindrical container resembling an architect's blueprint holder, which contains a variety of useful and surprising accessories such as a radio, a first aid kit, a smartphone charger, a compartment to store a thin raincoat, a lantern, and a water container. Development of this product stemmed from an experience of shortage, and the need for an emergency kit that provides solutions in moments of crisis (natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods, which are a real threat in Japan). This compact object provides diverse possibilities; different parts of it can be used each time and additional, unpredictable uses can be found as well. Perhaps even a thermos for coffee? This is precisely what ‘dissémination' proposes: extending a product's potential in all directions. Here, ‘dissémination' functions as a game that prevents formalization of the object's meaning into a single, clear product, and seemingly seeks to accentuate its inexhaustible wealth of functionality.

MINIMּּּ+AID | Photographer: masaya yoshimura

The concept of ‘dissémination' also appears in shivering-bowls, which were designed for the KAMA: Sex & Design exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan and explored ideas of Eros in design. These are extremely thin bowls made of silicon that resemble ceramic bowls, but challenge perception due to the extreme thinness that would be impossible to achieve with clay. The design evokes desire in viewers who cannot touch the bowls' delicate quivering movement, but which possibly dissipates from the eyes of viewers passing by this movement.

Shivering bowls | Photographer: Hiroshi_Iwasaki

Something else happens when the bowls reveal choreographic motion of chaos theory. After close scrutiny of the bowls, can the evolution of their movement be predicted in the long term? Are the conditions influencing their movement fixed in the space? Which elements are involved in creating the circular movement - the movement of the fan, the temperature of the air conditioner, the supple silicone? Ostensibly, the bowls are always standing on the white platform, but at the same time they move and turn due to the fan-generated wind caressing the elastic silicone. Their edges grow infinitely, their movement is cyclical (but also semi-cyclical), and in fact it may be said that their movement is chaotic. The cyclical paths are crowded in the space to the extent of obtaining a fractal hue (metaphoric use of the word ‘fractal' with reference to form, but used here with reference to color-hue). This dissemination of the limits of silicone certainly creates bigger waves than The Great Wave off Kanagawa (a painting by renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai).

Photographer: Bozzo Mori

A final example is the tables in overflow collection. Here chaos is embodied in the free-flowing liquid of the tables. The plate glass is placed into a frame with one section missing, and the base of the tables is not definitive, diffusing toward the boundaries of the edges. How did nendo write this design? The notion of ‘dissémination' is also present in the composition of the sound accompanying the exhibition in the Upper Gallery. It gathers the visitors wandering nonchalantly between the boxes in the exhibition as if putting them into a repetitive trip in a retrospective showing works created in the thirteen years the studio has been operating.

overflow collection| nendo

From a poetic observation of the design experience in the nendo exhibition we can borrow Gaston Bachelard's spatial analysis by means of the shell concept with reference to the world of design. Although the field of design communicates with the world, it is still inclined to withdraw into itself, but also to constantly check what is happening outside. There is no doubt that studio nendo dialogues with literature, philosophy, and esthetics.
This essay seeks to borrow the literary importance of the concept of ‘dissémination' in the criticism of deconstruction toward a reading of the exhibition nendo: the space in between. ‘Dissémination' enfolds semantic criticism, innocent or not, of a simple, white, and ostensibly clean appearance. Thus, at first glance nendo's content appears minimalistic but contains complexity and sophistication of design, and a doorway to shibori adventurousness associated with the world of interpretation.
In this essay's opening quote, Maurice Blanchot claims that writing begins only when language, turned back upon itself, designates itself, seizes itself, and disappears. Thus, in my view, Oki Sato's absolute attentiveness is projected onto the bare-from-text boxes in accordance with the ‘White School'. The exhibition engages in everything that falls within these spaces of signs, meanings, and interpretations. Between the outside and the inside, between form and content [2].
In conclusion, an anecdote: The question of form and content resonates with Derrida's request that his face not feature on the covers of his books that would be printed after his death, to avoid the obvious iconic connection between his face and his writings. Like many writers' and authors' last wills, this was not fulfilled. Perhaps in these instances ‘dissémination' is concealed in the dance of the invisible spaces between the letters, in the air between the pages.




[1] "Writing begins only when language, turned back upon itself, designates itself, seizes itself, and disappears", The Infinite Conversation, 1969.
[2] "Between the outside and the inside, between the external and the internal edge-line, the framer and the framed, the figure and the ground, form and content, signifier and signified, and so on for any two-faced opposition", Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting. Chicago Press, p. 12.


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