Inter-standardized

 

An image essay on standardization + Installation art

Digital Print on Tyvek, 48 pages

2019 October

Konrad Wachsmann invented the universal wedge connectors after the second world war with an ambition to provide affordable, prefabricated houses. That effort has been prolonged till now, for instance, by IKEA that designed modular refugee shelters. The idea itself is very modern: to design something perfectly universal that can work everywhere. Yet I see a big postmodern aspect in what can be followed by this. Universal connectors connect different objects as long as they share the same connection part, regardless of where they are from, in which cultural context they were used. Then a new context emerges accordingly from the connection. This is an instance of cultural eclecticism that is one of the traits of postmodernism.

 

IKEA is the company that approached the closest from the idea of universal connector that Konrad Wachsmann envisioned. By having a very clear standard on their products, most of their parts are connectable with each other. This enabled creative individuals to appropriate the company’s user manual and build what they want, with an iconic hexagonal Allen key. This can be done not only with IKEA’s products but also their images. The strict graphic language that every image made by IKEA follows is often appropriated for parody. By adding bold Futura title and indicating numbers of the screws needed, every image will imply that they are available at IKEA in a flat pack, like any other IKEA furniture. The products of these appropriations consist of pieces of debris that are decontextualized from what IKEA intended: a chair can be made from the part that is designed for a lamp. And all of these were possible because IKEA made their parts universally connectable. By its nature, universal connectors must be reproduced more than a certain quantity. In other words, it’s repeated, therefore universal. And eventually, it enables itself to expand limitlessly.

The idea of this publication was recontextualized into installation art that primarily took place in my domestic space, then presented in an exhibition.

Witte Dame space, 18th December 2019

©2020 by Noam Youngrak Son.

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