Chapter 1 Improvement
Launch Event: 6-8.30pm Wednesday 4 December / All Welcome
In Conversation with Committee: 5.30pm Wednesday 11 December / All Welcome
What would it mean to design or manufacture with no society to serve or sell to?
What might happen to the pursuit of function or beauty if neither trade nor fashion existed?
In an effort to imagine this scenario, Committee have conjured the story of The Last Man – the final, lone member of humanity – who gamely continues to design and build his own material world, free from societal norms or constraints of time. There has been no disaster, the buildings still stand, the shelves are stacked, but there are simply no other people. Putting his grief aside The Last Man looks to the future with optimism, re-constructing his environment by adapting the objects around him to best suit his own practical, intellectual and emotional needs.
Chapter 1: Improvement is a participatory experiment to produce the objects of The Last Man by combining the views, tastes and skills of multiple collaborators, in an effort to simulate his profound freedom. Rather than an examination of post-apocalyptic living, The Last Man provides an opportunity to reflect upon the role of design and manufacturing in today’s consumer society, and the purpose of material wealth.
From 5 until 21 December, Gallery visitors are invited to borrow an object from The Last Man‘s collection, make an improvement to it of whatever kind, and return it the following day. The object is then available to be chosen by another participant, whose improvement may alter previous work. Exactly what constitutes ‘improvement’ is the fundamental question at play. Individual contributions are anonymous, voluntary and impermanent, but each will be documented and published online at www.thelastman.org in a visual log of up to two years of The Last Man‘s solitary, yet hopeful, acts of labour and imagination.