The reform movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
reacted to Industrialisation in two ways. Traditionalist
movements such as Arts & Crafts in Britain sought to reject the
dehumanising lifestyle and low-quality products of industrialisation
and to return to the values and styles of an idealised pre-industrial
past. Progressive movements such as Bauhaus in Germany sought to
embrace the efficient lifestyle and affordable products of
industrialisation in and to move on to an idealised social future. These social
agenda went hand-in-hand with each movements’ aesthetic agenda, each
seeking to improve material and social forms by their intervention.

Post-Industrialism has led to the rise of contemporary reform
movements, similarly concerned with rejecting or embracing the
aesthetic and mode of production of the day.

Anti-globalisation seeks to return the first world to a romanticised
pre-branding past with an aesthetic of genuine, unmediated
first-order experience and social exchange and space whilst bringing
the third world out of poverty. But as offshoring gains pace the
anti-globalisation dream of removing the intrusion of branding into
everyday life and levelling living conditions around the world may be
realised only ironically.

The Open Source movement seeks to alter the ownership and rewards of
technological production and distribution, with anything beyond a
rough and ready functionalist aesthetic undetermined outside of
software development. Open Source is a flexible model that can be
applied to areas outside of software engineering and the media. Anything
that can be designed or distributed can be open sourced, with
competition based on quality of manufacture, delivery or support.

Open Source, then is a model that can and must be applied to the
production of social and aesthetic forms as well as technological
ones. Open Source is a redistribution of capital (or at least value), but
distributed and voluntary rather than centralised and
imposed. How this will look has yet to be decided. Hopefully without a
centralised bureaucracy to impose a “Socialist Realism” or yBA-style kitsch
aesthetic the results will be vital.

Posted in Aesthetics