A while ago I saw an interview with Brian Eno where he talked about how once human society had reached a point where our basic survival needs were being me then we begin a process of ornamentation in life (I’m probably paraphrasing here as it is from a reasonably distant memory).
In the interview he essentially implied that ornamentation covers all of art, style, music, culture etc – books, albums, hairstyles, clothing design, exhibitions etc – they’re all a form of ornamentation.
(This is a theme that he expanding on in his 2015 BBC Music John Peel Lecture – that art was everything we don’t need to do.)
I was recently thinking about this lecture again and how broadcast towers, telegraph poles and electricity pylons could be considered a form of accidental folk-art (see here for notes and scribings on such things) or also a form of pragmatic ornamentation.
This made me think of the phrase “pragmatic ornamentation” – building and maintaining broadcast towers, pylons etc are things that we need to do (at least we need to do them in order to maintain society and its infrastructure at a certain level) but there is also the element of design, beauty, appreciation to them – utilitarian accidental folk-art is another phrase that could be used.
If such structures/constructions/creations can be seen as such, as “pragmatic ornamentation” then they are quite possibly a section of our endeavours that straddles the above definition of art and need.
You could place something like say cutlery in a similar bracket but here I think broadcast towers, telegraph poles and electricity pylons I think differ – cutlery, even at it’s most basic often has a more overt element of deliberate aesthetic design and intention than the sentinels / senders and societal threading nodes in question.
Despite, if living upon these shores, most probably already having paid a yearly stipend for such things, Mr Eno’s lecture can nolonger be viewed and perused in its original cathode ray transmission form but fortunately it can still be read in electronic black and white here.
Further perusing of Airwaves notes, scribings and audiological transmissions can be carried out here.