My esteemed colleague and I sardined ourselves into the back row of the first balcony of a jam-packed Bloor Cinema last night to watch the second screening of Objectified (“Helvetica 2.0”). I didn’t show up with a guerrilla action plan like last time.

It was OK, I guess.

People’s heads partially block the view of a film frame showing people walking down a cobbled street. Subtitle: The value, and especially the legitimization, of design

It wasn’t new and wondrous. (It couldn’t be. It’s a sequel.) It wasn’t replete with interstitial segments adeptly scored with well-chosen music. It had the same number of total bullshitters onscreen (Experimental Jetset last time, Dunne & Raby this). Despite repeated protestations to the contrary, it was all about twee “designed” objets, not true industrial design. If “everything is ‘designed,’ ” I really want to know who designed the original potato peeler, the one that hurt mumsy’s hands.

I was pleased, however, to watch as Smart Design revealed that the so-called universal design of the Oxo grip was in fact explicitly made for disabled people (arthritics). And it was a gotcha moment to watch designers paw through a box of failed handle prototypes, only to admit moments later they’d bought an off-the-shelf rubber bicyle handgrip and carved some slits into the side. Universal design is a myth and a fraud; there are inaccessible products and there are accessible products.

I was amazed to find out this town has so many fans of “design” that we could pack an entire movie house. But it seemed I was the only one in the vicinity who IDed designers’ and luminaries’ voices before they even hit the screen, including the only screamingly gay voice in the movie, Andrew Blauvelt’s. “Jonny” Ive looked and sounded fantastic, as ever, and, as ever, he dropped his favourite word, “bosses.” (Why does this guy drive a Rolls Phantom – to mix a metaphor, a favourite car of African cabinet ministers and Ben Affleck?)

I got home and read RSS with the TV on. Immediately a Volkswagen commercial ran. (Volkswagen: The Target of carmakers.) I thought it was an outtake from Objectified – the same cloudy-day lighting and low camera angle, the same moment-in-time contemplation of the designed object filmed in mild slomo. Helvetica and Objectified have a kind of replicable filmic style, a Gary Hustwit Effect.

Kurt Vonnegut used to complain that any reasonably clever college student could write his own Kurt Vonnegut novel, and in fact he received several Kurt Vonnegut novels in the mail every week. At this point, could any reasonably clever college student shoot his own Gary Hustwit documentary?

OBLIGATORY POSTSCRIPT: I assume the DVD release won’t have audio description and will have farmed out captioning to whatever “transcription house” swings Plexifilm the best deal. God lives in the details, Gary.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.05.05 10:49. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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