23 April, 2008

Fixing Capital in Art

Surely one of the weirdest cultural products of capitalism is character design and vinyl toys, collectible decorative plastic figurines.

Marxist Geographer,
David Harvey, proposes that capital must expand to new territories in order to 'fix' capital and maintain value.

Money has to go somewhere or it stagnates and deteriorates in value. What better way to eat up some value than by putting it in a toy? A toy can't be used for anything else - and these are not even meant to be played with - and design usually has a fairly short lifespan, so that value is actually eaten up and destroyed.

A generation of kids in the West grew up playing with Star Wars figures and watching cartoons. They communicated through that idiom, sothat instead of making art or pottery, they designed toys and characters.

As more and more areas of life have fallen under the ambit of design - which itself is a sales tool - the more design has become an end in itself.
In a way I think the vinyl toy fetish is revolting. Nothing could be more wasteful or self-indulgent and yet it is kind of the avant garde of popular culture and nothing expresses our cultural perspective like it.