Keith Bormuth
Keith Bormuth


January 2014

Robert Barry's Intertia

“The release of five measured volumes of odorless, colorless, noble gasses into the atmosphere in various locations surrounding Los Angeles, where they would diffuse and expand naturally into infinity.” Robert Barry, Inert Gas Series, 1969.

The thing about product design is that it’s a constant performance. It undulates. After some seasoning, I’ve found it to be something most like Robert Barry’s Inert Gas Series, and less like a design adaptation of Agile software methods. Mix Paolo Virno’s idea of virtuosity in Post-Fordist capitalism with Sol Lewitt, and you’ll have a good sample. If the function within American Conceptualism could be utilized and molded into an assembly line, distributed and tested (hauntingly), it would resemble the current creative structure of product design. Also, it perhaps is as equally unconscious to its interior conception of politics, and because of this, of its political objectivity. That is, there isn’t a strain of product design that is looking to seriously critique itself or its limitations yet, or to trace what it is fully doing to human consciousness as it erects new behavioral civilizations. Neither discipline will be happy with this description.