"Entropy is Just a Lack of Storage Options"
Opening: Wednesday 29 June, 6-8pm
Dates: 29 Jun–16 Jul 2016
A place for transacting abstractions
The office in its short evolution has adopted every kind of communication abstraction. Resultantly, we are concerned with reality simulation. The management of symbolic representation of reality is the function of offices.
— Robert Propst, The Office: a facility based on change (Zeeland, MI: H. Miller, 1968).
Robert Propst was the first director of the Herman Miller research department. Tasked with extending the American furniture manufacturer’s designs into creative problem solving, Propst began to redirect standard office designs to account for what he saw as the two primary functions of offices: information organisation and communication management. Propst was focused on creating a structure that could effectively respond to change, whose modular components could be reorganised and personalised according to each individual worker’s needs, as well as providing the optimum middle ground between open and closed space. Propst’s vision was firmly based on the ability of physical forms to positively effect behaviour.
Of course with each iteration things do change, and Propst’s 1964 bespoke Action Office system was redesigned in 1968 into Action Office 2, a cheaper and easier to manufacture furniture system. In the time since, selective imitation has resulted not just in the creation of the office cubicle, but also reactionary open plan ‘creative’ offices, and progressively the dissolution of the workspace into casual ‘work-from-home’ arrangements. Propst’s originally non-sensical proposition now seems less ludicrous, perhaps even ubiquitously absorbed. Don’t PR, social media, and intermediary services all claim to manage the symbolic representation of reality?
Marnie Edmiston is a visual artist based in Melbourne.