Focus Less


In what follows, members of ZHdK reveal what they associate with less, this issue’s focal theme. Their approaches are very different. One thing, though, is certain: less is a quantitative criterion only at first glance. Those who let themselves be guided by less are often looking for the essence of a field — whether in music, design, art, or education. Less becomes a quality because it admits concentration and depth and stimulates creativity.

Musicologist Jörn Peter Hiekel shows how groundbreaking works can emerge from applying reduction as an artistic strategy; his examples include composers like John Cage, Arvo Pärt, and Alvin Lucier. The popular dictum “less is more” can be deceptive, says cultural critic Jörg Scheller, who explores the rebound effect in his essay “More is more.” What was once observed in a coal mine can also be transferred to Andy Warhol’s Factory and the contemporary art scene.

M-Budget and Prix Garantie: “Anti-design for the consumer world” deals with minimalistically designed packaging for consumer goods that stand out among their colourful competitors. Simplicity is also the paramount concern of Alain Schibli’s do-it-yourself pinball machine. The ZHdK graduate has freed its design from noise and light and considers the outcome a plea for playing.

The interview with Benjamin Frey reveals what an artist’s mind makes of the subject of less on a ten-day journey from Zurich to Kyoto.

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Caroline Süess is head of PR and Media at ZHdK University Communication.
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