Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: ‘Creating with thumb, hand, head and heart versus robotics’

The odalisque-type figures lolling about on the pastel mosaic friezes of the Budapest Hall of Art appear idle, but the creative Hungarians whose minds envisioned items featured in the 2017 National Salon obviously have been working overtime during the past decade.

The salon we viewed in May, “All Around Us,” was organized around eight applied art and design areas. According to Erno Sara and Joszef Sherer, curators of the exhibition:

“The Art of Everyday Life, Inevitable Design” – we could add as an explanation, and as a subtitle in some cases. Both the title and the subtitle are accurate, since the displayed materials comprise artworks we live with, artworks that are part of our everyday life, objects that we use and that contribute to our everyday comfort….

Our material culture is characterized by explosive attitudinal and technological development…. Archaic techniques and futuristic concepts meet in a warm embrace here…. The futile opposition of Craft and Design are replaced in this exhibition by the nature and possibilities of their mutual interaction.

The architectural designs lining the streets of Budapest reflect a culture reverent of the importance of adding appealing embellishments. But Gyorgy Szego, the artistic director of the hall formally named Mucsarnok – Kunsthalle Budapest, sounds an alarm for the future:

Somewhat more than 150 years ago, the relation between objects and people became a key civilizational issue. Since then, with the exception of “periods of grace…,” creative masters making and using their own tools have been forced on the defensive. The vectors of the curve describing this trend point in the direction of robotisation in an ever-widening scope of products. Resolving the conflict that exists between machine and man, technology and nature has to this day been a recurring, heroic and convulsive challenge faced by architecture and the applied arts….

How can we continue if artificial intelligence overwrites everything? Will the thousands-of-years-old practice of creating with thumb, hand, head and heart versus robotics eventually bring about the end of human existence?

We both had our favorites. I so can picture this cheerful green cocktail pontoon lazily cruising in the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River. Or a spa or little sunbathing pontoon smoothly sailing out of a landing by Hotel Emma. The pontoon boats are electric, so they would be extremely quiet on their relaxing journeys. The collection was designed by Zoltan Peredy.

The Mister, on the other hand, was drawn to Peter Uveges’ metal and glass guitars. The slide and fretless guitars are designed to be particularly appropriate for playing the Delta blues.

Unfortunately, the explanations of his designs are in Hungarian, but the instruments speak for themselves:

During our wanderings throughout our stay in Budapest, the human element in design and invention seems well engrained in and safeguarded for the future by Hungarian culture.

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