the medium is the message

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Article by John Fleming and Marian Bradshaw

M
arshall McLuhan’s pithy formula–“the medium is the message”–has become an ever-present cliché of the electronic age. This prescient concept can also be applied to the much longer human history of the decorative arts by a simple linguistic sleight of mind–“the material is the message.” In this issue our contributors explore the …

music and the decorative arts

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Article by John Fleming and Marian Bradshaw

C
an music be included among the decorative arts? Perhaps not. Yet the instruments that make non-vocal music possible, from the simple reed flute of some shepherd or mythical satyr to the polyphonous instruments of the major western orchestras, have always attracted the decorative impulses of great and humble artisans alike. And …

history and art

Best Before

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Article by John Fleming and Marian Bradshaw

I
n a world of commodification, history and art become commercial products subject to the extremes of the marketplace- a lock of Napoleon’s hair, a fragment of Nelson’s uniform up for auction, the funerary detritus of ancient tombs on display for the price of admission as a Sunday afternoon entertainment.…