New IDer: Daniel Erwin

by New Idiom


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Please quickly introduce yourself in a quick sentence.

I’m 24, in foundation, and aiming for a focus in planning.

Married?

Today I passed a teenager on the street with a shirt that said, “Game over” underneath a picture of a bride and groom. This sums up my attitude, though it’s possible that some woman will distract me from the game long enough to snatch away my victory.

Politics?

We always expect the next great leader to make the government work perfectly and to behave himself, as well. In Europe, they have been electing and otherwise giving power to politicians for over 2000 years and nobody has even come close there either. I think the only workable system would be to mandate a complete dismantling of the government every 100 years. Instead of just re-electing the leaders every few years, we’d have to re-confirm the structure of the whole political system on a regular basis.

Religion?

Epiphenomenalism asserts that God, consciousness, and the sensation of control are just byproducts of physical processes. Mind is not a cause of anything and has no effects on the world. It’s like foam on top of a wave—it can be ignored without losing the overall experience of swimming in the ocean.

How did you end up at ID? What were your motivations for coming? Where were you before?

I found out about industrial design when I stumbled on some design museums in Europe. When I was an art major in undergrad, I took two months to see all the museums I could stomach, and in Berlin, Copenhagen, and some other northern countries I found exhibits containing amazing artifacts bridging the vast spaces between art, mass-production, and consumerism. They focused on everything from bridges to cheese slicers to the layout of entire cities. When I realized that there was a single discipline that could qualify me to work with Lego one year and with Boeing the next, I was immediately committed to industrial design. I asked around about where to go to learn industrial design and a professor told me about ID. The website talked about bringing together people from different backgrounds, which I see as the single most effective method of ensuring social progress, and I knew I wanted to be here.

What are your first impressions about ID?

The work isn’t as demanding as I had hoped, but maybe the foundation teachers are just trying not to scare us off. I am surprised that most of the students seem well-balanced and socially adept, despite being brilliant. The best part is that everyone seems just as lost and confused as I am, and this doesn’t stop them from offering advice as to how to get there.

What do you think you could bring to the people here at ID? (culturally, socially, etc.)

I am a glassblower, and if anyone wants to pay for studio time I’ll give lessons or assist. Also, I devote a lot of my time to tangential thinking, so if you want a break from talking about what’s reasonable, possible, or even sane, then you can find me on the third floor.

Is there anything from your home that you think people should not miss?

Texas isn’t my favorite place in the world, but it has its charms: chili, barbecue, and Austin.

Which designers/thinkers have impressed you the most lately or you are following now?

Buckminster Fuller is my favorite because he had the ability to ignore all emotion, intuition, and other subjective or human factors and focus like a laser beam on function and efficiency. Morris Klein and Douglas Hofstadter, and a few other writers on the philosophy of science have led me to a more structured way of thinking about creativity and the evolution of the arts. Their most important insight, however, is that mathematics is subjective and can be used to prove whatever one can conceive of.

What are the websites you could not live without?

PBFComics.com
LucidTV.com
Technologyreview.com
aljazeera.com - for a different perspective on current events

What kinds of activities are you planning to do in your free time (in case you have any) while at ID?

I’ve got a stack of books on philosophy, a bunch of blank paper for drawing, and four half-conceived novels all waiting to be finished at my apartment. But I’ll probably just wander around and look at all the musuems.