The Problematic Discourse on "Philippe Starck’s" Delano Hotel (1999) - 2012 notes

N.B. 2012 In an academic context, I walked in aiming to pass, and I walked out with this study being awarded a Master’s distinction and the Boyd Prize for "most innovative" dissertation. The legal claims were made in consultation with a lawyer in practice, and a colleague with extensive experience in media relations in industry and UK government read through the entire text and commented and questioned certain bits which were incorporated into the final draft. I recall she said on occasion, "Won’t your academic readers know this? To me, this is common sense." Comments / insights based on my 100 text publications by this time are also included.

In a practice context, it is listed on the daai index, became the basis for several magazine articles, and a copy was requested by the organizers at the Pompidou Centre in Paris of a retrospective exhibition of Starck’s work in the early 2000s.

In an artistic context, it is considered a "performance-dissertation" with the act of significant redaction of the text. Additionally, assessors were given loose copies exposing the redacted text and instructed to shred this documentation after reading and evaluating it. The purpose was for them to physically experience the destruction of information and effective censorship faced today via legal frameworks in our "free" societies. Another purpose was to promote a discussion about so-called "academic freedom" vs. journalistic realities and idealistic perceptions of "academic immunity" which don’t exist.

An interesting parallel happened just a couple of months earlier with the Robert Mapplethorpe book controversy at the university— the book was seized from the library by police for its "obscenity". BBC News reported, “Dr Peter Knight, the university’s Vice-Chancellor, said: ’We will comply with the law but we would want this matter determined by an appropriate court. We would not voluntarily agree to the destruction of an academic book.” Extensive media coverage occurred and the Times Higher Educational Supplement reported in "Senate backs v-c’s stance on Mapplethorpe" the following university statement: "The universal view of the senate on this matter was that principles are priceless and the principle of free inquiry must be defended." (!) A bit ironically, at the same time, two faculty members informed of a gag order for them not to speak to the press if approached, with all contact funneled to the university press office. Personally I have no problem with this or today’s censorship as it’s practical, but I do feel the public should be informed when this occurs and why. (Interestingly, the media "discussion" concerning the case sizeably increased student applications to the art and design school, said a faculty member later that fall.)

Further, the back-story motivations of the Pompidou request for a copy of the dissertation were unclear. Afterwards, in agreement given the contexts, the performance continued with the dissertation copy removed from the library and placed in a locked cabinet in the university until further notice! It is understood that the dissertation remains there to this day, a secret artwork-dissertation hidden from public view, until the Internet release here.

This study and process is partly the basis of the Art Design Publicity magazine project.