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March 17, 2009
Contact: Bill Woodard, Spencer Museuem of Art, (785) 864-0142.

Design innovator Bruce Mau to give this year’s Spencer Memorial Lecture

Bruce Mau

LAWRENCE — What if the questions surrounding design turned out to be the big questions? What if life itself became a design project? What if the welfare of the entire human race became design’s practical objective? What if we succeeded?

These are just some of the questions designer Bruce Mau will address when he gives the 2009 Kenneth A. Spencer Memorial Lecture, presented by the Commons at the University of Kansas. Mau, principal of Bruce Mau Design and founder of the Institute without Boundaries, will speak at 7:30 p.m. April 8 at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. The following day, Mau will lead a 9:30 a.m. conversation at the Commons in Spooner Hall. Both events are part of the University Lecture Series at the Commons and are free and open to the public.

Mau charted the strange and challenging new terrain of the 21st century in his groundbreaking 2004 book “Massive Change” (Phaidon Press), which has become nothing short of a design cult movement. For many, “Massive Change” effectively defines the progressive ethos that has infiltrated 21st century creativity.

“We will explore design economies. We will tap into the global commons. We will distribute capacity. We will embrace paradox. We will reshape our future,” Mau writes in the foreword. Intended to provoke debate and discussion about the future of design culture, “Massive Change” is a modern illustrated primer on the new inventions, technologies and events that are affecting human culture worldwide.

“Design has prevailed as one of the world’s most powerful forces,” Mau writes. “It perches us at the beginning of an unprecedented period of human possibility, where all economies and ecologies hold the capacity to merge as global, relational and interconnected.”

The objective of “Massive Change” is to start a global movement of people committed to supporting a new vision of sustainable life on the planet. Envisioned as a collective project, “Massive Change” has become the optimistic design engine for the Bruce Mau Design practice. Well-respected for broadening the idea of design, Mau has worked with countries such as Guatemala and Denmark to envision their futures.

Mau’s lecture coincides with several environmentally themed, collaborative exhibitions at the university, all centered at the Spencer Museum of Art. These include a virtual art and education project in the online world Second Life, plus real-world exhibitions in the galleries: Climate Change at the Poles, A Greenland Glacier: The Scale of Climate Change, Photographs by Terry Evans and Trees and Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature and Culture.

The Commons is a catalyst for unconventional thinking, interdisciplinary inquiry and unexpected discoveries about nature and culture across the sciences, arts and humanities. The Commons is a partnership among the Biodiversity Institute, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Spencer Museum of Art.

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