-‘What deconstruction is not? Everything of course!
What is deconstruction? Nothing of course! –
Jacques Derrida, ‘Letter To A Japanese Friend’
It is a translation and adaption into French, and then into the languages of the world from the Heidesserian term ‘Destruktion’. In the sense it suggests an operation performed in relation to the structure of the fundamental concepts of Western metaphysics. In French, it has both a grammatical and a mechanical meaning. It means both to disarrange the construction of words in a sentence and to disassemble a machine and transport it elsewhere. It also forms a reflexive verb- meaning to lose ones own construction. Most commonly associated with post-structuralism but has its contextual roots in the historical conjunctions surrounding structuralism.
-‘Given that deconstruction is an impossible method (both not a method and nothing but a method) what sort of things are of interest to it? The short answer is that there is nothing which is not of interest to deconstruction. The long answer, and this might be another definition of the thing, is that the task of deconstruction is to rethink the conceptual and non-conceptual foundation of the Western tradition from the ground up.’-(Martin McQuillan, pg 5, A Reader)
Deconstruction examines the way in which Western thought is structured. Derrida suggests that the whole of Western thought since Plato and Aristotle is structured in terms of dual oppositions. Thus with these oppositions one term overrides the other- or I suppose is more important than the other. Such oppositions could include; form over decoration, outside over inside, beauty over ugly, reason over emotion. Deconstruction draws attention to the undermined term. Derrida gives a famous example of this in Of Grammatology where he suggests that every single philosopher without exception in the Western tradition privileges the concept ‘speech’ as more important and as logically prior to the concept ‘writing’.
Deconstruction in other design/art disciplines:
Gordon Matta Clark (source: metmuseum.org)
Francis Bacon, Study for A Potrait of John Edwards (source: marlboroughgallery.com)
Valerie Adami (source: http://www.passion-estampes.com/deco/afficheslitho/adami/adamimusa.JPG)
[Quotes from Deconstruction: A reader, edited by Martin McQuillan]