Aleksei Gastev: From Poet to Engineer
Julian Sunley and Lev Manovich
Aleksei Gastev (Russia, 1882–1939) is a unique figure in the avant-garde culture of the 20th century. In the 1910s-1930s, many avant-garde creators in Europe and in Russia were inspired by the machines and buildings of the industrial age - airplanes, factory machines, grain elevators, bridges. The engineer was the hero of the time. Architects, designers, filmmakers, and poets were applying principles of efficiency, economy and strict in their own fields. They developed new languages of design, visual communication and everyday material culture appropriate for the second machine age.
Usually the influence run into one direction - from the world machines, the ideals of engineering, and latest scientific research to the arts and design. However, as far as we know, only Gastev has moved in the opposite direction. Instead of applying principles and methods of work to the arts or design, he left his art (e.g., poetry) to became the director of the institute that aimed to further rationalize work and workers on nation-wide scale.