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Stedelijk Design Show 2014 /Relevant Highlights


Sunday, December 14, 2014

 

16 Rietveld Basic Year students visited the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum to examine the items in the permanent survey of the design collection.

Does the Stedelijk exhibit all these design items simply because they are in their depot.

Do the collection criteria still have any significance today.

Do these design items have any relevance for us, our life or work, now?

Is it possible to make a clear statement about that.

If you click on the image a caption will appear –just as a in a real museum– presenting information and a personal reflection on why that item is considered relevant. You can review the whole exhibition in pop-up mode.

click on images to visit the exhibit

Waterman

modelWieke_stool_SM

PatrickJouinWelcome-To-The-Store_featuresImageBeowatch_SM2

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Schuitema_300 Paulina_glass

superstudio_gherpe_flippedVaclavCigler_headband

DSC_2183cow-chair_cropped

There is no future, we create the past.


Monday, December 1, 2014

3 During the visit at the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s, between all the dresses who can melt and the one who construct themselves there where an UFO. Three little canvas on the wall of a red room , hidden by a giant costume referencing to the solar system. These three pictures were the work of Phyllis Galembo, the sample of an all life research about the ritual costumes and masks in Africa and the African Diaspora. This work was specially interesting not by the subject or the strong visual effect who drop out of these images but because it’s presented in the exhibition -The future of fashion is now- How can we related the future of fashion and a research about traditional costumes in Africa, who exist from centuries? We can relate this question with the work of Pablo Picasso who has been influenced with the first exhibition of african’s sculptures and masks in France and revolution the art history, but now is it still accurate? What is interesting about these traditional costumes is that they construct a bridge through the past and the future, pieces of art who travel between the ages, but the future of our own civilization is to look back in the past of other’s one or to build our own, now.

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Phyllis Galembo is an American artist, fine art photographer. Her work is now related from more than twenty-five years at the African masquerade and ritual clothing. her first travel to africa was in Nigeria in 1985 since she travel through the west and central africa and regularly to Haiti. She document with simple and sober portraits these ritual clothing/art pieces without adding any meanings, keeping them in there own environment. This is a really important part of her work because these costumes are already meaningful in a lot of different themes (religious ceremonies, secret society, rituals, spiritual meanings…) An other big part of her work is to create a relation with the members of the different tribes and then be able to be in contact with these sacred objects. Here we find another interesting relation with the exhibition at the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s. The relation between the creation of a new area for the fashion designer’s and the work of Phyllis, who don’t create a new idea of fashion but put in the podium an ancestral art. The attention of the spectator is fixed on the clothing on the pictures relate to the meaning of the exhibition and not the pictures themselves who are the work of the artist. The projector should’t be pointed on the creator of these art pieces, or is it the collaboration with the photographer who make them important for this theme -The future of fashion is now-

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These pictures were presented in the section “The (re)definition of the human figure”. It was the topic who interested me the most in the exhibition and also the one that disappointed me the most. The theme is so large and for me unxploited at all. Only the work of Pyuupiru (Tokio) “Mercurius” and the “Akata Masquerade” from the american photographer was relevant, even if my only wants was to see in real the costumes on the pictures.
The african traditional masquerade costumes are for me a door for a mystical world and also a question about the definition of the human being. These costumes are more than a redefinition of the human figure but a way to escape totally this human aspect, physically and spiritually. And maybe lead us to this question, why i was interested by this part of the exhibition, What is it to be human, Just a concept, are we just animals or is it something spiritual that we should be aware of, or search for?

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Recycling memory or personal story?


Sunday, November 30, 2014

CC is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. He is formerly known as Christophe Coppens or the mad hatter from the country of surreal art and comic books, Belgium. His career as a hat designer started when he was only 21 years old.

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Surreal hats designed by him were worn by Rihanna, the queen of Belgium and others. In May 2012 he decided to chuck that career,  closed his business and become an full time artist after 21 year of designing. He had been producing art works together with the designing but came to the conclusion that he could no longer combine it. As he said:

“You can’t be a good artist with the mentality of a fashion designer. And I didn’t succeed at being a part-time artist.”

His first exhibition after becoming ‘fulltime artist’ showed his work called landscape 1. Later he made and showed the work Landscape 2.

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Now he is taking part in the exhibition at Boijmans museum in Rotterdam, The Future of Fashion is now. There he puts together the two works Landscape 1 and Landscape 2 and gets work that he calls Landscape 3. It’s an installation that includes shelves full of sculptor mountains. The mountains are all mounted on wooden stands that may be references to theater stages (see more on this website [x]) They are made out of his old clothes that he cut down. He did that after he noticed that all his clothes were linked to who he was before (he became a full-time artist) almost literally costumes for the person he showed outwards for interviews and such. Nothing fitted him anymore he said, not literally but figuratively speaking. He also used some of his old furniture for the sculpture mountains. It became some kind of capsule of his future.

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So could it be that CC is recycling his memories in this work? His memories and personal story that he wants to put aside but at the same time still enjoy?

 

Poem
It is an universally accepted fact and the
theme of our modern age, -
That for an efficient waste management,
Most of our items must be recycled once
again!
Optimal utilisation always brings,
Economy of effort, – a plausible thing!
But when I try to recycle my thoughts;
Those old memories of yesteryears,
Where some are pleasant, while others
bring tears!
They all remain entrenched in my mind to
stay,
And cannot be recycled even to this day!
My good old values and sober tastes,
When I try to recycle with a modern remix;
Like those old nostalgic songs are ripped-off, -
Their haunting melody and tender words!
All stripped naked to become a curse!
And my eternal soul which lies caged within,
Must patiently await many a re-birth;
Cannot be easily recycled or tampered with!
For that remains the prerogative of the good
Lord,
And beyond the domain of the recycled lot!
-Raj Nandy

In this time were everything has to be recycled or recycle able CC is recycling his memories and personal stories. He is using his past to grow and keep on living his life. His future is helping him to develop his skills and keep on moving towards the future.

 

Tips from CC: Enjoy the present and wear sun screen- video

 

The World in the Computer


Thursday, November 27, 2014

 

‘By presenting my designs not only physically but also digitally, new dimensions are created to strengthen the experience of fashion.’ (Jacob Kok)

 

The reason I chose Jacob Koks 3D work – evolution, (animated movie by himself and the software developer Autodesk), was because of the way it was presented  as a video made in a computer program. The use of media and what it allows you to do with gravity and form in this animated short film is for me very interesting and relevant for the art and design as it develops today.

I think the title of the exhibition “ The Future for Fashion is now” indicates that; we should use all our technologies and experiences we made so far, in the work of art and design today.  For me the technology that is created is not so far mentally reachable, as it may be for my grandmother, but still it has gone to a level of complexity that can be hard to follow for everybody.  I grew up in a generation where computers still was a “new” thing. but at the same time still very much existing. I grew up with laptops mobile phones , as an everyday- kind of object. It is therefore extremely relevant, to also include these kinds of objects in our art today.

In Jacob Koks – Evolution, he is working in this “second world“ where space limits and rules of gravity does not exist. He can play with shapes and fabric, as he likes. In the video shapes of clothing and body parts have it’s own rhythm, in the sense that it does not follow the natural movement pattern of what that kind of object, is supposed to do. The pictures is overlapping each other, making one shape or one figurative person floating over to another shape or person, creating a new walking, and idea about what clothing is and can be.
He started out with catwalk videos, mainly because he did not have the money to create collections and also to get them in production; he used his budget on the catwalk sample and didn’t have money to make more. He “crowed founded” his first collection, but he brought up a subject, for him and the rest of the fashion industry to work at.

That’s where he “reinvented himself as a designer” put in his own words, but he also questioned the very materialized fashion world, which I find very interesting. Making the fashion virtual he was not only manipulating with body shapes and fabric, but also he dematerializing clothing in fashion, by doing so. He was able to, in a very experimenting way, to expand himself as a designer in a digitally media, but also making himself able to save some money to make his art/fashion real.

A lot of catwalk clothings is only made for inspiration, which gives the designer a lot of money to spend, without selling /earning anything. I think in the use of digitally media in the fashion industry like Jacob Kok does it, is a big inspiration for other upcoming artist in this field.

Later on he cooperated with the Sims 3 Game, which also gives a whole other perspective to his work.

The Sims game is a virtual game where you create a world of your own. You simply make the figures by selecting their looks, from everything to eye colour, hairstyle, clothing, to personality interest and goals in life.

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When you made your characters, you can buy a property and then you start building. There are limits for your house building, as it is in real life, so you have to be patient.  Your characters have to go to work to earn money; they have to be stimulated mentally with having friends, hobbies love life and carrier.

You have to fulfill these desires to collect points. In this way the game can go on and on. It does not end. This game has sold over ten million copies worldwide since 2009 release, making it one of the best selling games of all time.

I believe the game is so popular because it works with the simplicity of life, it is like a recipe for how a “normal” life can look like, and you are the controller. In a world where young people are so confused about all the choices they have to make. The Sims game actually makes the player successful, almost no matter what, and if not, just start over.

It’s a game for both girls and boys maybe even some adults, because it is reflecting our own way of living. Maybe even questioning, our way of living.

When Jacob Kok is using these references in his work,[x] it could associate with a feeling, for those who knows the game, that their have control over their looks and behaving and in the end, control over their life. The game is creating a feeling of being more successful as a person, in a world that can be very confusing to live in.

Of course other artist/designers has explored this area of what the digitally media can give us.

Wade Guyton is a post conceptual American artist [x] who makes digital paintings on canvas using scanners and digital technology, but there is also artist who specialize in digitally artworks, that also plays with this virtual external world which computer games is presenting.

David O’Reilly is an artist working in the field of 3D animation movies, he is known for the distinctive absurdity of his work. In his work “External world” He kind of gives an example of how the absurd the world is. The theme of the whole film could be how people are scared of things that are new and maybe more specific about how things are rejected, if others do not understand it. The film is criticizing a lot of things, also the fact that animation movie is allowed to present violence  without being taken serious.

The relation between the two artist, is both the media but also how they reach their audience, by creating a space with no rules, a space that have no end and a place where we can create and do whatever we want.

O’Reilly is seen as one of the leading 3D animation artist, which has like Jacob Kok, is dealing with the human role in the world, by using 3D animation.

Jacob Kok works both inside and outside the media, by using The Sims, and catwalk animation movies as (Paradise) he is not only interested in fashion, but also have a background an interest in animation. His start point was not to only work in one media he once thought he would make music videos, because he felt that he in his work was embracing more visuals and music together, than separate (you can easily see this affection in his work; official trailer for his spring/summer collection) He is uniting several of his own interests in fashion/animation/ music, to make a new perspective to fashion and his artworks.

O’Reilly is working as an artist in digital form, Jacob Kok works with fashion and design and needs real time to exist, were O’Reilly only works in the virtual world. He doesn’t claim his works, but put them on the Internet for everybody to enjoy. Which I think also is an interesting point. Jacob Kok is also using this method to expand his works, but not as absolute and clear as O’reilly does it.

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Something that I also find really interesting, is when artist use more than one skill, the combination of interest and competence is inspirational, personal and very true as an artist.  I think both of these artists are connecting very convincing and beautifully, a personal and new, perspective in the fields of art/fashion/animation.

FC11ToekomstVanFashion_MediaMatic

My Sofa Journey


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Larssofa_18

What happens if you could take a nap when and wherever you want? Forrest Jessee designed the sleep suit(1), that makes it possible to sleep in your own cocoon, at work, school or at the streets. I wanted to challenge the idea of Jessee. So I went to the streets to experience it, not with clothing… but with a simple sofa.

 

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(1)

 

The sleep suit of Jessee immediately got my attention when I visited the exhibition “The future of fashion is now”. The shape in combination with the material its made of, creates an architectural form. It looks as a personal space, because of the thickness of the primary material, EVA foam, which is also used for padding and shock absorption in sports equipment. Usual fashion, in my opinion, is meant as a kind of jewelry for the body. Fashion, in common, plays with the form of the body, and is meant to be decoration. In this design the form of the body is almost not visual anymore. It adds something to the body, where it almost becomes a second body part. That in combination, with the daily environment, creates very interesting images(2,3).

 

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Steps_675 (1)(3)

 

The part where this piece is playing with his environment is the part that I wanted to experience by myself. I just moved to my new home in the centre of Amsterdam, as I found my new sofa in the streets of Amsterdam South. So I walked 5,2 km to my home with it. I had to take a lot of breaks, and interesting things happened that for me related to the ‘Sleep Suite’ of Jessee.

What I wanted to experience, is the interaction with me laying/relaxing/sitting/jumping at my sofa and the busy city life. A lot things happened on my way so…

I want you to share my ‘Sofa Journey’.

 

 

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Larssofa_10(13)

Larssofa_11(14)

Larssofa_12(15)

Larssofa_14(16)


Larssofa_13
(17)

Larssofa_15(18)

Larssofa_16(18)Larssofa_17(19)

Larssofa_19(20)

Larssofa_20(21)

Larssofa_21(22)

Larssofa_23(23)

Larssofa_25(24)

Larssofa_26(25)

Larssofa_27(26)

Larssofa_28(27)

 

 

After 4,5 hours

Larssofa_29(28)

 

The experiences I’ve had this journey, I would never had without the sofa. The sofa became a medium to communicate with buildings, animals, trams and people. In the pictures I tried to play with the environment. For example, I saw a lot of buildings which had the same stripes above their windows as the stripes from the couch. I could involve in that way the couch with his surrounding(11,12). Also the stripes of the zebra path were interesting to combine with the sofa(14). The garbage that I found at the streets I also used to create a fake ‘living room atmosphere’, with the television, couch and ventilator(13).

Also the opposite situations were very interesting. Where the sofa was not palpitating the surrounding. A good example of it, is the picture where people looking strange at me sitting at my couch.(16) In the rest of the pictures there is also a lot of ‘miscommunication’ between me, relaxing at my sofa and the busy background. I enjoyed the journey a lot with me and my sofa, which is now settled in my appartement. It will always remember me of this day.

Are you the clothes you wear?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Every morning when I dress for school, I’m in doubt. I put something on and it’s again the same. I have a couple of outfits I wear a lot and that make me feel safe. Though, everytime I doubt whether it’s good enough. I’m in a school that calls itself an art school and it doesn’t feel like I’m a typical person that belongs in an art school, even though I don’t know if that kind of a person exists. Because of that I feel like I have to proof myself, as if I have to pretend that I’m someone else, wearing clothes that suit art school, but that suit don’t me. I feel too normal, too average, too ‘different’. Too boring. Even when the clothes I wear I really like and I feel comfortable in.

The strange thing is: there isn’t something like a dresscode for an art academy. Everyone wears what they like or what makes them feel good. So no one cares what you’re wearing. Although it feels like everyone has their own unique style, different from everyone, and maybe that could be the dresscode. Being as unique as possible. And if you see it like this, maybe I do fit in.

For me this proves that your identity is for a big part in the hands of the clothes you wear, prejudices exist and people pretend that they know who you are. You can deny that it is like this, and I’m sure that came across your mind, but I think everyone realizes that this is true. Even when you don’t really care about fashion or clothing, it says something about who you are, about your identity. It expresses your culture or subculture. The group you belong to. Fashion is the easiest way to express, to make a statement. And we do, all of us.

 

captura-de-tela-2012-10-22-c3a0s-09-02-0106-beyondthebody-publication

Beyond the Body, a perception of appearance and identity : video and publication 2012

Imme van der Haak is an artist who takes identity as an starting point. She says that fashion is, for her, the way to form your identity, to show yourself. But also and mostly to try and be someone else and experience how that is, to step in someones skin and mind. In that way you can undergo an metamorphosis and your clothes can function as an cocoon where in you can undergo that metamorphosis. Also without clothes there is an identity, in scars, hair, birthmarks and surgical adjustments. Our body is an product of nature and a product of science. There are tons of possibilities to give our body a certain form. In the end she says that even without clothes, fashion influences our body. This can come out in tattoos, piercings, the way we cut our hair, but also in the edit on photographs in fashion.

 

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Configurations : Jewelry 2010

She makes works about changing the form of the body. This is shown the best in her work Elastic Mind, where she deforms her face and body with several tools, like elastics, balloons, tights, hairpins and treads. By this she does research to the form of the body, and tries to find new forms, that are not so normal but can be beautiful in a way. It was a research for a jewelry line she made, with really innovative and new jewelry. Also in her video work “Beyond the Body” shown in the exhibition The Future of Fashion is Now, a really beautiful and emotional video is shown, that makes us think about our own identity and how we express that. In the video two people are shown, covered by a transparent piece of fabric with the body of someone else printed on it, and by that they are given a second identity. The shape of the body changes because of the fabric and the picture, which is interesting and typical for Imme, like I said.

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Elastic Mind : publication 2010

 

Another artist that works with deformation of the body as a research for defining identity is Jeanne Dunning. She did kind of similar things, like putting balloons under clothing and creating extra bodyparts, which you can compare to Imme’s work in the video, because there you see two people at a time and by that sometimes there are more arms or legs. She creates surrealistic images as a result, not as a research like Imme does.

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Jeanne Dunning : in bed 2004

I think it’s an interesting subject to think about how easily you can change the way you look and by that your identity. You will be the same person from the inside, but a lot changes by how other people see you or how your look makes you feel. It’s something we are busy with everyday.
 

 

Why do we wear clothes


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Exhibition “The Future of Fashion is Now” gave me a chance to consider about clothes, itself. Especially, the work called “Clear” by Mary Ping was quite impressive for me. Even though there were so many works that were using transparent materials on their works, Mary Ping’s piece was special for me. Because I think that the others focused on showing decay and disappearing phenomenon, but Mary Ping’s work literally shows clear, and perfectly- transparent clothes and accessories.

The visual image of her piece reminds me of the classic tale, ”The Emperor’s New Clothes” written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. As you already know, the story is about an emperor who believes weaver’s lie that if clothes are made of some materials have a special effect, only those who are good at their job or are intelligent would be able see it. But at the end of story, children shouted the truth in front of emperor that he did not wear clothes. On the other hands, it also depicts the fact everyone was pretending like they could see the clothes and they even praised king’s naked body to king’s wonderful clothes. the_emperor__s_new_clothes_by_angelarizza-d5fc1wp

From this tale, I found some fundamental features and reasons of clothes. For example, what is beautiful clothes( this question can be extended by, what is beauty), why do we have to wear clothes every single day, and why do we want to wear clothes. What is the function of clothes… and so on.

First of all, back to the original subject “clear”, Mary Ping says “Beauty reduced to the form, executed in transparent -and thus honest- material.”  I supposed there are so many kind of beauties in the worlds as much as there are so many people in existance. Also Beauty reflects so many components at the same time. Some of people thoughts beauty is one of the way to show their strong political and financial power to the others through colourful clothes, accessories, expensive decoration art works etc. Specifically the form of clothes were getting bigger, heavier and even really uncomfortable to show their power visually at that time and they thought that was most perfect clothes for them. In the same vein, the emperor in Anderson’s story wanted new clothes to exaggerate his power. Therefore sometimes i felt clothes seemed like a decoration paper to conceal and exaggerate myself. So Mary Ping’s piece makes me imagine that if everyone wear on this transparent clothes, they can be more honest than now. Because it can break the illusion by showing everything – natural body shape- without decoration.

Also It makes me feel like it has really natural, honest and variable form. Because this piece’s actual form is up to customer body. So it’s quite interesting process to observe changing of it’s form by different models.  I mean if someone who has really big belly wears it, the shape of  clothe looks like D-shaped clothes. Or if someone who is really thin wears that clothes, it looks like wearing space suit, because of empty space inside of the clothes. One more thing is , One of the other features of clothes reflects an identity. you can show your individual identity on your clothes. Clothes is really important way to show your identity and you can distinguish yourself from others by your unique clothes. And which components that i found interesting is we can see your own unique identity when you are wearing “Clear”piece.

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We usually tend to regard to show naked body as taboo and because of that reason, we need clothes to protect our body from other people’s attention. Ironically Mary Ping’s piece has totally opposite function compared to traditional clothes. However, I think its function is quite nice. Because as it looks like, it’s almost impossible to hide or exaggerate something in front of so many eyes. Because you always should be conscious of it.

plastic, the new cotton.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Future of Fashion is Now is exhibited until the 18th of January at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum. Here they show many designs of for example Viktor&Rolf, Reijna Pyo, Christophe Coppens , etc. The exhibition is base don futuristic technology and social manners and they are divided into four big categories: Materiality and experience, The definition of the human figure, New values and new stories and Fashion activism: community and politics. From the beginning on they was already one designer that really dragged my attention.

Iris van Herpen is a Dutch fashion designer who graduated at the Artez Academy in Arnhem. After her internship at Alexander McQueen in London and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam she started to design shoes for the established brand United Nude. A couple of years later she decided to start her own fashion label. Iris van Herpen describes her own as fashion where general rules don’t exist. It is to her a combination between craftsmanship and innovative techniques. To be able to create her extravagant designs she collaborates with several artists from different disciplines. The singer Björk has worn several dresses from her collections. She wore one of Iris van Herpen’s pieces from the Radiation Invasion collection on the cover of her album Biophilia. Also the extravagant Lady Gaga and the style icon Daphne Guinness have worn many of her designs. So Iris van Herpen is the perfect unification of fashion, technology and art.

SHOES

The Ferrofluiddress from Iris van Herpen is the perfect example of what her work is all about, experimentation with inventive techniques and new materials. So as a matter of fact the exhibited dress in the museum was part of her experimental work. She was able to make a dress that can grow in time. Underneath the metal dress there are several magnets placed and on top of the waist there is a magnetic fluid – ferrofluid – falling down drop-wise. Because the fluid sticks to the dress it actually builds up in layers. This system is related to her 3D printed fashion pieces. A 3D printer is a device that creates arbitrary three-dimensional objects based on digital drawings. The material that is used builds up layer per layer, such as the ferrofluid process. With this technique Iris van Herpen is able to accomplish sculptures that are impossible to make by hand.

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The reason why Iris van Herpen fascinates me is because I see a clear link between her artistic vision and mine. My greatest passion in the art world is photography, but I like to play within this with other forms of art and to collaborate with other artists. Personally I find aesthetics and experimentation the 2 most vital aspects of my own work. The most intriguing thing to me is that she manages to translate these experimental projects into reality, whereas her initial idea is not to create wearable art. Such as the implementation of metal and plastic in Iris van Herpen’s fashion designs, I find it interesting as well to work with unusual materials. I like to convert surrealistic ideas into reality, instead of staying with the obvious. The purity of the used materials is always put up front in my works rather than the use of abundant manipulation in the end. Plastic according to Iris van Herpen is not a cheap solution for natural materials but it is a valuable element in her creations.

So the main difference between all the other shown designer pieces is that the Ferrofluiddress is not at all a static object but it is a growing piece of art. Iris van Herpen in my opinion is not a traditional designer who only works in fashion, but she is an artist who converts her experimentation into wearable sculptures.

Sensors and supervision


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The exhibition The Future of Fashion Is Now at the museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam features established and upcoming designers questioning and challenging the premises of contemporary fashion. One of the contributing designers is the canadian designer Ying Gao, who in her work Incertitudes used speech- and motion-activated sensors hidden within two white dresses covered with thousands of small needles, reminiscent of porcupine coats. The gestures and noises of a viewer or passerby forces the attached pins to move, transforming the garment as well as the contours of its wearer. In her description of the piece, Gao refers to the constant stress and uncertainty of modern day individuals, always flexible and ready to adapt to new situations.

Gao was participating in the section of the exhibition called Materiality and Experience, which makes perfect sense in consideration of her other works, also making use of innovative technological solutions. Besides Incertitudes, she has also investigated light-reactive electronic components, by creating coats that move depending on the intensity of a light source, such as a flashlight. Involving interactive techniques in fashion could bring a sense of dynamism to the concept of clothing. When permitting participation/interaction with surroundings and spectators, the pieces rapidly distinguish themselves from any garment that is delivered already “done”. Bypassing flatness and immobility, they become equipped with a quality of sensibility and refinement.

 

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 1.
• Flexible Pressure Sensors • Incertitudes (close-up) by Ying Gao • Silver nano wire sensors • (Now)here (Now)here (close-up) by Ying Gao • Solar Powered Jacket by Tommy Hilfiger

 

Combining aesthetics with the latest technological developments is not always an uncomplicated process. Successful and sophisticated design of hi-tech clothing is still limited to a small number of fortunate tries. We slowly move away from the “ugliness” that usually haunt technical innovations in their early years. The industry could be seen as going through a process of normalization, where the feeling of the relatively unnecessary “tech gadget” is left behind.

Designers experimenting with the new possibilities are however operating in an unexplored grey area somewhere between usefulness, beauty and supervision. When letting technology become autonomous and enabling it to take its own decisions, the designer releases control over the outcome. Reducing his or her position by introducing chance and fate will inevitably lead to new opportunities and new situations.

Although the integration of data-collecting sensors in fabric has a natural relevance for the innovative clothing designers, the use of such equipment will most likely not be restricted to the fashion industry only. This could mean infinite possibilities – the risk of abuse on civil liberties should be taken into consideration. What if the occurrence of intelligent fabrics was as widespread (but also overlooked) as surveillance cameras in public spaces? If biometric textile was put on the seats of public transport? Or misused, as if put on animals or plants? How would our experience of daily life change if speech- and motion reacting sensors were installed in supermarkets, shopping centers, cafés? If objects/garments changed with the impact of our mere presence?

 

research 2web2

 2.
• Infrared motion sensor burglar alarm • Digital persona Fingerprint reader • AR. 2.0 Parrot Model drone • System Azure Security Ornamentation by Jill Magid • Facial Weaponization Suit by Zach Blas

 

It is nowadays clear that smart wristbands (as well as watches, jewelry and other attachable items) tracking, measuring and analyzing the bearers every movement is a constantly growing industry. The technique of smart fabrics and integrated sensors in clothing is evolving equally rapid, thereby soon making the act of strapping on an external device unnecessary. By inserting sensors capable of tracking very precise information already in the fabrics, data on motion, size, location, force, weight or shape could easily be collected.

Technological monitoring of human movement is however nothing new. The first closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) came into use already in 1942 during the observation of a rocket launch in Peenemünde, Germany. Surveillance camera systems performing continuous video recording has been a common practice almost ever since. Among more recent developments are biometric recognition (face, fingerprints etc), aerial surveillance (helicopters, drones etc.) and naturally everything related to internet and social media. Could the integration of intelligent fabrics be a suitable addition to this process?

 

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3.
• Google Glasses • Ritot smart wristband • Flexible Skin Temperature Sensor • Necklace Projector • Smartphone

 

New wearable technology are in some aspects already being used as a means of self-control and self-reflection, as a way of eliminating chance and the unforeseen at any cost. The behavior could be linked to the ongoing obsession with observing and measuring the own body. Health, sport and the perfecting of ones physical appearance has gotten a new trendy twist with smart apparel, fitting quite well into the all-encompassing life project certain enthusiastic users are living by. Are we moving from an attitude of authoritarian respect from earlier times and into a slavery of self discipline and personal surveillance? From the all-seeing, omnipresent monitor to the individual supervising itself?

The existence of hidden, interactive sensors and reactive fabrics is undeniably a relevant topic – the potential is striking. Anyone curious in new means of communication could possibly avoid the advancement of smart textile in modern daily life, reaching us all within a very near future.

On a personal level, I ask myself if there could be some sort of spirituality to be found in this technology of supervision? Is there an empty space to be filled in secular societies, leading up to this voluntary self-surveillance through different types of apparel and other devices? The subject is fascinating both from an artistic point of view as well as a philosophical/ethical one. 

 

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4.

• Conan O'Brien tries Dream Weaver (video) • Chakra Balancing application • Deepak Chopras Dream Weaver • iPhone surveillance

 

How do we as individuals deal with the concept of spirituality, truth and privacy in the age of technology? The adaption to new conditions is unavoidable, but becomes more and more a matter of privileges.

The revelations on to what extent state supervision is currently practiced (Edward Snowden, NSA, Wikileaks) chocked a whole world and deepened the conflict with the established, monotheistic religions believing in the One and only God to monitor and judge all human action. Surveillance relates to different aspects of privacy, such as privacy of property, of space, of personality and of thought. Worthy of note is that not everyone has the economical means to question authoritarian demands on personal information, with the consequence of privacy possibly turning into a valuable property that only a select few can access.

New forms of spiritual practice and/or self-monitoring take shape with the aid of technological devices. Smartphone applications connected to health, higher power, meditation, zen etc. are immensely popular, offering a re-charging of the soul similar to the charging of batteries. When spiritual leaders such as Deepak Chopra releases biosensorical glasses promising relaxation and inner peace the merging of spirituality and technology is indisputably a fact. Are they all yet another expression of an egocentric, self-obsessed Western society or a useful tool to actually reconnect lost searchers of truth?

In any case, a space has opened up for an intimate, personal form of spirituality disconnected from the dogmas of organized religions whilst also distancing itself from sovereign state control. The idea of scientific knowledge as the superior way of accessing truth is once again questioned – and is it necessarily in opposition to all spiritual methods? To conclude: it is visible how technology/the visible and spirituality/the invisible intertwine and affect each other more and more in modern societies. This provides interesting opportunities for artists to question and investigate further, and I am certain that projects such as Ying Gaos is only a preview of what the future will hold.  

 

Red Carpet Culture


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

According to Oxford Dictionary, red carpet is ‘A long, narrow red carpet laid on the ground for a distinguished visitor to walk along when arriving.’ This dictionary also proposes one idiom related to the red carpet – red carpet treatment. This idiom is used ‘in reference to privileged treatment of a distinguished visitor.’ Viktor&Rolf’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection meet that definition au pied de la lettre. This Amsterdam based duo literally made the dresses from the red carpet.

 

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Viktor&Rolf took part in The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam with two of their collections; Autumn/Winter 2013 aka Zen Garden collection [x] and Autumn/Winter 2014 aka collection executed entirely in red carpet. Although the Zen Garden one was broadly exhibited, the second collection made a bigger impression on me. Two white figurines with two dresses and two pair of shoes, all made from red carpet – that was it, quite decent display but perfectly contrasting to all glamorous world of red carpet. There was something magical about the material. Or maybe is it just something in human nature that we are subconsciously attracted by red carpet?

 

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The designers found in a carpet manufacturer Desso a great partner for this collection. This Dutch company produced carpet without the usual rubber backing and also carpet with animal skin motifs, according to their words ‘shaved and laboriously hand-appliquéd carpet, which takes up to 300 hours per look to complete.’ The clothes were wrapped around body and a little bit resembled bath towels from afar. Dresses were accompanied by jewels and shoes made in the same style.

 

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Collection was initially presented in Paris, obviously on the red carpet, followed by a rhythmic clapping song [Video]. This presentation is worth watching. Viktor&Rolf themselves describe this collection as ‘a meditation on a current obsession.’ Are we actually a society obsessed by a red carpet? Are we a red carpet culture?

I have never realised that such thing as a red carpet can have a rich history. It was first mentioned in the play called Agamemnon, written by Aeschylus in 458 BC. In this play, the main character returns home from Troy and is greeted by his wife who offers him a red path to walk upon. However, Agamemnon, knowing that only gods walk on such luxury refuses and says: ‘I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path.’

People are no more afraid of walking on the red carpet. First of all, there were popes and heads of states. Red carpet marked the route they were taking on ceremonials and special occasions. Red carpet is now mainly associated and broadly used by celebrities and all VIPs glamour world. For those who are interested, exhausting and detailed history of red carpet is here. Bearing in mind Agamemnon’s story and the fact that red carpet is only for gods, I realised that maybe the basis is still the same but we changed our faith.

We can also consider the red carpet as the first marketing tool in the history of fashion. In the early decades of the 20th century there were the celebrities (actors and actresses, singers, dancers as well as members of noble families) who carried fashion impulses. Nowadays designers like to dress celebrities for red carpet events because their photos literally see the whole world. In this context we can understand Viktor&Rolf’s collection as a revolt against this trend.

Nowadays, the actual event may seem overshadowed by the red carpet. Just look at this video of Oscar preparation – workers rolling out the red carpet and a huge amount of photographers and media in place to depict that very moment.

 

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It might be as well really stressful moment for celebrities in terms of perfectionism. All the world is watching every detail, manicure, hair, make-up, dresses, jewellery, manner of walking, everything. In the event of Emmy’s 2014, E magazine also prepared so called ‘clutch cam’ and ‘mani cam’ so the viewer could see every detail even closer. Walking the red carpet can actually be a nightmare. Celebrities might not eat for days or even weeks before the event. You can look at how many results you find when searching on google for ‘how to be red carpet ready’: tips on diets, workouts, pills and many many more.

We developed some kind of camouflage pattern for being invisible in the nature. Can we also be invisible on the red carpet? Viktor&Rolf dresses can represent one way of reaching invisibility but I searched for more examples where celebrities tried to disappear.

 

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I think that Viktor&Rolf caught really well this current obsession. Suzy Menkes, Vogue fashion journalist, expressed it in a good way: ‘two brilliant minds catching a sociological thread.’ [x] I can only agree with her words. Red carpet represents a new value of our lives. If we think about the idiom ‘red carpet treatment’ I have one suggestion for future. Maybe we will have real red carpet treatments. Covering our body with red carpet for certain amount of time will cure illness and give back lost self-confidence.

 

Your life on a thread


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In the Boijmans Van Beuningen currently is an Exhibition called: The Future of Fashion is Now. One of the participates is Lara Torres.
Her work ‘an impossible wardrobe for the invisible’ takes part in the ‘New Values and New Stories’ part of the Exhibition.

 

 

About the part ‘New Values and New Stories’ the autor, Jose Teunissen, writes in the book of the exhibition: “Today’s designers are trying to recline and recalibrate the fashion system in a number of ways. The designers of the new generation are quick to criticise the fashion system, the compulsion to engage in overconsumption, and concepts such as brand identity a local identity, but they are also importing fashion with a new set of values. One important example is the Slow Fashion movement, whose goal is to render the fashion production system more transparent by using as many local materials as possible and by setting up a circular economy with direct lines running from producer to consumer. It is essential that the fashion product itself acquires a new, sustainable value so that its life extends beyond that of a single season.”

I underlined some words to make the connection to Torres reframing those words.
Overconsumption’ Her collection can only be worn once. What does that have to do with overconsumption? The waste can also be dissolved. And because of the dissolving there is a need for more clothes because you cannot wear the clothes again. Is ita good thing, to only wear clothes once?
Slow Fashion’. Her clothes dissolve slowly, but are gone forever. If it is connected to the ‘Slow Food’ movement, does it take long to make the clothes, are they worth the wait? Torres made such a fast disappearing collection, that the focus on a longer staying collection (not only one season) raises. And what about ‘Slow Design‘ movement in general. Is her work also an ongoing project? Comparing it to her previous work, maybe it is, maybe only for herself and not for her projects.
Transparent’. Her work is literally transparent when it is dissolved.
Direct lines’ She is using normal seams, so you could say that that’s literally, again, the direct lines of the producer to the consumer. You can see the way of using the seams by the producer.
Torres became interested in the relationship between clothing and memory. She wanted to approach fashion from a theoretical, artistic and investigative point of view.
She did research to make more transience, temporary clothing.

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For example her Effacing Series, a project she did before she started with an invisible wardrobe. With this new project Torres made a wardrobe collection, from a material that dissolves in water. So the clothes could only be worn one time. There is nothing ‘touchable’ left from what was made, only the photos and the videos.

The dissolving part was the part that took my attention. For me it was intriguing to see how people became half naked when they came in contact with water. Fragile. The naked truth.

And when I read more and more about what her meanings were behind the material, it became more interesting. First I wanted to do similar research on dissolving material and maybe even find dissolving ways to connect them (for example a dissolving threat). But when I figured it took Torres years of material research, I thought maybe not. Nowhere she did write or say what she used as a fabric. It dissolves, that’s why it is nowhere to be found, except in Torres’ mind.

When I was reading about the material I also bumped into her concept, unavoidable. In the beginning I was maybe  a little too focused, or intrigued, into the material and I didn’t have a good look on her concept. But after a while it got stuck in my head.

As an explanation to her works, she is talking about the loss of the object and the documentation of this loss. The action of effacing the clothes leaves a trace (the seams) translating a strong relation with memory and forgetfulness.
But how can you memorize an object, or even the loss from it. Do you get attached to it? In this case you do, the clothes are getting very close to your skin and in the end it is not ‘hiding’ your body anymore. Is that what clothing does for me? Does it hide my body, or are they showing my body? I don’t know.
There is a very subtle line between hiding or showing although they are an opposite. In one way you hide what you want to show in private. Do you?
When we put on our clothes in the morning (or any time) we feel our clothes, but after a while, we are not aware anymore that we are wearing clothes. Habituation they call it in behavioral science. How can you remember clothes if you are forgetting that you are wearing them? You do remember the itchy Christmas hand-made sweater from your grandma. Do you remember the itchiness or the sweater, or that you thought it was itchy. In other words: Does your body remember it, the same way that your body remembers how to walk, or does your mind remembers it?

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‘When the fabrics have dissolved, all that remains are the seams and the memories of the clothing.’  Did She write  in the Exhibition book about her work.
Can the seams be seen as a red thread of life? The continuing of life and the route it takes. Because when the water ‘attacks’ the clothes the seams are creating their ‘natural’ way to stay on the body. Is this how the water attacks us, human beings, because we don’t take enough care of the world. Does it have to do anything with the global warming? Our fight against water, which is also one of the main reasons we are alive?
Or can the remaining of the seams be seen as the memory of the edges of pain, or the edges of luck. Are the containing threads only there to give a suggestion of what was before, what happened? We remember only the outline of our memory. A friendship for example, we only remember the fights, the getting back together, but most of the things you did together you forget. Because they were ‘normal’ like having tea a hundred times, you will only remember at most five of the tea parties.
The seams are on the other hand also sticking how they were suppose to be, in other words, the seams are still holding the knots Torres used in designing her wardrobe. They are staying like they are supposed to stay. And then I am coming back to the literal interpretation of the ‘direct lines’ and the ‘transparency’. Because of the visual seams we can see the handwork of Torres. And with that she makes a very clear line between consumer and herself as a producer.

simple form, complex form.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The pieces that caught my eye, while visiting “The Future of Fashion is Now” exhibition, were the ones which were made from simple forms gaining new complex forms once worn on the structure of the human body. I decided to explore this relationship between simple and complex forms within artworks.

 

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The first piece I came across which showed these properties is O-Shirt, (Zhang Da) – a geometrically shaped garment which, when worn, takes on new forms due to the complex shape of the body. It was this piece, along with Movana Chen’s work, that sparked my interest in this topic.

 

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Movana Chen’s works ‘Body Containers’ are tubular garments that took on the shape of the bodies that wore them. They are another example where simple forms become complex once combined with a complex structure. The simplicity of the tubular ‘containers’ gives space for the human body to actively shape and structure the work. Had the Body Container been a more complex form, the shape of the body would have been lost.

While doing further research on the relationship between simple and complex forms, I found that an inversion of this relationship exists in other art as a very standard format. While Zhang Da and Movana Chen used simple forms on complex structures (bodies), nearly all 2dimensional images are made up of complex forms framed within simple, geometrical ones.

 

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I found it interesting that once considering the frame in relation to the forms within the image, the difference between images (e.g. representational and abstract images) becomes less significant. Though the subject matter depicted varies, they are formally the same: complex forms within regular, geometrical frames.

This made me see that the subject matter of these 2dimensional images are divorced from qualities of the object as a whole.

What I admire about Zhang Da and Movana Chen is that while the (complex) shapes that made up the subject matter of the 2dimensional images existed independantly from the shapes which framed them, the final shape of the work of Zhang Da and Movana Chen are informed by their chosen frame (the body), and therefore the frame is not only a frame, but an active part of the subject matter of the work as well.

Wanting to explore these relationships, I decided to make an experiment using a simple form (a square) on a complex structure.

 

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to create a complex structure I crumpled the paper on which the square was drawn, giving new form to the square. By photographing, cutting and pasting the new square back onto a flat piece of paper, I inverted it back into a 2dimensional work where a complex form is presented in a simple frame. By doing this I tried to make a work that is both a simple form on a complex structure and a complex form in a simple frame, as paper gives form to the subject matter of the work while simultaneously being a simple frame on which the 2dimensional image exists.

Textile writer Tania Candiani


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 

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Tania Candiani, Woman, Mexican, 1974, Textile, Language, Artist …

 

Tania Candiani was part of the exhibition“ The future of fashion is now”, in Rotterdam. In this show, designers and artists try to show some different and new ways to see to the fashion world.

Tania Candiani exposes a big roll of fabric joined with some clothes and dresses. The finality of this work is an installation with fabrics, thread, metal hooks, sound and video. This work was showed almost at the end of the exhibition, a space that, according to me, didn’t support it as much as it could have. Therefore, all my attention wasn’t driven towards the installation as a whole, but only on this big role of fabric.

The title “ La Constancia Dormida “, which stands for Constancia Asleep, makes me think of the collections of stories, including Constancia, y otras novelas para vírgenes (1989; Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins) by the Mexican novelist and short story writer Carlos Fuentes. The theme of these stories, which is about the people and culture from Mexico City, is maybe a influence in Tania’s work.

The role of fabric, that I mentioned before, was exposed on a table and stitched with text. The language used was Spanish and it was about thoughts, feelings and stories of one certain group of people or community, that were influenced by their economic, political and social environment. This context situates her work in the last of the four themes which divided the exhibition: “Fashion Activism: Community and Politics”.

Being influenced by the reaction of these people, she used them as her subject for her story-telling. The textile is then used as a narrative tool as she explains it in one of her statement: “ My research processes take as starting point language, text, the political implications of the domestic, of what is public and private, and of “the others.”

“Translate strategies amongst systems –linguistic, visual, phonic– and practices, generates equivalences and associations (…) textiles have been present in my work as tailoring, as a narrative resource and as labor, socially embedded with meaning. Tailoring as design is a contact point with architecture, where the space distribution of the plans as sewing patterns re-signifying the idea of inhabited space or the utopia of an space that could be inhabited“.

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Tania Candiani – Artslant

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Tania Candiani – Lot 88

I chose Tania’s work because I really like the simple and minimalist way she approaches two big ideas, in one hand the fashion world and in the other one, a more conceptual idea about community in a political and economical environment. Also, the way she uses textile and combines it with text gives me a big and strong feeling of nostalgia. The way she characterizes the political and human energy really fascinates me and awoke my curiosity. This feeling of nostalgia that is present in her work, makes me land back directly to my home country. This nostalgia and spirit of story telling is something that characterizes the Portuguese personality and community, bringing me even more closer to her work.

By listening to the people in different environments, Tania tries to save the stories and the atmosphere into the fabric by sewing it, and giving it an individual perspective. Through this act of sewing, I see Tania’s work as a memorial where she keeps all the moments and happenings, as a saving for the future, which for me is a really beautiful act. The act of sewing, reminds me of a scar or a tattoo that Tania is stitching in the fabric. By expressing these left marks, it connects us to our individual or common marks, which originates from situations and memories that we experienced. These marks which makes us the person or the people that we became. So it’s like creating and materializing all the spirit, thoughts and feelings from a specific and certain place, time and community.

 

This way of making art reminds me also of some works, for example, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and in the traditional bordering from Portugal.

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Louise Bourgeois

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 Tracey Emin

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3abn6dfR2k

By having this in mind, I realize that textile can be really strong, powerful and expressive as a subject or a material. It was interesting to see how her work can become, in a way fashion but still textile with a sculptural character. It questioned the fashion world and trying to find or to create this small limit between fashion and textile, becoming in the end something else. Different than the world of fashion that we know now, but still an expressive future form of fashion. This makes her piece relevant, for me, in taking part of this exhibition “ The future of fashion is now “.

 

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The invisible fashion


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am not really into fashion so I didn’t know what to expect during the exhibition and even by looking at the website of The Future of Fashion is Now I had no clue whether I am gonna appreciate this kind of art or not. My fondness for Adele Varcoe started when I visited the exhibition. It was divided into 3 parts and it was the last one which seemed to me totally unclear and thereby intriguing. Ironically it was precisely this part –New Values and New Stories– in which I found this  amazing artist who is taking fashion into a higher level, looking at it not only as an outfit but more as a factor indicating our behavior.

Adele Varcoe is an Australian artist. She is not strictly a fashion designer but her works are directly lined with fashion. She is creating experiences which are suppose to show the social effects on clothing. Adele is mostly constructing group performances in which she brings people together in order to explore the elusive nature of fashion. She wants to outline the sense of self which is heightened through the clothes.

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While making her performances she likes to mix the participants, working with artists, models but whats mostly important with the public. She is interested in revealing how fashion influences the interactions and relations between people. Adele often uses the quote “perception of dress” which in her opinion is the subconscious behavior of the society depending on what we wear and in what situation we are.

The performance which I saw in the Boijmans exhibit and which invited me to learn more about Adele Varcoe was the salon fashion show Imagine Chanel. It was in 2012 when she came up with the idea of presenting fashion experience through language. She used the descriptions of garments from 1920s till 1960s Chanel archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Powerhouse Museum as material to reveal the role which our imagination plays in looking at fashion. The main goal of this performance was to highlight that fashion is not something that exists as dress only. The fashion show is led by a woman reading the descriptions of Chanel outfits while nude women circle between the audience acting as they were wearing all the precious, described cloths. This situation gives the audience a broad field where by using their imagination they can design their own clothes worn by the models.

Imagine Chanel

Adele’s concept is based on the professional opinion of a sociologist Yaniya Kawamura [x] who claims that : “Fashion does provide extra added values to clothing, but the additional elements exist only in peoples imagination and beliefs. Fashion is not visual clothing but is the invisible elements included in clothing”.

Here comes the link between her work and the name of the third section of the exhibition: New Values and New Stories. I am really fascinated by her way of thinking. It looks like if she is taking a broad working space which is fashion and approaching it from a totally unconventional side. I think the point of conceptual art is to influence the audience and show them something which is not obvious. Working with subconscious behavior and reactions upon “invisible fashion”, Varcoe is putting new values to clothing which is actually our second skin changing our behavior and social interactions.

Each of her works is often closely connected to the broad area of fashion sociology. It is claimed that in fact, fashion is not about clothing but more about the basic process that propels modern life, and it is the outfit which structures the psycho-social development of a modern person.

A similar  concept was to be seen in Varcoe’s other exhibit in the Boijmans Museum called ” Feeling of undress”. This movie was even less about fashion itself but more about the social behaviour and human interactions.

Some other sociologist like Georg Simmel states; ..” that fashion refers to a general phenomenon, in which it becomes a type of social horizon point where the individual interest and taste comes across the collective”. He once wrote “Fashion represents nothing more than one of the many forms of life by the aid of which we seek to combine . . . the tendency toward social equality with the desire for individual differentiation and change”.

I think after experiencing her art or being part of it, we start to realize some behaviors and actions which are natural for us but we can never see them consciously. Varcole gives us an opportunity to set aside our subconscious actions and observe how the natural behavior is chaining depending on what situation we are in.

I think the most interesting part of being an artist is to use your creativity and open minded thinking to show the audience something new, in this case something totally normal but not realized in everyday live. I think its also interesting how she links the scientific knowledge in the area of sociology to play with the human mind and gives people the opportunity to experience and then realize the way of human behaviors by taking part in her art performances.

(A)dressing the dead


Monday, November 24, 2014

The exhibition “The Future of Fashion is Now” in the museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam included Pia Interlandi’s project “Garments for the Dead” in a depiction and a proposal of what fashion can be about in the future. Pia Interlandi, an Australian fashion designer and a former biology student, made a series of biodegradable garments for dressing the dead, in a way that respects the human body after death, but also the environment.

 

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Interlandi’s work on “Garments for the Dead” started upon the death of her grandfather, when she was tasked with dressing his corpse in a suit. She then realized that the suit, and the last garment he would ever wear, was done without much thought and was even difficult to put on, so she came to the realization that the clothes where actually made for the living and were not suited for death. What is more, the materials used normally in these occasions are chosen for practical qualities such as longevity and expense, so the fabrics are mostly synthetic, like nylon and polyester. These fabrics can outlast a corpse, and actually prevent it from decomposing naturally. They are often non-biodegradable, and the chemicals used in their manufacture can leach out into the environment. Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and making polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination. Both processes are also very energy consuming.

http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/environmental-impacts

Pia Interlandi started experimenting with soluble materials in relation to the human body. This exploration allowed her to dissolve the borders between the clothing and the skin, and explore our relationship to clothing as second skin. Ultimately, she made the burial garments since that would be the last skin which would be placed upon us, and literally and symbolically merge with us in our decomposition and dissipation into the earth.

 

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“Death,romance and mystery were notions I aimed to embed within my own exploration of the shroud as it pertained to soluble fabrications.”

 

I find this material research particularly interesting as an artist, since I believe that the material choice is the beginning and the first source of my projects and that good knowledge of and feel for material create unlimited choices. It is always important to understand what is needed in the design and use the material in a way that supports the idea.

But it is also interesting for me as a former history and archaeology student, since dressing the dead has always been an important ritual in most human cultures. In ancient greek burial traditions, the dead were washed with oil and dressed by the female relatives in a type of clothing that befitted the deceased status in life. For example, if a person was recently married, he/she wore wedding attire in death. Sometimes they also put coins on their eyes or mouth in order to pay for the boat which would take them to the other side. Mayans sprinkled their corpses with the shavings of the red mineral cinnabar, since the color red was associated with death, and then wrapped in cotton for burial. Muslims still use burial shrouds which are made of white cotton or linen, and Orthodox Christians use a burial shroud which is usually decorated with a cross. In jewish traditions, shrouds were made of either white cotton, wool or linen, but the intermixture of two or more such fibers was forbidden.

A muslim, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mTXXnbYuVc)

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a jewish (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-UOilfKvKc)

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and a christian orthodox funeral: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz98pntRiAM)

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Most of these burial traditions and materials are strongly connected to religion, but also strongly related to each other, and it’s interesting to see how universal some aspects are. It is actually a part of human nature, rather than merely a cultural habit. I also believe it’s not coincidental that in the modern western world, where religion is not as important as it used to be, or as it still is in some parts of the world, the rituals and the materials are also not so important anymore, and it’s done without much care. I remember my grandmother, who was a nurse but also dressed dead people numerous times, saying that it was really hard to put on the suits that the relatives chose and it had to be done the same day the person passed away, otherwise it would get too stiff. As Interlandi says, these suits are made for the living and are mostly manufactured and quickly chosen.

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That is why I believe that Interlandi’s work on “Garments for the Dead’ is an innovative project in terms of respecting human nature and nature in general in a poetic way without any religious context, and mainly though the use of material.  She has managed to focus on what is common for all humans, by using only what is important for the most tangible part of the burial, which is dissolving in the ground. Therefore, I believe that it couldn’t be more spot-on when put on display at “The Future of Fashion is now” in Boijmans, but also in relation to the section of the exhibition “Material and Experiment”, since it is a matter of material research in a way that the material itself can express an idea. Inspired by her work, I would hope that the future of fashion could be more focused on the qualities of the materials and our human nature, with no cultural, religious or non-religious barriers.

Thoughts on Lucy + Jorge Orta


Friday, November 21, 2014

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Nexus Architecture

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The Human Centipede (2)

 

At the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s The Future of Fashion is Now (Fashion, Activism, Community and Politics), Lucy + Jorge Orta showed their work Nexus Architecture x 25 – Nexus Type Opera.tion. In Nexus Architecture (2001) they zip together the clothes of a group of volunteers. The idea is to depict the loss of individuality in a cluster of social relationships. We are all connected; “Each individual keeps an eye on, and protects, the other. One individual’s life depends on the life of the other. The warmth of one gives warmth to the other. The physical link weaves a social link.” I refer Nexus Architecture to the horror film The Human Centipede by Tom Six. ‘’A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a group of people in order to reassemble them into a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others’ rectums.’’ The victims basically have to wear each other to survive, of course an extreme version of “Each individual keeps an eye on, and protects, the other. One individual’s life depends on the life of the other. The warmth of one gives warmth to the other. The physical link weaves a social link’’.

 

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Nexus (which means link or tie) Architecture is a symbolic work which I find to be a shame as there are examples of functioning clothes which actually do realize bond and equality, for example school uniforms. I wore a school uniform as a child and my experience was that wearing a uniform built team spirit and unified. Also prevented the pressure of having to have status symbols such as branded clothes and thereby made the economical differences less visible in school. However I did feel a lack of freedom to express myself. Other areas where uniforms are used is for example in the military, prison, finance and sports. The idea is that if you are wearing the same uniform you are friends and you help each other. But even if we wear the same fabric and colors we are not always friends and we do not always help each other. To tell how the world works Orta metaphorically connected the uniforms physically (what happens to me will happen to you) which automatically also becomes literal. The work is executed in a bold and direct way which I do admire. The doubts I have about the work not being applied to people in a direct (functioning) way may depend on the way it is presented…

 

At Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Nexus Architecture was presented as an installation. But during performances, Orta gives the participants commands, setting the whole group in motion, ‘’emphasizing the loss of humanity within the collective’’. Depending on the participants engagement in following the task it can either be or not be a working organism. I believe that Orta is not making a political statement but rather questioning the political ideology of today and the future. Maybe the importance of both communism and capitalism, the group and the individual.

 

In general I was fascinated by the room of Activism, Community and Politics in the The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition because I respect artists like Orta who try to break down and deal with these large and relevant questions. I have to make 10 designs on the subject Ebola for design class which is a subject far from my control, and to me it is a motivation to see how Orta can manage similar matters. Orta has an optimistic approach in both content and aesthetic. But I can not help but question if the work of Orta maybe is too playful? I feel slightly split about the fact that world issues are ”anesthetized” when artists take them on. As the beauty overshadows the message but at the same time maybe this is necessary when wanting to communicate to the western world. It is a paradox. In any case I think that it is couregous to deal with such serious matters. Later on one can argue if a work is successful or not, if the artist does harm or good. I may be cynical but it is hard for me to understand the motive of why Orta has cared for the complex of global problems such as the ecological environment/global warming, sexism, refuge and immigration policy, the hostility towards the Romani people, the biomedical ethics of organ donation and homelessness as these subjects differ so much from each other. But then again it is arguable that a team of two artists do not share the same mind and therefore bring different issues to the table. Anyway Orta has surely succeeded in raising some of  the spectators awareness or opinion as I have just written a text about this.

See through the whole


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

‘Voices’

Designed by former UNA-Designers (Hans Bockting + Mark Diaper)

As a start of my ‘guiding’ through my research I will write down a few sentences about the designers/design agency of the book. Just a few sentences because the designers doesn’t seem to have the need of sharing a lot of personal background information on the internet, I don’t feel the need of sharing their personal information as well.

Mark Diaper who was part of the UNA design agency at the time of creating the book, founded his own design agency “Eggers + Diaper” (1999, Berlin) together with Birgit Eggers.

The former UNA design agency existed from 1987 untill 2007, founded by Hans Bockting, Will de L’Ecluse and Henk Hoebé, who all went seperate ways by 2008.

quote; “Kenmerkend voor het werk van UNA is de grote aandacht voor het evenwicht tussen vorm en inhoud, oog voor het detail, respect voor traditie en een zekere vorm van speelsheid.(playfullness, !imporant! to translate!, as I found this interesting for my research, looking at the work of Hans Bockting) Eveneens tekenend voor het bureau is de lange relatie met zijn opdrachtgevers. Voor de stad Amsterdam is UNA een belangrijk bureau geweest omdat de meeste opdrachtgevers hier gesitueerd waren.”

“UNA-Designers” is now going on as “Bockting Ontwerpers” (from 2009) runed by Hans Bockting and his wife Sabine Bockting. Hans Bockting is also co-founder of “Traffic Design” and “Concepts”.

 

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The book I chose for this project is titled “Voices”. It is a book named after an exhibition that once took place, which had the same name as the title.

“Voices is an exhibition that brings together works by nine contemporary artists of different origins and generations, discovering the domain of the visual and the material of sound contributed by the human voice”

The choice I made for this book was quite selective. As I scanned through the given booklist, what caught my attention most were titles with the word ‘voice’ in it. Probably because of last years Studium Generale that took place with the subject of ‘voice’, but turns out a subject that I have an interest for. I noticed this strong attraction for this word and decided to find a book related to this subject. Immediately my eye fell on this book with on its front cover the word ‘voices’ with big letters centered between 4 images that are filling up/being part of the front cover. The backside is divided in 2 images. On the front cover there is a hole in the letter “O” of the word ‘voices’. You can not see through the hole because the following page is covering the hole with its white. But when you flip the second page you will see (through) the continuing hole till page 33.

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And there is more which caught my attention inside the design, the ‘dividing’. A thin black line through the center of the pages (horizontally/vertically) is attracting my eye. It’s seems like a strange element in the whole of the design. I want to know about this line. Why do I experience this line as unfitting, and why is it at some pages not reaching the opposite side it should do/ and does in other pages. 3 Languages who are divided by those attention-seekers of lines in many different ways, so many notations within the book, within the design, resulting to a bit of my frustration of not be able to ‘read’ this musical score.

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While looking at other work of Hans Bockting, and getting introduced to a calendar from Hans Bockting (Traffic Design,1980), which I played with for a while, every month/page a different surprise in it’s full meaning, small attachments, opening/closing/lifting-up/changing material/sizes/colours, TACTILE SENSATION & FEEDING FOR THE EYE, again the sheet music work which I can hardly handle following from start until the end, but knowing it works perfectly as a whole. Let’s play it again.

After some plays I questioned myself why for godsake I am always attracted to such a full-filled mixture of information/ images/elements/things going on in, as now researched ,a book,design. Translated into my experience of observation “CHAOS”!

It is for my personal perspective exciting to see as much as possible, as many possible variations of information on a surface , in design, images etc. ! MASS !

I like to see mass and take time to discover every quality within that mass, but at the same time it is in general the case that I get stuck in the beginning of the discovery, losing track of what I am actually seeing while zooming in on a particular element/part, raising questions, no answers, no guide-through,raising frustration,loosing interest in zooming in on the following element, and taking it as a whole, but not really understanding.

Looking at my personal way of living, way of working, WORK, I consider myself as a possible face of the word ‘chaos’. I am attracted to chaos, but I would be happy if the chaos could be read in the way of the music sheets. In my personal way of working, I have taken steps back from mass into simple and clear, to understand the way of quality of less and the non-questionable/for itself-speaking element, in order to get to combining variables into a creation not-longer experienced as chaos as ‘?’,. My so called chaos who creates the heart/ the melody in the music sheets.

I decided to send a letter to Hans Bockting with the question, how Hans Bockting can permit himself the freedom to create such a playful diversity of work.

I did not get any response ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………

…..

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Then at one moment in thought, I looked up in my room, seeing my lamp.

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The circle. my escape out of the chaos.

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I had returned to the holes-element in my chosen book. My melody maker within my daily-life chaos. I saw dots in everything. The very clear round shaped element just made me understand.

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circles.

dots/points/holes.

the simplest element of visual design.

The defining characteristic of a dot is that it’s a point of focused attention. Dots settle themselves in space and provide a reference point relative to the other forms and space around it.

Dots are the focal points in our compositions. Dominance.

Dots create a relationship with the space around it. The two most important relationships formed are the proportion of the dot and the space around it and the position of the dot within that space.

As dots increase in size we start to see them as shapes, but they still retain their dot-like qualities and characteristics. A square placed in the white space of a page is still a dot. It still attracts visual attention to it, which again is the dot’s defining characteristic.

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Dots centrally placed within a composition create symmetry and are neutral and static, though they tend to dominate the space around them. Dots placed off center create asymmetry. They are dynamic and actively influence the space around them.

Serenity is my outcome of the research. I look through the holes of the book again, but now only focussing on what I see through the circle-out-cut on the following page. I will find the rhythm, I will find the voice.

Rietveld library catalog no : 708.5-cat-50

 

PROVO | Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Provo | Amsterdam's Anarchist Revolt

designer: Josh MacPhee

 

The title of the book strongly indicates that it is of political context. Being myself concerned with politics, especially in a period of great upheaval (globalization/economical crisis) like the one we are in now, and coming from a country where politics itself plays a significant role in its history ever since the ancient times, this book instantly attracted my attention.

It is recognized that art is part of a practical activity that can change the world. In many cases it comes into existence in response to certain definite problems. Leon Trotsky has written that art can play a dual role within society: That of the mirror and that of the hammer. In other words, what he means by that, is that art has the ability of reflecting the movement of society while also forging consciousnesses inside it. Provo is representative of such case.

Provo is based on a political struggle in the mid 60′s, that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities using non-violent bait. It is an Amsterdam-based anarchist, political, social and art movement. Its interventions where staged into the symbolic and everyday spaces of Holland. What is interesting to look at, is that the activists involved with this movement, where really creating their own distinctive posters, graphics and other forms of art, such as political spectacles and street theater, illustrating their beliefs and intentions.

Walls and words, silk-screen posters and hand printed flyers where the revolutionary media passed out in public. The Provo radicals would carry out total black or even totally blank banners, purposely provoking the police in a ‘ludic’ attitude. They would relate themselves to Dada, constructivist movements, Bauhaus and other Russian ways.

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They took existing rules and decided to play within them, to see how far they could push the limits of those rules.
They were not allowed to use actual slogans, so they decided to use unwritten banners. They made use of the ambiguous nature of play: They were protesting, but at the same time not protesting. There were no forbidden slogans on their banners, but at the same time, the slogans were ever so present throughout their absence.

 

pro0102-provo-artists-book-god-nederland-oranje  Anarchy

 

http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/provo/

http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/interview-graphic-no-24

 

It is a simple, black & white book. Its design is intentionally simple, in this way successfully highlighting the content of the book, erasing any type of decorative matter. Looking at it’s outline, it is clearly characterized within the Provo attitude. It is not modern or in any way trying to draw attention through some kind of unusual graphic design. The pages are matte and the text produced with a bold, black typeface. The only evident, decorative detail are some thick black lines and squares either on the sides and bottoms of each page or in the beginning of a new chapter. The ink on the paper seems quite thick, giving the impression that if you rub the pages in the book you are almost able to scent, as well as feel it.

Consequently, it successfully carries out a very strong depiction, that the book itself, could be an original Provo pamphlet or poster. The do-it-yourself feeling is well portrayed through its design. The cover of the book itself is also represented by a successfully eye-catching Provo poster, illustrating a pair of gigantic feet ready to be chopped off by a tiny white figure.

 

Photographic documentation from the book:

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The designers background totally reflects upon the the books context and therefore explains his design. Josh MacPhee is a Brooklyn based artist, activist and archivist. He is also a print-maker and a self-taught historian of 21st century left politics. He established a distribution system called ‘Justseeds’, a decentralized, worker-owned cooperative of twenty-five other artists. Justseeds relates to social and environmental movements and issues in order to get more radical art projects out to the public. Their work illustrates an extraordinary aesthetic range of radical movements during the past 50 years and explores the rise of powerful countercultures that evolve beyond traditional politics, creating distinct forms of art, lifestyles and social organizations. MacPhee’s simple aim is to use art, such as visual and graphic work, to inject protest politics into public discourse.

Besides Justseeds, MacPhee also organizes  the ‘Celebrate Peoples History Poster Project’, an ongoing poster series in which  different artists create posters to document and remember moments in radical history. He himself, has a big collection on political posters. For instance, he collects Cuban political posters as, while according to him, they are some of the “most aesthetically diverse, experimental and impactful in the history of political posters.”

http://www.justseeds.org/subjects/anarchism/

 

We cannot delude ourselves. No art has ever only served itself. We ought to support and defend the art born within resistance, the art which fights and contributes to equality and fairness.

 

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Josh MacPhee :
No Fence Uncut /offset printed postcard • Three Steps /3 color screenprint 

Rietveld library catalog no : 947.6 kem 1

A wise man


Thursday, October 30, 2014

I chose this book because of it’s dark red crocodile/snake like cover, with its light blue text. The cover is soft and flexible, but still stable and firm. I spotted the book immediately by its contrasting colors, and small thick size. I like the fact that the first two, and last two pages associates to the cover by their light blue block color, clear of text. The design is strong, graphic and individual.
The book is mostly all text, except for one page with a picture of a painting.
But i really like how the text is setup in ‘boxes’ placed in the middle of the page, very simple.

The book is called ‘De Komedie Van De Overeenkomsten’, designed by Felix Janssens a dutch graphic designer that lives in Holland. He is now working as Creative director at the company Total Identity. I’ve been talking with the designer over email about this very special and eye-catching book of his, and he agreed to answer a few question for me.

 

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Why did you chose this cover/design?

The cover is part of a series ‘beschouwelijk werk’ (reflections) of renowned historians. I always look at publishing houses like Gallimard or Penguin, how they made these series…. only type, but in a way it pops! by making it physical with the leathers it really became something tactile, a sensation for the senses. But its not only the cover that matters, the interior is like a comfortable living space.. comfortable, with some sparky details. Smooth papers, easy to hold in your hands for a longer time…
The type, the combination of the industrial Egyptiëne display font and a Garamond-like body typeface, the mirrored border on the cover…. an art-deco appraoch that fitted well to the titles in the series.

 

Did you decide on your own, how the design was going to turn out, or did the author have any inputs?

Since the concept was applied for more books like Cioran, Blumenthal, Barthes and others, it was finding the right combination of colours and textures.

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Why those colors?

Red and blue, complementary… high contrast… and like you wrote, a blue that’s off normal, slightly lighter than you would expect… making it look younger. Juvenile.

 

Why the size?

The size is comfortable in you hands while reading. Slightly more wide than a pocket would be. It makes it more like a little catalog…

 

How long did it take you to figure out the design?

I can’t recall, but normally these processes start with an intuitive idea,

which becomes starting point and goal, without being a dogma or fixated idea…
Its the accumulation of what you’ve seen without being concrete yet. Typography and book design, it’s pure intuition for me. The moment one starts to rationalize or describe it, it becomes false. It’s the space of pure abstraction which you have to keep ‘open’, which you have to prevent from putting to literal meanings (design) on top of it.

 

What does your agenda look like when you get a job to design a book? Where do you begin, and how many samples do you go through, before you find the right one?

You’re right it’s a generational process. More recent i designed in collaboration with the artist Willem Oorebeek the book Monolith2, starting with a white book to be filled. It was like a painting process.
Normally book design is about planning, this time it was like growing, creating, shaping, molding… very interesting. And different!
For a good book, physical qualities play a big role. So different samples in weights, binding types and finishes are being made. Also for the series of the HU/Beschouwelijk Werk.

 

I’ve discovered that you have been using the same design, for other books writing by other authors, but in different colors, whats the idea behind that?

Like i said before, to create a series, with enough differentiation between the volumes, colour combinations are like a personal comment on each book.

 

What is your opinion of this book?

Danto as very specific ideas about art and art history. Radical, and unconventional. I like that.
To be honest, i don’t feel myself equipped to judge about this book- I am more influenced by philosophers, economists and sociologists.

 

Do you often buy books mainly because you get fascinated by its look?

Do I buy books? less and less. After collecting books for years, 4 years ago I stopped buying books. It just didn’t give meaning anymore. I think that most designers collect books for their looks, the design or the designer. Just a few actually get read.
So it was with me. I rather preferred experiencing things in reality… Now I buy/want a book because of it’s content, the overview it gives me. So books now fascinate me by the content, regardless of their looks. But if they look good, it’s not too bad ;-)

 

Would an ugly/less attractive book cover/design (in your opinion) keep you from buying or looking into the book?

No, an ugly book may enter my domain. You wouldn’t discriminate a child or dog by it’s looks either? It’s their inside what matters.
Would you trust somebody who’s too good looking? But it proofs that design is just a dream, a phantasy when disconnected from it’s primary function. A book, a chair, a bread, a bicycle, all objects we use.
But now, Bread can be bought for more then 5 euros on the Noordermarkt! a bread! how about that? That Bread is more like a conversation piece for guests and friends…it’s a today’s authenticity fetish. 4 slices of industrial fabricated C1000 bread allow me to cycle for 200km. The c1000 bread is the ‘ugly book’ under the breads, yet it’s functional.
The Noordermarkt bread is the ‘design book’ under the breads- it is validated by it’s “sign-value”.

 

Do you always work in colors?

The Identity color codes project learned me a lot about colors. About the psychological dimensions apart from cultural differences. It tought me a lot about the limits of symbols. Colour is free, free to use, to adapt to. It’s inclusive. Symbols are exclusive.

 

What is your top 3 favorite book designs?

It can be any type of books, just 3 that caught your eye and you have to own them.
I lost a great part of my collection/archive a few years ago…. but these ones I carried with me
Walter Nikkels made a beautiful book with Lothar Baumgarten “Carbon”, The Custom Road bike or Viewing Matters from Hans Haacke

Rietveld library catalog no : ?

She put a spell on me


Thursday, October 30, 2014

 

Boezem

The book was staring at me. With its big shiny, purple letters saying BOEZEM, the Dutch word for bosom, and its firm, solid appearance, almost like a brick. What could this book be about? Anyway, this title, the bookmaker must definitely have been aware of the confronting and maybe also provocative impact it has on its audience. Me, in this case. I found it daring. I found it also daring that there was no picture, no nothing on the cover, except for those letters. I felt like touching the book.

I lifted it from the shelves and it surprised me once again. Whereas I had considered the book as quite minimalistic and probably consisting of just the two colours black and purple, it actually had this very subtle grey pattern on the side, looking a bit like stars in the galaxy. When opening the book it had more surprises for me. So much information! Totally not the white, sterile pages that I had expected, with maybe equally sterile pictures and once in a while a minimalistic amount of text. There were drawings, there was text, dark green as well, and both black and white pictures and full-page colour prints…

 

 

 

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“I want to make books with a high amount of density and content.”

Says Irma Boom, the designer of BOEZEM. You can say that in that sense, this one is a very typical book of hers. Just during a first sec google-investigation, I found out that she is probably the most famous Dutch book designer of the moment and that she has made over 250 books. It made me wonder; if I had known this designer Irma Boom, would I have known that the design of BOEZEM was hers? In other words: if a person makes this many books, is his or her ‘handwriting’ visible in every single one of the books? Is it even inevitable? And maybe even more important: would a clearly visible signature of the designer rather thwart or support a proper presentation of what the book is about?

 

It made me wonder about what it specifically is in that makes people like her books so much. I knew that I had already experienced it in kind of an intuitive way, when getting drawn to her design for BOEZEM. And the way I responded to this book must be an experience a lot of people have when seeing one of her books. Otherwise, she would not have been praised so much as a book designer. But what are the more concrete causes for this?

In order to find out more, first I decided to get more informed about her books; about what kind of projects she has done and about the books` appearances. I started searching on the internet for interviews and articles and I also went to the bookshop Nijhof & Lee that has two bookshelves dedicated to Irma Boom`s designs. To get more of an overview, to hold the books, and experience them as the objects they are. Some of her projects that were the most striking to me, seemed to be also the most famous.

For example, there is the SHV Thinkbook (not in the book shop) which is a jubilee book for SHV, a family owned company with interests mainly in the energy-industry and it is a collaboration between Boom and the art historian Johan Pijnappel. It weighs a little less than 4 kilograms, has 2136 pages and is made up of poems, quotes, letters, advertising, interviews, reports, speeches, memos and photographs from the company`s archive. The book has no page numbers, because it is not meant to be read from beginning to end, but as a ‘voyage’; you have to discover things by coincidence. The touch of Irma Boom becomes maybe the most expressed in all the little details: the poem on the side, the text on the cover that only becomes visible after the book is being used, the fact that there are a lot of pictures in it of family members with their dogs…

Another example is N°5 Culture Chanel, a book printed with no ink, because all the text and all the images are embossed. Just like the perfume, you see it, but it`s not there. This book as well has some interesting detail. The book for instance has a height of 5 centimeters, referring to the name of the perfume, and it is fully white and goes in a black box, referring to the relation between Chanel and black and white.
Furthermore, there is Colour Based on Nature, which consists of colour diagrams that are derived from 80 natural locations designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The book pages have to be torn open in order to let more diagrams appear. Another notorious example is Sheila Hicks: Weaving as a metaphor. One of the many beautiful details are the rough edges that refer to Hick`s tapestry.
Just some examples, but they already show how varied the projects are that Boom has done. Every book is a totally different object, having an original style adapted to the subject and interesting new details, and with a totally different format.
 

“Perhaps every book I make is kind of a failure that I constantly  want to improve by the next book.”

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But still this does not necessarily exclude that there are some resemblances throughout Boom’s designs, because there definitely are. They differ from returning details – little obsessions maybe – to approach of book design, but one thing is clear: they are indispensable for a Boom-design.
What the books are known for in the first place, is their object-like quality; they are almost like pieces of architecture. This I experienced when seeing BOEZEM and having the association of a brick. Boom sees the book as a container of a lot of information, an ongoing thing, with a permanent quality (of spreading information), in contrast to the internet. And this of course should be manifested in and attained by the design of the book. This is also why the book’s edges are almost always incorporated into the overall design: to make it one whole. Besides, a lot of the books ask for interaction and this way a relation is stimulated between the viewer and the content.
Next to that, attention to detail is what is most essential for a Boom-book. Through those exceptional details, Boom is really able to make –mostly symbolic– links between design and content. Otherwise there is these recurrent little features Boom seems to be fan of, such as embossing, reversed chronological order, and every publishers` worst nightmare: the white cover.
But actually most of all, her books scream uncommonness, everything in it is opposite of what you would expect.
So, the designs certainly have things in common and are in that way sort of connected, very much also approach-wise. You can call this Irma Boom’s signature, but I think it would go too far to define her signature by an obviously present personal ‘imprint’.

But let’s get back to the other questions I raised in the beginning of the article. As a book designer, is it actually desirable to have your signature visible in your designs? And if not, is it even avoidable?
 

“Making a book you should do with your heart, intuitively”

If this is Boom’s belief, how can her own ideas and preferences of aesthetics not prevail? But still, by saying that she wants to make the book for someone and not just a book, you might actually conclude that Irma Boom tries to keep out anything that refers to herself, as a book designer and as a person, so the book can be fully centred around its subject. You could translate this statement of her as the aim for objectivity. But just have a quick look at her books, and you are assured that her books are far from objective. Her taste, her humour, and her willingness to experiment always become apparent.

And the fusion of Boom with a subject, it seems to work. The adding of a little subjectivity, so to speak, seems to lift the subject. It seems to give it a structure, a context, a voice maybe… This effect is also enhanced by the fact that she is often the editor of a book as well. Maybe this kind of ‘subjectivity’ that Boom incorporates in her designs is part of what makes her so successful. So, in case of Irma Boom, she is sort of depending on her signature and thus it is very desirable for her and her audience.

From a different viewpoint, if someone, a publisher, a company, or an artist asks her if she wants to make a book for them, wouldn’t they want, the ‘handwriting’ of Boom, to shine through in the design a little bit? She is so renowned that it is such an honour if she makes a book for you. Let it be visible, they would probably think. Besides, it obviously sells better when people know that she is the designer, or it could mean something very good for one`s career… look at Sheila Hicks. The many awards winning book that Boom made for her, instantly gave her a huge career boost. Of course, you can also question why customers buy one of Boom’s books in the first place. Is it because they are actually drawn to the book itself? Or is it because they are drawn to the fact that the famous Irma Boom has done the design? Looking at it in this way, does Boom’s signature perhaps stand in the way of properly presenting the subject? Anyway, fact is that the people she makes books for are almost always very content with the outcome. And who knows better if the subject is well presented, than the subject itself?

Simple as it is, that is what Boom does: she evokes excitement. At the time, her own wild ideas excited herself, and through realising them she shares with us that feeling. Going for the realization of these wild ideas, it also takes some courage, and I think this is also something a lot of people respond to. Boom is not afraid. She is not afraid to personally connect herself to the subject, she is not afraid to not know at forehand what the exact outcome will be, she is not afraid to take her time (it took her five years to finish the SHV book), and she is definitely not afraid to do the uncommon. But most of all, she is not afraid to disappoint her clients or to not do what they want. The risk-taking in combination with her ingenuity and eye for beauty are always the recipe for a special result. Most people love this specialness, but of course a risk-taker has a lot of enemies as well. In the beginning it took Boom probably a lot more courage to not listen to them than nowadays, since she is a very respected and many awards-winning book designer.

It all started with that very intuitive attraction to a book that turned out to be made by one of the world`s most famous book designers. Now it ends with me feeling like having at least partly unraveled the magic behind it. But even if I might have unravelled the magic a little bit, the spell that Irma Boom`s books put on me, is definitely not broken.

Rietveld library catalog no : 05547

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Esther de Vries is a graphic designer specialized in book design. Among many projects, she made two books on her father, the sculptor Auke de Vries. The two books, dealing with the same artist, are yet very different, the first one, Auke de Vries Photo Archives, being much more intimate than the second one, Auke de Vries: Sculptures, drawing and work in public space, which is more meant as an chronological overview on the evolution of the artistic career  of Auke de Vries. But what is surprising is that both books are very different from the first impression the reader can get just by watching the cover.

 

 

Indeed, at first sight and because of its very strong cover and size, the biggest book seems to be one of those very classical and sometimes deadly boring art books that present an exhaustive view of the work of an artist. But going into the design and the content of the volume you can experience it as an actual novel object. A lot of different materials are used in the book, making it exciting to go through, and a great importance is accorded to the process, thus gathering a collection of sketches, photographs and forms that helped or influenced the artist with his sculptures, and even pictures of the artist working in his studio. On all those pictures the text is set in an unquestionable playful way, sometimes even covering the images.

 

 

 

An other particularity that makes the book playful and thrilling is the use of very thin pages presenting a compilation of different forms, cut from a photograph of a work of the artist and magnified. Those pages refers to the collection of forms that the artist developed and used constantly in his work. Esther was keen to scatter that through the pages as, what she calls, an alphabet.

 

 

 

As for Photo Archives, the fabric and very simple cover makes it look at first glance as a secondary book, very small and discreet, soft, not meant to go through the years as the other one. But once more the design and content makes it very special, in a precious and sprightly way. While the other book is meant to present mainly the evolution of the artist’s works, this photography book shows through the collection of pictures the process that took place even before the artworks, as a wandering in the thoughts of the artist.

 

 

Here the relation to the reader is completely unusual, as there is no chronological order or reading direction. The reader, who is more a viewer since

there is no text, can open the book in the middle, at the end, or open the same page again and again, led to wander in the same way that the artist was wandering when he took those pictures.

 

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This is also a quite seducing book, designed between rule and coincidence with a set of colors and places for the pictures that are sometimes cut in two by the Japanese binding, leading the reader to focus on a particular shape that recalls Auke de Vries’ work. I noticed that the two books are very different from the first feeling you can get from them.

 

Yet, maybe Esther’s work, or at least these two books, deals a lot with feeling. That is to say the very strong feeling that the reader gets or is given in both cases of the close connection between the work of the artist and the design of the books. They pay homage to this work. It might has to do with the fact that both books where initiated by Esther herself, and not commisioned, hence the liberties in the design. This is also caused by the very long process that the designer went through while making those books, meticulously choosing each picture and composition, trying all the colors with each image again and again, changing direction until being fully satisfied, regardless of time.

 

All that makes both works very touching and the enthusiasm of the designer becomes very apparent, discovering a treasure made of all those pictures and willing to share it, making it as complete as possible to preserve the emotion aroused by the pictures themselves.

Rietveld library catalog no : Vrie 5 (

Rijksmuseum library catalog no : 832 E 13 (

k-r-k > eflux > art essay > web journal > printed reader > automated design


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Publication: e-flux journal, Hito Steyerl – The Wretched of the Screen

Publisher: Sternberg Press

Designer: Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon

 

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e-flux sprung out as an autonomous platform for art critique and comissioned art theoretical essays in 1998, eventually launching a monthly online publication consisting of a text heavy PDF in near A4 format, in 2008.

Jeff Ramsey (of design studio Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon) studied graphic design at Werkplaats Typografie in the Netherlands around the same time as e-flux was drafting their online publication. Through a local contact he was given the design assignment, containing few artistic restrictions. Working with a programmer he developed a tool that would operate according to a number of pre-determined rules (i.e. pictures should stand alone on pages, be placed as close as possible to their point of reference in the text, be sized according to importance; which in turn are factors assigned by the writer or editor, not the designer, when feeding the text into the template).

The first 5 issues of e-flux journal were supervised by the designer but have since been laid out solely by the editors of e-flux. The template tool is thus a wysiwyg-layout software custom made for this particular purpose.

As the number of web based journals grew e-flux aspired to publish a physical, printed paper reader; grouping new and previous essays by theme. Some of thus far 9 published readers are named/themed:

What Is Contemporary Art? / Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art / Moscow Syposium: Conceptualism Revisited / The Wretched of the Screen / Culture Class / Going Public

For consistency, the printed reader is almost an exact, but cropped, version of the online journal, fitting one column of text per page instead of two

(see below)

 

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(PDF  journal in grey, paper reader in white)

 

e-flux has gravitated towards simplistic and to-the-point design since the beginning.: ie helvetica was their web type. In order to connect the journals to the existing material Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon developed a similar “quite-like-Helvetica-but-not-Helvetica” typeface for e-flux, arranging the text to reminisce of the original on-screen reading. Pages are filled edge to edge with a sans serif type. Short margins, vertically oriented notes (page numbers/titles/etc) clearly differentiate it from, for instance, the pocket sized novel, which would often be printed in a similar shape and format.

 

 

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The design is intentionally simple in material as well as execution; highlighting the content without decoration or gloss. No waxed paper is featured (not even the soft and fairly fragile cover). Pages are deliberately matte, uniform and sobre. A dignified quality is communicated when the recipient holds a copy of the reader in their hand. The format is small, slightly below A5, fitting comfortably in one hand – yet thick enough not to be flimsy. This is a type of printed matter that lends itself to be carried, used and actually red without becoming tattered. It is also a book who’s look wouldn’t suffer if it did, since no ambition towards “pretty” is made.

 

Aside from e-flux Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon work with other large art clients such as MoMA, Carnegie, Whitney Museum and Guggenheim. Catering to art institutions as well as individual artists (for book and graphic design) has been a conscious strategy. The co-founders wished for greater freedom to execute their ideas – which they often get when working with artist – contrasting institutions, which tend to be more bureaucracy oriented and constricted by earlier graphic profile, printing methods, etc. K-R-K also believe that the art circuit allows for a greater intellectual challenge for them as design professionals, for instance: inviting the client to collaborate on an assignment might lead to ideas and solutions the designers alone wouldn’t have arrived at.

 

The actual design process varies, from luck/intuition with “first version is the best version” to long stretches of tedious pushing, tweaking for weeks until a direction which is ready to be presented to the client appears. Strategically, all while being able to produce large volumes of work (see Saddam Hussein covers) the designers prefer to present only one idea to the client.

“We are constantly going for higher quality work, so we keep on sketching – but once we arrive to something we believe in, we’ll present that and start re-working it with the client.” – Jeff Ramsey

 

Rietveld library catalog no : stey1

The Indefinable Nature of Graphic Design


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book cover

 

In the following essay, an almost complete series of books will be discussed in comparison to each other, regarding the design, layout, and publishing choices that the respected artists/designers or publishers had to face. The books in question (both written and designed by) are: Talks About Money by John Barclay, I Heard They Ripped It Off by Robin Ekemark & Brita Lindvall, 37 Assignments by Indrek Sirkel, Can I Make Everybody Happy? by Dag Brandsæter & Noa Segal, and Our Daily Debates by Nina Støttrup Larsen.
The books in this series enquire into the different fields of graphic design, where the basic understanding of what graphic design actually is seems equivocal. They investigate this lack of definition in the different fields as a means to contribute to an otherwise arbitrary profession. The focus will be on Can I Make Everybody Happy?, which will be used as a base for comparison with the other books of the series.

All books share a similar front cover, namely a white background, with a black stripe of thick spray-paint horizontally across, that sometimes covers the title. If you place the whole series next to each other, you will see that the lines join up, and it looks like one fat line of spray-paint on a white, clean surface. The title is written in a specific font that is used throughout each book differently, including fonts such as Comic Sans for Talks About Money or Courier New for 37 Assignments also seen below. In I Heard They Ripped It Off, Robin Ekemark and Brita Lindvall created a new font for themselves in “an attempt to tell a story from the closest point of a source”.

 

talks-about-money-1

 

 

Can I Make Everybody Happy? designers Dag Brandsæter and Noa Segal had decided to compose the book of emails that had been sent back and forth between colleagues that mostly disagree on plans concerning the graphic design of specific, unknown projects. Ironically however, is that the blurb on the back describes how confrontations by e-mail are prone to make people aggressive and defensive, and that matters are best discussed face to face. This ironic addition to the production of the work coincides with the theme of the series, namely to investigate the miscommunication in the graphic design world.

In comparison to Can I Make Everybody Happy?, the layout in Talks about Money is a similar type of communication. Dialogue is displayed in speech-bubble format, discussing how much graphic designers can sell their work for. There are, like every other book in the series, chapters, which in this case are divided into a logical structure of explanation. Unlike Can I Make Everybody Happy?, the content is a constructive discussion, where graphic designers ask themselves how much they are worth, further accentuation the lack of definition within graphic design. Below is a picture to get an idea.

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In I Heard They Ripped It Off, the chapters are a lot less distinguishable. There are no chapters, as this is a retelling of a story about a specific project, the “Experimental Jetset”. There are divisions sometimes, to make the reader pause for effect, with a blank page. I heard They Ripped It Off seems like a personal encounter with the graphic design choices that have to take place during a project. The retelling of the story in the book feels more personal with this custom scribbled font. 37 Assignments focuses on the variety in 37/100 chosen graphic design assignments over the course of 2002 – 2007 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, to investigate potential patterns with the projects. To preserve the voice of the teachers, the texts are edited as little as possible: only specific dates are removed to make the assignments timeless and universal. All Assignments are presented anonymously, in an attempt to stress the entire approach of the department not simply the individual assignments. In a way, this book differs from all of the previously discussed, and dives into an almost scientific way of investigating graphic design.

Our Daily Debates is another new approach to investigating the indefinable nature of graphic design. The book is structured like a script, between Nina, Sirkel, and some other colleagues. They joined together to debate about graphic design, their future profession. In a way, this book is similar to I Hear They Ripped It Off, as the wall between reader and writer is once again broken down by the layout choices of the book.

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Subsequently, the series contains a variety of books that each contains their own specific design and content layout, sometimes seeming totally unrelated. However, the indefinable nature of graphic design is thoroughly reflected and investigated upon in these books, due to their contrast in content, difference in font choice, or disparity of the choices made to display the content. Therefore, the series works successfully together as a whole to provide a tangible examination of an indefinable, arbitrary, profession.

 

Can I make everybody happy?: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 bra1

I Heard They Ripped It Off: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 eke1

Our Daily Debates: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 stö 1

37 Assignments: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 sir 1

Talks about Money: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 bar 1

Untitled


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Untitled September Magazine, by Paul Allman

 

In the book Untitled September Magazine by Paul Elliman designed by Julie Peeters, you can find about 600 pages of glossy magazine, including scans from Vogue amongst other brands that make the book indefinable in the first place. You have to go inside and try and read another kind of ‘text’, that is not said in words, but images, textures, and relations.

Note: Whilst working on the research, I made a box to transport the book, as transporting this big soft book without damaging it is impossible, there is a picture below. The box is a case of wood with felt on the inside, and the quote from ‘A September magazine’ (seen below) was laser-cut on the inside of the lid, in case that someone loses the paper. Before I started researching the book, the first instinct I had was to build the box, as a way to get more attached to the book, before getting into the details. The laser cut was added later on, as I thought it would be a nice addition to the box.

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Untitled-2cufsa

The book was published in 2013, inside you find a collection of scanned pictures from magazines, which is important for the perception of the details of the images themselves. With this you can also even sometimes feel the texture of the print. Paul Elliman collected the images for many years, roughly 10 years. However, according to colleague Julie Peteers, nobody is really sure of how long Paul has been collecting. In the end, Paul Elliman had this collection of photos, as he is a designer/typographer, and assembled them.
Before the book was published, the images were presented in a different perspective, namely an exhibition of 2 posters. For example, a poster designed by Paul Elliman called I can no longer drink Tea, seen below, published by Colophon and Casco, as a contribution to the exhibition Latent Stare at Casco, Utrecht (link).
The book itself was a part of an exhibition by Paul, hosted in the MOMA in 2012, and the book was presented as one of the objects.

 

 

He exhibited the Paul Elliman at MOMA book lying on the floor

lying next to a brick with the same measurements as the book. The effect of this is that the nature of the book is not a book anymore, but it has transformed into an object that is treated more like a sculpture of a book, with insides physically visible as details of a sculpture.

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I can no longer drink tea, Paul Elliman for Casco

 

Paul Elliman joined with Julie Peeters to put all these images together. In the beginning there were a lot more images, but they had to select images one bye one, to determine which pictures would make the cut. The major work was that they put the images together one by one, and make decisions about what details, rhythms, forms, or psychological relationships would exist or were created. At the first glance, the book is very thick, which is also the reason for the name September Magazine, which comes from a concept belonging to Vogue. Vogue would always publish their thick winter issue in September, which resulted in Julie and Paul deciding to imitate this magazine structure. For example, you have foldout pages of certain images that are similar pages to that of the magazine in Vogue. Unlike a magazine, the structure is very different. There are no constrictions, descriptions, texts, or information anywhere on the pages, as the pages are exclusively close up shots of picture scans. However, uncharacteristic photos in the book are sometimes seen, like pornography, or ‘disgusting’ images. That gives a different tone to the book, totally different from a fashion magazine. And after a time, after seeing relationships in the pages, it is like seeing storyboards between pictures that create a rhythm from one picture to the next. Because the book is mostly about fashion, humans, and society, Paul and Julie managed to reshape the human form as it where, with strange oppositions.

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After studying and ‘reading ‘the book many times, you see types of languages or feelings that you can interpret in your own way, each their own. There are parts of shapes and combinations of close-up parts and bodies, put together in a certain way, that create movement. It makes you want to flip the page, until you have seen all the images. The only piece of text that was found in the book was a small quote on a note between the first pages that supports this feeling:

It lives, it breathes, it gives off – fragrance?
I don’t know what it gives, a vibration that
we can not name because there is no name for it;
even when my patron said “name it”;
there is no name

-       HD, A September magazine

To conclude; Untitled September Magazine is a collection of images of magazine scans details that are put together in such a specific way, that you start to see relationships, patterns, and rhythms that together form a unique feeling of an exhibition, rather than a normal book.[x]

 

Rietveld library catalog no : ell 1

 
if you want to read more on paul Elliman [link]

MVRDV Buildings


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

9789462080126_mvrdv_buildings_500

The reason why I chose this specific book was its colour and image placed next and on top of each other. It has caught my eye and wanted me to read and analyze its content. Page after page I began to realize there was a type of system that the designer, Joost Grootens carried out.

MVRDV Buildings, published by 010 Publishers, is a complete overview of MVRDV’s architectural practice over a total of 20 years. To me, this has been a positive discovery while analyzing the book. It was a very good surprise. I am very much interested in architecture. The way I have understood it was that the designer has deliberately chosen and created a way of method to display and present this portfolio of this architect firm. My impression was that this “method” is a way of telling a nice story or even a nice joke. A way to share important information with people. (click on the title page image and browse the 11 consecutive images)

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.51.42 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.51.33 MVRDV Buildings Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.11 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.16 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.24 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.30 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.38 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.41 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.53.14 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.53.59  Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.54.32

 

Another consequence was that I got to explore Joost Grootens own book. The book called I swear I use no art all, has been written by the designer and summarizes 100 books, 18788 pages of his book designs throughout 10 years in that field. The interesting part is to see how, the originally architectural-designer became a graphic information-designer. The book describes his relation to publishers, supporters, authors, collaborators, printers, workplaces and studios. A very personal way to present the changes and development that his own working field. It has made me realize how nice it is to make a summary of your own development. Even though I can not yet make a summary and create a descriptive portfolio of the last 10 years of my work-field I have already imagined creating the mapping of my family or origin.

(click on the cover and browse the 2 consecutive images)

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I-Swear_spread2 I-Swear_spread1

A part which describes the beginning in a overview, showing how one project led to another by encounters or collaborations and led into a new project, caught my interest. The designer has focused on presenting how non-book projects evolved into book projects. This made me think about my own encounters I had in my life that has influenced some decisions made later. Furthermore, allowed me to think in a non project based way. It also made me think of the origin and allow me to imagine the beginning.

As a personal mapping I was first interested in looking online for my origin in order to see routes and possibilities to reach Santiago, the origin of my father, and Budapest, the origin of my mother. I have also looked for the distance between Amsterdam and Budapest. Nowadays, it is very easy to travel between my hometown and Amsterdam which is the city I have chosen and encountered on my own. I had first visited and met this country at the age of 16 and already new that one day it would be my home. Due to the fact that I can not connect to my origin nor to my parents because of their divorce I currently have to focus on the present and the decisions I have to make every day. Choosing to study but first of all choosing to apply to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie has happened by chance. Through the Academy I have also encountered the Design Academy in Eindhoven. These two Academies are important in this case because interestingly Joost Grootens who graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie is now a teacher in the Design Academy.

At this point I have immediately remembered my past with both academy’s. At one point in the last two years I have met students in Eindhoven who have shared a lot about their work process and further information of their studies. This also made me consider to apply to that school. Although I have never succeeded to enter the Design Academy I have, as a result, got to know the Rietveld more.
Once again, choosing >MVRDV Buildings< still proves how interested I am in design, how fascinated I am about architecture.

I knew I had a good feeling about the book’s black cover.

(click on the map and browse the 2 consecutive images)

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To conclude; black to me is a colour. It is a comfort zone and also a strong feeling I have towards it. Black to me is the house I wanted to have and the friends I wanted to play with as a child. Black is also the material I preferably wear during my daily life and it is the ink I like to draw with. Black will never leave me and will always be part of my decisions in the future.

Talks about Money: Rietveld library catalog no : 716.9 rub 1

Syndicate of original and contemporary typography


Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Typeface as Program: Applied Research and Development in Typography
Designed by David Keshavjee and Julien Tavelli

 

The book “Typeface as Program” is a book about the graduation project of David Keshavjee and Julien Tavelli. They graduated at the ECAL/University of Art and Design [x] in Lausanne, Switserland.
The first thing you will notice when you see this book is, of course, the cover. As seen in the picture, this cover contains the colours red, white and black. I think this, and the typeface on the cover appealed to me the most at first sight. It also seems like a book that makes you move closer, because you see the cover but you cannot read at first side what is written on the cover, because it’s vertical. You also do not yet really understand what it is about and what you will find inside. As the title is situated very small in the left corner, it draws you come closer. When you read it, Typeface as Program, more questions pop up. What is this book about? Why did they situated the words like this?

 

When you open the book you’ll see a very outstanding orange colour which I really like.

front page

Next you will see the table of contents and introduction. What I don’t really like about that is that it’s vertical written, so you have to turn the book which is not very practical. It does look nice.

What I already mentioned in the beginning, is the typeface. If you actually start to read this book you’ll find out the whole book is about this typeface and how they developed and produced it.

 

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A view into the book about their graduation project

 

The size is a little bit smaller then A4-size, which I also like because it fits easily into my bag, and A4 mostly doesn’t. The cover is soft but not too soft. The size and the material makes the book approachable because it is not too big and heavy to open it.

The book is representing the graduation project of Keshavjee and Tavelli collaborated by other people. The project “Creating tools, Using tools” earned Keshavjee and Tavelli the Federal Design Grant in 2009 [x]. This project is realised by several steps. They decided to develop their own tools. First they programmed a script that could automatically generate character sets based on a group of specified variables. Then, with the digital font they created, they made wood types and an automatic layout tool.

 

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Pictures of the handmade woodcuts they made for their typeface

 

By combining these tools, they printed the posters seen in the beginning of the book. Using a digital font and manual wood types, they wanted to contrast different kinds of typographic languages.
In the result you can see the programmed randomness. Their type design is impossible to regenerate with either only traditional- or digital methods. The typeface was based on the idea that the, let’s call it, “DNA” was only containing the letters “o” and “n”, and from those two letters on they built the complete Latin alphabet.

 

The typeface is called “Programme”. Primitiv is the first version, which was automatically generated. Its very light, almost like a sketch with a skeletal structure. Later they made more calligraphic cuts. In the typeface it’s possible to see marks made by pen, brushes or computer. The typeface looks, even though its automatically generated, almost like an old typeface.

 

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Programme, 2009, Keshavjee&Tavelli’s typeface they made as a graduation project

 

After their graduation project they, of course, didn’t sit still. They continued a lot to work in an experimental way combining different tools and using them in a twisted way, to try to reach an innovating and interesting effect. Seen in the catalog “Acid Test”, their first experiments with chemical products.

 

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Acid Test, 2010, in collaboration with Tatiana Rihs and Körner Union

 

In this book, they tried to work completely manual, without computer but with for example tape, razor blades, acids or brushes. They were trying to understand better how colours on colours overlay and how chemicals would react on other material. “Les impressionists Magiques” is a final product of the best outcomes they got by using these new tools, shapes and gestures. They try to see the good also in “mistakes” and unexpected surprises. It marks their work. They push tools to their boundaries and use them in a wrong/different way to get new results.

 

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Maximage Formula Guide, 2011

 

They made several more catalogs, booklets, posters for festivals and record covers. Also, they work a lot in collaboration with other artists. Their latest is “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books of the year 2013″. Again they combined new methods, for example all the parameters in the book are changing all the time. Furthermore are some pages glossy and some aren’t. I think this is an innovating view on typography to use subtle and original gestures. They also used different screening types. This all comes out in a book full of varieties [x].

 

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The most beautiful Swiss Books, 2013

 

 

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La Grida Loca (2010) is a short booklet for graphic design students. It is about common mistakes and solutions for graphic designers and it also contains designer tips — in collaboration with Körner Union.

 

 

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Untitled, in collaboration with Körner Union and Tatiana Rihs

Rietveld library catalog no : 757.3 kel1

 

A Photograph Revolution


Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

Among all of the recent books in the Rietveld Academie library, Boy Politics particularly appealed to me for its very peculiar aspect and design. It is a bit damaged and looks very breakable which gives it a feeling of preciousness, emphasized by the fact that it is a unique copy. At first I had decided to go see what it looked like because the title was very evocative to me and seemed like a topic I would want to read about. I am interested in the theme of gender and particularly male domination in different cultures and have often questioned it in my work last year in my art school in France. The boy figure, what is expected from a boy and how deeply these expectations and behaviors are attached to a culture and collective unconsciousness.

This book was my first glimpse of the tip of the iceberg that are Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos’ collaborative projects.

 

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Boy Politics, Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos

 

Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos are two former students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Both graduated in 2009 ; Blesa from VAV and Delfos from graphic design. They have been working together ever since between Barcelona and Amsterdam. From 14/05/13 to 07/06/13 they held an exhibition at Rietveld library where they exposed a selection of Blesa’s secondhand books in a window display, opened at a certain page. It was a mute and powerful visual essay of the figure of the boy throughout images from the 1920′s to the 1990′s. Later on, two other former students of the Academie (Anton Stuckhard and Andrea Sergio) designed Boy Politics, a book that archives this exhibition in a very efficient manner that, to my opinion, is really coherent to the way Blesa and Delfos work. Without any fuss, they encapsulated the spirit of what was the starting point of a larger project that Blesa and Delfos have been working on ever since : « Werker ».

 

Boypolitics1

 

Werker magazine is a long term project and concept that asks many questions and got more and more complex over time. There are 8 different werker projects but usually more than one edition by project.

The artists define them as « contextual publications about photography and labor that inquire into the possibility of formulating a contemporary representation of work » They are all mute analysis of a situation that they try to depict in a most objective manner as possible. They are often the following or addition to an event (exhibition, lecture…) like for Boy Politics. Werker 2, for example, was realized for the exhibition « 1979, A Monument to Radical Instants » in the Virrena Centre de la Imatge of Barcelona (2011), dealing with the issues of daily life in crisis of working class young men. Knowing that photography is the medium that communicates best the essence of a situation, Blesa and Delfos have realized a very accurate observation of several situations.

 

werker2_h1000

 

An example of that accuracy is the « Cinema Diary » edition of Werker 6 (that you can find in San Serriffe book store, along with other Werker issues. It is « a collection of photo diaries that reflect on the current working conditions of the youth through self-representation and amateur photography. » It is the summary of a young artist’s (Matthijs Diederiks) side job at a Pathé cinema. In this small book (x) from which the cover is handwritten by Diederiks, you can find an extract of his working contract and meaningfulness in the lost time of a very boring job.

 

Werker is the story of how graphic design and art meet through photography (amateur photography, secondhand books images, internet pictures…) aiming to deliver a message : Images have power and that power is into the wrong hands, the people must take it back. Blesa and Delfos are indeed strongly politically engaged with revolutionary ambitions.
Let’s focus on « Werker 7 : the language of revolution ». This exhibition followed by an edition of newspaper (once with and once without image) was inspired by the words of Ariella Azoulay in a lecture she gave at the museu d’art contemporani de Barcelona in 2011 in which she did an analysis of Egypt’s revolution through images from the internet (you can find her lecture here : x). Werker 7 questions the revolutionary image, the revolutionary language, the role of mass-media in all this and the function carried out by photography in construction of a global revolutionary language. All the images chosen for that project were found on the internet.

 

Werker7_index_w1500

Werker7_index_zoom1_w1500

 

Werker takes its name from the « Worker Photography Movement » :  a group of amateur photographers that appeared in Germany in the 1920’s, following the steps of the first socialist photography experiences in the USSR which extended into the rest of Europe, the USA and Japan. The first group of amateur photographers to use the camera as a tool to fight class-struggle. When I found out about this origin, the work of Blesa and Delfos came clear to me to its full extent. Werker 3 is a « political kitchen calendar » developed within the « grand domestic revolution – user’s manual », a long term living research initiated by casco office for art, design and theory in Utrecht. it is a call for students, artists, domestic workers (and so on) to contribute to the collective gathering of materials. A call for amateur photography as an observation of domestic space. The assignment was « Think politically of your domestic space and contribute to Werker 3 ».

 

Werker-3_h900

 

Finally, I found in the « Cinema Diary » an extract from the book Der Arbeiter-Fotograf from Willi Münzenberg (1931) that I thought was very relevant to Delfos and Blesa’s approach, aims and tasks.

« Photography has become an indispensable and outstanding means of propaganda in the revolutionary class struggle. (…) For an illustrated book is easier to read (…) than the lead article of a political daily. Photography works on the human eye (…) the bourgeoisie caters for the mental laziness of the masses and also makes a lot of money. (…) Much more important is the political effect (…) a skillful editor can falsify every photograph into its opposite and can influence the politically naive reader. (…) The revolutionary workers of all countries have to realize these facts very clearly. They have to fight the class enemy with all means. Just as the workers of the Soviet Union have learned to make their own machine-tools (…) the proletarian amateur photographers have to learn to master the camera and to use it correctly in the international class struggle. »

Delfos and Blesa’s aim and ambition : an anti-propaganda revolution guided by photography.

Rietveld library catalog no : roi 1

Content Is King


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

 

Present

 

The Most Beautiful Swiss Books is an annual contest of the most beautiful books in Swiss, which started in 1943 at the suggestion of graphic designer Jan Tschichold. Designing the catalogue itself has always been a desirable task and the job is handed to the most popular designer each year. For Brunner it was a big achievement to secure the catalogue for three years with his concept of ; -The Past Issue(2007), -The Present Issue(2008) & -The Future Issue(2009).
In the making of this catalogue Brunner positioned himself in the middle of the whole process. So he could influence what the content of the book would be, choose which people were interview and what other text and essays were chosen to be in the catalogue. Through this he could increase the value of his concept for each of the three catalogues. The three catalogues all have different perspectives on books and bookmaking in Switzerland, with his time based theme he creates a frame where the interviews and essay fit in.

Although the three catalogues share a format and you can clearly see that they are a series, they have such a different atmosphere. The first time I picked up the three I was immediately drawn to -The Present Issue, I think it was mostly the humorous approach it has.

The way he blends together infographics, photographs and adverts to create this strong theme.
The photographs have a really ironic approach to pop culture and modern cliches, my favorite spread of the issue is two photographs, the first one is a news photograph of miss universe being crowned and the second one is a portrait of a street sweeper with a man dressed in a Harry Potter book costume. The infographics are all connected to books, bookmaking and books in culture in a modern context, with a few random book connected instructional pictures in between the texts. The adverts in the catalogue are clearly carefully chosen, all book connected. All of them really straight forward, half of them are for contemporary books and the others are for book related technology, like the Amazon Kindle pocket reading computer.

Brunner used his typeface: Circular, that was under development at the time. A typeface that has spurred a lot of attention since its arrival with its fresh approach to the classic 20th century fonts. He achieved to make something new and modern by reworking the geometric sans, drawing from Futura, Neuzeit Grotesk and other classic builts. My favorite glyphs of this exciting font is the lowercase “t” and my native lowercase “ð”.  He also made the font; Akkurat which was a big success in 2004. He has a true talent of reinventing the classics, with new perspective.

 

Circular Font sample

Circular Font sample

 

LL Circular is a new take on a classic genre, first explored by Paul Renner’s Futura (1927-28). In the process of developing the font, the purely geometric approach gave way to more complex formal conception, resulting in a geometric sans serif marrying purity with warmth. Striking a balance between functionality, conceptual rigor, skilled workmanship and measured idiosyncrasy, LL Circular is a friendly sans serif text font with unmistakable character yet universal appeal.” -Lineto
With his typography and his layout talents he makes each and every page really aesthetically pleasing, and he makes it really easy to read and functional even though it is in Italian, french, german and english. He made this 200 page catalogue really interesting even though you don’t read one word. All the elements work so well together and are really true to his concept for the catalogue.

Rietveld library catalog no : 758.3 brun 2

Is the pursuit of happiness just an illusion?


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

 

What is happiness to you? How does it smell, taste and feel?

A smile for you

Jeppe Hein is a Danish artist based in Copenhagen and Berlin. His work attempts to be inclusive and tactile, whilst at the same provides a stimulus for contemplation.

The book tries to depict the artist’s representations of three dimensional work within the context of a two dimensional medium.
First of course I was attracted to the front cover. My eyes followed the confusion of coloured dots, like spatter from an ink-jet printer. Until they found the centre; a blister free of colour where the title nestled and seemed to lift, like the title suggested: “A Smile For You”. And then, off-centre; top left following the curve, the artist’s name. Tinier, but somehow less intimate. Different font. Lighter in colour, perhaps, but a statement nonetheless. Ownership.
I browsed through the book and saw that these elements were replicated throughout; the lack of margins, the differing fonts and point sizes, sometimes with serif, sometimes without as if each page was a different room of the exhibition. I became a visitor among the others. And there are many others. I am one of those looking at them, trying to look within.
I realised that the depiction of the artwork was an attempt to reflect the conceit of happiness. The expression of such is difficult; emotions are subjective; happiness is maybe the hardest one to express in a creative medium. I therefore found it interesting how you could try to express happiness in design and in the content of a book.
Books are neither happy nor sad. It is what is contained within and the ability of the author, the designer, and the illustrator; the bookbinder and most importantly the consumer who decides that.

I feel like I have an intimate relationship with this book, it’s precious nevertheless I’m not afraid to use it, look at it, smell it, crease it, read it and ignore it. As long as it’s on the bookshelf it will always be there. A small happiness in my head.

 

The book was designed by All the Way to Paris a Danish-Swedish graphic design studio based in Copenhagen. Founded in 2004 by Tanja Vibe and Petra Olsson Gendt. ATWTP and Jeppe Hein have a personal relationship together. They have been working as a team for the past six years. In 2008, the designers produce the graphic identity for “Karriere” a restaurant ran by Jeppe Hein and his sister. Also, in 2009/2010, they created a logo for “Circus Hein,” a circus show held in Orléans, France. The designers touch can easily be recognized. The colours and typeface are echoed throughout their work.

Circus Hein posters

The catalogue’s design is a close collaboration between Jeppe Hein, his studio and the graphic designer. The artist decided on the selection of images and came up with the idea to include the postcards, engaging the reader to participate by sharing his thoughts on happiness.
The photographs of the artist’s installations and drawings are inviting; the reader can easily travel through them. The choice of mat photo paper is important. The depiction of these works attempts to be as truthful as possible. Many of the photographs enable the reader to see the audience’s reactions to the installations and how by using everyday materials Jeppe Hein tries to reflect the serenity of introspection through voyeuristic engagement.
The designers were able to incorporate a collection of intriguing dividers into the catalogue. Each introduced by an element on the previous page that relates to it somehow. Their content is different from the rest, they’re special. Every divider consists of a short reflection on happiness. These small and grainy pages are significant. They allow rhythm within the book.

At the end, you can find the index of the work featured in the catalogue. The information is printed in landscape format, more convenient to gain space, but also to radically separate the exhibition content and the index. Though I find it uncomfortable to read a hefty book in this way.

 

What is happiness to you?

 

I thought I could use this research for personal reasons in addition to the design aspect. Expressing and understanding what makes me (feel) happy is complex. I can identify when I am intensively happy or deeply sad. But never what’s in between?

 

And I still can’t.

Rietveld library catalog no : Hein 1

 

Can one have a conversation with an artist who is no longer living?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

 

DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY

front page

 

HOW TO MAKE A CATALOG

 

Sterling Ruby / Robert Mapplethorpe

Designer Rutger Fuchs, living and working in Amsterdam [x]

 

Prep time: 1-2 months
Cooking time: 2-3 months
Total time: approx. 3-5 months

 

copies : approx. 1000

 

Before you start you need to collect a few people to work with.
Besides that you will need:

-       Corporate identity for Xavier Hufkens

  • Typeface: Swift* by Gerard Unger [x]

-       Pictures of art work/photography

-       Pictures from the exhibition

-       Exhibition notes by Sterling Ruby

-       Essay by Ed Schad

-       Gold coated mirror board (spiegelkarton)

-       Red ink

-       Printing Press

 

When you found just the right team you collect all the images and structure them. Arrange them as you would hang the exhibition.

 

Then you add a good portion of graphic skills and mix it all up.

 

Now comes the difficult part – time to press the cover. Here you will need to add a lot of patience and some overwork. First you start out by printing the red title on the front cover twice to keep the typeface in place. The material is very easy to damage, so be careful to avoid scratches when you uses the printing machine. When the title is printed on successfully and you’re happy with the outcome you let it dry. Leave it to dry for a couple of days to make sure the ink is completely dry.

 

After this you end up with the final result, which should measure approx. 21,4 cm. broad, 26,4 cm. long and 1 cm. thick. This size will make it more suitable for shipping to collectors, friends etc.

 

Hope you’re happy with your result – enjoy your catalog!

 

* Swift (1985) has proved its worth in corporate identities, magazines and newspapers and occasionally in books — it is a versatile type and can be used in a wide range of circumstances. It is a striking type, with large serifs, large counters and letters that produce a particularly strong horizontal impression. This means that words and lines in Swift are easily distinguished, even where there are large spaces between words, as can occur in newsprint. Swift’s large, robust counters were designed to improve legibility particularly in newspapers. It was designed in the early eighties, when papers were less well printed than they are today, and its special features help it survive on grey, rough paper printed on fast rotary presses. Today it is used more often outside newspapers than in. The current Swift (1995) is an improved version with technical and aesthetic enhancements, and has been expanded into a family of twenty-four variants.

 

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BONUS INFO

A catalog representing an exhibition of Sterling Ruby (American artist 1972) engaging with the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe (American photographer 1946 – 1989).

“Can one have a conversation with an artist who is no longer living? What are the natures of autobiography and biography? Why is psychoanalyzing Robert Mapplethorpe so compelling?”

These are some of the questions Ruby has been working with towards creating a whole new line of works.

The catalog itself catches your eye right away with its reflecting golden cover and the red stained typing on the front. I wanted to figure out why especially this shiny cover caught my attention and found this phrase online:

“We have long been obsessed by shiny objects – from the latest glimmering gold iPhone to the sheen of a pair of high heels. … It is humbling to acknowledge that despite our sophistication and progress as a species, we are still drawn to things that serve our innate needs–in this case, the need for water.”

 

exhibitionSterlingRuby1

exhibitionSterlingRuby2

Rietveld library catalog no : map 6


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