Skip to Content Skip to Search Go to Top Navigation Go to Side Menu

Designing the Surface Supplementary

Monday, February 13, 2017


Gebr.A.R.& P.van der Burg /wood and marble painting examples in color 1876


Supplementary Surface Show Under Construction


20 students of the Rietveld Academy’s Basic Year visited the exhibition “Designing the Surface” organized at the New Institute Rotterdam (2017).
The intriguing aspect of surface, an issue that is generally avoided in a discussion about the context of content, raised our curiosity.
The exhibition and the accompanying publication was inspiring as were other additional exhibits like ‘Screen Savers’ or various shows in adjoining musea.


Curious for our reflections on these subject?

Chose an image and click on it.

We assembled this small supplementary research show for you to enjoy.



FelineH VanilleOugen

SimonMarsiglia Screen shot 2017-02-13 at 12.05.50 PM CeliaNabonne

KaanKorkmaz JimKlok

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.43.35 PM

KimLang OfiaBaytocheva FelineHjermind

NadjaSchlenker JohannesZ

Parelstrik vantablack




nOt sO EasY

Thursday, February 9, 2017

It all started by picking the book. That was easy. It was the smallest in dimensions in between the rest of the books on the shelf. 20.6 centimetres in height, 20.6 centimetres in length, and 0.6 centimetres thick. It was nice to carry around, to flip through its glossy pages once in a while during the time I had it. The pages were easy to turn and had vibrant coloured pictures to look at. Just so easy. It’s why I picked it, it just made sense.

BOok cOver of “Super City” by DOuglas Coupland

Super City book cover

The layout of the pages in this book is easy on the eyes. The placement of the text on the pages are usually towards the bottom of the page, leaving a blank space or room for an image that depicts the contents of the text. As The Canadian Design Resource states on their web page: “Eby created the perfect stage for the books actual content, giving the viewer an easy way to cruise the content without any design upstages”. Referring to the second installment of Coupland’s influential examination of the material culture of Canada: “Souvenir of Canada 2” that she designed together with the book “Souvenir of Canada”. It turns out that it is not the first time that Jen Eby worked for Coupland as his Designer.

Book cOver of “Souvenir of Canada” and “Souvenir of Canada 2” by DOuglas Coupland

Souvenir of Canada book cover Souvenir of Canada 2 book cover

If I could find her and ask her all about how she achieved to make all the decisions necessary for the making of this book, I would. But she is like a ghost on the internet that refused to reveal herself to me. The digging began on the internet and I finally found a possibility to contact her through The Canadian Design Resource web site. Their contact mail was faulty. So, I found their Facebook page and sent a message. They’re response was very fast, almost within 10 minutes. The person redirected me to Todd Falkowsky, who is currently trying to contact her for me.

Easy read, not such an easy find.

It wasn’t a spontaneous encounter. I looked for it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Coarse antique white paper. Slick bright white paper. Corresponding with these two feelings 70’s architecture gives me. This vintage feeling of the past, but in its day so modern and progressive. The book feels historic yet contemporary. I feel like I’m holding a treasure in my hand. This book; 17 by 24 centimeters, comfortable in one’s hand and easy to carry with you. Beautiful pictures in black and yellow printed on this coarse paper feeling like an old precious book in my hands.

entering2 cover side1

O B S E R V A T I O N S:

First of all, the book is titled “De kritiese jaren zeventig”, which I think is genius. The 70′s way of spelling “kritiese” is used in the titel, rather then the contemporary “kritische”.

ocean14 ocean12overlay4 overlay1
The book consists of 2 types of paper: coarse antique white paper and smooth bright white coated paper. Furthermore it contains 3 types of pictures: black and white, black and orange, black and yellow. The coloured pictures are like black and white prints on coloured paper.

Black and white prints are used for specific buildings. Every chapter is divided in paragraphs that deal with a building. The pictures of these buildings are in black and white on coated paper. The texts are also printed black on white coated paper.

The colour yellow presents scenes: People or streets. They are accompanied by relevant quotes and precede the introduction of every chapter. They are printed on antique white paper.

Orange is the colour being used in the general introduction as well as every chapter’s introduction and the first and final page of the book. The black and orange pictures that introduce the book are printed on antique white paper. The single orange introduction pages for each chapter are printed on white coated paper.


How can I not read this book? Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. I’m not. I’m not reading. But I see words, I see sentences, their meaning is clear to me without doing effort and so I want to read, I want to continue what my mind processes without conscious effort. This coarse paper feels so…… coarse? soft? Old? Precious I guess. I know this book is about the past. And we’re making the same mistakes all over again. Humanity makes the same mistakes all over again all the time everywhere, always. Why is there so much violence, why are people so unhappy. And I mean unhappy, unsatisfied in a well-developed country. This book evokes so much in me. And it’s not the architecture, not so much the design, but the fact that I know it’s about the past and I am not happy about the world and… Past, present, past, present and I wonder; where is this going? The design of the book anticipates on the context very well. At least on the fact that the book is about the past. And the design feels like the past, it feels like not now. Old pictures, blurry pictures, pictures in black and white, black and yellow, black and orange. Then again I also think this book is bullshit. Pure bullshit. Like everything contemporary related to architecture; this quasi science. Conceptual bullshit about how architecture makes a better world. But it doesn’t because we are inherently fucked up. People are insane.

ocean9 ocean15 woman ocean8 ocean4 entering1 ocean2 ocean1

I feel so alone, yet I do not want to be with people. I want to cry.
When there are no words, what is left then? What should I do? I write. No, I type. Authentic is what it would be when written with pen on paper. But I am typing, with music. It’s about feeling happy. Not having a good life. Goal? Now?


The book feels like an escape. Just like how I can get lost in google maps, looking at buildings, I can get lost in this book


The book makes me passive, receptive. Maybe that’s how I am in general. No I’m not. I’m creative. I create. I’m not that passive. But then again I am. Well at least lately I am. FUCK. I just want to see, touch, feel, sense the book. Which is okay. I guess. That’s the assignment. But then again, am I researching? Is this going anywhere? No. I just want to get lost. Lost in the images of the book. Lost in the colours of the book. Why do I enjoy looking so much? I do it so much. Just watching buildings. Going on google maps or biking around the city and just looking at buildings. Getting lost in watching them and enjoying them. I can hide my face behind the book. I like it. I want to disappear. I want to wear this Harry Potter invisibility cloak and disappear.

So, with drawing and painting I tend to write a lot. Write previous to painting or using written words in paintings. I tend to write a lot. In this assignment however. I seem not so capable of writing. Even though I’m writing now. The book makes me very passive. Makes me want to see the book, feel the book, read the book, but not write about the book.

Now how did this all start? How did I end up picking this book? We got a list with books we could choose from and I decided to look for books about architecture and found this amazing book about 70’s architecture. And I happen to have a thing for post-world war II pre-nineties architecture. So I had to choose this book. Then the book also happened to be so nicely designed. And the text is not only about the architecture but the whole social situation of the 70’s. The book contains beautiful pictures, not only of buildings but also of people and sceneries. Sceneries of the 70’s, not just 70′s architecture. This book is a history book and its content is so wonderfully converted in its design.

It wasn’t a spontaneous encounter. I looked for it.


What about Midden Deffland ?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


My cellphone is slowly dying.
I decide to let it rest for a while.
It means that I don’t have any alarmclock to wake me up now.
Tomorrow I’ve planed to go two hours away from Amsterdam, somewhere called Midden Deffland.
I need to wake up pretty early.
I will manage. I’ve got a technique to wake myself up: Believe.
I just have to believe I can wake up alone at a certain hour, think about it very hard and then it will happen.

It didn’t work.
I woke up too late.
I left the house at 1pm.

My trip to Midden Deffland is now starting.
I take the tram. Oops. It’s the wrong one. I jump out of the tram.
I see the number 12 (right tram), I run to catch it, take a seat and start reading peacefully.
I’ve got time. I’m supposed to get out at the terminus.
The journey is taking quite a while though. As I decide to find out where I am, I recognize my neighborhood. I had passed the terminus a while ago and was now going in the opposite direction.

I finaly arrive at Sloterdijk to catch my train to Deflt.
There I will eventually find the bus number 33 that will take me to Midden Deffland.
I wait.
The bus 33 is the only one which runs every half hour.
It’s now 4:45pm.
The sun will disapear any minute now, but I won’t photograph until I reach Midden Deffland.
I will manage with the light there.
As I’m in the bus I see the night slowly arriving.

Never mind if it’s not the right stop, I jump out.
I’m in the countryside. The landscapes are the same all around me.
I’m now walking. I want to discover more.
I have to take a few pictures while I can.
It’s just been 5 minutes that I’ve been walking but the light is now gone, it gave place to the darkness.
I don’t have a flash on my camera.
I’m tracking the streetlights.

This place is scary.

It’s been 15 minutes now and I’m still walking on that same road.

I’m not satisfied by the pictures I’ve been taking so far, they’re boring.
There, I see a church. It’s surrounded by street lights.

I walk in that direction. It’s too dark there, nothing interesting is happening.
That’s it, I’m going home.

I’m thinking “I should have woken up earlier”.

The bus is coming in 2 minutes. I feel lucky.
I’m freezing to death here.
I check in. It sound like my OV chipcard doesn’t work.
I’m surprised, I’ve just recharge it in Delft station.
I try again.
It doesn’t work.
I don’t have any cash to pay the 5 euros the driver is now asking me for.
He doesn’t accept my Credit Card, I ask him where can I go withraw.
The bus driver says he is not from here. He doesn’t know where I can withraw.
He’s now asking me to leave the bus so he can continue his journey.
I leave the bus.

What an asshole !
The next bus is in an hour. In a fucking hour !
I’m freezing.
I’m not going to stay there, static, dying.
I walk, following the road I came from.

Everything is dark around me.
The only houses I see are very far.
Everything is just fields and ships.
I can’t believe the guy left me.
I’m shocked.
I’m thinking “And what if I get raped ?”

A human is passing by.
He looks at me like I’m crazy when I tell him I want to walk to Delft.
That city is 10 kilometers away.
The bus stop is just near.
I didn’t see it because it’s just a pole.
The next bus is coming in 45 minutes.

This time I will get in and won’t get out before Delft.
I wait.
I’m standing.
I hate to wait standing.
I start to sing, and dance to get warmer.
It’s so cold out there.
I’ve just been waiting 5 minutes; but I can’t. I can’t wait anymore.
I’m hitchhiking.
I raise my thumb.

People are looking at me weird.
It’s been 10 minutes that my thumb is raised.
Nobody has stopped.
I’m starting to think I’m going to die here.

Maybe it’s because of the cap.
Or maybe it’s the big scarf that I’m wearing around my head.
I decide to let go of the cap.

Even without it no one is stoping.

I’m still singing and dancing but now some tears of despair are running down my cheaks.

Oh my god, Oh my god !
Yes !

Someone stopped !
He doesn’t look creepy at all !
I’m so happy right now.
The guy is even going to Delft !
I’m so happy right now !

We start a small talk.
He is quite surprised that I come from France so I tell him the story about me studying at Gerrit Rietveld Academie and my project about Midden Deffland.
He understands better now.

He grew up here, in Midden Deffland.
Today he was visiting his parents.
He had never heard of Krijn Giezen nor Hans de Vries.
I ask him a bit about this place where he grew up.
What was it like to be a kid in Midden Deffland in the 90’s ?

First I learn that Midden Delfland is a comune composed of three villages.
There are three schools.
Everyone knows each other.
It’s a quite safe place to live in.
He tells me that it’s a privilege to be raised and/or live there:
It’s close to the beach (45 minutes biking),
It’s close to the city ((Delft) if you don’t miss the bus!)
The guy really seemed to have enjoyed his childhood.
While he keeps telling me about the joy of living in a village I was just thinking “HELL NO!”
I couldn’t piture myself living there.

And here we were: Delft’s train station.
I was releaved.
In 1 hour and 37 minutes I will be back at my place

Debutant in design

Tuesday, February 7, 2017



‘You’ve got beautiful stairs, you know’
Een publicatie van werk door Ola Vasiljeva
Design door Julie Peeters

In magazine formaat publiceert Kunstverein Munchen een publicatie over Ola Vasiljeva. De kaft vertoont een simpele, snelle tekening van een man die lijkt te zijn gevallen. De achterkant een installatie, een gele verf marker balanceert op de top van een blauw glas in de vorm van een getailleerd overhemd.
Het ontwerp vraagt om mijn aandacht, maar waarom?

Kennis over het grafisch vormgeven van boeken heb ik niet en dus was ik van plan om de ontwerpster van de bovengenoemde publicatie te benaderen voor een interview.
Ik was, moet ik eerlijk bekennen, vrij nerveus voor mijn gewenste afspraak met Julie Peeters, en wachtte af op een antwoord op de email die ik haar had toe gezonden. Peeters, een grafisch ontwerpster geboren in België, en winnares van de fel begeerde boekdesign award The Goldene Letter, ‘Schönste Bücher aller Welt’.
Over titels gesproken.

 Schermafbeelding 2017-02-06 om 23.54.07               Schermafbeelding 2017-02-06 om 23.55.05


Enkele dagen gingen voorbij en een response bleef uit. De vragen die ik haar had willen stellen stonden geschreven op een pagina in mijn notitieboek. Ik las ze nog eens door en wierp nog een blik op de publicatie in mijn tas, die overigens al een aantal weken te laat ingeleverd was, en bedacht me dat ik de algemeen benodigde kennis op het gebied van grafisch vormgeven misschien wel wat had overschat.

Zonder Peeters, besloot ik mijzelf te interviewen met een selectie van de vragen die ik klaar had staan voor mijn interview. Ik waan mijzelf grafisch ontwerper en probeer op mijn eigen vragen antwoord te geven doormiddel van research naar grafische vormgeving in z’n algemeen, onderbouwt door mijn eigen onafhankelijke denkbeeld.

Wat is belangrijk bij het ontwerpen van een publicatie over andermans kunst?

Het lijkt mij een belangrijk gegeven dat er treffende overeenkomsten zijn tussen de ideeën en meningen over design van zowel de auteur als de grafisch ontwerper. Grafische vormgeving kan een visuele kunst op zich zijn, mits het doel van de publicatie dat toelaat.
In het geval van ‘You’ve got beautiful stairs, you know’, zal de vormgever een bescheiden rol hebben moeten aannemen, om zo het werk van Ola Vasiljeva zo veel mogelijk voor zichzelf te doen laten spreken. Wanneer een publicatie een artistieke uiting kan uitbeelden van zowel de vormgever als de beeldend kunstenaar te samen, geloof ik dat er sprake moet zijn van een zekere harmonie. Uiteenlopende ideeën kunnen geloof ik snel tot een onaantrekkelijke publicatie leiden.
De focus in het maken van een publicatie met daarin iemand anders z’n werk ligt in het zo goed mogelijk weergeven van installaties, tekeningen en teksten. Daarbij moet er voor worden gezorgd dat het uiteindelijke design binnen de esthetische stijl van de auteur valt. Goed overleg tussen de publicatie vormgever en de beeldend kunstenaar lijkt mij dus een essentieel gegeven in de totstandkoming van een goed product.

Wat is grafisch vormgeven?

Een grafisch ontwerper houdt zich bezig met het proces van visueel communiceren. Hierbij worden typografie, fotografie en illustraties op een efficiënte of artistieke wijze gecombineerd en samengevat tot een geheel. Het gaat om de visuele representatie van ideeën en beelden.
Omdat de print en het boek als medium al lang bestaan zijn ze veel ontwikkelingen doorgegaan op het gebied van vormgeving
Vandaag de dag hebben we een goed overzicht en een canon aan informatie over deze veranderingen. Het is interessant om te zien dat er her en der zekere regels zijn ontstaan binnen het ontwerpen van een boek, iets wat ons in het verleden misschien wel heeft tegengehouden om vooruitstrevend te zijn. De opkomst van het modernisme verschafte daarentegen een nieuwe blik op het design en ontwerp van een boek. Oude regels omtrent de indeling van tekst en afbeeldingen werden losgelaten en er ontstond een zekere artistieke mogelijkheid tot het expressief ontwerpen van een boek. Je zou denken dat, zoals men bij bijna elke tak van artistieke expressie denkt, dat innovatie in het heden moeilijk klaar te spelen is, omdat de geschiedenis ons leert dat er al vele jaren van vooruitstrevend denken over heen zijn gegaan en dat de nieuwigheid en noviteit overal wel een beetje van af is. Dit lijkt me een goed voorbeeld van een psychisch effect wat de uitgebreide informatie over onze geschiedenis met zich meebrengt. Ik geloof dat een weidse kennis over de historie van design een keerzijde met zich meebrengt, namelijk het versmallen van ons creatief denken. Kijk bijvoorbeeld naar alle ‘alternatieve’ of ‘onafhankelijke’ culturele stromingen die de afgelopen decennia zijn ontstaan. In feite zijn dit allemaal eindeloze herhalingen van voortijdse daden onder het mom van rebellie tegen de gevestigde orde, terwijl er wordt gedaan alsof het allemaal voor het eerst gebeurt, weten we diep van binnen wel beter.

Rem Koolhaas heeft op een van de ruiten van zijn schoenenwinkel in het centrum van Amsterdam een leus staan die het vooruitstreven en innovatief denken mooi vertaald.
‘We ended up breaking the rules of shoes, not just for the sake of breaking them, but simply by not knowing them’

Waarom wordt er vandaag de dag nog steeds zoveel fysiek gepubliceerd terwijl het elektronisch publiceren zoveel voordelen kent?

Ik geloof dat de grafisch ontwerpers van deze tijd een zekere nostalgische waarde toe hechten aan de print als medium. De fysieke aanraking van een boek is iets wat de wereld langzaam aan het verliezen is. Van generatie op generatie worden de boeken en tijdschriften exponentieel ingewisseld voor hun digitale opvolgers. Het lijkt mij dus een kwestie van tijd dat het aantal fysieke publicaties afneemt en de digitale publicatie stroom toeneemt.
Veel van de jonge grafisch ontwerpers in opleiding zijn vanaf hun geboorte opgegroeid in een digitale cultuur, zij zullen dus ook sneller grijpen naar een elektronische, digitale manier van niet alleen ontwerpen, maar ook publiceren.
Ik durf daarentegen wel te stellen dat de fysieke publicatie van het boek nooit zal uitsterven, gezien er voor veel mensen nog steeds en altijd zal gelden dat er niets gaat boven het kunnen vasthouden van een boek.

(pagina 47,  You’ve got beautiful stairs, you know’)


Ola Vasiljeva : you've got beautiful stairs, you know. /Rietveld library catalogue no : vasi 1

Pick a Goddamn book.

Monday, February 6, 2017
Pick a book.
In an art school library.
It has to be a book purchased in 2016.
How to pick a book, with restrictions purely based on a timeline of their purchase.
Take the list, go through it without any idea what these books look like…
Don’t take yourself too seriously because you have no idea how to go about it for now..
What’s that?
Holy bible.
Interesting choice for the Rietveld Academie to purchase in 2016…
Being my miscreant self, I picked this book to have a laugh, a holy bible for a design research project? Maybe I could fake a convincing argument about a discussion I had with god about his design thoughts on the book that holds, inter alia, his biography…
Someone’s been worse than me:
As I open the Holy bible, I discover each page has its text partly or completely covered in photographs and parts of the text is in red. This bible instantly becomes a revelation to me. At first glance, as I carefully look through these images and corresponding red text highlighted from the bible, I feel someone has exposed the hypocrisy the value of a bible holds in our society through the images of our history.
Now that I’ve picked the book, not because it fit for the assignment, but out of curiosity and excitement to find an interesting book, with its design being rather simple, after all, its a bible. I had been deceived by this bible. Presenting itself on the outside, as a typical bible, black, gold, “The Holy Bible”, simple.
I had picked it thinking it was a real bible i could have a laugh about, and it turned out to be a bible closer to my world view in a sense. I was deceived by the design of this book.
I started wondering to myself, what if a religious freak had picked it? How would a conservative christian react to picking out a bible, that been “edited” by two artists?
Does it even matter?


Holy bible /Rietveld library catalogue no : bro 1

Graphic design and Museum Identity(MI)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stedelijk Museum is one of my favorite museums in Amsterdam since I came to the Netherlands. Stedelijk Museum exhibits modern and contemporary art and design to give visitors insight in their connection between art and life reflecting social issues. The Logo of Stedelijk Museum caught my eyes at first glance because of its confusing flow. The font of the logo: Union designed by Radim Peško is simple without ornament. The design of logo by Mevis & Van Deursen is controversial due to its readability. However, I think it is clear enough to represent the identity of Stedelijk Museum symbolically. The shape of the S represents the dignified history of the Stedelijk Museum and vibrant atmosphere.


Stedelijk Museum Logo


Signage proposal

Usually logo reflects the value and direction that the brand pursues. Throughout research about many kind of logos, it was interesting to see how the image of the brand remains in memory by the logo. Also, I was intrigued to investigate conspicuous components in the logo design such as typeface. Union is a typeface which was designed by Radim Peško. Union was designed based on Helvetica and Arial.


Helvetica was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger. Helvetica’s design is based on that of Akzidenz Grotesk (1896), and classified as a Grotesque or Transitional san serif face. Originally it was called Neue Haas Grotesque; in 1960 it was revised and renamed Helvetica (Latin for “Swiss”).

Arial was designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for Monotype (not Microsoft), it’s classified as Neo Grotesque, was originally called Sonoran San Serif, and was designed for IBM’s bitmap font laser printers. It was first supplied with Windows 3.1 (1992) and was one of the core fonts in all subsequent versions of Windows until Vista, when to all intents and purposes, it was replaced with Calibri. [x]

In brief, these typefaces have something to do with their intended usage. Helvetica was designed for print, while Arial was designed for laser printers and then adapted for use on computers.


Normally Arial has been considered as an imitation of Helvetica although both have its own uniqueness by each delicate details that they have. Look at the below picture. For instance, the terminals of the lowercase in Helvetica cut off straight while Arial’s is cut at an angle. Arial has blander appearance and Helvetica has an overall less rounded appearance and slightly higher waistline. Due to these trivial differences, Helvetica looks more elegant than Arial.

Radim Peško explained about this combination, “Union is intended for situations where Helvetica seems too sophisticated and Arial too vulgar, or vice versa.”. Eventually the new is evolved from the combination with the old. I think that the intention of Union implies the position of Stedelijk Museum.


Helvetica and Arial

Typeface Union


Frequently graphic designers design typeface only for museum itself. Another examples for instance are: the identity for The Chicago Museum of Modern art (commissioned by the same designer duo Mevis & van Deursen and designed by Karl Nawrot) or Bauhaus-Archive Museum. Design studio L2M3 looked to the typeface Bayer Universal reflecting the heritage of Bauhaus typographical design designed by Herbert Bayer. Universal encapsulates the Bauhaus’ stark aesthetic by basic principle of typographic communication of Bauhaus,

1. Typography is shaped by functional requirements.

2. The aim of typographic layout is communication (for which it is the graphic medium).

3. For typography to serve social end, its ingredients need internal organization (ordered content) as well as external organization (the typographic material properly related).



The interesting fact in design process of new identity of Bauhaus-Archive Museum: Bayer Next is that it retained originality but did not restrained its possibility. Sascha Lobe of design studio L2M3 updated more than 555 glyphs and we see more than 10 different versions of each letters. The goal of Bayer Next, he says, was to create peculiarities within the typeface. This idea is contrasted with Bayer’s original ideal for simplifying typography down to a universal typeface as we see Bauhaus’ philosophy.

Bayer Next

Bayer Next

Poster of Bauhaus-Archive Museum

Poster of Bauhaus-Archive Museum

I had thought this expansion and flexibility of identity does not give exquisite image of the brand in memory of public. However, good identity does not mean tangibility as a one certain figure. These examples, see below another example of Moscow Design Museum, are ubiquitous. This museum is based on Moscow but it is mainly imagined as a nomadic, pop-up museum. And, their identity was designed by Amsterdam-based Lava design studio. The identity of Moscow Design Museum does not even emphasize its name to identify them but numerous and changeable icons for logo, which was inspired by Russian glass patterns. Good identity is adoptable for various applications and formations in digital society. Eventually typeface is recognized as one of the strong image although sometime they are not readable.

Moscow Design MuseumMoscow Design Museum2

Logo of Moscow Design Museum


Katerina Sedá : for every dog a different master = kazdej pes jiná ves.. /Rietveld library catalogue no : sed 1

Viktor & Rolf : 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Frankly, when I read through the list, I could not find a book which can makes me feel interested just by the title. So I decide to walk through the library and choose.
The reason why I chose this specific book was its black smooth color cover with the dots typo, braille lookalike. It has caught my eye and wanted me to see and analyze its content. Page after page I began to realize there was a type of system that the designers, Armand Mevis and Linda Van Deursen carried out. A designer makes choices. When it comes to book design, he or she is likely to decide on typography, grid system, editing, binding, format, print technique, paper quality and so on. The sum of these choices create a unified expression that tells us something. It can be a parallel language to that of the content of the book and it can be more or less emphasized and thought-out. Some would say it could even be devious in its intentions.

This is an exploration of a book of Viktor & Rolf, from a design perspective. V&R

The cover consists of mat black thin board with the title in what looks like braille typography with dots which looks like sewing. The black cover folds in to almost full width of the very first and last page. I learn from the designer that this is a technical solution to add steadiness to the book.

It was published by Artimo in connection to Viktor and Rolf exhibition ANDAM. It is designed by the design office Mevis & Van Deursen.I interviewed Linda Van Deursen in connection to this essay to get further insights in the design choices and the conditions from which the book came to be.

There’s an intriguing black colour inside the book in every page. This feature clearly communicates that it is a book mainly concerned with visual language or images. It resembles a visual preface or introduction to the book. The book has it owns signature, dots line and categorizing the content by dots. Most of the paper types only occur in one single signature, this gives us a clue about the parallel function of the book.

I learn from that the book is a sort of material archive or assortment of papers of a specific kind. A rule that she set up for the book was that only two sided paper (meaning the paper has a different appearance on each side) of the type used in posters and envelopes (because they can’t be see through) were to be used. Not only does this create an intriguing visual and physical experience but it serves as a kind of metronome or conductor where the different surfaces of the paper are altered rhythmically but not predictably (you learn the rhythm and then it alters).

This feature creates a playful element to the structure of the book. For example in the sections that consist of photos of C02 the photos flip, merge and are out of border. In addition to this, all rules seem to be broken at least a couple of times in the book which is a testimony to the sure instinct and playfulness of the designer.

I find out in every other pages, codes and images. This book doesn’t contain much text, except the references in the end of the book. cause there’s no text I started to take another good look at the repeating dot lines, placement and spacing of the images, composition and sizes of the images. I found out that any other collection has it’s own lay-out.

For example the second collection in de book is mostly big pictures, mostly layered, the white dotted lines mostly separate the photo’s, but are black when most of the line is over another photo (with white collection photo’s). The fourth collection is only shown on all the right pages, left ones left black. The seventh has one big image per page, combined with a few miniatures. And so on. The repeating white lines always go together with the codes along side of them. There’s a code for every image on the page, therefore it’s always easy to look up what you’re looking at. It really feels like you have to follow this actual ‘timeline’ through the whole book. De pages with collection photos on them have a ‘C’-code, which stands for collection.

The rest of the images are pronounced with ‘NC’ which – duh – stands for ‘no collection’. These NC-works are basically all the other things they did, such as installations, perfumes and the photos they commercially used for promotion back in the days. All these NC pages have their own different lay-out too. When you go through the book at first, it may look really chaotic. If you slowly go through it from front to back, the way you are suppose to read it (timeline) it makes a lot more sense, because the changes in layout fit the changes in style and time of the collections.



Viktor & Rolf : 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. /Rietveld library catalogue no : 907.8 vik 1

Dynamic pages

Saturday, February 4, 2017

As soon as I opened Janet Cardiff’s The Walk Book in the Rietveld library, I knew I had found the book I was going to make my research on. There was not a single page that didn’t awake my curiosity on how the design had evolved.

The reason for this was the very dynamic and multidisciplinary design. Distinctive colors, shapes and placement of the content creates a chaotic and playful impression. Although you suspect the organized work behind it. Those responsible for this are the two designers, Thees Dohrn and Philipp von Rohden who shared the design agency Zitromat in Berlin. The later of which I had a chance to interview on a few points. I will share this with you as the text develops.

Let’s begin where the journey of the actual The Walk Book begins. It was initiated by a proposal from the art collector Francesca von Habsburg to the artist Janet Cardiff in the early 2000’s. The hopes of von Habsburg were to enlighten many others to “the magical world behind Janet Cardiff, her creative talent, and vivid imagination”. She also says “Hopefully, it will reveal how she works in a playful, yet extremely serious manner (…)”.

For those who aren’t yet acquainted with Janet Cardiff, let me give you a short introduction.

As this book investigates, Janet Cardiff has created several video and audio walks. These are extraordinary works that allows the participant to experience a dualistic moment through the act of walking and continuously listening to Cardiff’s narrative. The act of walking unfolds the space along with the process of narration which creates both a corporeal and a visceral form of knowledge, as two intertwined levels of consciousness.

In my interview with Philipp von Rohden he shares with me that from the start the plan was only to make something like a small catalogue on approximately 120 pages for one of Cardiff’s “walks”, but as the actual result now shows it turned into a 345 page book.

One of the additions to the production was Janet’s own suggestion to turn the book into a walk itself. This is the reason for the cd on the cover. A design solution that Janet tells me that she herself is particularly fond of, when I ask her what elements she was most proud of in terms of the book format. She says “the cover is very unique and inventive how the cd is part of the text”.


oooooooooooooooooooooooooo thewalkbookcover_janet

This design allows even the front of the book to be dynamic, as another aspect of this multi-layered book. But it is not merely a cd that adds to the aesthetics of the book, the track-list introduces the reader/walker to the book in a playful way. It invites to a vivid insight into Cardiff’s work process and welcomes you to approach the book in a non-linear fashion.


This brings me back to the design of the book.

Like I said in the beginning of this text, the design is very playful and chaotic. Perhaps it starts to make more sense now that I’ve shared a little more on how the actual subject of the book, Janet Cardiff, expresses herself. Fact is, that when I ask Philipp von Rohden what is the organizational guideline behind this very expressive design he says that they based their inspiration on Cardiff’s own working process.

He describes how she works by collecting fragments and combining them to art pieces. Sounds, pictures, words. And this notion of collecting fragments is what initiated the design. A clear example is the special typeface used on the cover and also on titles inside the book. These characters were set up especially for this book and von Rohden tells me that they created it by finding typography elements and then combined them. Collecting fragments. This innovation is also something that Cardiff herself mentions as “great” when she takes sometime for me to look back on what design elements she herself appreciated the most.



Another design element inspired by the work process of Janet Cardiff are the yellow highlighted words continuously occurring in the text, smaller sized sentences in between the lines in the middle of a text and the little arrows leading the reader away from the columns to imbibe some extra information that could be useful for understanding the text.

These features are not just there by chance, they are inspired by Cardiff’s own notes, which are actually embedded in the book as well in their full pride on pages 54-61 for example.

Notes from Cardiff's work process  and loose pictures belonging to the walk of the book.

These notes inspired to create the playful pages, according to von Rohden.


Playful pages that are dynamic and prevent a traditional reading experience. He comments on the way Cardiff in her notes highlights certain pieces, crosses out and adds words to her texts in between the lines, “is it just a comment? Is it important or not?” he asks rhetorically. This process is clearly applied to the design of the book and I think it’s fun to be invited to see the connection.

Further, von Rohden unveils for me that “we had 6 content layers” when designing the book.

For example is Cardiff’s voice always blue,

and a little bit bigger

than the author Miriam Schaub’s texts that are black and seem regular sized in comparison. Another layer example are the pages in the back of the book that contains writings from exterior curators and are drained in a yellow color to divide them from the rest of the content.


Other genuine elements in this book that the artist Janet Cardiff was happy about were the fold out pages to show the actual audio editing. She also mentions the photos that are simply thrown into the book, detached so that you easily can hold them up in front of you when you experience the walk that’s included. And I agree with her that these two relatively rare book design elements definitely contribute to the dynamic and exciting impression of this book.

The project went on for ca 2 years says Philipp von Rohden. “The process was not ideal, it was short and difficult, it was a nightmare” he says when I asked him what was the biggest obstacle of the production. But he feels it was an honor to be part of a project like that and finds it “great to see, that the book still seems to have some relevance after more than a decade”.

A warm thank you to Philipp von Rohden and Janet Cardiff for sharing your thoughts and knowledge about this book.


A Walk Book /Rietveld library catalogue no : card 1

A Seer Reader

Thursday, February 2, 2017

An Investigation into the design of A Seer Reader.


Designed by Zack Group, the UK based designers state to replicate the format of ‘mass produced pulp-fiction paperbacks from the 70’s-90’s,’ with A Seer Reader. Although the font type does connate typical 70’s typography with its sweeping thickness and curvy motion, I don’t see much other resemblance regarding this inspiration concerning the cover design. For me it looks more similar to Suhrkamp, a publishers of literary books such as James Joyce Briefe in 1966.

By its cover design A Seer Reader doesn’t scream to me from the shelf. Typically I am drawn to colours like warm peaches and azures. I love the aesthetic appeal of organic or handmade papers, and illustration or photographs are likely to intrigue me the most. However, I can see the appeal A Seer Reader has for some. It has an assertive, bold cover design; using both a powerful red, white and black, the colour contrast is stark. A shallow indent delicately engraving ‘A Seer Reader, in the cover indicates the importance of the books title over the authors name. The font layout is central, it creates a simple clear statement of the books title and authors name; with enough space for each heading to breathe from the other. The ‘A’ leads the triangular shape of the title which follows, creating a highly graphically designed cover. And the book can fit in my handspan.

What intrigued me to investigate A Seer Reader further arose up on the pages inside the book. Initially appearing as poetry with each page layer out as a series of verses, the discourse inside includes a contents and the bulk of the text divided between two short 3 and 15 word essays. The pages are adorned with dancing, playful, printed pen style drawings. There are tiny squiggles, illustrations, and symbols referencing or resembling punctuation. The doodles appear only in the main text; they are specifically connected to the content, individually eluding each poem with visual imagery. Whether or not they are classified as the content, for me they have a clear design. I’m curious to see why the doodles are designed in this way with relation to the text. Therefore I will investigate how the illustrations connect to the wider context the book exists within, and try to discover the purpose for their design throughout the book.



The doodles’ relevance to the artists exhibition A Seer Reader was published for.


A Seer Reader is written by Ed Atkins, who is an artist working predominantly within video and language. The book was published for his solo exhibition at Serpentine Gallery in 2014, where his visual art is inspired by his poetry. He explains ‘the videos are a kind of poetry of their own,’ and ‘they’re very interested in previously literary-theoretical concerns about seeing and reading, interpretation of metaphor, figuration and literality. CGI is pretty much concerned with literalizing stuff, rendering literal what was once only possible as metaphor.’ The exhibition consisting of sound works, text instillation and images revolves around his multi screen video instillation named Ribbons, where Atkins attempts to emphasise questions concerning the relationship between real life and virtual concepts, objects and environments. Using CGI and animation he creates a surrogate character resembling his own physical appearance in a haunting online replication of a life. Atkins intends to ‘re embody’ himself as a possibility of what we may become in an paradoxical way of spreading a message that we need to focus on developing a more powerful mortal life. Through his high tech HD animation he ironically uses his medium to do exactly the opposite by creating a virtual world. The character developed by Atkins is a young white man, wearing a bald head and an action man body adorned with tattoos, he has a habit for drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. His appearance and his humanly habits reflect someone stereotypically disapproved of in todays society. Aitken’s concern for the world we exist within is evident in the design of the tattoos covering his surrogate Dave. Desperate phrases like ‘love please’ and ‘bankrupt’ are scrawled onto his skin to illustrate his story of conflict. They physically explain a demonstration of the feelings Dave would have as a human, but as a virtual delegate is empty from in his being. On his skin they stand outside the human nervous system, indicating a detachment from the animations human intimacy with himself. Identical copies of the illustrations in A Seer Reader also appear in the same style as tattoo’s scrawled on Dave’s skin. Its evident considering the importance of what the drawings suggest in his video work, that the way they are designed in A Seer Reader will also have a special significance to Atkins work.



The style / font the doodles are written in.


The doodles are printed on the paper replicating a scrawly handwriting in a biro or sometimes a bold marker. The independent, physical and primally instinctive movement of writing with a pen in ones hand, is raw and natural in a stream of the consolidation of intellectual, as well as silly, and many other kinds of human thoughts which flow from the authors head, translated to shared language on paper. Considering his work, I imagine Atkins considers the knowledge that writing by hand is a disappearing practice, with the new developments in our virtual technology, a question worth discussing, or an issue to be aware of. In his video work, he’s maybe using the medium of handwriting as a symbol of an intellectual human being of today.

By using handwriting the design of the doodles appears uniquely personal; autobiographical. Maybe Atkins uses his own style of taking notes to project his personal concerns onto his surrogate; he plays with his ego, flipping himself into a virtual identity blanketed by his naked, surplus and mortal emotions in his video. In A Seer Reader the intimacy created between the reader and Atkins by his use of highly personal handwriting, implies the doodles are like thoughts in a diary, emotions belonging to the artist. We can understand his raw, conflicting, feelings towards our existence in the future he insights.


Handwriting is also used by Atkins to create emotion, in the style of handwriting the words are written in. For example on page 92 of A Seer Reader, Atkins poem stabs at capitalism and using a current slang, (another characteristic typical to a human of our time,) he makes a metaphor for our choking industries; ‘butthole’. He illustrates with a pencil sketch of a butthole, labelled with more slang; ‘hey’. He adopts a loose, scrawly joined up handwriting to do so. It feels fluid, creating a casual, relaxed visual effect which allows the readers feel comfortable to laugh, as he playfully mocks the sincerity behind his poetry. I believe the choice in design regarding capital letters, larger size and the sharp points determining the end of letters, on page 103 in the handwriting ‘DONT DIE,’ is also a feature of the handwriting design which is used to play with emotions. These aesthetic features of the text suggest an irrational state of urgent, human panic. Capital letters scream the frustration of impossible our questions regarding mortal existence.


I would like to compare the disparity created as a result of the choice of handwriting as the font for the doodles, with the font type used for the poetry. The bulk of the text is written in a serif font type, commonly used in literature its appropriate for clear messages to allow focus on the content of text. The font type may be used to help develop the trust of the modern target audience, which is important if they are to value Atkins’ poems as high literature. Maybe by choosing a serif font which was developed digitally Atkins purposely shows what the digital world has already done to the way we interpret our information, to raise larger questions regarding our future and technology. There appears a confident, official level of professionalism created by digitally produced font, totally un-emotionless and un-personal; in this respect the choice for a serif font can also be related to Atkins virtual surrogate replica of a human. Both the poetry and the skin of Dave is tormented and illustrated with real handwriting scribbles. Atkins contrasts these handwriting doodles representing desperately irrational, mortal human emotions and questions, with the pinky rendered skin of the emotionless CGI animation and the poetry he derived his character from. The choice for handwriting poses a conflict between some of the characteristic, fundamental elements of humans in the mortal world and the human’s of our virtual future which will be a product of our current society; as Atkins clearly discusses in his poetry.



The arrangement of the doodles on the page.


The design regarding the placement of the illustrations on each page and they’re relationship with the text arrangement is also of interest to me. The doodles are very specifically positioned, creating a new design and rendering a unique layout on each page. The notes are cheerful, their haphazardness and impermanence in position creates a youthful energy of its own. Many harass the text, dangling from the words, interrupting them like a vandalised high school text book decorated by an excited teenage rule-breaker. Upon flicking through the book I think Atkins creates a chaotic feel with the arrangement of the doodles. Maybe he does this as an attempt to question the power which our mortal life (represented by the emotive tattoos / doodles he writes by hand,) has, over the possibility of a virtual future. Chaos raises concern to me, and suggests Atkins might be trying to raise awareness of his issues with the future and society today, through fear.


On some pages it appears the design regarding the placement of doodles serves purely for illustrational purposes. On page 86 a smiley mouth and a big floppy tongue curve and grin around the word ‘mouth.’ The positioning of the doodle presents a clear visual anecdote of the text, as its placed directly next to the words, the reader sees them together creating imagery. The poem on page 94 begins with ‘down the line.’ Directly beneath at the end of the poem and the lowest point on the page is an illustration of 9 arrows pointing downwards. Again this provides a clear illustration of the text, but it also illustrates itself and the symbol is close to the bottom of the page, it feels they are going down as well as ‘being’ ‘down’. I’m curious to understand if there is a relationship between the way the doodles are used in harmony with the poetry, for illustrational purposes and the concepts which lie behind Atkins exhibition at Serpentine. Despite the chaos of the doodles, and the lively energy they carry as they appear randomly in different places for each poem, they do help the reader take their imagination further in their illustrative quality. If the handwriting doodles refer to mortal life, and the poetry represents the possibilities of the virtual future to come, then Atkins could be showing the bond between the illustrations of his thoughts, and his poetry, as one where mortal life still has power to change the effect of the virtual world or what is to be of the future, as the illustrations aid the text.


The discourse of the poem (involving the positioning of illustrations within the main body of the text in the poem,) may be designed in this way to give stage directions to the reader. It creates a similar discourse structure within the poem to that of a script. On page 46 Atkins places the handwriting scribble ‘nausea,’ in a new verse, in line with the direction the poem would be read in. Atkins allows these direct assertions of feelings to stand for lines within theirselves. They appear significant and with a different font they contrast to the rest of the poem, they work as powerful instructions. With their own space they order the reader to feel something. They also give relief to the poetry; a breath between verses to give time for the reader to reflect, to feel, before continuing to read. When looking at page 99 a short, six line poem is centred to the left of the page, so the text lays closest the core of the book. A poem which torments human’s obsession with eschatology, with disregard and humour. A slap-stick illustration of a hand, labelled ‘swallow,’ underneath, sits directly in line with the verses on the opposite side of the page. Aligned with the poem on a vertical axis, its clear the text and illustration are to be read one after the other; they have a connection although they are separated because they imply a direction. The illustration is cut right to the edge of the paper, giving the impression there is something to reveal on the next page. Its likely that after reading this grave poem, which makes dark humour about the possibilities of our future, the space allows the text and the reader to breathe. I think Atkins wants the reader to digest the words of this poem, look to the right and ‘move on,’ indicated by the encouraging instruction of a pointing finger to turn the page. In this case the positioning of the doodles may be used as a order to feel an emotion like a stage direction, or to initiate a direction.


Some doodles are intimately relating to words in the poems. On page 57 a bold marker is used to underline the final verse in the poem, this draws attention to it and marks the line with importance. On page 30, the two opening words, which start verses following each other, are connected with a squiggle. When joined they spell the phrase ‘the something.’ Making a new verse within the poem. This statement also exists on the page now without relation to its context in the poem without the joining squiggle. This draws emphasis to the phrase and creates layers within the poetry.


In some cases the handwriting squiggles are a part of the poem, in that they contribute letters in a different style to the rest of the poetry in its serif font. On pages 155 and 67 the poem begins using letters O and R in the handwriting style, to begin the first words of following verses. The size of the squiggly letters is obese to the rest of the text, they help to compose a bold and grand opening word. This is a common design in a lot of literature, Atkins makes a reference to it in his own style in an impish attempt to add intellectual value to his poetry through his page design.



The imagery used in the doodles.


The last investigation I can make into the design of the small illustrations in A Seer Reader is to consider why Atkins chose to use this specific imagery. Many of the symbols he uses look similar to punctuation, commas, full stops, brackets. His choice to use marks in A Seer Reader and for the tattoos in his video, which are similar to punctuation, gives a further clue that not only the handwriting is being used as a symbol of our mortal life today, but that here he also enforces his choice to use the stereotype of a white, British male as his surrogate future being. There are other reoccurring themes within his imagery, including hands, eyes, penis’ and delicately sketched vaginas. All parts of the human body. Atkins decision to design his illustrations using this imagery, again, references mortal life and current society which he discusses along with his thoughts about the future in his poetry.



By investigating Ed Atkins process as an artist, focussing primarily on his exhibition at Serpentine Gallery 2014, I have come to various conclusions about why the doodles which intrigued me into investigating the design of A Seer Reader, are designed in the way they are. The handwriting style the doodles are written in connotes natural human thought patterns, unstable emotions and questions the author presents. Handwriting also serves as a symbol for language and writing in which could represent the typical medium used and developed throughout our human age. It therefore creates a tension with the computer generated font type used for the poetry, which might suggest the virtual future which Atkins discusses, as a running theme to his work. The doodles appear in totally different positions throughout the book, on each page. I therefore discovered various different reasons for the design of their arrangement. They can be placed intimately within contact of the poems, to draw attention to specific words or phrases, or to illustrate an idea directly which shows how human knowledge can still be useful for bettering the future. They can be placed in a location on the page which will give a direction to read in or indicate that one should stop reading to feel something. The placement of the doodles when they create letters which integrate directly with the poem, connate high literature as Atkins desires his writings to be read with sincerity as he discusses deep issues surrounding our society and regarding the future. Finally the chaotic feel created by the different placement of doodles on each page questions the power of what the handwriting stands for; the mortal world and its conflict with the virtual world of the future. To end my investigation I discovered that the imagery Atkins uses in the design of his doodles references English punctuation, and the human body. Again it links directly with his exhibition and his proposal of questions regarding our existence in the society we live in today, and its relation with our future.


A seer reader /Rietveld library catalogue no : atk 2

Hella Hella

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Designed by COMA (a Dutch graphic design team working in Amsterdam and NYC)

Why ? First impression

Because of the colors. The weight. The shape of the cover. The transparent papers inside. The size of it. Maybe also because it looks like the books my mother used to have and read when I was little.


Why ? The object itself

 hella copie



Facing it, the object is shiny, composed of a large uncentered title, a long and wide color picture placed horizontally in the middle and a silvery text at the bottom. The object looks humble, not pretentious. You easily guess it’s about a woman but the only thing you can see is male bodies holding red vases. The object wants to be complicated. By framing it’s cover with lines neither the text nor the picture are following, the object seems in a paradoxal state, containing without holding, focusing while spreading.

The object seems to feel confortable on a table, it adapts to its surrounding. When you get in contact with it, it’s mostly homogeneous cold. At one point, the object asks to be touched further more.

After a week, the object seemed to reject the room I gave it on the floor. The colors of the book didn’t agree with the contact of the blue lino my room is filled with.


Many try outs showed that the object is not cooperating with any of my pockets which made me think that it’s not the type of object you can easily bring with you. Maybe it doesn’t want to be shared.

The investigation on the book and its environment led to the idea that design make an object belong to a place. A shape could apply to many structures. For this case, I could say that the addition of the table and the hands are confortable for both the user and the book.

It felt like the design of this book is a communication between vanishing in its environment (this conclusion came with experimenting the book placed next to the toilets for few hours) and being dedicated to a specific situation (open on a 75cm height table, in contact with both glances and hands).




Why ? What does the contact of this designed book to a non-designer person ?


Non-Designer Person (NDP) : It’s a book.

Hypothetical Designer Person (HDP) : Yes. Can you guess how it was made ?

NDP : It has a blue wire that connects all the pages and the cupboard cover, so I guess it was industrially sewn. The pages are smaller than the cover.

HDP : Do you feel any rhythm in the layouts ?

NDP : Yeah, you can feel a harmony in the structure and links between texts and pictures. Sometimes the presentation wants to show an evolution, the composition is a bit repetitive. Maybe because of the grey frames that are always at the same place on each page.

HDP : How many colors do you see ?

NDP : Six. Blue, red, grey, black, yellow and white.

HDP : What do you think the colors are based on ?

NDP : I guess that the pictures taken for the book were inspiring for the designers, so the colors must belong to the topic.

HDP : How can design tell something without any words ?

NDP : In this case, you can follow a conversation between how the images and the texts are placed. There are smaller and bigger images, just like the text. The parallel is made by the composition and the sizes.

HDP : Without knowing what the book is about, can you guess the subject ?

NDP : The rhythm of the book is carried with transparent mat papers,  dividing the object in multiple parts. It feels like your are transported from a place to another in a spatial way. You also feel that the positions of the pictures are showing an evolution. As if the book is built through its topic.



Why ? How to meet a book without reading it ?

 Defining taste, instinct and anticipation


Either you hide your eyes, or you empty your brain.

The first part of the book that you notice is the spine, which is always trying to attract you. Showing all the informations you need. Since I have to focus on the object, I blurred my vision to only see color spots on the shelfs of the library. What is easily attractive to me is simplicity.

But then, the question that comes to me immediately is « How design can please me and others ? How can a designer can discuss beauty and attraction ? How to anticipate the singular tastes of people ? »

My instinct led me to this book in its visual aspect, and what I define as beauty could lead me to another interest, the topic. Beauty or visual statements can be the link to knowledge. It’s just like meeting someone in a club. First of all, you’re attracted by the spine, then by the cover, and, finally, by what’s inside (if you dare opening). Design is maybe about meeting an appearance to then go further, what makes you want to understand the attraction of what we define as « beauty ».


Hella Jongerius by Hella Jongerius / Rietveld library catalogue no : jonger 1

content vs appearance?

Monday, January 30, 2017

I remember that in high school I had to choose books by its content and not by the look of it. Most of the time I picked out nice looking books for my essays instead of reading the backflip and choosing it because of the content. The books which made it to my obligated reading list were often judged by the colors or image on the cover, type of fonts on the inside and the layout of the whole. My teachers always thought that looks were unnecessary when picking out books because for them it all had to be about picking the content. They taught me that the meaning of the letters was more important than the way they are presented.

In contrast to these past opinions, in Basicyear, I was asked to choose a book only on its graphic design. I was pretty surprised when I was told to because I was totally not used to do that. So when I was wandering through the library, this specific peachy/sand/pink colored book caught my attention immediately. I took it out of the shelves and saw this nice bold font on the front saying: ‘Aglaia Konrad From A to K.’ The letters and words A to K are spread playfully but still neat over the cover of the book. The A and the K are echoing behind the title as big geometric shapes. The size of the book was also nice in my opinion. It is not too big that it won’t fit in your bag, but also not too small so you can see the pictures really clear. I have the feeling that the shape, size, and thickness was very relatable to me. For example, I rather take A to K out of my bag on a train ride instead of a big magazine issue because the book felt compact. What I myself thought was kind of funny of the human relatability to this book, is that the content actually is about worldwide urbanization. The book itself feels like an intimate relic, while the content is something ungraspable. As the backflip says: ‘ The inherent incompleteness can only be defined, felt, by the speculative idea of its whole, which, given the title and structure of this book, can not really exist. In an alphabetically placed order, you get through terms which refer to the urban growth/decay of cities. A process that will continue forever.

Aglaia Konrad has been analyzing urbanization for the past twenty years. For her exhibition in Leuven last year in 2016, she decided to publish a book paired with the collection. Therefore she teamed up with graphic design collective Mevis & van Deursen and designer Eva Heisterkamp. Mevis & van Deursen aclaimed international fame. Armand Mevis is also leading the typography working space (Werkplaats Typografie) in Arnhem and van Deursen has been longtime head of the Graphic Design department at Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Their agency has done great things such as the identity of Museum Boijmans, Viktor&Rolf, Art magazine Metropolis M and their biggest job: the identity of Stedelijk Museum. Eva Heisterkamp was a student of Gerrit Rietveld Academy, she graduated in 2007. After a little e-mail conversation with Eva Heisterkamp, it became clear that Mevis & van Deursen made a basic design for the book and that Heisterkamp did the rest of the layout.
The book is published by Koenig Books Cologne. They are well known for their good taste when it comes to books, they are specialized in publishing contemporary art/design/film/photography. Not only the contents of the books they select are interesting, but their designs are also visually pleasing. Most of the museum bookshops in Germany and Holland are owned by Koenig Books.

After analyzing this book the past few weeks, I could tell that the design of the book made the content stronger. Using Times Ten and Univers as main type fonts is very convincing. The fonts are formal but also a bit playful because they are a bit horizontally stretched. The empty space between the words refers to the emptiness of the decayed cities. The repetition of the words in alphabetical order refer to the repetition of modernistic buildings and the recurrence of urbanization. Every page has a vertical line placed on the left side, which accentuates the vertical aspect of modernistic cities where all buildings are raising to the sky. The book sometimes still seems under construction like cities themselves are. At one page you just see a row of O’s on the left side and a picture placed over what used to be ‘ the rest’ of the word which starts with an O. The pictures are most of the time black and white except for some pages of the letter ‘F’ the pictures are printed in colour. I have looked at this for a while and I am still wondering if Heisterkamp did these pages in color on purpose or that it just was a budget problem.

On the hand of my chosen book,  I could really tell that the content and appearance have to be dependent on each other. Without the right design the content will lose its context and then the whole point of publishing the book would be stupid. I am strongly convinced that both the publisher/writer of the book and the graphic designers have to communicate as good as possible with each other to get the right end result. My end conclusion is that I think that they all did a great within the process of making ‘From A to K’.


Aglaia Konrad, from A to K /Rietveld library catalogue no : konr 2

Communication / Expression

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"daled collection" cover

This is a book I choose from the library.

Truth is, I choose it because I had an overwhelmingly humongous list of books to choose from – and I’m usually very slow when it comes to making choices. So I just took the first thing that looked mildly nice and decided to like it. Maybe a shame actually, cause I find books very beautiful, both as reading material, but also simply as design objects.

What got my attention is the very noticeable yellow paper band around it, with a line of cut out text over it. This creates two overlapping layers of text , which I find an intriguing choice both because of the unusual amount of text appearing on the cover and because of the confusing effect it generates.
Anyway, the book itself is actually simply a catalogue, yes, nicely organised and curated, but still just a very simple catalogue like many others, illustrating an art collection and describing it’s value.

The designer is Walter Nikkels, a rather well known dutch typographer based in Dordrecht. He had a very broad career, even winning two prizes for his work as a designer. He curated many books and catalogues, worked as a graphic designer for Stedelijk museum, but also curated several exhibitions and did the interiors for Museum Kurhaus Kleve.
As I was researching him, I found that in 2013 he published a book called “Walter Nikkels: Typography: Depicted” written and designed in collaboration with graphic designer Wigger Bierma, who actually taught at Rietveld until a few years ago. This book turned out to be far more intriguing that the one I had started with, It is a chronological survey of Nikkels’ work trough images, a sort of dictionary of his visual voice.

Graphic design is a language that uses elements like typography, colour, composition and paper kind, to communicate information visually.
Each graphic designer develops a style during their career, and in a way, it becomes a personal voice. Sure, it’s usually very much related to the aesthetics of the historical context the designer is working in, there will always be a ruling combination of colours or the particularly popular font of the moment, but I think what makes a very good graphic designer, is the ability to develop a personality that makes his work recognisable and unique, but without becoming overly repetitive (and therefore boring).

Walter Nikkels worked mainly on museum catalogues, it’s very important to him for the content of the books to be neat and legible to the reader. In the Daled collection catalogue I borrowed from the library his attention to the balance and to highlighting the value of each image and art piece featured in the book is particularly evident.
It’s a form of graphic design that may not appear as very creative, in the sense that it’s mainly driven by practical purpose of clarity. I mean, there are many ways of treating the content of a book by making it more playful, while still keeping it very easily understandable. The way Wigger Bierma dealt with “Walter Nikkels: Typography: Depicted” is already a good example of this.

depicted cover


The written content is organised into columns that cross the pages horizontally – so It’s supposed to be turned to read it.

Nikkels’ style definitely belongs to a more traditional kind of graphic design, focused on the meticulous search for the right balance in elements such as: the dialogue between text and image, the overlapping of different layers of text (like, as I mentioned before, on the cover of the Daled collection book), the choice of typos combinations and colours, the relevance of the background, composition, spacing, size, proportion and more.

However I think one defines balance for him/her self.
I mean, of course there are composition rules that one can’t ignore because they are shaped on the way we process visual input by nature, but balance doesn’t necessarily mean neat, and this took me a while to understand and accept.
I always just assumed that Walter Nikkels’ way, was the only way, because it makes sense, but I figured, it just really depends on one’s purpose at the end of the day.

By understanding balance and the rules of composition a graphic designer develops a “handwriting”. Manipulating and experimenting with the possibilities they offer, just like pretty much everything the art world. And this also made me think of the fine line there is between art and design. How personal can graphic design become before it is considered a form of expressive art?

But -
maybe it doesn’t make sense to separate the two anyway.

Everyone has an innate individual way of visualising words on paper. It’s in the way one writes notes or thoughts on a sketchbook, even. We are naturally inclined to express ourselves visually and this visual language is universally understandable no matter how personal it is. Graphic designers communicate information, as well as expressing themselves through their work.

And even Walter Nikkels. He filled a whole book depicting his graphic vocabulary, maybe a bit cold and hardly “expressive” in the strict sense of the word, but his style still features elements reflecting his individual personality, otherwise he wouldn’t have had a point in making the book in the first place.


Daled : a bit of matter and a little bit more : the collection and archives of Herman and Nicole Daled, 1966-1978. /Rietveld library catalogue no : 700.5 dal 1


Walter Nikkels Depicted /Rietveld library catalogue no : 757.3 nik 1


Sunday, January 29, 2017

giphy 2


The book design has a strange appeal;

boring Facebook blue and random pages in between. Unsettling uppercase letters of split up words all over one page, very prose looking straight aligned text on the other. A woman holding a picture of another woman lying naked under a zebra. Low resolution smiley face.




Hanne Lippard graduated Rietveld as a graphic designer, but then carried her words from printed matter to sound files and live performance. ‘Nuances of No’ is her book, a collection of written work released in 2013. In making the book, she designs her own content, which allows her to create a similar voice to her sound work.

Visual information like spaces provoke silences in the readers head voice.

By the placement of the words on the page in relation to each other, or switching or removing letters and making slip of the tongues, she also plays with language, takes attention to sounds and stretches their meanings.


As your eye is guided through the page, text sounds like poetry.

(every word)
The design of the word becomes the form of her voice.

In her spoken works she has a monotone, articulate, clean and soft tone which is robotic yet sounds as if it could be coming from somewhere inside your head.
This similar feeling is present in the book as well, this time through the colour of Facebook; trustworthy, artificial and sort of anonymous. Some pages in between have pixelated smiley faces and click button images taking the reader into a virtual world context, which adds to the atmosphere she creates.


The design of Hanna Lippard [x] serves to vocalize her written thought in ‘nuances of no’; making the words surround the reader in the mind.


One or two voices.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


*soundfiles are readings from the book in my voice. only (echo) is my words in my voice.



Nuances of no. /Rietveld library catalogue no : lippa 1

For those who dislike graphic design

Sunday, January 29, 2017

For those who dislike graphic design



December 2016, I’m at the school library. Our society is individualistic, so we take ourselves too seriously. The graphic design in here reflects that; everything should be minimalistic, aesthetic and decent all the time. There is no space for an ugly colour scheme or a freakishly curly title anymore. It’s pleasant to look at for sure, I think, but it doesn’t fascinate me. I mean, what stories do those smooth columns tell?

Today, the sky is grey and my energy is gone. Art makes me sigh because I’m so moody and I long for my bed. Unfortunately, I can’t go home and sleep, because I received a long list of books, of which I should choose one to research its design.

With a crotchety gaze, I witness a mountain of books slowly emerging on top of the reading table. I see the diligent hands of my classmates searching for a nice design, while I hear “ooh!” and “ah!”, but in my mind, I only hear “boo”. I conclude that I truly hate graphic design and try to find an acceptable book.

After a couple of sighs and an attempt to sleep on the ground, I find something that satisfies me; a book with self-mockery. It’s called Cosima von Bonin hippies use side door. The moment its colourful cover smiles at me from the pile of bitter looking books, I admit I don’t really hate graphic design after all. Apparently, there are still books in this library that are a little less tight.




January 2017, I’m in my room. Choosing a book was easy, but researching it is not. Somewhere in the back of my mind there is the fading knowledge that this assignment is important, because it’s very useful to learn about graphic design. But the rest of my mind is stuffed with other things, so I’m very much distracted.

At a certain point, my thoughts drift away to my website. I type the address in my browser and then watch it with a frown, concluding that I should make my own design, instead of using a template. With confidence, I open Photoshop, to make a visual plan of what my website should look like. But my confidence doesn’t last long. Those damned fonts! None of them seems to work! And then the background… White looks so bald, but all my alternatives look distracting. I just want my website to look cool and exciting, but that turns out to be much more complicated than I thought.

I ask Google desperately what to do, and although I find answers that make sense, it doesn’t help me get much further. Then, I realize there’s a better way to learn; I should analyse existing designs. Hey, wait… Wasn’t that the assignment for the book? I try to clear my mind of distracting thoughts and finally place the book in front of myself. Let’s see what I can learn.







The book asks for attention by the way a big colourful photo is printed on its cover. I see a stuffed shopping cart in a lumberyard, in which two little black dogs cheerfully look at the camera lens, with their pink tongues hanging from their mouths. The image stops where the wrapper begins, except for the dogs’ tongues; they’re printed on the bright orange wrapper as well. This little graphic wink breaks the ice; it gives the book an approachable feeling. Besides that, the awfully bright colours and the simple font make the book look modern and careless.

I start to leaf through the book. The paper is thick and matte, so the pages make a pleasant, crackling sound, as they slip along my thumb. I see big photos printed in colour, big white spaces and small amounts of text. Once in a while, I get a glance of something odd, repeated through the book but always looking the same; it’s a photo on a different paper size, that looks a bit alien amongst the other pages. The frivolous artworks that are being presented and the royal use of unprinted paper make the book look even more careless. Still, the book is attractive, because of the large amount of images in comparison to the text.

From the text, I conclude the book is a catalogue, showing the latest exposition of Cosima von Bonin’s work. The book itself is designed by Yvonne Quirmbach, a graphic designer from Berlin.




 One of the things Google told me when I was looking for the secrets of graphic design, was how a graphic design is comparable to an outfit. Just like fashion, graphic design is a language that is being used to tell a clear message. Like google said, you wear a bathing suit to the beach and a suit to a job interview, not the other way around. But there’s more to clothing choices than that; if you want to show off at the beach, you might put on your fancy sunglasses and if your job requires that you’re humoristic, you might wear your Simpsons-socks at the interview. It’s the same with books; within the lines of the function of a book, the designer has the freedom to tell a lot more.

And that’s clearly visible in the book I chose. Quirmbach’s design adds to the carelessness that can also be found in Von Bonin’s works, so the design and the content are at the same level.




Now, I discovered something important; I was wrong about graphic design. It does tell a story. So, if I translate that to my own attempt to make a web design; the design shouldn’t look cool and exciting, instead it should tell the viewer that my work is cool and exciting. But… Wait, is that what I want it to tell? And if I do, how am I going to translate that into a lay-out?

The design struggles clearly haven’t decreased, but fortunately, I gained some respect for graphic designers. Next time I enter the library, I’ll do it with a humble bow, instead of a moody face.


Akademie X : lessons in art + life /Rietveld library catalogue no : 700.8 mor 1

Buy Buy Buy + Lessons in the Capitalized Art Scene

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I was attracted to the book. My desire was driven by the tangibility of its opening mechanism. So simple yet so satisfying to open the binder. Almost a modern take on a grand old anglo-saxon book binding tradition, all that it almost needed was a royal institutional stamp in wax, now just to let me break the seal.

Akademie X: Lessons in art + life

Attractive and seducing in its simplicity. The binder hits your tangible senses immidiately.

When first Akademie X lessons in art + life was opened, it contained a colorful index, for some reason I was drawn by its strict composition of its bars of pastel color, most likely because I am a long lost lover of chaotic mess and dynamic colors and these strict lines grabbed my attention as the opposite to my immediate visual desire. But also the paper-texture of the front cover was very rough, it gives a good balance between the soft pastel colors and the rough paper. It creates tension somehow.

Akademie X - Index

Akademie X – Index has a beautiful scale and the paper quality immidiately catches your attention.

I continued in my discovery of the book and was drawn by the interesting format, that the content was organized in. The complete book is a collection of educational looking, enlightening content. The content are various contributions from artists all together forming the fictional institution “akademie x”, the worlds first akademie without the boundaries of a physical institution. It is a collection of thoughts and exercises and light guidance in how to live a (healthy) creative life. On the back of the book it states; “This inspirational and practical guide on how to live a creative life has been devised by the world’s most thought-provoking artists + writers.” The content of the book differs from each other, every chapter is a contribution written by a specific artist. Additional to this, each contribution is supplied with a small section of photos of each artists major works. Because of the contributive element, each chapter has a different formatting (or more precisely; the formatting intended by the artist has been left untouched perhaps).Graphic Designer and Art Director Julia Hastings who has designed the book, has created the complete book in a beautiful colorful grid. Within this grid all artist contributions are placed centered in a white frame. The white frame has the rough rectangular dimensions reminding of an A4 xerox, which gives the intentional A4 feeling as well. Furthermore on some of the sections the A4 xerox has been added “archival holes” to give it the feel of an archived xerox paper.

Akademie X - Xerox Representation

Akademie X – Xerox representation; but is it authentic when its computer generated?

But it somehow questions me if it creates a dishonest feel however? Does the computerized graphic representation any good for the book, or should it have been a real scanned xerox, ugly and crumbled as it could be? But in fact perhaps giving it a more honest representation. The important graphical design take is the grid surrounding the imaginary A4 xerox.

Just like the notion that a digital music album of today, still necessarily have to be released in square dimensions. It tricks a conservative notion in us that the dimensionalized representation of an A4 (or the square music album) is giving the book (or music) authenticity, wereas the xerox scan might have created a messy output but more authentic representation. And perhaps a more real feel and less “anti-commercial” commercial look? Because is this book basically commercialized authenticity? What story does it tell?

That sets me into another troubling chain of thoughts. Researching upon the publisher made under the publishing house Phaidon; after browsing through the catalog of publishings it was easy to spot the certain anti-commercial yet commercial grip that is intended for the viewer. It is made pretty, just as mentioned above with the non-authentic A4 xerox. The quality of the paper is a little thicker than a regular 80g/m3 A4 inkjet paper, yet the paper texture is the same as a regular 80g A4.


The hipocrisy of the post-digitalized world permeates the art world, authenticity will be absend during the next decades.

The heavily intended “courier new” layout font catches exactly the hungering market-ready segments of art students, intellectual art lovers and participants in the game of academic thinking, promising us the authentic experience for the flashing dazzling price of only 29,95 EUR. Nevertheless we are victims of todays best commercialized marketing-weapon: capitalized user experience (or experience economy). We are quickly dwelled into the narrative of “authenticity”. You, me and everybody remotely interested in capturing the “anti-neo-capitalized” authenticity which doesn’t exist in the western world anymore in my opinion. These fleeting moments of absolute truth is in fact just a marketed salesmen’s narration. You are not even aware of the fact, that it is a product you are buying yet. Courier-fonts and rough textured high-quality paper, lead their perceiving way, persuades you to think it is as real as what you handwrite yourself. The undecided white pages and lack of commercialized layout-settings makes you think you have a nice little treasure of undisturbed authenticity. Every word spelled out in the art worlds best authentic-yet-commercial-friend “courier new” makes you accept the narrative that this is not a commercial book, but a guiding collection of fine arts academy notes taken directly from the worlds best mentors and professors. Bring in Harry Potter’s Tom Riddle and his soul-sucking diary of truth. “This book will learn you to live a healthy creative life” could be the salesmen-slogan spelled out on the front cover, but then it would probably attract the silicon-valley entrepreneural segment (and not the intended in-crowd from the contemporary art scene).

In 1999 the american authors and economists B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore wrote a book named “Experience Economy” and already in 1998, Pine and Gilmore wrote an article in Harvard Business Review stating “Welcome to the Experience Economy” proclaiming a new era of capitalized business models [X], based upon the design of experiences ultimately leading to excessive brand-value. This economic understanding permeates todays music industry, art scene and creative industries for good or for worse. In terms of the art world it dilutes the honesty and blurres the vision.

The most famous example was the capitalized Starbucks coffee experience.

The Starbucks coffee experience states that buying a cup of coffee from 2 cafés (a non-branded café and the other from starbucks), has the same given production rate, that the brew of beans costs for both cafés. Now the experience of coffee is what you are buying, that includes brand-value and the sub-cultural element of being a part of something, a community of coffee-lovers. You are an expert for the dazzling price of 10 EUR at Starbucks.

The most important element in this example is also the birth of anti-culture that automatically are created. More precisely put; counter-cultures to the specific structures, which automatically appears. The experience economist and marketing director’s supreme job, is then to capitalize it well too! In best case without you even noticing that you are being sold a new “counter-culture” product. So relax fellow art student, you are consuming capitalized products without even noticing it, the more awareness of your normcore behavior you spread the sharper your marketed profile gets.

Normcore understood as the counter-culture developed in the fashion industry as a counter-culture to the posh stylized look of the 2000′s. Normcore became the unpretentious, normal-looking phenomenon working against the same industry during the 2010′s. However, it was developed within the industry by the industry nevertheless, it’s just as transgressive [X] as the commercial fashion-culture it developed itself from, capitalized “hide-and-seek” in it’s purest form, now happening faster than ever before (or is it slower than ever before?).

Which leads to my dystopic conclusion; that the book (red. Akademie X) is a very well designed output of capitalized experience design – and values, wrapped into a nice little narrative about contemporary cultural succes.


“If you buy this book, you will learn the basic steps in the secret language of contemporary art!”

You are perceived to buy the commercial starbucks coffee, disguised as an easy looking authentic cardboard cup of joe, with courier new fonts written all over the dark brown fair-trade cup full of promising brew.

“An artist should not make himself into an idol” is one of the commandments that the book states, even though the complete list of artistic contributors have been idolized and later on capitalized by thousands of museums, gallerists, art students, artists, intellectuals and academics worldwide. And no harms done by that, if you don’t take the cultural commandments for granted or listen to them.

But the western contemporary cultures excessive authenticity-hunt is full of hypocrisy in our post-digitalized, yet soon to be automated, world. We are soon based upon digital systems designs that are dictated by the linear neo-capitalistic ideologies. We just don’t want to admit it yet.

Now go out and write some more creative commandments and cultural stigmated dogmas with New Courier fonts.

We will need these statements to understand the hypocrit-era that we truly live in today.


Akademie X : lessons in art + life /Rietveld library catalogue no : 700.8 mor 1


External Book References:

  • Various Authors (2015) Akademie X: Lessons in art + life, Phaidon Press, London 2015, Printed in China

  • Pine, J. and Gilmore, J. (1999) The Experience Economy, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1999.

The Fleeting Flux

Sunday, January 29, 2017

“A Flexible History of Fluxus Facts & Fictions”(2004) is a series of memories by artist Emmett Williams. He presents these memories through collages. On the left-hand pages a historical picture is shown. On the right-had pages his own work is shown. His own work consists of either a historical picture of something that he has made or a picture of a work made by someone else mixed with his own trademark drawings. Often he uses the same drawings.


The most important “additive” is a small, brightly colored human figure. It is present on nearly all pages. These small humanoids appear to be Williams’ trademark drawing, almost like a signature. They appear and re-appear almost in all of his own works, but also in almost every text about him. I fail to discover an origin. It seems to be a quick drawing that simply stuck around. The work it is most featured in is “Twenty-one Proposals For the Stained-glass Windows of the Fluxus Cathedral ”. This work shows a variety of sketches for lead-pressed windows. About these drawings Williams says: “All these funny little people, who are they, where do they come from, and where are they going? I don’t think they are self-portraits, although they do creep into a lot of my works. They have been keeping me company as far back as I can remember, even as a child, ever-present doodles dancing in and out of a kind of automatic drawing.”

foto38_s foto35_s foto36


The second most present drawing is that of a round head, reminiscent of Mayan imagery, sticking out his tongue. This image is one of the main symbols of Fluxus. It is first featured on the Fluxus-manifesto. It seems well used by not only Emmett Williams, but also other artists, where it functions as a symbol for Fluxus. I cannot find any sources for the meaning of the symbol. It might be random, which would fit the Fluxus movement.



The left-hand pages are the historical ones. They keep up the appearance of being informative. But often they lack interesting information or they are just not complete. They give you just enough information to become curious, but they never deliver.


Another choice within the of the book, which strikes me as odd, are the page numbers. Only the works of Williams are marked. And the table of contents only reflect those pages. The historical documents and pictures are not registered. And thus are difficult to re-find. This makes me wonder with what goal or reason this book was made. It’s hard for me to believe that its original set-up is that of an overview of Fluxus-art. The numbering makes me feel like the book is a the consequence of the arrogance and nostalgia of a has-been artist. “Look, I was part of this important movement” Williams screams at me through his book.

Emmett Williams gives me the impression of being an artist wit low technical ability. In his many collaborations he appears to offer no more than the concept. Even so with this book. For the last three-or-so books he has worked on, he collaborated with his wife, Ann Nöel. I feel that somewhere in this mixing of artistries the book suffered. Ann Noel’s books are well composed and often interestingly designed, with a lot of thought to spacing.

VineArt_w AnnWords_w You_w

Fluxus, or any movement that presents themselves as performative and playful, is something that triggers me. Often though, the joyful and exciting aspects of such movements are not translated well into other mediums. As is the case with this book.When I picked it up for the very first time, a sense of anticipation took hold of my body. “A Fluxus book, by a Fluxus author” I thought “will be as lively, as I imagine the period to be”. But the opposite is true. The very strict character of the design of the book (left historical, right his own work) creates a limited set of rules. A set of rules that is never broken within the book. They make the book, after the first bunch of pages, a very boring read. Ofcourse, in the book, information is presented. This information gives you an insight in the events and people that were the Fluxus-movement. But because of the dull choices in design, the information gets lost, or in the best cases, makes you want to read other books.


I’ve looked up other works by Emmett Williams that were meant to last and not be for the moment, like a performance. Besides his acts he also wrote concrete or visual poetry. These poems are simple but effective. They show a small idea, well executed. They often deal with the personification of language versus language being something abstract. It can be powerful in this way and expertly exert the feeling of Fluxus. Emmett Williams shows that he knows what spacing your words can do. He shows that he thinks about how a page should be divided. So why did he give up in “A Flexible History of Fluxus Facts & Fictions”?


What is it with Fluxus, Dada and other movements that burn so brightly, but are so sad to recollect? Maybe it is the fleeting quality of such movements. On the side of the theater school it states “Art is a deed in time”. I feel this is true for all performative art forms and everything related to or commenting on performative art forms. The art “happened’ then, with the performance. Every attempt to recreate it is a way to hold on and futile. Fluxus is like an ex-lover. We should let go. Factual (or fictional) descriptions of Fluxus meetings leave me silent with awe, burning with envy and somber with historical awareness. I was not there! And I will never will be.


A flexible history of Fluxus facts & fictions /Rietveld library catalogue no : 706.8 flux 2

Log in