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Letting some things drown & A hidden camera show


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

 

O: An Introduction.

Recently, I have been looking at produced language while diving into modern religious or cult-ish writing techniques and aesthetics. This is mainly the language used by Scientology and the way its founder L. Ron Hubbard confuses the reader, which then, makes it possible for Hubbard to arrive at simpler conclusions. I have looked at the writings of William S. Burroughs in his book The Job, where he argues for the seemingly nonsense idea of language as a virus. The following is a result of these readings.

 

I: Letting Some Things Drown (For The Sake Of Picking Them Up Again). 

In the first chapter of the very first scientology book, Dianetics: the original thesis (1948), L. Ron Hubbard concludes after a small, compact and confusing rant on topics such as heuristic science, workability contrasting idealism, semantic difficulties, psychosomatic ills, the unknowable/the knowable, spiritualism, deism, telepathy, clairvoyance, the human soul, field of thoughts, dynamic principle of existence, that the first cornerstone of what for the reader seems to be everything, is for the human to SURVIVE!. This is just after the section entitled important notes, placed on page four, where the church informs the reader that:

 

“Trying to read past a misunderstood word results in mental “fogginess” and difficulty in comprehending the passages which follow. If you find yourself experiencing this, return to the last portion you understood easily, locate the misunderstood word and get it defined, using a good dictionary or the Glossary at the end of the book.”

 

The problem is not that these difficult concepts such as telepathy, dynamic principle of existence, etc. are hard to grasp. The problem is that Hubbard is using them as a sort of “mental fogginess”, so when he finally concludes that the essence of all this is to SURVIVE!, the reader might not have understood what was meant above but the essence of it (to survive) we all surely understood, and we then do not need to use a good dictionary to understand this.

Hubbard also tells us in the text that we do not need to concern ourselves with the basic questions to our existence. He says that by dividing everything in the field of thoughts into two categories, the unknowable and the knowable, we then do not need to concern ourselves with such indefinites as spiritualism, deism or the human soul. This is of course addressed towards those who search for meaning. Hubbard constantly plays with concepts that an ordinary person will be confused by, and what the ordinary person will easily understand and in these easily understandable parts, he then gently pads our backs to ease our worries.

L.RonHubbard

 

 

II: A Hidden Camera Show

As William S. Burroughs writes about his invented professor, Professor Wilson Smith, he does it in a very scientific and authoritarian way. He uses this authoritarian language as a tool to create confusion and chaos, so his own radical and confusing statements have a chance of being seemingly logical. He writes:

 

“The word has not been recognized as a virus because it has achieved a state of stable symbiosis with the host, though this symbiotic relationship is now breaking down, for reasons I will suggest later. I quote from Mechanisms of Virus Infection, edited by Mr. Wilson Smith: “Viruses are obligatory cellular parasites and are thus wholly dependent upon the integrity of the cellular systems, they parasitize for their survival in an active state. It is something of a paradox that many viruses ultimately destroy the cells in which they are living.”

 

After Burroughs has claimed that The word has not been recognized as a virus he then quickly makes a shift to Professor Wilson Smith, making it seem like it is exactly this that Wilson Smith argues for, although Wilson Smith is not. But when Burroughs then quickly again reassures the reader that the spoken word as we know it came after the written word due to a virus infection, which also is a highly speculative statement, Borough is then again putting this idea of the word as a virus into our minds, and it is only made possible by the use of an authoritarian language.

We see that Burroughs is using language like it is an actor in a hidden camera show. Like a scene where an actor is dressed up as a police officer on a train station, ordering passengers to get out of the train, only to be left on the station, tricked by what they thought was the law. This is just as I have done by manipulation all of Burroughs’ statements for my own agenda.

But what I in generally would like to propose is this: Let everyone take advantage of these techniques to create a more chaotic environment, were illogical facts can sprout in the chaos of all other illogical facts. But to make this environment to perfection, there are other techniques we need to acquire. Luckily every technique can be learned for this purpose since much of it already has been produced for us to observe.

 

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 ~ mads b. sørensen, 2017 ~

 

 

VISION


Saturday, April 22, 2017

 

vision tekst 2

An Undiscovered World

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I always felt this inner urge for adventure and to built crazy machines like airplanes. I never thought I would ever be capable of doing so, so I never tried to realize these dreams. Until I found out about Joost Conijn. He’s an artist that builds his own airplanes, cars and other vehicles. I got this assignment for an artproject in which I had to meet a person that I look up to, so I tried to contact him. This ended up into an email contact drama. He was to busy and had no interest in meeting me. Then I tried to meet with two other, but with no result.

 

Eventually, I thought to not meet an individual, but to go to specific place in which people exist. For me it was then important to spontaneously meet a person and not having an emailcontact introduction. I went to a church. Religion, or in this case christianity, is such an undiscovered way of perceiving the world for me. It feels so distant and isolated from what I think is the ‘truth’. The main idea was to talk to a person in a confessionbooth to talk about my ‘rage’ that nobody cared to meet me or help me with my project.

 

The day I went the church was closed and the confessionbooths were out of use, but a small chapel was open. Two ladies opened the door and one of them guided me to the chapel.

 

She told me about what her relation was to religion,  about the future of religion and the people that come there. She said that religion resembles the inner truth to existence. People who believe, are people that have felt a lot of pain in there life or people are simple raised that way. Pain brings people back to the ground, it makes people see the light and realize what’s really important. She says that people nowadays also have to much distractions, people shroud themselves with fun and give importance to things that really differ from what she says is important in life.

 

Our conversation was so honest. I realized that if I were to talk in a confessionbooth about certain things, it would almost feel like I’m mocking the people that actually go to a church. Talking to this woman, made me realize that there was far more than just believing, it was an undiscovered world.

 

I thought the element of pain was something to work further with and for me after the talk religion in a modern society also became an interesting subject. What makes people nowadays believe and how is religion holding up. The interior of the chapel was very modern and recently renovated with unnatural white lighting. One lamp was broken and blinked the whole time, for me that felt like a metaphor for religion in a modern society. Also the whole ritual churches have of lighting a candle for good fortune inspired me. Especially because wax is also known as a material with healing abillities, it made me think of the people in pain that decide to devote their lives to christianity.

 

For me it felt obvious to make a lamp. My first idea was to make a lamp out of wax in the shape of a candle. After some feedback I realized that I wasn’t using the wax in a way that I could fully explore the material. I had an idea to make a lamp and using wax was just to live up to certain aesthetics I imagined in my mind. So making a lamp was to limiting.

 

Click -> 

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I started rethinking what my experiences were going to the church. Looking back the aspect of suffering and this isolated community of people that kind of live outside of society were the strongest memories. I started working with a big chunck of wax and started carving into it with a spoon, it felt saying a prayer over and over again, a road of suffering… Eventually this weird religious object came out of it, looking like a plate. After this I started making objects that resembled a kind of ritual, but in a way that I used very recognisable objects and used the wax to melt them together and creating a totally new function.

 

Then came the idea to go back to my startingpoint, church, to make my objects interact with what made me make them. The voices in the video are recordings of collective praying by the people (just ladies) in the chapel. It is said that jesus is present in this chapel, they were singing directly to jesus.

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Click -> The Ritual

 

Orange see-through


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

yo yo yo

The word that represents my intention is “cool”.

The photo above is a source of inspiration.

 

I aimed to get knowledge from people who achieved something in their life. I chose two bloggers important to media community. Internet gives great opportunities for the users, sometimes it makes people famous. I guess we all have followers nowadays.  The question for me is how is it to be a media guy and what are their secrets? So I have decided to ask for some kind of information that would give me a better understanding of certain processes. ( How it is made? How does it work? How did you get there? etc )

 For different reasons none of the meetings did not occur.  They were too busy answer my questions IRL although social media was limiting for them as well. So I had no one  to rely on anymore except for myself. I continued working on my own and came up with this:

LuzinF.Orange

Glasses with great visual effect which is produced by an optical illusion. It gives me feeling of organised chaos and kaleidoscopic experience which works best on a sunny day!

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I used it for photography experiment to combine several plans in one image. It is great to see these images knowing they are not edited! This makes me want to continue working with that medium…

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Composing Chaos


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Composing the chaotic mind

  meeting Hendrik Kerstens

 

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(music: Dimitri Shostakovich Piano Concerto no.2, Andante)

Meeting people in an age of the internet and social media seems not romantic at all, which I can assure you it isn’t. When we got the assignment to meet a person we admired and make out of this experience a design object, I made a list of artists I considered as being interesting and admirable. Starting with the first name, I did not get any response and waited for a week. I tried another artist but also he gave me a radio silence. Choosing another artist seemed just as interesting and I send another email.
But having to present my progress in the project and having no responses yet, made me feel a little isolated from the world. ‘The inner monologue’ took its place in my mind.
Thinking about this brought me to the feeling that I wanted to make an isolated space which resulted in a mock-up of a room, made out of four wooden walls isolated with foam. The idea was  that a person would be able to stand inside of the isolated space and was able to listen to my spoken inner monologue without the outside world being able to hear it. Of course for me this was not the best idea and I was far from content…

 

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But then something great happened. In my inbox appeared an email from the management of Hendrik Kerstens. He wanted to meet me. I got into a back and forth communication with his assistant by mail, which resulted after rescheduling and answering questions into a date. Hendrik invited me to his photo studio in Amsterdam.
When I came there at an afternoon he let me in. I was struck by his big black glasses with the kind eyes and the clean and sharp looking white studio with black furniture and equipment.
The room was filled with the sound of classical music which comforted me and everything was organized and clean. We started talking, I asked him questions and he told me a lot of inspiring things. When I asked him about his clean, organized studio, he told me that this was necessary for his chaotic mind to run free. So his surroundings would not interfere with the creative processes in his mind. He said that the process of making a picture was as composing a piece of music. This process he also addressed as sometimes hard to let go when it’s finished and ready to leave the studio. He quoted:

“Art is never finished, but only abandoned.” -Leonardo da Vinci

Hendrik Kerstens surprised me with his enormous power of persistence in his new ideas and projects. He spoke of his desire to bring sculpture and photography together, which he is currently experimenting with. And a future project where he wants to create a close connection between painting and photography. In his vision, one I would want to live by, everything you can imagine is possible.
Hendrik gave me advice in the end and I gave him a print of a pinhole picture that I had made which he accepted with a smile. When he let me out, I felt light and encouraged.

My conclusion after this meeting was that I had to rethink my idea of the isolated space in total, I was to soon to give in and this good experience deserved a good outcome.
Thinking about my experience the subjects of ‘composing’ and the ‘chaotic mind’ kept running in my mind. Letting this be, I started developing an interest in the material epoxy and especially in its clearness after moulding. I made several try outs by moulding the epoxy in different plastic, glass or porcelain cups and tupperwares. The idea was to take the chaotic aspect and function away from the object and create by moulding a simplification of the shape.
After drying the objects, some were easy to come out and some I had to break out, some had air bubbles or even cracks which for me became interesting aspect in the idea of a ‘crack in the mind’.

 

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Interested by the moulds of the epoxy as well I made moulds of clay, to create a connection between the mould and the epoxy. The epoxy in the clay mould gave a watery effect, even after drying it seemed liquid and shiny but would not come out of the clay mould. I disposed two epoxy objects from their clay moulds and this created a look which reminded me of the glass smoothened by the sea.

 

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For my last experiment with my epoxy objects, my interest was captured by making an epoxy mould for an epoxy object. My expectations were by filling a bigger tupperware with epoxy and hanging the already dried epoxy object in it, that after drying I was able to take the object out again and this would leave me with an epoxy mould. But it didn’t, the epoxy object and the fresh epoxy
into the tupperware had melted together in one totally new object. The ‘melting together of ones thoughts’ created its own existence.

 

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Looking at my experiments resulting in a collection of epoxy objects, a simplification of chaotic objects, the thought arose that I wanted to recompose or rearrange the different objects, creating ‘the recomposing of the chaotic mind’. Therefore creating a grid in which every space had the same measurements (except a special one) so the objects could be recomposed in any position.
My doubt was with the material of the grid: metal or plastic sheets. But life took this decision for me when I was not able to work in the metal workshop for it was closed and so it became plastic.
The plastic sheets I glued together, creating a clear construction. In retrospect I was satisfied with my decision to use plastic, because of the subtlety, clearness and connection with the epoxy objects itself.

 

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In the end, recomposing a chaotic mind is creating something clarifying. I’m not sure if I would address my final outcome of the design project as ‘clarifying’ rather than ‘clear’. In my opinion I made a composition, in which every object is a ‘clearer’ form of itself.

 

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Hidden treasures


Monday, February 27, 2017

 

Mondrian Secret
Mondrian secrets by Miguel-Ángel Cárdenas

 

I felt a sudden burst of nostalgia when this work first caught my eye. It is pretty clear why; this assemblage piece is mainly made out of toys, which are easily connected to the idea of childhood. The work is very colourful, but all the colours are slightly faded. I do not know if this is because of the age of the work, or if he used these slightly faded colours on purpose. Maybe it was the light of the museum.

The work consists of tiny plastic objects, which are partly covered by an orange layer of more plastic material. Two donut-shaped objects are attached to the orange layer. The orange layer reminds me a lot of a life vest. This life vest association gives this layer another layer of (probably unintentional) meaning. The whole assemblage is attached to a piece of wood, which makes it look more like a painting then like an installation. The Stedelijk museum apparently thinks the same, because the work is classified as a painting.

The toys are put in order by their colour, which makes the work almost satisfactory to look at. I start to wonder what kind of objects are hidden underneath the parts that are covered. Where did the artist get these objects from and why did he choose these specific objects? The work reminds me a lot of a dream I used to have as a child; a swimming pool completely filled with toys. I realize that this is the main reason why the work is interesting for me, and why it made me feel nostalgic.

After making up all these associations I looked at the name of the piece. The piece is called Mondrian Secret. And suddenly, the whole work changed. The orange layer is representing the painting, and the toys are the secret insides of a Mondrian painting. The painting is faux, because it hides the true nature of the work.

The creator of this piece is Michael-Angel Cárdenas, a Colombian-Dutch artist. The media he uses varies a lot, from drawings and paintings to video installations and assemblages. He is the most well known for his video work. When he came to the Netherlands in the early sixties, he brought with him a lot of new developments in arts. Art movements like New Realism and Pop Art where not really active in the Netherlands. Important themes in his work are sexuality and his Colombian background. If you want to read and see more of the artist, read this article or watch this catalogue.

Earlier, I wrote a post about Ron Arad’s Concrete Stereo. A similarity between Mondrian Secret and Concrete Stereo is the way the surface is approached; both are covered up or hidden by a different material than the core of the work. In Concrete Stereo, the fragile sound system is hidden by a thick layer of rough concrete, giving the work another meaning and feeling by adding a layer. In the case of Mondrian Secret, the playful toys get hidden away by a layer, that is representing a painting that already exists. In the case of this work, the meaning of the actual Mondrian work its referring to changes.

We associate Mondrian’s work with mathematical precision. Cárdenas’ interpretation hides a layer of playful, colourful plastic toys.  The surface of the painting is supposed to represent something that hides the “true nature” of the painting.  A bunch of toys and plastic objects, organized in order of the rainbow colours. Put together with the same precision as Mondrian painted.

Designing the Surface Supplementary Show /New Institute


Monday, February 13, 2017

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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.

/FAUX /PATINA /LUSTRE /TEFLON /AGENCY /SLIM

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.

 

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FelineH VanilleOugen

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

KaanKorkmaz JimKlok

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KimLang OfiaBaytocheva FelineHjermind

NadjaSchlenker JohannesZ

Parelstrik vantablack

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What about Midden-Delfland ?


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The photograph of a detail.
The remains of a campfire.
In the right-top-corner an other one:
children making a campfire.

The two images communicate.

Two photographs cut out and put together create a panorama.

Every chapter is an other story.

It’s an artist book.
It intrigues me.
Honesty emanates from it.
It’s pure.
It has this uniqueness that makes you fell in love.

From time to time,
there is a little bit of fragility.

The writings are wobbly.
Pictures are cut here and there they go on top of the other one.
Typewritten text strip are highlighting us.

The book has this very personal attitude. It’s hand made.
It has been made a while ago.
In the 1980’.

I’m a viewer.
I’m entering someone else world.

The title is written by hand.
I cannot read it.

It intrigues me.

I figure it out after a while:
« Midden-Delfland ».

I need to know who did it.

The name of the author is not written anywhere.
Everything is in dutch. I don’t understand.
I decide to go back to where I’ve found it.
The man who works here, in the library is a real passionate.
Of course he knows the artist:

Midden-Delfland_cover Krijn Giezen:
an important early eco-artist from the Netherlands (1939-2011). He started as Assemblage artist in the 60-ties and played an important role in the development of Land-art and Conceptual-art in the 70-ties. Other Eco-artists were Sjoerd Buisman, Herman de Vries, Hans de Vries and Waldo Bien. Eco-art is a collective term for art in which our relationship with the natural world is the main subject. Eco-art is not bound to materials and disciplines, but is bound by the integrity of its message: Eco intends to improve our relationship with the natural world.

Did he also design it ? We don’t know.
He may have collaborated with Hans de Vries.
They did few books together.

The internet is not helping.
Midden-Delfland  is a place in the Netherlands, all the pages are related to the place and not the book.

If I want to know more about this book I will have to contact the artists.

Krijn Giezen died some years ago and Hans de Vries is a common name in the Netherlands, also in the artistic field.
I cannot contact them.

Mmmh…
I start to feel the need and the urge to discover more about this book.

Midden-Delfland…Krijn Giezen…Hans de Vries
Midden-Delfland…Krijn Giezen…Hans de Vries
Midden-Delfland…

I should go there !
I should do a trip to Midden-Delfland !

Tuesday i will go to Midden-Delfland,
find more about the place and take some pictures of it.

I woke up too late.
I left the house at 1pm.

My trip to Midden-Delfland 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 finally arrive at Sloterdijk to catch my train to Delft.
There I will eventually find the bus number 33 that will take me to Midden-Delfland.
I wait.
The bus 33 is the only one which runs every half hour.
It’s now 4:45pm.
The sun will disappear any minute now, but I won’t photograph until I reach Midden-Delfland. ?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 sounds like my OV chip-card 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 withdraw.
The bus driver says he is not from here. He doesn’t know where I can withdraw.
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.
Hallelujah.
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 stopping.

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

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-Delfland.
He understands better now.

He grew up here, in Midden-Delflandd.
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 Delfland in the 90’s ?

First I learn that Midden-Delfland is a commune 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 picture myself living there.

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

I made a book about Midden-Delfland.

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MIDDENDEFFLAND14 MIDDENDEFFLAND15

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Landschap : een impressie van het landschap Midden-Delfland winter 1983-84 door Krijn Giezen: wonen werken en rekreëren. /Rietveld library catalogue no : giez 2

Odd or Even


Tuesday, February 7, 2017
mariana castillo deball, manuel raeder, et al; revolver publishing; i don't have permission to post this image.

Never Odd Or Even (2005), Mariana Castillo Deball, Revolver Publishing

 

 

Scanning through all the possible titles in the list, I landed on something I recognised: ‘Never Odd Or Even’, by Mariana Castillo Deball (M.C.D.) I found myself attracted to it, because it reminded me of an album I used to listen to a lot when I was younger. Initially, I really didn’t like the front cover’s typography, but when I flipped it open, I found myself very confused about the way the book was structured. When I inspected the other pages, I decided this would be my book of choice. I thought the back cover and inside looked very interesting and beautiful, but I didn’t understand why it looked the way it did, what purpose it served, if it even had any.

When I started looking online, I could only find  a lot of information about the second volume, but the first volume only gave me two not very detailed links, one to the art foundation’s website and one to the publisher’s website. It became clear to me that it was a ‘book’ made up out of dust covers. It was some kind of art publication. The fact that it was sheets of paper specifically designed to protect books, protected by a layer of plastic seemed absurd and quite funny to me. Even though my main attraction was the construction of it, there are a lot of different styles of graphic design found throughout, which I found to be quite interesting, both together and on their own.

First, I indexed all the individual pages of my copy as follows. By doing this, it became clear to me that there is a discrepancy between the number of covers that are contained in my copy and what the publisher advertises. My copy only accounts for as much as twenty-two covers, whereas it should have been twenty-three. This number includes the outer cover, following the counting system of the second volume. Otherwise, there are two pages missing. Also, none of the books in this list exist in reality. They seem to do what art is known to do: imitate life. The publication kind of looks like an exhibition in itself and it actually is almost some sort of catalogue of the actual exhibition it is part of. I can’t support this factoid with photographic evidence, as there are no accounts to be found on the web. The exhibition seems to have taken place before museums, artists, or audiences started to upload any documentation on the web, but based on what is available online for the second volume, the before mentioned seems highly probable.

Never Odd Or Even (2005)              Never Odd Or Even Vol. II (2011)

So there were two minor design mysteries: it is unclear why the publication is formatted the way it is, but it is also unknown what the content of 1/23 of its totality is.

Could this missing piece hold the key to unravelling this mystery? Highly unlikely, but it remains a point of curiosity nonetheless.

To understand Volume I (2005) with as little information as there is available, we must resort to looking at Volume II (2011). With six years separating the two, there are some differences, but integrally they appear to carry the same concept — it’s a series and not two separate works after all. Volume II has some colour prints and more ‘pages’. Although I admit that I don’t know the exact way the exhibition was held in 2005, I think it’s not unreasonable to assume it was very much similar to how it was handled with the second one. To get a better idea of how it would interact with space, here you can have a look at the press release and photo album for the exhibition at the Grimmuseum in 2011.

Never Odd Or Even at the Grimmuseum (2011)

Never Odd Or Even at the Grimmuseum (2011)

Never Odd Or Even is a collection of dust covers for non-existing books and in the exhibition, the contents of these non-existing books are explored and theorised about, in works and performances that use text as their primary medium..

In an interview, Manuel Raeder has made clear that the outer cover’s typography has been designed by the artist herself — based on Tangram puzzle shapes — and the pages were done by the artists she invited to participate in this collaborative work. The latter being pretty clear just by reading the flap of the outer cover. Finding out about the inspiration for the type made me appreciate it a bit more. The collaboration apparently also extended into the exhibition surrounding the publication, working together on shaping how the public experiences the work. The second volume was published through Raeder’s publishing house ‘Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite’.

I contacted Raeder, with regards to the missing page, who worked on Never Odd Or Even together with M.C.D. I was really happy to see that he was very quick to respond. However, he didn’t readily have the information on hand, so he told me he’d forward my question to some others.  I didn’t contact M.C.D., as she doesn’t seem to have any contact information freely available.

When I inspected some pictures from the Brno 2016 exhibition, I noticed that not only did they exhibit the first volume of the work, but that the missing cover was actually squarely visible.

mariana castillo deball, manuel raeder, et al. revolver publishing            61sqE1-vTPL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_

 

After doing a bit of C.S.I.-style zooming and enhancing, the title of the page appears to be a comic-book cover, titled ‘Horny Biker Slut #11′. This quirky title and cartoon imagery could make sense of the reason why someone decided to steal it from my copy, however inexcusable it may be. But there is one thing a bit strange about this particular cover. When I googled it, it actually exists and you can purchase it from Amazon for $19.99 + shipping. The fact that this title actually exists in real life makes it different from all the other titles, creating a whole new question altogether.

By this time, Mrs Schryen (someone working for Studio Manuel Raeder) got back to me. She informed me that there were in fact two covers missing; the above mentioned Horny Biker Slut #11, as well as one titled ‘Manhole covers vanish in the night’, which looking back on the Brno pictures, was also squarely visible.

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I previously stated the Horny Biker Slut #11 cover existed in real life, but in the full publication version you can see above, it looks to be collaged together with the 11th issue of ‘Contacto Sexual’ on the back and both flaps, and something called ‘Histoire Porno’ along the spine. The other cover appears to reference, word for word, an article from the Guardian, dating back to 2004.

The fact that there is a second cover missing from our library’s copy means that the two volumes seem to be inconsistent in their numbering. The first one doesn’t count the outside cover as a ‘page’ and the second one does.

Life is a competion

Never Odd Or Even at the Grimmuseum (2011)

The artists involved in this project don’t seem to be concerned with consistency, correctness, nor the concrete.

 

wooden sticks – two experiences


Monday, February 6, 2017

 

A thin book.  A plastic waterproof cover. A present clear light blue. Frames on a wall, nature and figures of humans standing on their own interfering with a wooden stick. Throughout the book the wooden stick is working like a tracer holding the pieces of the book together.

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I found it in the middle of the long list of choices, a list with new books for the library of the Gerrit Rietveld academie. This book might be new in the library, but was made in 1996. The book was made after Yvonne Dröge Wendels’s work and exhibition “Wooden sticks” at Witte de With in 1995. It is self-published and designed in collaboration with Jan Geerts. He happen to be nowhere to find on the world wide web which makes me wonder if he even works as a graphic designer? Maybe he was simply a good friend helping out with a simple set-up for the book to be printed and manifested as an object on its own.

I got curious with the look of the tittle “Wooden sticks” simple and effective, the two oo’s next to w, the emotions and memories wood evokes and the sticks connected to it made me wonder what was inside. So I took the book out from the shelf. At first glance, to be honest, I did not like the look of it, why is it plastic? Why this fond? Peculiar blue. Naah.. its not me, but I then flipped through and the pages had the perfect flip through, where you don’t miss a page doing it, and I fell for the instant feeling of development in intensity as I flipped it in my hands. Two chapters. The first, text, b/w simple documents of her process – where she construct an experimental set-up- through which she approach the object of a wooden stick in different ways- it shows her different perspectives, postures, gestures, moods over the time of thirteen days. Second chapter, a colorful and intense rough collage of different art historical, archeological, anthropological descriptions of sticks. Its a book of how-to, but not with conclusions and clear answers.

There is a very present feeling of not being modern in its design, hit by nostalgia it reminded me of books from my childhood. The bendy softness, yet solid presence, not fragile though light and the simpleness of the design. My first thoughts about the graphic design was, “It’s like the pages are pre-made templates ready to be filled out with words and images of your choice.”

A simple book with a sense of layers and depth in context.

Turning my head towards Ms Dröge Wendel.

Yvonne Dröge Wendel happen to be in my very close vicinity as she is the head of Fine Art department at the very same academy as me and the library where I found her book.

But she’s a busy teacher and artist at this moment, not to reach.

Where to go.

Library.

“Oh you like wooden sticks? We just got this one”‘

A brand new soft paper dark blue cover with what I assumed to be graphic-designed sticks. Is there any link besides the look and the theme?

The book is made by Alex Zakkas, a designer and artist who happen to be at his final year of DOG-time at the very same school as me, the library and Wendel, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. And one of his very starting point was indeed the work “Wooden sticks” by Ms Dröge Wendel.

We meet.

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Being in contact with a book called Wooden sticks about wooden sticks and their different uses I unconsciously started seeing them everywhere on my walks and ended up with one in my bag the last month.

Alex Zakkas made this book in close relation with his good friend, the designer Martino Moradi. Its the compilation of his one year residency work. It didn’t start as a book-project but was made within the last two months of his residency at T.U.Delft Institute of Positive Design, a Phd. world of design as he puts it. And he tells me that he feels the precense of that academic design world very much in the way the book is designed, in contrast to Wendel’s book.

It works with black as the main colour, blue as the more reflective colour (for his sidenotes/drawings) and three  very glossy spreads of colour images to break it up. Every text is played graphically with, as a direct responce to the content. The presence of the graphic design is clear, it constanly works as a support for Zakkas research upon the object of the wooden stick. In contrast to Wendel’s project, Zakkas interest was to look as closely as possible at the process of transforming raw material(including found objects, such s the sticks) into man-made artefacts and to collect insights on how a designer’s intentions condition a range of possible interpretations. “as triggers(or restrictions) for subjective associations, the specific materiality and varied tactile qualities which I introduced on sticks became an important aspect of my research process” – Alex Zakkas.

It becomes very clear to me as we speak, how Yvonne on the other hand, more than designing, decided rather to let it be as it is/was. As she treated the sticks as “a place of meaning; a thing with ‘just enough qualities’ she seems to treat her book the same way. No extra. A very welcoming and unpretentious effect upon me as the reader. Open for me to read and fill out the space myself. Filled with space around the simple text and images. Space to think and wonder

Its two ways of playing. Both with clear choices. A reminder that layers in the design can add meaningful and playful insight to the work. But letting it stand raw gives space for reflection in another sense.

 

when putting Dröge Wendel’s and Zakka’s books up against each other…

 

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There are very clear links to Wendels book and work, conscious and unconsciously as Zakkas puts it, when asked.

 

As my starting point was the development of intensity in Dröge Wendels book, I decided to make a visual and simple illustration of the different approach to the design of these books, the way they develop when I read through them with my eyes, mind and feelings.

Zakka's - dark blue, Wendel light-blue

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Yvonne Dröge Wendel: Wooden Sticks. /Rietveld library catalogue no : dro 1

A Seer Reader


Thursday, February 2, 2017

 

I was trying to find a book in the library with a design which excited me; something I’d like to write about. I chose to pick up A Seer Reader for the assertive, bold cover design it boasted. By using red, white and black, the colour contrast is stark, the combination connoting power. The font type replicates typical, 70’s typography, with its sweeping thickness and curvy motion; it asserts a confidence. A shallow indent delicately engraves ‘A Seer Reader’, indicating the importance of the books title, over the authors name. The ‘A’ starting the title, leads a triangular shape centering attention to the middle of the page. Every element to the cover designed by Zack Group, makes for an eye-catching, attention-grabbing book. The cover enticed me to open the book, and discover what inspired me to chose A Seer Reader for my investigation on design. Surprisingly my analysis wasn’t the result of my initial drawing to the cover, (and therefore comes without credit to the books designer,) but moreover to the author, Ed Atkins.

 

I discovered that every page of the A Seer Reader was adorned with dancing doodles; playful, printed, pen-style drawings dangle from the words, interrupt the verses and sulk in the far corners of the pages. There are tiny squiggles, illustrations, and symbols referencing or resembling punctuation. The doodles appeared to me, to specifically elude each poem with unique visual imagery. I decided I’d like to discover why they were designed in the way they are. I’ll investigate the context the book is published within, and therefore the content of A Seer Reader. Focusing on the style of the font used for the doodles, their arrangement on the page, and the choice of imagery, I’ll analyze specific examples from the book in attempt to explain why the doodles are designed in this way.

A Seer Reader was published for Ed Aitkin’s solo exhibition in Serpentine Gallery during 2014. Working predominantly with video and language, Ed Atkin’s visual art is inspired by the poetry he wrote for A Seer Reader. Ed atkin’s solo at Serpentine consisting of sound works, text instillation and images revolves around a multi-screen video instillation named Ribbons, where Atkins attempts to emphasise questions concerning the relationship between real life and virtual concepts, objects and environments. He explains that his videos are a ‘…kind of poetry of their own’.’ ‘…interested in previously literary-theoretical concerns about seeing and reading, interpretation of metaphor, figuration and literality.’ He uses CGI to literalise what was once only possible in metaphor.

In Ribbons 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 this 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 male, 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 somebody stereotypically disapproved of, in today’s society. Atkin’s concern for the world we exist within, is evident in the design of the tattoos enscribed on the skin of his surrogate, Dave. Desperate phrases like ‘love please’ and ‘bankrupt’ are scrawled onto his skin to illustrate his story of conflict. They physically demonstrate the feelings Dave would have as a human, but as a virtual delegate, his being is absent from. On his skin; they’re positioned outside the human nervous system. I think this indicates a detachment from the animations human intimacy with himself.
After studying the videos Atkins produced for his solo exhibition, I noticed similarities in style between the doodles illustrating A Seer Reader, and the tattoo’s scrawled on Dave’s skin. It now became evident to me, that considering the importance of what the drawings suggest in his video work, the way they are designed in A Seer Reader will also have a special significance to the ideas Atkins questions in his work.

I’m curious as to why the doodles appear in the font style they do. They are printed on the paper in a scrawly handwriting in a biro or sometimes with a bold marker


fixed page

The independent, physical and primally instinctive movement of writing with a pen in ones hand, is raw and natural to the intellectual human being society knows today. Atkin’s uses the soon disappearing practice of writing by hand, to convey the humanly emotions of himself, or anybody in our society today, onto the virtual future we face (the skin of Dave). Therefore the font design that distinguishes the poetry in A Seer Reader, from the handwriting doodles can be compared to the contrast between Daves cgi skin and his tattoos.

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The poetry is written in a serif font type, commonly used in literature of today, its appropriate for clear messages to encourage the reader to focus on the content of text. It 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. By choosing a serif font which was developed digitally, Atkins paradoxically hints at what the digital world has already done to change the way our brains work, to raise questions regarding our future and technology. There is a confident, official level of professionalism created by digitally produced font, totally un-emotionless and un-personal for the reader of today. Its in these respects that the I relate the choice of serif font to Atkins virtual surrogate replica of a human. Both the poetry in sensible, digital serif font and the pinky rendered skin of the CGI Dave is tormented whilst illustrated by a real humans handwriting scribbles. The choice for handwriting therefore poses a conflict between some of the characteristic, fundamental elements of human development regarding language in the mortal world, (a practice at threat of,) the human’s of our virtual future; a product of our current society.

By using handwriting the design of the doodles appears uniquely personal; autobiographical. Atkins uses his own style of taking notes to project his personal concerns with society onto his surrogate; he plays with his ego, flipping himself into his virtual identity blanketed by his naked, surplus and mortal emotions Through his CGI in Ribbons. In A Seer Reader the intimacy created between the reader and Atkins, through his use of highly personal handwriting, implies the doodles are like entries to a diary, personal thoughts belonging to the artist. The doodles style in handwriting therefore allows us to understand Atkin’s truly distressed feelings towards our existence in the future he insights, in the mostly raw, open and honest way.

A consolidation thoughts form from Atkin’s head; the handwriting translates a universal language of emotion, in how each word is formed from the authors hand to the paper. The handwriting helps to illustrate Atkin’s feelings as he writes, and emotionally connects with each specific word. 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’.

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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. By contrast the choice in design regarding capital letters, a larger size font to the majority of the doodles and sharp points determining the end of letters, suggest aesthetics which relate to an irrational state of urgent, abrasive, human panic.

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Page 103 in the handwriting ‘DONT DIE.’

Capital letters accentuate importance, taught in the grammar of the languages in our society, showing Atkin’s thoughts which should shout from the page. These features of the handwriting style show how Ed Atkin’s conveys different emotions through the doodles design, he plays with his readers to elude how he feels as the artist.

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 in 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 (what his poetry represents). An issue presently discussed within his poetry, as well as what he represents with his surrogate Dave in Ribbons. 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. For example on page 86 a smiley mouth and a big floppy tongue curve and grin around the word ‘mouth.’

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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.

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Again this provides a clear illustration of the text, but it also speaks of 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 for illustrational purposes which seem therefore to be in harmony with the poetry, and the concepts which lie behind Atkins exhibition at serpentine which A Seer Reader was published for. Despite the chaos of the doodles, and the lively energy they carry as they appear 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 issues regarding mortal life, and the poetry talks on the concern for the virtual future, then Atkins could be showing the bond between the illustrations of his thoughts, and his poetry. As one where he symbolizes how 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 structure (involving the positioning of illustrations with relation to the poetry,) may be designed as it is in A Seer Reader 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.

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Atkins allows these direct assertions of feelings to stand as lines by theirselves. They appear significant and with a different font (in scrawny pen,) 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.

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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 separate because they imply a direction; a change of action. 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 intimately relate 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.

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On page 30, the two opening words, which start verses following each other, are connected with a squiggle.

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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 positioning of the handwriting squiggles make them a part of the poem, although they contribute letters in a different style to the rest of the poetry in its serif font. On page 67 the poem begins using letters O the handwriting style, to begin the first words of following verses.

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The size of the squiggly letter is obese to the rest of the text, it helps 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 choice to have these in the doodle style instead of the serif font refers to the power the doodles have over the poetry on the page, as they refer to the dying practice of handwriting as a symbol signature of our mortal lives in society today.
I’d like to find out why Atkins chose to use this specific imagery, for his doodles. 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. 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, and more specifically the video work Ribbons, 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 ultimately the 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, when considering the broader context of his practice. 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 urgency of the issues 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 the virtual future.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”?

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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

CREATING WORLDS


Sunday, November 27, 2016

.. Those kinds of worlds that swallow you whole, the worlds where time stand still and you forget your body. It doesn’t have to be an intellectual or logic world. The worlds you discover in your childhood was often better – more fantastic. Maybe because children’s mind are not so constricted. I loved to emerge myself in books and movies. Now in our world of massive possibilities of streaming we have a free choice of worlds. Who doesn’t love Game of Thrones? I might be a bit more into those kind of worlds than the average, so I was really pleased to find another little world in Clair Verkoyens works. I saw a design work of hers in the exhibition “Dream out loud” at the Stedelijk Museum. Three ceramic bowls with three-dimensional worlds added on. The idea of creating new worlds are an interesting possibility that, for me at least, feels like the work leaves the idea of design and move towards something that looks more like an art concept.

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She uses a generic 3D software program to make the animated landscapes and the little creatures “making” it. She is creating the landscapes with shapes and then deleting the solid part so only the lines are left. The landscapes on the bowls exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum are made with a collage technic, where Clair Verkoyen samples and merges her 3D animation together and make the universe.

As to the question why does this little universe belong on ceramics the answer is, that it maybe does not? It seems nevertheless that it has been a natural process of her design career to this point, working first with 2D, then 3D and shifting from photoshop to 3D animation. In connection to Clair Verkoyen’s work the Stedelijk Museum presents, as exhibition text, the history of the Dutch tradition of importing ceramics from China. And it is true that Clair Verkoyen bought the ceramics in China but it was more because of fascination of material rather than a nod to history.
I have seen more post-internet art works around for the last couple of years, and for me Clair Verkoyen has used some of the same technics of working – creating worlds – (besides the obvious: that the work made by/on the computer program). Why does post-internet artist make utopian worlds? I have seen a work by Cécile B. Evans named “What the heart wants”. It is an animation about the connection between human and technology. Her world is set in a futuristic, sterile and a bit barren world where human and technology has merge so much that it is hard to find out what is what.

Ed Atkins work has esthetically similarities to Cécile B. Evans’s work because the formal presentation (screens/projection) and something else I can’t put my finger on. I perceive Ed Atkins animation works differently, he creates a narrative or a statement and the world he creates somehow implied. And that is the thing about making animation, it has to be created from a blank screen. Because of the digital medium these artists uses it to open up a new platform to show there art. Serpentine Galleries has a website connected too their gallery this opens up fore another art form ‘Net Art’.
The differences between ‘Post-Internet Art’[x] and ‘Net Art’[x], is that in Postinternet it is able to be both online and offline. Where ‘Net Art’ only exists online. In the depth of the internet you can be friends with AGNES at the interactive part of the webpage of Serpentine Galleries.

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AGNES is made by Cécile B. Evans. I have visited AGNES several times during this writing assignment and mostly she follows a pattern but one time she encouraged me to think about the idea of herself and showed me a place where I could learn to write HTML code.

Cécile B. Evans seems captivated by the though of involving others in process of her work. At the exhibition “What the heart wants” Cécile B. Evans had created a part named: “Working On What the Heart Wants”.  Here she shows how the animation/movie was made through chatroom bits, pieces and conversations between her and her programmer. Somehow it a very natural nextstep because all of us have a computer so in principal we can all make our own world and what is more important is that everybody can access it. Public art on the internet makes the definition of art even wider. And raises the question: Can the game SIM’s (as an example) be art? It’s interactive like AGNES and it is a world where you create houses and relationships.

All this research made me realize that the worlds created by Clair Verkoyen, Cécile B. Evans and Ed Adkins in whatever medium they work in are very complex and speaks to the observers fantasy. Nothing is given and more observations opens up new layers of experiences. I love being emerged into those kinds of worlds I find in art, literature and movies.
Being able to make worlds is a specific kind of magic.

Hella Jongerius and the in-between-state of Design.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Within a era where design industry has been mostly focusing on how-to-reach at quickest the largest market possible by basically allowing marketing and communication departments to take the lead and most companies are sales-increasing-oriented, there’s a figure I’ve been admiring a lot for a certain capability to break this kind of mechanisms. Dutch designer Hella Jongerius has been an attentive observer of the industrial production process and its weaknesses and I could think of her as a designer capable to give the design industry a remarkable, somehow playful response.

Chicle Project, material experiment for The Nature Conservancy, 2009

 

By having a broad look here and there to her work, I could figure out that the strength of her designs lies in their between-state for both caring about details and imperfections and still being able to fit into an industrial production rhythm. In her work I see some sort of generosity which looks up back to the past (not just to appropriate herself – as most designers nowadays would do - of principles such as authenticity and sustainability) by giving it a further value as a result of her never-ending research around life and ”afterlife” of objects. What strikes me about Jongerius’ design approach is that she pushes design to an almost imperceptible limit which oscillates towards an artistic process. Hers seems to me closer to an art-related way of processing research, brain storming, sketching ideas and projects themselves starting as sketches, always caring about some imperfection which can emerge through unexpectedly magic come outs. This is at least what it means dealing with handicrafts. Something that she has discovered already in the 90s when giving the design industry imperfection as an answer. Concerning to Jongerius, design should firstly be communicative. This is what design is about. Its function lies mainly in its communicative power which can be measured at different levels of meaning.  Even ugliness can be very a strong means of communication. Since handicrafts primarily deal with the impossibility to produce perfect finished products, she has considered it as her own vehicle to face the anonymous perfection that industry has been producing for more than a century. In most of her works, she is been playing with the imagination of the user, by creating fore ex. a ”frog table” which is basically a frog seating at the table itself and a question which comes along with that is: why do we need imagination for (a specific) utility? isn’t use already enough?

 

Frog Table [Natura Design Magistra] 2009

According to the Dutch designer, there is a persistent prejudice concerning the essential difference, drastic separation between designs that are made to be purely functional and expressive designs which are able to tell stories which go beyond themselves as objects.

Once again the function of design has assumed new meanings and contents. It cannot be formulated strictly depending on terms of use or comfort.
Sometimes the core signifier of design can actually be its paradoxical non-functionality > animal bowls < a project started in 2004 for which Jongerius is been selecting different pieces ouf of the Porcelain Manufacturer Collection of Nymphenburg – as a celebration of age-old crafts and treasures found within the Nymphenburg archive, in Germany.

 

Bowl with hare / Bowl with fawn / Bowl with hippopotamus

Some other aspects that I really appreciate about Hella Jongerius’ work are the experimentation with the more diverse materials and her deep passion for colours I feel somehow very close to.

In 2009 she’s been leading a project for The Nature Conservancy [x]. In this particular project Jongerius is been experimenting with the natural material of chicle, derived from the rain forests of Mexico. The project itself consisted of a group of internationally renowned designers who have been participating, initiated by the American Nature Conservancy, an organization which strives to protect sustainable materials for use in contemporary art, design and architecture. The results of the project were shown for the first time at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Chicle project [x]

 

Argali Rugs, 2015

For this project Jongerius has created – within a palette of six colours typical of Nepalese yarns – Kilim rugs which have been hand woven from special Tibetan wool from Argali – a wild sheep breed that resides in the Himalayan mountains. The yarns themselves have been hand spun by local weavers, and their naturally faded colours and irregular character lend each rug a truly individual appeal. Each rug incorporates several design details, including a hand-embroidered area with silk yarn – a reference to an old tradition of repairing the rugs. The fringes are braided, a practice that also refers to an old custom in Nepal – this for its decorative appeal.

 

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Argali for Danskina [x]

 

There are some many things which should be told about Hella Jongerius, that comes almost difficult to make a choice ouf of the huge amount of her research. Jongerius has been the Art Director for colours and materials at Vitra for many years, during which she has developed Vitra Colour & Material Library together with a quite recent book ‘I don’t have a favourite colour’ which basically refers to the establishment and +further development of an intelligent system of colours’, materials and textiles that make it easy to create inspiring environments in offices, homes and public spaces. It is definitely an interesting book since the Dutch designer has been illustrating her method of research and the application of its results to the Vitra product portfolio.

 

'I don't have a favourite colour' [x]

 

Jongerius way of dealing with the design experience is very fascinating for me since I’ve always felt quite far away from the design process, very related to super appealing – almost perfectly finished products.
Her installation/selection within the textile archive of KLM company for Dream Out Loud exhibition at the Stedelijk has been so inspiring for me. It confirmed me further my pre-existing love for textile matter. It immediately brought me to a sort of aesthetics that I personally feel pretty much related to. By reading part of her book Misfit and her .Manifesto. Beyond The New written together with Louise Schouwenberg so many exciting questions came up – concerning the contemporary era – where are we going to? design/art? this over exploited back to the roots feeling and the over flooded quantity of emerging designers. What can design add to the world of plenty? and What is functionality in the here and now?

 

the ‘de Jong’ vision


Friday, October 28, 2016

With this article I will try to provide the reader a good insight into the Situationist Times that were published between 1st of May 1962 and the Fall 1967 during the Situationist movement [ x /y ].

First of all, about the woman behind these tremendously enriching compendia:

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Her name is Jacqueline de Jong, she is a dutch graphic designer, artist and sculptor, born in 1939 in Hengelo to Jewish parents.

She encountered Asger Jorn in 1959 in London, which will lead to a very significant liaison and finally to her entrance into the Situationist International.

1960, when she entered the movement she then started to participate in conferences at the Central Committee and was the representative of Holland – in the same year she received a postcard with the message :”Now all of Holland belongs to you.”[z]

This stamped her membership of the SI where she remained active until 1962, when in the same year the German and Scandinavian Situationists saw expulsion by Guy Debord due to a long-standing friction between the aesthetic and political aspects. Because of her solidarity with the German Situationist Gruppe SPUR, she was expelled/ resigned in Febuary 1962.

As the division between the Debord circle and the German and Scandinavian Situationists widened, De Jong stayed impartial.

Her vision was to produce an international, completely free and multicultural magazine based on the most creative Situationist ideas.

De Jong’s major inspiration stemmed from the late 1920s magazine  i10 International Revue published and edited by the anarchist Arthur Lehning between 1927-1929, it featured contributions from Schwitters, Moholy-Nagy, Bloch, Kandinsky and many others. The new approaches to typography and graphic design apart from the interest in radical political views were so compelling and intriguingly in synch with the aesthetic sensibilities of the avant-garde with which she traveled.

For her the idea of a magazine with content made up of an wide-array of artists and intellectuals beyond aesthetic and geographical constraints was appealing and aided her in attempts to find new ways of disseminating the Situationist ideology.

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“How it started was getting thrown out of the Situationist movement. I had already announced that I was going to make an English — multi-language, but English language sort of magazine in 1960 in Brussels. And it was because of the French — Internationale Situationniste — I said : let’s make an English one. […]

There was SPUR — as a German one, a French, I.S., but no English language magazine for the Internationale Situationniste. So that was my suggestion, and I had bought i10, I think, a year before. And it was the most interesting magazine, I mean also in typography, I’d ever seen. […]”

komitee-spur

 

The first two issues speak a very similar visual language, with drawings and articles. The first issue she started with the whole SPUR trial while they were on trial in Germany for blasphemy and pornography — she published the whole court process in this issue, including the so-called dirty pictures and blasphemic texts.

They would travel to places and protocol their results of applying Situationist tactics as détournement and dérive.

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The following issues are quite different, as De Jong found herself very captivated by the concept of topology, she would compile visual information and material in a very meticulous research on various subjects, with the highly diverse contributions in form of highly informative texts – also in different languages, or even various languages in one cohesive article.

The issue that started this whole idea of compiling visual material throughout time and culture was the third issue — the British Issue which she entirely by herself edited and published.

Apart from few highly interesting and profound texts by Anton Ehrenzweig, Max Bucaille and Georges Hay this issue mostly concentrated on the ‘Typologoy of Knots’.

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De Jong did not intend to make a series of issues with topological content, but what happened was that she solely recognized the topological pattern that was developing, but where she drew inspiration for the Issue #3 was from walking the Gotland labyrinths.

She described her experience:

I don’t really remember why I took the idea of labyrinths. It might have been because we went to the Gotland. We walked into the labyrinth there. And out. That’s the problem. Into a labyrinth is one thing, but getting out of it.. but there’s always a system to it. […]

Which led her to publishing this extraordinary content on labyrinths, she asked the people in her network, such as her former history professor Jaffé and Aldo van Eyck to write an article on this subject. Simultaneously Peter Schat and Lodewijk de Boer changed the name of their opera from ‘The Paradise Bird’ to ‘Labyrint’.

 

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Issue #5 provided an enormous amount of visual and verbal content on ‘Rings and Chains’, which was the logical development of sequences, and again people were asked to contribute to this specific subject.

But this was also the starting point of the publishing and distributions to take a critical turn. Jorn had to sell some of his paintings for the publishing to take place, there were problems with the printing office after which they relocated to Copenhagen for Issue #5.

This cohesive way of content focusing on a certain topological subject started turning into a maniacal hunt for De Jong, she initially wanted to do an issue on Wheels, but due to certain other coincidental situations she changed her course, this time inspired by Walasse Ting‘s One Cent Life she advanced to compiling a very visually different issue, which will finally lead to being the last one.

 

One Cent Life was a book featuring lithographs and screenprints contributed by artists such as Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Roy Liechtenstein, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, and many more.
“Lots of things were happening, actually at the American Center. Happenings were starting. Yoko Ono came and we were all very much involved in movements that got more and more international. We did some things like parties and exhibitions, and I mean really working together, having enourmous shows together and I mean it became lively, it became really something important.

 

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JACQUELINE DE JONG : THE SITUATIONIST TIMES #6
FACSIMILE 1962-67, CURATED BY JOHAN KUGELBERG, PUBLISHED BY BOO-HOORAY NYC, 2012
Rietveld Library no: 700.2 jon 1

 I wanted to show this spirit in a printed way. [...] I wanted to do something cheap, but beautiful, and perfect. I said I could make a Parisian One Cent Life, and very cheap, if all the artists do the same colors, the same size, and it’s the size of the Situationist Times. [...]”

She went to a lithographer, and many artists were asked to work on this issue, come four times to the printer and make four colors. What also was part of her considerations was the fact that this issue was meant to cover the costs of the next issue, she didn’t want to depend on Jorn selling his paintings.

It was published finally, and it was unique. It was shown at La Hune, which was a bookshop for art and it peaked its distribution, unfortunately to very complicated and shady reasons the publishing of The Situationist Times was put to a halt by outside circumstances which I find very tragic in that sense.

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I feel like she could have gone on with this process of working with collaboraters and contributors from all different backgrounds specialized in a certain field and enriched society with this knowledge made accessible to the reader in such a visually magnificient way – if it wasn’t for those outside circumstances that she had little control of.

But then again I wonder if exactly the way things turned out created the emphasis of this compilation of knowledge and visual manifestation of that time’s zeitgeist, giving it more significance, but also compelling me to wonder about the what ifs, or what would an issue on a different topic that I personally find quite interesting have been like? Because I find it quite striking in her way of compiling especially the topological issues, she crossed borders and cultures and time, which really caught my interest, and I almost want to argue that it was accidental because in a way she possibly just wanted to provide the most accurate and rich information on a certain topic with contributions from other people she dragged into this quest.

In that sense, her ambitious hard work and struggles to give us this content and share it with the world and people like us from a different time and mental state is solely, and tremendously enriching, but highly questionable if these were aspects of her consideration. The way I perceived it she solely wanted to share something of the present in the present, but in such an eager and energetic way that I can feel the literal energy of De Jong when I flip through the pages of each issue, the dedication and meticulous arrangement.

I highly advise the reader to go to the library of our academy and let the visual language speak to you. I derived profound inspiration from it – the way of the arrangement and editing, visually as written, concomitant the content itself as well of course.

The International Situationist Times facsimilé edition at Rietveld Library cat.no. 700.2 jon 1

Homo Ludens


Monday, October 24, 2016

 

The human being is qualified as « homo sapiens », the man who knows and « homo faber », the man who makes. « Homo ludens » is the man at play.

 

So i decided to find out more about Constant Nieuwenhuy’s « homo ludens » and the context.

We are in the period after the second world war, everything is destroyed and has to be rebuilt. Constant had an utopian vision of how we could re invent our world, and for him it was a real possibility. We had to forget how we did thing in the past (traditions, routines, processes, plans…) and create a new world from dust, that he called « New Babylon ».

 

The people of the « New Babylon » world are called the « homo ludens ». He insisted on the importance of play. Something joyful, pleasant and adventurous in our daily lives. People could transform, recreate our environment according to their new needs. Everyone could use his creativity as he wished. Art would exist as part of our day-to-day existence, everyone would be an artist. He puts the human in the centre of everything. Mobility is another key dimension because it was getting easier to travel across the world. Constant saw the new babylonians as a new race of nomads with unlimited freedom to decide about the appearance of their surroundings.

 

 

Staircase

 

 

I think this staircase is the perfect representation of Constant’s idea of « homo ludens ». The stair’s principal function is no more the useful part of it, to go up and down. The amusement of going up and down is what it is about. It isn’t the most practical staircase but when you go up or down, you have fun.

 

The opposite of this new concept of a « ludic society » is the society we are in now, a « utilitarian society ». A society based on the exploitation of the human being’s capacity for work in any kind of domain. « Utility » is the principal criteria of a man for his activity. The creative man can only claim his right on rare occasions.

 

The « ludic society » on the contrary is freed from repetitive production work. It would be a « classless society » with no more hierarchy. A society were individuals developed and discovered their own creativity with others. Constantly at play, an uninterrupted process of creation and re creation.

 

How would « social justice » work in this new world ?

 

Equality and freedom between everyone is the principle of social justice. Freedom depends not only on the social structure but also on productivity. Supposing we are in a world where people create daily, if there is no production then this society doesn’t work. Productivity depends on technology. The new technologies we discover every year give us new ways of doing things, more possibilities, more freedom for the « homo ludens » to play with.

With theses new possibilities people innovate, make something new, re do, renew, rebuild, restore, transform, change… This is in effect the role of a designer but in this world there wouldn’t be any constraints.

 

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These innovations can be used in all kinds of activities. For instance, Constant imagined that air conditioning in  « New Babylon » does not only serve to recreate, as in a « utilitarian society » an « ideal » climate but also to make it possible to vary the ambiance to the greatest possible degree.

 

Technology and innovation enable creativity. For example, we can now bring to reality what was a simple 2D image on a computer. There are many kinds of innovations but I think that artificial intelligence (see also : 7 trends for artificial intelligence in 2016 ) is going to be the major innovation that will have an impact on our society and really affect our creativity in the future.

 

Imagine a world where « homo ludens » would be able to have artificial intelligence (AI) assistants. You could not really make the difference with a human. They would have all the data of the world in their system and would use « deep learning » .

« Deep learning » is different learning methods where the AI has advanced audio and visual analysis skills (facial recognition, voice recognition, computer vision…). They would be able to modify their attitude based on the past, they learn. If you are a bit curious about this subject I advise you to watch the tv series « Westworld  ».

With all this data and advanced technology IA assistants could give to « homo ludens » a different perspective about their production and bring real technical and practical support instantly. It would be similar to the character « Jarvis » in Iron Man. What is interesting about this AI is that it is invisible.

 

Artificial intelligence and « homo ludens » could work well together but AI can be dangerous if it is not well controlled.

 

CONSTANT SPACE AND COLOUR


Monday, October 24, 2016
constant-nieuwenhuys

Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys (21 July 1920 – 1 August 2005)

After the end of the war the housing problem in the Netherlands was the ‘number one enemy’. In the early 50s Nieuwenhuys was seeking for new pathways in which art could contribute to reconstruction of the post war Europe. He envisioned an art that was at once “lyrical in its means and social in its very nature” (1956). That period of time was crucial for Constant.

After the Cobra period, Constant Nieuwenhuys’ work becomes more abstract. It develops more and more towards spatial experimentation and architecture. He starts to study architecture with the books of Aldo van Eyck. During that period Constant comes up with the question of how the construction of a city contributes to the quality of life. He starts to realize how the modern structures that surround us influence us. Before that, in the Cobra time he focuses on collective art and rejects individual art, now he goes even further by striving for a synthesis of arts. He tries to break the boundaries between art professions like painting, sculpting, architecture and technology, he feels like they need to be eradicated. In this period of time Constant is searching for artists with the same views as him; he works together with architects like Gerrit Rietveld, Aldo van Eyck and Stephen Gilbert.

 

(Symbolic Representation of New Babylon), 1969.

(Symbolic Representation of New Babylon), 1969.

The exhibition “Constant. Space + Colour. From CoBrA to New Babylon” at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, showed that development of Constant’s work.
Constant worked together with many different artist during his life and was not afraid to experiment with his style and way to approach his work. He both painted, made sculptures and made graphic work. It was very clear when you walked through the exhibition at the Cobra museum that his main approach have been space and colour during his lifetime. Constant’s development from Cobra to New Babylon was told by a narrative and you were guided through the exhibition that represented both his avant-garde experimenting paintings and his urban architectural sculpture work.

Shown at the exhibition was this one video installation called Gyromorphosis which is made by Hyman ‘Hy’ Hirsh. Most of the works in the exhibition were presented live as maquettes whereas Gyromorphosis was the only digital piece that displayed the New Babylon ideas not by Constant himself, which was attention grabbing.  Hirsh was born in Pennsylvania in October of 1911 and was an American photographer and experimental filmmaker. He was also one of the first filmmakers to use electronic imaginary. From looking at more of Hirsh’ work it is possible to make a conclusion that he treated films as malleable objects by constantly editing and re-editing them, mostly using live music instead of pre-recorded soundtracks. Hirsh did in fact dedicate himself to working with the describing form as seen in his other works. In Gyromorphosis,which he made while staying in Amsterdam, Hirsch strives to display the kinetic qualities of the New Babylon structures of Constant Nieuwenhuys. One by one he puts parts of the structures in motion and films the details with colored lighting having them overlap each other, appear and disappear. He creates a sensation of acceleration and suspense suggested by the work itself. He uses music from the Modern Jazz Quartet which becomes a great part of the piece; rough and blunt shapes together with very soft sound creates a great contrast that is hard to miss.

Gyromorphosis, 1954

Gyromorphosis, 1954

Hirsh works with the describing form, which is a way to represent the weight and space of sculptural form on film.”To realize this aim I have put into motion, one by one, pieces of the sculpture and, with colorued lighting, filmed them in various detail, overlaying the images on the film as they appear and disappear. In this way, I have hoped to produce senstation of accelaration and suspension which are suggested to me by the sculpture itself.”, says Hirsh. (note by Joost Rekveld). It is a way to describe in moving images what is fundamentally still. You might say that a sculpture is described by the space around it, described by the the experience or the touch. The moving image places the viewer in another position and remove the viewer from the direct and individual experience. The individual sense of the material, surface and environment that you experience during a first hand encounter with a sculptural form is now in the describing form framed through the lens of a filmmaker. It’s a document caught in another time and scape than the one you experience yourself in front of the actual sculpture. It is in the tension between these two states that avant-garde filmmakers, and the artists themselves, have brought their singular and experimental approaches to filming form. Another artists, who actually have worked with dynamic videos of this kind as well was László Moholy-Nagy, who while working at Denham studios created kinetic sculptures and abstract light effects. Artists present new ways of using the moving image to offer other and different perspectives on sculptural form.

Spending a lot of time thinking about the principal behind the idea of putting Hirsh’ work in the New Babylon we have decided to look for a direct search of answers (contacting the curator of the exhibition). Thanks to Laura Stamps, modern arts curator at the Gemeente Museum The Hague we got a clear answer. She explained to us that the exhibition was not only consisting of the works Constant has made in the specific time of the New Babylon but also his steps towards it, for example there is a whole room dedicated to the time frame of Nieuwenhuys being a part of the Cobra movement, and another one dedicated to Constant’s research of the ‘synthesis of arts’. Mentioning all of the previous periods and having a separate space for them in the exhibition plays a very important role because that is what influences the development and new ideas and methods of working, which will eventually lead to the creation of the New Babylon project. Then alongside the artworks the curator chose to show a selection of of documentary material (pictures, collages, flyers, correspondence and films). Laura has mentioned that for her ‘Gyromorphosis’ also functions as a sort of documentary material because it is a film in which the artworks of Constant play a lead role. Hy Hirsh is the maker but the film is obviously a collaboration between the two. The way the film is made – it gives you a psychedelic, new age feel – reflects the time that it was made in very well. The curator has integrated this film (as well as other documentary material) because it gives you a feeling against what background New Babylon was created.
To summarize this research, it is important to mention that the pathway of an artist is a very important factor of his work as whole. Constant Nieuwenhuys in this case, going from Cobra to the New Babylon, which stylistically are so different from each other, are still tightly connected. Collaborations with others, Hy Hirsh for example, also plays a big role in the whole process, giving it the needed documentary aspect.

text by Vica Allakhverdyan and Sofie Bredholt

The Concept of Détournement


Monday, October 24, 2016

Détournement is a technique. Détournement is a style. Détournement is a tool.

  • To really understand the concept of this tool, first we have to get to know it’s origins.

When we speak about détournement, the first and the most important figure we have to mention is Guy Debord.

Debord was a Marxist theorist; writer and filmmaker who is mostly known for his activity and leading membership of the Situationist International ( SI ).

In 1950, at the age of 19, Debord joined an avant-garde movement called Letterism, led by Isidore Isou. After two years Debord splits off and creates a radical group, the Letterist International.

Shortly after this collective of rebel artists and theorists was founded ( 1952 ) , détournement was claimed by this certain group.

The very first publication ( and description ) we can find on their desires; announced by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman in 1956, was the ‘ A User’s Guide to Détournement ’ .

After we did these very basic studies on the genesis of our subject, we can go deeper in search of the meaning and, so to say, the use of détournement.

  • Every movement, every new style claims current things and situations to change. They all have the same purpose: leave the old, the used behind and create, express something new. In our case Guy Debord’s movement was a very radical, even revolutionary way of changing the meaning of art, or better, the production of it. Debord and the situationists all agreed on the fact that art could no longer stay a chic, luxurious, high class production. Rather they believed and strived for art to have a deeper, educational input. They broke down the walls of the classical and the bourgeois way of looking at and creating art by taking different elements of already existing works and transforming them into something new, to express another meaning. These changes don’t necessarily have to be drastic or aggressive. The point of it is to change a small component but then with this small detour, changing the overall expression and audience. They mainly aimed political situations and circles, but only in a peaceful and respectful way.

A very important figure and example in this case would be Asger Jorn. Jorn was a really good friend of Debord, therefore he was highly inspired and led by the situationist concept, styles and ideas. In his paintings series called The ‘Defigurations’ , we can clearly explore the idea of détournement. His works are mainly driven by political issues and his frustration with established structures and authorities within society.

Another well known example is Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. where he simply adds a moustache on Mona Lisa. With this small adjustment which first looks funny and sarcastic, Duchamp changes the whole meaning of the original Mona Lisa, that presents a laid back, carefree woman, but with this detour he presents the restlessness of the women’s sexuality.

  • At this point i find it more important to come up with more recent examples for détournement.

Let’s say you go to a restaurant, you get a piece of toast and a strawberry. Then you take a bite of this strawberry and you realise that it is actually a tomato. This is a concoction by the radical Star Chef Grant Achatz called ‘ strawberry / tomato ‘ . His cuisine is amazingly revolutionary as he transfers every simple ingredient into something more, something different. With this, he presents the meaning of modern cooking on a new level that is more of a performance or art than just making food for the guests. The food itself loses its meaning, it becomes the show, the whole experience. He takes a simple vegetable a normal herb or an ordinary ingredient but then the way he cuts, boils, combines them he creates tastes, techniques and culinary styles that we have never experienced before.

Another very important figure and illustration from our daily life is Banksy. We are not quite certain if Banksy is one person or a group of revolutionary artists, but the works we find and see under Banksy’s name are carrying the biggest recent political and social issues from these days.

In our case Banksy () could be one of the best examples how détournement works. In these works we can find well known images of current situations, famous moments and people, companies and figures. The way Banksy transforms these pieces, irrevocably opens our eyes on actual problems in our society, on existing and known political debates. The only small detour Banksy has, is that the way it’s propaganda exists might be more aggressive or intense by publishing them on public places, than the basics of détournement were created.

  • However, we face an important  and interesting question now. What if we detour détournement? How far can détournement go? How can or should we divide it from anarchy?

Or maybe peaceful propaganda is not enough at all these days anymore…?!

I assume it might not be. I believe that nowadays within such an aggressive society, political parties and their choices; we have to fight the “rival” with clear, harsh and rebel tools.

So answering our questions: it is almost a mandatory for us artists and philosophers and writers, comedians, journalists or simple working class people and for all medium that is capable of, to take the peaceful elements of détournement to a next,  advanced level. We do have to go further and show our dislike or disagreement, even if it has to cross laws and politeness, for the sake of change and recognition. We have to apply effective and more powerful tools to our ideas and requirements  for them to be realised.


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