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"image + language" Category


The Impossibility of Neutrality


Friday, February 5, 2016

Neutrality. Growing up in Sweden, the term has been a part of me since I was born, and a part of my country since before any of the world wars. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of not supporting either side in an argument”. It is used throughout society in everything from neutral tasting yoghurt to neutral states in politics. But what does it mean? And is it even possible? I chose to explore and discuss a part of this which is dear to me as an art student, image making.

I started exploring neutrality through a work of Swiss designers Müller + Hess called The Impossibility of Neutrality, which is a commission by the English graphic design magazine Eye. It is an attempt to create an alphabet consisting of imagery instead of typography. Each letter in the alphabet has been replaced by multiple images. They chose multiple images because different people have different perceptions of what an image could represent. So to make this more precise, the viewer can look at multiple images to understand which letter the sender is trying to convey. The work deals with typography, text and photography, and how it is impossible to be neutral in imagery.

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The Impossibility of Neutrality ©1999 by Müller + Hess, first published as Max Bruinsma's article Reduced to the Max in Eye-mag #32

From this work I went onward to The Photographic Dictionary by Lindley Warren. The Photographic Dictionary is a website with photographs representing words. Each word in the dictionary is represented by a photograph. The word that is represented by the photograph below is the word embrace. What happens in this work, just as in Müller + Hess’s work, is that the impossibility of neutrality becomes very apparent. The representation of the word becomes very personal, and in every image there are many messages that the viewer can read into, and every image can be interpreted in many different ways. An image can not show something neutral, as text can. Or can it?

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Embrace by Brendan George Ko through The Photographic Dictionary

Stock photography is often used as an image that can just be interpreted in one way. It is a photograph showing something in a very non-personal and mostly objective way. It is used widely by, for example businesses, who in this way can acquire quality imagery for their business at a lower cost. When using a stock photography service, the user searches for a word or a phrase, and the matching photograph appears. For this to work, the image has to be non-personal and work for a specific use within many different contexts. Does this mean that the image is neutral? And does it apply to all types of images? Images showing people can hardly be neutral I think. Most of them show an accepted norm for the human being which they send as a message. But let’s take something else as an example. Let’s take this image of U.S. dollar bills. I believe it is more or less neutral. It portrays the dollar bills as they are, no more and no less. I feel it is not carrying any messages more than the concept of U.S. dollar bills. But then again the concept of U.S. dollar bills holds a lot of messages in itself, within everything from geography to economy and politics. And also, the bills are stacked irregularly and have creases on them, which makes me think of money that is earned in illegal ways, passed on in duffel bags.

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Dollar bills by iStock

Another type of neutrality which I think is interesting is when an image or a message has been used so many times and in so many different contexts that it has lost its original meaning and doesn’t really say anything anymore. An example is the art sold at IKEA. It has been bought, sold and shown so many times in so many different contexts that the original context or message is completely lost, and it now doesn’t really represent much at all. Maybe this isn’t neutrality, but more some kind of visual confusion or loss of context. But just like the stock imagery, these images are often just used to replace one word, which in this case is decoration and/or art. This makes these images neutral in the way that most people don’t really experience or see anything when looking at these images, but instead just see a materialization of the word decoration or art.

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Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's by IKEA

Something that I think fits very well into this discussion is the word perception. Perception is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the way you think about or understand someone or something”. People will always have different ways of perceiving things, and when looking at an image, the image is always interpreted regarding to the perception of the viewer. Perception connects to what the viewer has seen, heard and experienced before. This is why the portrait of Audrey Hepburn from IKEA has lost it’s original context. Because it has been seen more often at IKEA or as a decorative art piece, than in its original context. This is also why we are able to find different messages and meanings in what at first glance appears to be a neutral image of dollar bills shown above. If the bills would have no marks and stacked in a perfect order, then the assumptions and the messages we are able to read into the image would still be there, just that they would be other messages and meanings. And because of perception, my conclusion in this essay is that it is impossible to be neutral. Whatever image is presented, the viewer or user will always be able to see one meaning or another in an image, and an image will always be able to be connected to something in the life of the viewer and therefore be interpreted through this experience.

On a side note I also believe it is a bit funny that Müller + Hess are Swiss, from the viewpoint that Switzerland is supposedly the oldest neutral country in the world. I wonder if any of their government officials read that issue of Eye Magazine.

Ceramics with Émilie / Ceramics with François


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

650-Emilie_Ferrat_and_Francois_Girard-Meunier_RV_lowres_1 Rietveld Graduation Show

Émilie Ferrat [x] and François Girard-Meunier [x] graduated from the Department of Graphic Design. As part of their graduation show they presented a collaborated project ‘Ceramics with Émilie / Ceramics with François.’ This project was chosen by an independent jury to be nominated for the Design Award and was for that reason part of the exhibition ‘Selected Gerrit Rietveld Academyie Awards 2015’ organized in Castrum Peregrini [x].

Screen shot Peregrini-show

Castrum Peregrini Presentation

 

Ceramics with Émilie / Ceramics with François

‘The medium is the message.’ These words of Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan still offer room for artistic exploration. Because how exactly the message changes when the medium, or the material, is changed remains shrouded in mystery. In their collaborative project, graphic designers Émilie Ferrat and François Girard-Meunier use a classic yet surprising approach: dialogue.
 
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    The installation consists of a video of the two designers conversing and a number of glazed clay models –a mobile telephone, for example, and shot glasses, jigsaw pieces and some undefinable models– with which Ferrat and Girard-Meunier stretch the boundaries between form, material and meaning. A new plain field is established. The video shows their fresh and resolute debate on their progress in working with ceramics – a new material for both of them. The dialogue is explicitly overacted, which stresses the artificiality of the form (a recorded conversation about models they made earlier). The overacting harmonizes nicely with the glaze on the clay models: a shiny layer upon robust content. The spoken and material form are one.
 
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    ‘Do you think it’s the ceramics that is giving meaning to our talks,’ one of them asks, ‘or rather that our talks are giving meaning to the ceramics?’ The relationship between words and things is a complex one. It is a relationship that has puzzled many philosophers, artists and linguists. By deliberately speaking as amateurs, ferret and Girard-Meunier open up a new perspective on this relationship.
    The material prompts conversations that lead beyond just ceramics: design in a broader sense, a philosophical ‘brain in a vat’ argument, personal insecurities and the history of art, these are all subjects that lay hidden in the material. The ceramics function as a conversation starter: the medium turns out to contain many messages.

text by Thomas van Huut [x]

 

for full length video [19 minutes 54 seconds] contact François Girard-Meunier

 

matter of drawings


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Finding your way in the Designblog, we all do it in a different way. What catches our interests? What do we remember of it and how do we connect it to other links, artists, events, books etc? I was browsing thru the Designblog and ended up in the category ‘Beeld en Taal’ (image and language), went into the illustration part and found this post: Considerations on the matter of drawing.  Luca Carboni is explaining his fascinations for drawing and asks himself if drawing is one of the oldest way in which mankind is expressing itself, is drawing a medium in which the Zeitgeist is always an important part.

In drawing you can see the influence of the time. Luca says: ‘As an expression of time it’s the best medium to communicate something of that moment, every idea, process, image.’

8e90d8fe-ab97-11e2-9637-ae88113b62bc    Luca connects this with the book “The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925-1975” from the Rietveld library. The book exists out of different cartoons from “New Yorker” magazine in the period 1925 till 1975.  Cartoons made by: Saul Steinberg, William Steig, Richard Taylor, Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, Geoge Booth, Barney Tobey, James Thurber, Charles Saxon and many more. One of the best known is Saul Steinberg who worked for almost 60 years for the New Yorker. The magazine is a combination of fiction and journalism. The cartoons in the magazine have always played an important role. Above that, until the 1990s they never used photographs but only illustration.

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When I read the post for the first time, I immediately made the connection with the artists Brecht Evens (born in 1986). He is a Belgium artists who makes a lot of cartoons, illustrations and strips. I think in his beautiful watercolor drawings  you can see that the time we live is an import aspect, just like in the album of drawings from the New Yorker. Evans worked for the ‘New York times himself. A part from that he published two books. Most recent: “De liefhebbers” [The Making Of] (2011) and before that “Ergens waar je niet wil zijn” [The Wrong Place] (2009).

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In the cartoons of the New Yorker the zeitgeist indeed plays an import part. And it is this what makes those drawings so smart and funny. Is this all that matters?  Was it only the time we lived in, that played an import roll. We still do admire the drawings and cartoons these artists made. The drawings still speak to us.

Brecht EVens2

The same goes for Brecht Evens. There is something mysterious about these drawings that always holds our attention, regardless of the time in which we live.

The Blind make the Blind See


Monday, December 9, 2013

When I walked along the bookshelves, trying to find the most interesting book in the entire library (which is quite a task I have to say), the first thing I noticed that I was not able to read the title on the spine of one of the books I was passing. Usually I would just pass by the book, like people pass by signs written in a language they do not understand, besides, I am not interested in books which are not worth adding the title on the spine of the book. It is almost like the designer tries to tell you already that it is not worth it.

Though the title was on the spine of this book and it was in English.

The reason why I could not read the title of the book is because the title is written in braille. Not in the way of feel-able braille but in big and small dots. The dots are printed in silver on purple, reflecting the light in the room which makes it even harder to ‘read’ or recognize the text.

So I decided half consciously, half unconsciously to take the book from the bookshelf to take a closer look at the cover. I reached out to the book and grabbed it from the shelf. Because I am right-handed the first thing of the book I see, when I pull it from between the other books, is the backside. (Provided that it was not placed upside-down or backwards on the bookshelf, which was not the case here.)

Help me, I am blind - cover[3] Help me, I am blind - cover[2] Help me, I am blind - cover

 

I now realize that it is a pity books are to be read from left to right. Since then the front of the book is on the left side of the cover. Because of this and the fact that the majority of the people is right-handed, you will always see the back of the book first when you get it off a bookshelf. Most books are designed with the thought that you will see the front of the book first and the back last. If you experience the book the other way around, you get answers before you even have questions, causing you not to be interested in looking any further.

So I grabbed the book from the bookshelf with my right hand. Unintentionally already reading the back of the book, which contained both the title, the writer and photographer of the book. So when I turned the book in my hands to the front it already was not a question anymore what this previously so intriguing text in dots on the front of the book meant. Though what I immediately noticed when turning the book in my hands was the nice manageability of it. It has the size of a small purse, a slightly bit smaller than A5 paper format, which makes it very hand-able.

I personally always appreciate this very much in a book. I do not like to read books which are so big you can barely hold them or so small you can not even hold the pages without covering at least a quarter of the page with your thumbs. In my opinion reading a book should be a pleasant and comfortable activity, independent of  the content being pleasant or not. Unless, of course, it was the artists specific intention for the book to be not comfortable or pleasant in its physical appearance.

Help me, I am blind - side.jpg

 

Another thing I noticed, when turning the book in my hands, was that the cover was filled with one big picture spread over both the front, spine and back, keeping the three connected as one. The picture slightly being out of focus suggests the view of a sunset with an object reminding me of a curtain partly covering the view. Also this raises questions, it being partly unclear about what you are seeing. You can quite clearly recognize the sunset though the object in front is raising questions as ‘what is this object?’ and ‘where are you when this object is in your view?’ The last thing I noticed before actually opening the book was that the sides of the papers were black, matching the dark design of the cover well. The black edges keeps the book together, prevent the book from splitting up in paper en cover.

 

two-dates

When I opened the book on the first page, I was confronted with two numbers divided by a short horizontal line. When taking a closer look I found out that those two numbers stand for the passing time in the book. The texts in the book start on 12/05/2009 and ends on 08/06/2009 covering 27 days of  the southern hemispheres autumn and the northern hemispheres spring and summer. Every single day in that month is represented in the book. First by one or more pictures than by a text. These pictures (by Heidi Specker) from Australia are given another meaning through the texts (by Theo Deutinger) from Rotterdam.

The Book is build up in such a way that you are first confronted with one or more pictures, allowing you to find your own connection with and between those pictures. All these photos cover a spread, only allowing you to take in one photo at a time. While looking through these photos there is never one clear answer to the question what connects them. Is it a subject? An abstract keyword? Or just the day those pictures were taken?

Take A Quick Look Inside

The groups of pictures are followed by the texts, which always start with the date and the title on top of each other divided by a short horizontal line. All the texts start on the right page, leaving an empty white page on the left. This empty page is very pleasant when going through the book since it allows you a deep breath after those very informative photos. The content of the text seems to be based on the photos without any further knowledge gained from the photographer. They start right from what you see and develop into a more personal description from the writers perspective.

The book ends with the photo from the cover (which turns out to be an airplane window) and the text:

‘For a moment I totally forgot why I am on this Lufthansa flight heading to Frankfurt. Or isn’t it me who is flying? Suddenly I have the feeling that I have never been to Australia at all.’ – 090608, Evidence

In this way Christoph Keller both brings back and abandons the distance between Heidi Specker, the photographer, who was there to experience Australia through making photos and Theo Deutinger, the writer, who experienced Australia through the photos and his texts.
For more information on the designer Christopher Keller have a look at this: [link]

Rietveld library catalog no: spe 1

NINETY-ONE BOOKS IN ONE


Monday, December 9, 2013

Books. They are there. Just there. As long as I can remember. Starting with Maan, Roos, Vis (Moon, Rose, Fish) and Wie heeft er op mijn hoofd gepoept? (Who shitted on my head?), learning the alphabet, learning how to read. But there is another way of looking at books. a total different kind of books. How does the book look like and why. Why is it done the way it is, why does it work this way and why did they do it.

Design.

When we were looking at the books in the library of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, this was the book that got my attention. “Boy Politics”. It’s the color of the cover I saw at first, the grey, green color. Typical Rietveld I would say. Now when it’s lying next to me in the room, it’s almost like camouflage against the wall. Maybe this color is something we inherit from the Rietveld because the designers of the book, Anton Stuckhard and Andrea de Sergio both graduated last year at the Rietveld from the Graphic Design Department.

boypolitics 1 DSC_0407

Second thing you see: the way of binding. Screws. Good combination with the title I would say.

Boys. Strong. Screws. Politics. Connection.

On the cover there is only text, 5 narrow columns next to each other. The title is pretty clear in a simple fond. The cover is the index of the book but on the same time every number in the columns is related to another book. The front and the back cover page form the index together. Because it’s simple and clear you get immediately a lot of information. There are ninety-one numbers, relating to the other books and twelve different themes.

Science. Education. Work. Family. Hygiene. Sport. Media. Art. Sexuality. Murder. Music. Fight.

When you turn the book around there is in the right upper corner a small text.  It tells about the makers of the book, they didn’t design the book but they designed the presentation from which the book results. Marc Roig Blesa (2009, VAV, and Rogier Delfos. They work also together at the “Werker” Magazine. It’s a contextual publication about photography and labour that inquires into the possibility of formulating a contemporary representation of work [link].  While reading the small text you find out that the whole book is made out of ninety-one other books, the other books related to the numbers on the cover. The pages out of the books they choose are a visual essay analyzing the historical and still present instrumentation of the figure of the boy. All the books used are from Roig Blesa’s personal book collection, published between 1920’s and 1990’s. These books were presented at the Rietveld Library, organized in conjunction with the Marginal studies, a workshop by Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos at the Graphic Design Department. In the vitrines they presented the different books, opened on the page you see now in this one. So in a way, the design of the presentation was determent for the book. In between the different subjects there is again a thin paper with the index on it. All the books in the vitrines had a number, these numbers are the numbers related to their place in the index.

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The pages are printed on a bit bigger than A3 format, but they are folded in the middle so the size of the book is kind of A4. The folding of the copied books and the folding of the A3 paper isn’t the same. It’s done that way that the left page of the first book becomes the right page of the new book, and so they form a new page with the second book. The difference between the images is very nice, they change from black-and-white into color and back again. Because it are all copies from the old books, they couldn’t choose them self which images would be color or black-and-white, but the rhythm in it is great. On the side of the pages you have a folding line and not a cut, you can open the page and see the copied book page in total. When you flip one page, you have two different books next to each other but that’s something you almost don’t recognize.

Boypolitics1Boypolitics2

The different size is what you see immediately but the subjects are the same. Also the switching between text and images makes it interesting to look at. On the top of the page there is on every page a small white line and on the bottom there is only black. Just to make sure that you see that it all are copied pages. Reading for me was a bit harder because the language of the books is various. German, English, Spanish, Dutch.

The image language in the book speaks strong, for me at least. The way the different books (Werker and this ‘catalog’) were putted together, forming a relation, made me curious how the rest looked like. Because the text that’s on the pages isn’t complete, you mainly focus on the images. As said before, a visual essay. While relating to the year the books are made and the photo’s it was for me a playful and inspiring way of trying to understand a bit of the boys history. The size, the weight, the coloring, the screws, the simple idea of only photocopies turned into a book, makes you want to hold it in your hands and really understand it.
In a way I think that the designers of the exposition were the main designers, they were the ones who provided the inside of the book and related the images. But without the strong outside it would have remained only a temporary presentation. The designers of the book found the perfect solution in translating it.

For The Children


Sunday, December 8, 2013

For the children a design by Rik Meijers

After some introductions of new ways of looking and dealing with books, I tried to focus in how the connection between artist and designer work together in the best way. When I say ” in the best way ” I’m always being subjective, understand a book in the way the artist wants is not always possible.

During my first research I didn’t get amazed by any book , Every time I founded a special design for my eyes I couldn’t understand the connection between the content and the choices the designer has done, because there could be thousands of possibilities to represent that content in an understandable way, at this point I got confused but I had to keep with the research.
but this time, I just only wanted to focus in my first visual attraction and then go deep in how that specific design works with the content.

During this process, walking at the Rietveld library I found one book that was shocking for my eyes ,this book is called For the children and is designed by Rik Meijers .

As an starting point I can talk about the cover wich consist of a painting collage .
The titled >‘For the Children’< and some of the other words as >+stickers or coloring book< belong to the painting.

‘For the Children’ is printed in A4 and all the drawings inside are scaled to this size

The paper used for the cover is shining and inside Rik Meijers used white cardboard paper.

CONTENT2

 

Inside the book you can find 16 illustrations, drawings in black and white and 2 pages full of stickers, all scaled to A4, this combination gives the feeling of those children coloring books, which is mentioned at the cover (coloring books)

content3

 

The design of this book is quite simple it gives all the importance to the drawings, which I guess is the purpose of the artist.

This simple design make you wonder how to deal with the book, if making new creations in top, I mean, using the book as a real coloring book or enjoy and observe this book as a finish book and finish work, I think Rik Meijers wants to present the book  in this ironic way which in my opinion could be logical by the fact that the drawings are not representing scenes for children.

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As a conclusion I thought this design was connecting perfectly to the concept the artist wanted, but then I realized that the artist was also the designer of the book , Rijk Meijers made me think about the artist being his own designer, which in my opinion sometimes could be really good because they know exactly how to present their work clearly, but sometimes could be totally the opposite and the artist needs a designer that understands the best way to show their work in a clear way .

content4
 

Rietveld library catalog no: Meij 2

Khhhhhhh


Saturday, December 7, 2013

I was browsing through the list of books acquired this year at the Rietveld Library and I came across the title “Khhhhhhh” by Slavs and Tatars.

Interesting title that made no sense to me and therefore made me curios and furthermore choose the book for my exploration and design research.
Now I know that Slavs and Tatars (S&L) is an artist group and this book is a combination of research and study alongside giving a written lecture and investigation through the book which was published in connection with their exhibition on the topic which the book investigates [X].

Before starting the exploration of the book, to be clear about who S&L is, this gives a pretty good hint: “Slavs and Tatars is a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. The collective’s work spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural registers (high and low) focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians and Central Asians”.

Looking at the book the first thing one notice is of course the cover – afterwards turning the book around, feeling the weight in your hands and looking at the back.

Khhhhhhh, cover

The cover consists of the K and the H’s from “Khhhhhhh” scattered over a picture of a room that looks like a mosque. The letters are in a sort of bad computer game-like font with a thick white border and a filling of grey/silver’ish screen noise. Strange combination which immediately intrigued me and invited me to open the book and look at the inside.The way the letters are scattered is of course a choice which have been made, like everything else in the book, and the way these letters are scattered is no different. They move up and down in a rhythm that divides the cover into sections. Also the effect of the font adds to the feeling of them moving.

The book is slightly bigger than A4, half a centimeter on each side and has a thicker cover but still not hard, which gives it the feeling of a catalog more than a book-book.

The back of the book is a continuation of the mosque room with a big white print on it of an open mouth with the two sentences:”Mothers Tongues” and “Father Tongues” written under it.

Khhhhhhh, cover and back

By looking at the cover and the back you already get a feeling of what the book might be about. Something with letters and a strange pronunciation of /sound from this “Khhhhhhh” + the mosque, the strange print of the open mouth which almost goes “AAAAAAHHHHH” at you, the inside of the mouth with foreign alphabet symbols and finally the Mother Tongues and Father Tongues indicating, again, language and inheritance of tongues/pronunciation.

Opening the book there is no first page with information about the publisher, designer, year or anything, but on the opposite page there is the table of content written in Russian and English opposite of each other as if there was in a way some kind of comparison between the two languages. Maybe the book is about language? The paper is thicker (115 grams), a bit yellowish and has a really nice smell.

As you can see on the picture, the book has chapters and sub chapters.

Khhhhhhh, content


The following page is a Russian text in fat black lettering and two translations of the same text in English and I think Czech. The text says:” Genghis Khan, me you midnight plantation! Dark blue birch trees, sound in my ear! Zarathuse me, you twilight horizons! Mozarticulate me, dark blue sky!” – by Velimir Khlebnikov. I found it interesting that the two first letters in Velimirs second name are Kh. Also Genghis Khan was the leader of the Khan clan in Mongolia from 1175.
Before moving on to the rest of the book I would like to add a quote to give a shorter and probably more precise introduction to the book that might make more sense than what I’m able to explain: ” the book is;  A reconsideration of pedagogy, progress, and the sacred role of language via the perspective of a single pesky phoneme, [kh].Khhhhhhh explores the thorny issues of knowledge versus wisdom and the immediacy of the oral versus the remoteness of the written word thru a fireside chat around sacred hospitality, Velimir Khlebnikov, and numerology.”

After this starts a long investigation of the phenomenon Kh which I, before reading this book, had no idea was a phenomenon in language and how it undergoes different names and symbols in Semitic, Cyrillic, Turkic and Arabic alphabets. Because of the different languages each page consists of an English text, the translation in Russian, pictures from Slavs and Tatars exhibitions and beautiful drawings of the Kh in different languages and in which direction these symbols are to be drawn.

Khhhhhhh, alphabet Khhhhhhh, pages

The choices which S&T has made for this book helps to pass on the investigation/research feeling and works almost like having a wall with a lot of sticky notes and pictures on it. They make this work without being confusing, which very easily could happen, by dividing the pages into sections. As in the table of content, the pages inside the book are divided so the left, slim column is for the Russian translation, most of the rest of the page has the English text and then you have pictures, illustrations and alphabets/symbols scattered over the rest of the page, with descriptions of each picture under each picture + footnotes. Busy, busy pages! The graphic of the lettering becomes more like a picture on the page than a text. Still everything is framed and kept inside a border of approximately 1,5 cm.

Khhhhhhh, pages

There is a lot of information on each page and the drawings, the texts, the translations and images are placed differently on each page so when you turn the page you have no idea what will come at you. As mentioned before this could give a very confusing experience with the book, but instead of being confusing it just keeps you really interested and curious.

S&L them self says in an interview that with their publications they: “Attempt to resuscitate the sacred character of language, from the devotional act of reading to the ritual of the printed word”, – which might be why the book design is how it is,  jumping up and down and moving on the pages as if it was the spoken language with it’s rhythm, different heights and lows and not the printed word.
It is almost impossible to describe the book with words, especially written words, which funny enough makes so much sense considering what the book is about.

Khhhhhh pageshift

To indicate that the book moves into a different area in Appendix A, the pages changes completely and the background is a big photo.

Khhhhhhh, Appendix A

And the same goes for Appendix B, which is the last chapter.
I would really recommend you to have a look at this book and Hey! ….
It’s super easy because they even have a free pdf version uploaded online and on all their other publications www.slavsandtatars.com

 

Rietveld library catalog no: slav 1

Scattered Matter


Sunday, October 27, 2013

 

 

ES Sandberg1

 

The picture shows a manuscript called ‘Lectura sub aqua’, part of the series ‘Experimenta Typographica’ from 1943 by Willem Sandberg.

Sandberg, a Dutch graphic designer, typographer and long term director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam was forced to hide when the German occupation authorities discovered that he was involved in the resistance. While concealed on different farms, Sandberg produced graphic works out of the materials he found there – utilizing collected quotations – that correspond with his view of the world.

The chosen manuscripts states: ‘La propriété c’est le vol’ – property is theft. The slogan is a quote from the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudon, taken from his book from 1840 ‘What is property?’. Proudon was a French politician, largely considered to be the ‘father of anarchism’.

I find Sandberg’s manuscript an interesting starting point to ponder the relation between content and form. The repetition and graphical variations that he applies on the inherently strong political statement seem to point out the link between the visual appearance of the statement and its content. Moreover, I find it an compelling artistic choice to break down the phrase into a simplistic formula, eliminating all parts of the syntax apart from ‘propriété’ and ‘vol’, making the phrase into an undiluted juxtaposition of two nouns. I feel that the two words not only strengthen each other, but also get the message on a high conceptual level.

Sandberg’s work reminds me of some of the text works of Lawrence Weiner. Weiner started this conceptual artistic practice in the 1960′s/70′s utilizing brief phrases, statements or words combined in formulas put up on walls. I see quite strong analogies between the ways that the two creators employ typography as their medium, in spite of coming from different eras and creative practices. In the 1960′s and 70′s, when Weiner evolved as a conceptual artist, his work was considered extremely avantgarde. Looking at Sandberg’s work from 1943 gives me a new perspective on Weiner’s wall pieces.

ES Lawrence Weiner

As many of his statements manifest, Weiner is an artist strongly rooted in the present. At the event of the opening of his current solo show ‘Written on the wind’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Weiner stated: ‘Time is looking at the sky and realizing that it moves.’ I always enjoy making connections between art works from different eras or fields. Discovering references between Weiner and Sandberg was nice, because it points out once more that there is no inherent difference between ‘applied art’ and the so-called ‘fine art’ that Weiner would belong to, if you would obey those categories. I don’t know where that difference would lay. I find it intriguing that once one decides to devote time and attention to art, it becomes inevitable to realize that similar tendencies have been and are present throughout art history, also crossing between fine arts and applied arts. Artists and designers work on certain ideas and develop certain styles that keep influencing each other, while those ideas keep gaining visual, symbolic and historical meaning with every new era they enter.

One could say that Sandberg and Weiner share the way that they use language and – more specifically – typography as their medium. For some years, I have had a huge interest in the relation between the content and the form of an art work. To me, Walter Benjamin genuinely sums it up: ‘Beauty is not the object and not the shell, but the object in its shell.‘ The relation of the object and the shell is a very relevant question for myself and my own artistic works. If I was asked to chose one source of inspiration for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

The reason why I have chosen to compare the works from Sandberg and Weiner is my interest in the question how phrases change when their visual appearance is changed. What I like about conceptual art is its power lying in the mere thought. In 1968, Weiner manifested some view points on conceptual art in his ‘Declaration of Intent’: ‘The work need not be built.’ I can just agree with that. I can say that I find the relation between Sandberg and Weiner interesting with regard to the different fields they come from (applied art versus fine art), the different times and the different working methods. Both of the artists’ works inspire me to think about the relation of the content and the form. It furthers the understanding of Weiner’s work to hear him talk about it – e.g. the fact that he considers language sculptural. Weiner also states that his works are to be understood as gestures – which are immediately understandable, so they become language, too.

Weiner and Sandberg are interesting examples, because both of them chose for the immediacy of the language, while at the same time playing around with different colours and graphic variations. Also, by using language as a tool or medium, they put a concrete thought out there, which comes off as quite forcing compared to other media like painting or sculpture, while at the same time it leaves a large space for personal interpretations and associations. I like the directness of working with language, but also the openness.

Weiner always works with the same typeface – a very simple mono-space font designed by himself. As he states in this 2008 video: „I don’t like Helvetica, because (…) I find it a clumsy typeface. I don’t know if I find it clumsy because of its association or just aesthetically clumsy, but I try to avoid it.“ By creating his own font, Weiner avoids standardized visual appearances. His wall statements seem to get carried on to another level of visual meaning through the font they’re set in and to gain additional meaning by the way they are molded by their appearance. But even this typeface seems to be perishable, as the artist reveals: „It seems to be functioning for a while and I guess, one morning, I will wake up and it will have entered into the culture in such a way that I’ll try to find another typeface.

Zig Zag Stoel


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ik zig/zag
een zig zelf
zittende
zichzelf zaggende
zig
zag ik zigzaggen.

Ziedaar de zigzagstoel van Gerrit Rietveld. Zag jij hem ook?

Zo zonder leuning, zonder pretentie zeer zeker van zichzelf?
Zig Zag
Een Zizag, ziedaar het woordenboek, is
een bewegende lijn die plotseling van koers verandert.

Zo Spannend, de Z, ik zou hem om willen draaien om zo de Z van alle kanten te bekijken.

 

Zo, van ziehiertje zie daartje en zo en zo.

Zalig zon zigzag!
Zo zonder aarzeling aanwezig, een bazige Zigzag- Z-stoel.

Zigge zagge
zage
zigge zagge zo
zigge zagge zage zonder
zigge zagge
zoooooooooooo
ziezo
zie zo

Zigzag,
ziedaar zo in de verte
zaagt de zigzag door de lucht
gelijk een bliksemflits

O zigzag, kartonnen design klassieker, zonder ondersteuning zeer zitbaar.

Test, Test, test, test,
Ziedaar iepenhout, bout en messing,

Zigzag in zicht.

Met Zwaluwstaartverbinding verbonden, zo zigzaggend aan elkaar.
Zonder benen, zig zagt zij als een zwevende zwaluw gier!

Zij is zeer zeker zwevend aanwezig maar ruimte neemt zij niet!

Zo is Z een stoel, of is Z een tafel,of is Z een Z
Zoals je wilt!
Zig-zag-zo-zoals-
je wilt!

Stijvolle Z,
Zakelijke Z,
Zinderende Z,

Zwaluwstaart, Deuvel, Lij, Schroeven,
niet piepend iepen hout:
Een Z, een Zwiepende Zig Zaggende Zag ik nooit eerder Zig Zag stoel

Ongetooid, Ongekleurd,
Z, Zomaar Zie ik Z Overal!
Zie hier, Zie daar,
z, Z, Z, Z

Het Zigzagje, zegt Rietveld,
Ik noemde het altijd het Zigzagje,
Zegt Rietveld zachtjes zigzagggend.

Zigzagje, schotje in de ruimte,
Zag jij haar ook, zo met je blote oog?

In Z, om Z, tussen Z,
Zigzaggend zag ik Z in
en om en tussen

Zigge zagge
zage
zigge zagge zo
zigge zagge zage zonder
zigge zagge
zoooooooooooo
ziezo
zie zo


Een ruimte om op te zitten,
te zagen,
te zwoegen,
te zo evenaren,
Zo nog eentje, Zo dezelfde Z


Ijzeren Z, Fiber Z, Bandijzer Z,
Z, Z, Z, Z, Z.
Oneindige ruimtelijke Z

Zigzagje,
Zag je Zigzagje?
Gebruik je zintuigen,

Zag je zigzag je echt
Zigzaggen?
Zag je hét
Zigzagje?

Zag je een zig zelf

zittende
zichzelf zaggende
zig
zigzaggen?

 

De Zigzagstoel heeft in de geschiedenis van de twintigste-eeuwse vormgeving niet voor eenzelfde doorbraak gezorgd als de rood-blauwe leunstoel1

. De Zigzagstoel wordt in de geschiedenis van de twintigste-eeuwse vormgeving veelvuldig genoemd als voorbeeld van de synthese tussen vorm, functie en constructie die door Gerrit Rietveld werd nagestreefd.
De zigzagstoel omsluit de ruimte niet, maar doorsnijdt haar met vier vlakken: rug, zitting, poot en grondvlak.2

Volgens Rietveld corresponderen de beeldende kunsten, schilderkunst, beeldhouwkunst en architectuur met de drie elementen van het zien: schilderen met kleur, beeldhouwkunst met vorm, architectuur met ruimte. De beeldhouwkunst moest zich concentreren op één zintuig: het oog. Via het oog kan de mens ruimte evenaren, aldus Gerrit Rietveld.

Rietveld citeert dichter Tagore:

Door begrenzing, van het onbegrensde wordt de waarheid werkelijkheid”.

De Zigzagstoel was voor Rietveld een oefenterrein, een middel om nieuwe ideeën, materialen en technieken uit te proberen. De Duitse meubelontwerpers en fabrikanten Heinz (1902) en Bodo Rasch (1903-1995) hadden al eerder een stoel gemaakt met een Z-vorm, de “Geiststuhl”, maar daarin speelde de ruimtelijke werking geen rol, zoals bij Rietveld zijn Zigzagstoel.

Ida van Zijl noemt in Gerrit Rietveld, de doelstelling van Rietveld consistent, “Hij wil een deel van de onbegrensde ruimte afzonderen en op menselijke schaal brengen om die ruimte als werkelijkheid te kunnen beleven. Dat is en blijft de essentie van zijn werk, los van alle experimenten met materialen en technieken en variatie in zijn stijl”.3

Gerrit Rietveld speelde met de begrenzing tussen binnen en buiten. Kleur is voor Rietveld een middel om de begrenzing van ruimte te structureren. Vorm en kleur stimuleren een actieve waarneming die mensen uitnodigt om het werk te leren kennen.

Als literatuurwetenschapper denk ik bij het aanschouwen van de Zigzagstoel direct aan de letter Z, aan poëzie en vooral aan taal. Ik schreef een gedicht. Waarom heeft Gerrit Rietveld voor deze letter gekozen? Wat betekent Zigzag eigenlijk, waar lijkt zij op? Hoe klinkt de Z, de laatste letter van het alfabet als je de Z voortdurend gebruikt. Wat voor ruimte ontstaat er als er een stemhebbende letter Z in een ruimte wordt geplaatst? Is er zo weinig nieuws over de Zigzagstoel geschreven omdat zij niet te vangen is in beeld of taal? Omdat zij zig-zagt? Beweegt? De Z wordt een kunstwerk op zich, soms ontsnapt er kunst, in Rietveld’s woorden. De Z wordt onderdeel van de ruimte, haar voeten raken de grond, maar zij blijft toch ook een object.

Peter Vöge noemt in The Complete Rietveld Furniture de Zigzagstoel conceptueel interessant en niet zozeer interessant als sculptuur. Vöge is van mening dat de Zigzag stoel zo interessant is omdat het een dynamische kwaliteit heeft door de diagonale vorm, “Like a crouching animal about to convert watchful suspense into vigorous action”.

Voor mij is de Zigzagstoel een ruimtelijk beeld dat autonoom wordt als letter, als Z, als bewegende vorm, die je van alle kanten zou willen bekijken. De Zigzagstoel als oneindige letter, want het alfabet begint na de Z weer opnieuw bij de A tot de Z en weer opnieuw. Voor mij is de Zigzagstoel een bliksemflits en een gierzwaluw zonder poten die ongrijpbaar in de lucht blijft hangen, zonder vastigheid.
De Z- Zigzag als kunstwerk, als stoel, als experiment, als overdenking, als trillend geluid, als zin, als gedachtezigzag. Oneindig veel mogelijkheden zitten er in de Z, zie ik, want na het zien van de Zigzagstoel zie ik overal Z, Z,z, z Z.

 salie zigzag stoelen

ZigZag- salie Tekeningen

 

1,2,3 page 189, Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Rietveld

Poul Henningsen The Artichoke 1958


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Poul Henningsens lamps were produced because he thought that the electric light bulbs cast a disturbing light. They where either too bright or the lampshades swallowed all the light because of their design in that time. He wanted a lampshade that sent light into the room with its full strength without blinding you. One of the examples is the The Artichoke which also hangs in the Stedelijk Permanent Design Show. As you can see on the picture he has composed layers of copper plates in the shape of a pine cone (I choose to say a pine cone and not artichoke but I will explain why later) so the light is reflected from the greatest ability and does not dazzle you as there is no direct light from the bulb.

One of the reasons that I chose PH’s lamp is because I know that design from Denmark. It reminds me of my parents living room where a PH5 lamp is hanging over their dining table which is typically seen in many places of Scandinavian homes and institutions.

But what also catched me was the English translation of “Koglen” which from danish should be translated to “The Pine Cone” and not an artichoke. I found it disturbing to break the original concept because I do not associate it with being something Danish or Nordic. I can understand that the artichoke as a vegetable visually have something in common with the lamp as the leaves of the artichoke could compare to its division into the different copper plates.

But as a fact he build his design out from a pine cone and that is what makes me wonder why it is suddenly being an artichoke. Also because the copper is an obvious association to the brown color of a pine cone.
It is not because I am a bitter nationalist that finally get the chance to publish a letter to the editor about how danish design is being misunderstood but I am really surprised about the translation and I’m thinking it is the same as if the chair “The Swan” by Arne Jacobsen was translated into “The flamingo” to get people from outside Scandinavia able to identify them self with the design.
 

I feel I know you, Nature.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Johann Wolfgang Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German Writer, artist and politician. Goethe devoted a large part of his life to the study of natural phenomena. Although Goethe especially was known as a poet, he saw his own scientific work as his greatest merit. Yet few had appreciation for Goethe’s scientific work, though some modern scientists, like Henri Bortoft and Reinhold Sölch, get greater understanding of Goethe’s learning.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe analyzed colours from a physical perspective. In his views, there are two basic colours: cyan and yellow. Cyan originates from viewing dark through light, like you view the sky during the day. Yellow originates from viewing light through dark, like you view light in a dark area. Goethe based his colour theory on this interaction between light and dark.
The intensification of the basic colours leads to other colours. If the colour yellow is intensified, it leads to red. If blue is intensified, it leads to violet. This can be seen in the sky when the sun goes down. This is also an explanation for the categorization of cold and warm colours. According to Goethe green is the neutral colour between cold and warm, like the colour of plants. Magenta, or purple as Goethe calls it, is the balanced connection between light and dark, because it carries light as well as dark elements.

 

 

The colour theory of Goethe can thus be seen as the star of David. Two similar shaped triangles lapping over each other: a triangle that faces down and an overlapping triangle that faces up. The triangle that faces up has cyan in the lower left corner, yellow in the lower right corner and magenta in the upper corner. The triangle that faces down has violet in the upper left corner, red in the upper right corner and green in the lower corner. Smaller triangles can be extracted from the two large triangles that show alternative possibilities. In these smaller triangle Goethe pays attention to secondary and tertiary colours. He also analyses colors in relation to psychology. Colours ranging from yellow to red are analyzed as the plus-side, whereas colors ranging to blue are referred to as the minus-side. Here Goethe connotes the plus-side with warm, positive associations and the minus-side with more dark, negative associations. This is what he calls the sensual-moral effect of colours.

The German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe describes a journey through the Harz Mountains in a very compelling manner, in the middle of the winter. The reader will be absorbed by his writing, like he would be walking around in a painting, when he writes about vague violet shadows of a group of trees and overhanging rocks in the noonday sun lighted by a yellow snow. As the hours pass, these shadows deepen from a deeper blue to a dark yellow-orange tone sunlight. As the sun reaches the horizon and a purple light covers the entire landscape in a red glow, the shadows turn green. Goethe describes almost a fairy-tale like landscape painted in the colors red and green. The story is part of Goethe’s color theory and is a typical example of the empirical experiences on which this theory is based.

Goethe’s color theory was published in three sections: If Beiträge zur Optik I (1791) and II (1792) (part III, Von den Farbigen Treasures remained unpublished), if Didaktischer Teil in 1808 and finally in its entirety, under the title Zur Farbenlehre in 1810. It is an extensive work with a special status in the world of culture and science. From the beginning there were numerous outspoken advocates and critics. Present day Goethe’s color theory is not considered scientific, i.e. not in accordance to the scientific physical principles based on Newton. In the Romanticism around 1800 science was viewed in a much broader sense. Natural philosophers intermingled empirical research with their own vision and passion, based on literature and art. In their views colors were not only physical wavelengths, but also individual observations with the sentimental values and emotions.

Artists, especially landscape painters, felt a deep connection with this way of reflecting on colours. They viewed colours and reproduced them in a manner that the viewer could relive this observation. Pure scientific facts are not enough to describe the color world, in their views.

Twilight sinks down from above us,

Swiftly all the near is far:

But first shining high above us

Radiant is the evening star!

Everything is drifting vaguely,

Mist steals upwards to the height:

And the still lake mirrors darkly

Black abysses of the night.

Now in all the eastern distance

I suspect moon’s gleam and glow,

Slender willow’s trailing branches

Dally with the neighboring flow.

Through the play of moving shadows

Trembling lunar magic shines,

And a soothing coolness follows,

To the heart now, through the eyes.

When I started reading his poems, I immediately linked the poems to his colour theory. The romantic way of describing the natural phenomena inspired me to collect all sentences that actually describe a specific light of the day in different landscapes. His words spoke to my imagination and it naturally formed the idea to search for the landscapes, which refers Goethe to. I found a big collection of images and made a selection out of it. Because Goethe’s Theory was based on the light we see in nature I have chosen a film projection. In this setting the viewer can immediately disappear in the meaningful words centered in a similar surrounding as a sort of meditation.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

 

The moment I had to make silkscreen-printed colour, I was compelled  by the appearance of the moon after reading this poem and tried to bring this feeling back in just one colour.

 

 

A choice is always a limitation.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

 

 

Guy Rombouts

 

Guy Rombouts (Geel, 1949) is een Belgisch beeldend kunstenaar.

Hij is opgeleid als drukker en heeft in de drukkerij van zijn familie en voor het Nieuwsblad van Geel gewerkt, tot hij in 1975 voor het kunstenaarschap koos. Sinds de jaren ‘70 werkte hij aan alternatieve communicatiesystemen. Zijn fascinatie met taal en letters leidde in 1983 tot het Drieletterwoordenboek.
Sinds 1986 werkte hij samen met Monica Droste (1958-1998), met wie hij ook trouwde. Samen met haar ontwikkelde hij het Azart-alfabet, met letters die een vorm in een lijn, een kleur en een geluid combineren. Op basis hiervan maakten zij een aantal, meest drie-dimensionale, kunstwerken. Het eerste werk waarmee zij bekendheid kregen buiten de kunstwereld, was het ontwerpen van de Letterbruggen (1994) op het Java-eiland te Amsterdam.
Ook na de dood van zijn echtgenote maakte hij werken, waarin het Azart-alfabet wordt gebruikt, zoals de Lettertuin (hersteld in 2006), bestaande uit betonnen “letters” in Burcht (Zwijndrecht) bij de Schelde.
Er bevinden zich enkele werken van Rombouts in het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA).

 

 

Azart alfabet

“Monica vond de naam Rombouts niet universeel genoeg. In een oude Franse tekst was ik het woord Azart tegengekomen. Dat woord kan verwijzen naar het alfabet en – via het Franse hasard – naar de arbitraire relatie van taal en werkelijkheid. Daar konden we beiden mee leven.” 

— Guy Rombouts

azart alfabet

 

A choice is always a limitation.

 

 

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Text in silence


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ed Ruscha is an artist who mainly works with text. His works have been assigned to pop art at the start of his career. As pop artists put common objects into images, such as, advertisements, magazine, cartoon, Ed Ruscha started his career by dealing with so called typical images and texts. Soon he began to focus on text.

For more information about a brief introduction about the artist (Click!)

When I faced his works for the first time, I thought that meaning of text must be influential on his works regardless the artist’s intention because text is tremendously powerful. At the same time, a question was raised about his approach to text. What is more, I also realized that some of Ed Ruscha’s works has a similarity with a Korean conceptual artist Yi-so Bahc’s one. So, this essay will explore some of Ed Ruscha’s methods to handle his subject by both investigating a couple of his paintings and comparing to Yi-so Bahc’s ones.
 
A change in dealing with subject
 
Ed Ruscha did not intend to convey messages but wanted for viewers to enjoy text itself as an image. To achieve his purpose, it was important for the artist to make viewers experience his point. In fact, his earlier works were relatively illustrative and expository. For instance, in ‘20th century fox’, relatively many imagery elements – such as the angle that the text was drawn or the horizontal thrust – were provided to explain what the artist would like to mention about the text directly.
 

Ed Ruscha, "Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights", 1962. Whitney Museum N.Y.

 
However, Ed Ruscha has kept trying to reveal a text itself in his paintings and minimize other unnecessary elements. He has eliminated illustrative elements from his paintings, and at some points, only a vague background and a text were remained.
 

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, "Voice", oil on canvas 16 H x 20 W (inches) 1968

 
An artist who keeps silent
 
Ed Ruscha once said at an interview, “Words are pattern-like, and in their horizontality they answer my investigation into landscape. They’re almost not words – they are objects that become words.”As he commented, he sees words as objects. However, suggesting text as an object must be arduous. How can it be possible to force viewers not to read words but see them as an object though it is natural to read text? Although I doubted, the result is successful. Explaining with an example of my experience, when I looked at his paintings, I have completed viewing a painting by reading words on it and kept reading another words on the next painting.
By the way, even though I thought that I was reading text, there was a strange aspect that I could not remember the text I had ‘read’. I merely could remember an image which consisted of an uncertain background and text in the middle of the image as if I recall a painting. That is because the text in Ed Ruscha’s paintings keeps silent and did not convey any information like the text in newspapers. It can be clarified by comparing with Yi-so Bahc’s drawing as this reaction is the opposite of that of Yi-so Bahc’s case. Following is Yi-so Bahc’s drawing showing an installation for the phrase, ‘We are Happy’. Yi-so Bahc’s work encourages viewers have a question, “Are we really happy?” Furthermore, viewers remember they have seen a message rather than a drawing. In Yi-so Bahc’s case, the text conveys a message and does not exist as text itself. In other words, each drawing of each artist shows text in common, yet viewers’ reactions are clearly different.
 

Yi-so Bahc

Yi-so Bahc, "We are Happy", 21x30cm 2004

 
To achieve Ed Ruscha’s goal of enjoying text as an image, he took a position of being objective. That means, he strictly eliminated unnecessary or descriptive elements. Then the artist entrusted enjoyment of his works to viewers. There is another comparable example of works from the two artists which deals with stains in common. In Yi-so Bahc’s work, which titled as ‘A long story’, the artist dropped artificial tears on a spot of a paper one thousand times repeatedly, and an invisible stain remains on the paper. Tears usually implies something emotional reaction and encourages to imagine that an important event happened. Also, the title has a role that helps viewers to approach the artist’s thought. Yi-so Bahc utilised elements that he dealt with to emphasise his message, and consequently, the message in the work is strengthened by all of the elements.
On the contrary, in Ed Ruscha’s case, he collected various kinds of stains then made a book. He titled the book as ‘Stains’. The artist collected various images repeatedly and categorized them as stains. Every stain was treated as a mere stain itself, and no other explanation was given why the artist did that work. What is more, the title indicates repetitively the content of the book-stains. Ed Ruscha commented like following. “It’s nothing more than a training manual for people who want to know about things like that.” and “I think with Stains there was no latitude for any kind of manipulation of the image. In other words, the stains were exactly what they were stated to be. They were like little droplets in the middle of a piece of paper; there’s no gestural opportunity, no opportunity to do anything else besides simply dropping the liquid on the paper… I didn’t want it to look like art. I wanted it to look like a stain.”The artist merely introduced his work as ‘stains’, and viewers should explore what they are looking at themselves.
 

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, "Stains", Portfolio of 75 mixed-media stains on paper, 1969

 
As the artist followed manners which is used in objective investigations, such as, a biologist gathers specimens, Ed Ruscha does not suggest his opinion directly, but exposes objects.
Ed Ruscha keeps this style through most of his works. The artist’s message is hidden or unclear, while his subjects reveal themselves as an object. This style sometimes can causes a trouble that viewers cannot acquire any clue to understand his work at all. However, it is obvious that his style is efficient and proper to implement his subject firmly. As mentioned in the beginning, I was curious about Ed Ruscha’s approach to text as I have dealt with text as a material and thought about how to develop it. So it was entertaining to know that his works are controlled not to be swept away by the meaning of the text as my work did not either. Furthermore, his works were supposed to be enjoyable for the artist as a sort of play experimenting with text and other elements. The Rietveld Library just aquired a beautifull book about Ruscha’s latest self curated exhibit in the KunstHaus-Bregenz. This book show his latest work and also all his famous books
 

*Works Cited from "Ed Ruscha" by Richard D. Marshall [Phaidon]. Recommended reading also: Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha

 
 

THE WAY OF A HANDWRITING


Sunday, October 28, 2012

cover of the book Well Well Well containing his differents works, 2010

 

Letman. Behind this nickname hides a former student of the Rietveld Academy, Job Wouters.  He represents well a very illustrative part of graphic design and type design. This young artist is currently becoming quite famous, with some impressive institutions as clients like Monoprix, Heineken, Tommy Hilfiger, the New York Times Magazine, Playboy, or more recently a collaboration with dutch artist Dries Van Noten for a fashion show. In addition he has just published a book in collaboration with Gijs Frieling, and received the Dutch Design Award for his series of posters called Undercover.

 

Wouters first started to practice his drawing passion with friends and his brother, sharing their discoveries together. He still often collaborates with his brother Roel, or his childhood friend Yvo Sprey. He was quite intrigued by graffiti, practicing a lot and was particularly interested in street art lettering. This was his first step into the world of typography. In an interview, he said: when I was a youngster I was especially interested in graffiti-writers, who could write their names flawlessly in different styles. The communicative potential of type style was already of great interest to him. It is ironic to start looking at different styles that could communicate your personality through graffiti and finally do the same for corporate firms or advertisements. Later Job entered the KABK school of the Hague in the typography department and then carried his studies further at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where he graduated in 2004. His great passion for graffiti and handwriting was already very present during his studies. His graduation work was for example made out of 500 posters displaying each name of his classmates, they were handwritten thanks to a huge panel of graffiti styles. Job is definitely interested in underground handmade style of graphic design always keeping aesthetic problems, finalization and communication effects in mind. It is impressive to see a designer like Job who found his way so early, and then sticking to this fundamental base, staying true and evolving all the way.

 

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Understanding a message


Saturday, October 27, 2012

LatentStare_CatCoverSteinberg
*Latent Stare* exhibition guide cover by Saul Steinberg

 

David Bennewith (who is born in 1977) is a graphic designer from New Zealand living in the Netherlands. He has a small design studio named Colophon (since 2007) which focuses on graphic and type design. He works on both commission-based and non-commission-based projects as well as research-orientated. He has been working as an advising researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie design department (since 2010) and is currently teaching in the graphic design department in the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. David Bennewith doesn’t want to call himself the curator of the *Latent Stare* exhibition, but the organizer. The exhibition is a project that explores the practice, methods and messages of type design. The exhibition was open from 8 July – 30 September 2012 in Casco, Utrecht, but had also been set up in the design department at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (in 2010).

 

To begin with I had to research the title because I didn’t know what Latent Stare meant.

 

*Latent Stare*, definition:

 

la·tent /?l?tnt/ :

1. Present or potential but not evident or active: latent talent.

2. Pathology In a dormant or hidden stage: a latent infection.

3. Biology Undeveloped but capable of normal growth under the proper conditions: a latent bud.

4. Psychology Present and accessible in the unconscious mind but not consciously expressed.

 

stare /ste(?)r/ :

    An intent gaze.

 

So I guess a *Hidden Gaze* would be close to a synonym.

 

I visited Casco with my class and teacher to see the exhibition and listened to David Bennewith, the organizer-not-the-curator of the exhibition, explain some of the works. Unfortunately I couldn’t really follow what he said due to the strict programme that day which didn’t include any breaks to refill the students’ brain energy and empty stomachs. So all I could think about was food. Type design hasn’t got much in common with food. What did happen though was I paid a lot of attention to David Bennewith’s New Zealand accent. *Latent Steeeer*. I started thinking about how interesting it would have been if the exhibition were about his accent and not only the letters of the English alphabet. How boring is it that even if you speak with this amazing accent you still have to write the same way as all the other accents.

 

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Half Constructed Infinity


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ape  Lydia Sachse [x] graduated from the Rietveld Academy Department Graphic Design in 2012. Her graduation theses was titled “Half Constructed Infinity; On Algorithmic Literature and Text Generators”. It shows her fascination for complex machines and mathematical order as well as the visual beauty of chance. The essay’s introduction starts with two quotes and before you know you –artist as well as designer– get caught in this rich and intriguing subject;

Roald Dahl, The Great Automatic Grammatizator

“carpets … chairs … shoes … bricks … crockery … anything you like to mention – they’re all made by machinery now. The quality may be inferior, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the cost of production that counts. And stories – well – they’re just another product, like carpets and chairs, and no one cares how you produce them so long as you deliver the goods.”

Sol LeWitt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art

“When an artist uses an conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”

 

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“The subject of the text is automation with a special focus on text generators and algorithmic literature. Text generators are not limited to the computer, Already the invention of the movable type transformed religious and literary writing into algorithmic structures and even sytemic theory of rhetoric (Aristotle) was a step towards this direction. This research focuses on different examples of automatic processors from the 20th century and how these emanate from each other in consideration of the technological background.
Inspired by mathematical thoughts scientists and artists started to experiment with computer generated text in the early fifties. Many writers got exited by the new possibilities of computer technology with the hope of finding new ways of artistic expression…..”

 

Pdf-icon Download this thesis: Half Constructed Infinity

[Algorithm: pattern of action which describes how to achieve an aim in several steps (functions as work routine)]

The problem of finding an interesting subject


Monday, October 22, 2012

[publication of graduation essay by Lilian Stolk 2012]

 

 
“Zoek het dichtbij jezelf”, was de tip die mijn scriptie begeleider mij gaf. Ik zag mij zitten, op het puntje van mijn bureau stoel en mijn neus in mijn computerscherm. Maar wat mij zo fascineerde, wist ik niet. Na lang nadenken over een goede onderzoeksvraag, besloot ik de zoektocht zelf als onderwerp te nemen. Ik herhaalde de vier stappen die ik tot nu toe had genomen, zoals een museumbezoek of het analyseren van mijn eigen werk. Ik werkte samen met grafisch ontwerper Aude Debout, die de vier stappen fantastisch heeft vormgegeven.
 

 
Download thesis: Mijn zoektocht naar een onderzoeksvraag [dutch language]

[image from essay by Lilian Stolk][www.lilianstolk.com / www.ikhouvanvieren.nl]

 


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