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"book design" Category


Anastasia Taylor-Lind- Marah Zoo Zebra, Gaza A leopard never change its spots but a donkey can change and get stripes


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Swedish/British Anastasia Taylor-Lind (Great Britain, 1981) is a photojournalist connected with the VII Photo Agency, with a special interest in the Middle East.

I have chosen to analysis what it is to be Authentic. Authenticity is the undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine. In my opinion the artist chose to use the donkey as an analogy for the Palestinian people that their “authentic life” is  to survive in extremely difficult living conditions. The donkey throughout history has been know to be used for labour by humans and are often overworked. In comparison, animals such as zebras and horses are always seen to be more superior than donkeys. Zebras and horses tend to have more rights and often protected from abuse as though they are on a pedestal. Similarly, the Palestinian people are represented by the donkey who have also been stripped from their true identity as they  are not recognised by the Israeli government. Palestinian people have no citizenship rights in the west bank and in Gaza. It is as though Israeli  people have superiority and the Palestinian are inferior and are left powerless.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/20436092)

In the picture below, the man seen  is Mahmod Berghote standing  with one of Marah Zoo’s world famous painted donkeys. The zoo’s two white donkeys caused an international media frenzy after Mahmod and his brother spent three days painting stripes onto them using black hair dye. Unable to find an animal trader to bring a real zebra through the tunnels from Egypt, the Berghote family decided to make a fake pair using white donkeys. The story was reported all over the world as a feel good news piece and often used as an example of the Palestinian people’s resourcefulness during the siege of Gaza.

The idea that imprisoned people can make a business out of smuggling, locking up, and exhibiting animals is deeply ironic. There are about a dozen zoos in Gaza and their story is intertwined with world politics in a way that would be unimaginable anywhere else.

In 2005, Dr. Saud Shawa, a veterinarian, decided to establish Palestine’s National Zoo. For Shawa, this was about education and showing people how to care for animals. Supported by international donors, he built a spacious compound with big cages, a theatre, a library and research centre – Gaza Zoo, the first one ever in the strip.

Gaza zoo opened in January 2006, the same month Hamas, the radical Islamist movement, won elections in Gaza. The border was closed and the initiative was halted before it could get started.

As of today, not a single zoo has been profitable. In fact, there is only one person in the Gaza strip who benefits from the business: Abu Nadal Khalid, an animal trader. He has animals drugged and smuggled through the infamous system of tunnels leading from Egypt into the strip.

 gazazoos6

 

Untitled photo. Anastasia Taylor-Lind. Marag Zoo Zebra, Gaza 2009. Exh.cat.no32-

”I like to sit on a bamboo chair, a bamboo chair is made of aluminum”


Monday, March 13, 2017

 

https://designingthesurface.hetnieuweinstituut.nl

 

Museum ”Het Nieuwe Instituut” in Rotterdam organized an exhibition all about the last layer of finishing a design:” the surface”.  Within this exhibition, the question is asked: ”in which way is the surface important within design” .

Every usage of a surface has a function. And there are many different functions. Such as protection, appearance, to optimise of in order to add a total new archetype to an object.

I received a catalogue after the exhibition.  A quite extraordinary one, it’s more of a book a novel allmost (since there is also no map of the whole expo within). In a quasi-poetic way, various issues about the contemporary approach, meaning and usage of the surface are described. The book connects the topic ‘surface’ to the importance it has for contemporary design and how it might influence the future. I chose to write about the book called: ”I like to sit on a bamboo chair, a bamboo chair is made of aluminium“.
In this text, I will describe the book’s content and appearance.

 

(Interview with makers exhibition [x])

 

By pressing the title into the cover, its surface is adjusted. It seems like the pages are black and the letters are white, but is we take a look at the side of the book (which is also visible within the image), we can see that the pages are actually originally white.

 

 

Book’s Appearance

As you may see from the images above, a quite extraordinary way of letter pressing has been used by making this book. From the outside, the title is embossed in the cover. With that it becomes touchable, as a kind of braille. By pressing the title into the cover, its surface is adjusted. And by adjusting the surface the text becomes visible without the usage of any ink. From the inside all pages are black. It seems like the pages are black and the letters are white, but if you take a look at the side of the book (which is also visible within the image), we can see that the pages are actually originally white. So, we can conclude that the pages where printed in black, apart from the text. So, this is kind of an ‘’inside out’’ way of letter-printing. Again, the surface of the pages is adjusted. An unconventional way of inverted text processing, which shows us a different view in approaching a books design. This way of book design becomes applied to the content of the book in which the possibilities within the approach and usage of the surface are widely described by six acts.

Book’s content

To be honest, I never been to this exhibition. But this book gives me a very good sense of the discussed topic. In the acts the authors are describing occasions with become very visual. As an exhibition by itself.

(interview with book authors [x])

The book is divided in six acts :

Act I • In which condition is only skin deep – Describes how archetypes of surface and content can be enlarged, hided and manipulated by adjusting the surface

ACT II • In which all that glitters is not gold – Describes the possibility of a detailed finishing of the material by editing or adjusting the surface, which appeals to our attraction to the object. In this state of adapting the surface it is possible to bring in a certain authenticity to the object/product.

Act III • In which nothing is as it sees – Describes that an imitation can actually optimize the essence of a material. It can be an honouring of the material

ACT IV • in which paint takes the power back – Describes how paint can be a revolting, efficient, quick and direct material to express revolutionary thoughts.

ACT V • In which to come clean, is a home truth – Describes how we consort our fears by adjusting the surface. Fears such as the fear of decay.

Act VI • In which the future is superficial – Describes how this knowledge can gives us many possibilities within future design.

The acts are giving quasi poetic examples of cases in which the surface is being questioned. There are examples from art and design works of the exhibition in ‘’Het Nieuwe Instituut’’ in Rotterdam. Also there are (fictional) cases relating to the conventional approach towards the surface or (fictional) examples in which the surface is being approached in a more innovative way and the human reactions and questions on these inventions.

Man sits on invisible chair
I use the title of the book “I like to sit on a bamboo chair, a bamboo chair is made of aluminium” as an example to show what a discussion it can evoke.
It is only the title of the book; the chair might not exist. but I find it a quite interesting example. Since I know nothing more about this bamboo chair, I have to assume something to make its artificial existence a little more concrete. I am declaring that this aluminum chair has a bamboo print, and that’s that why the designer is calling it: “a bamboo chair made of aluminum”. The bamboo chair is made of aluminum but the designer is calling it a bamboo chair. Just by adjusting its surface, a whole discussion about the object can arise.

How can one sell a bamboo chair as a bamboo chair while it is made of aluminum? If the designer is able to produce a bamboo print upon the chair so it appears to be a bamboo chair and a spectator cannot see the difference between “real bamboo” and “fake bamboo” and beside that at least one important archetype is represented “being lightweight”, can we than call the chair a bamboo chair? The bamboo chair could simply have been an ordinary aluminum chair.

But fact is, there are thousands of aluminum chairs on this world. As a designer, you are often making things for the commercial market. If you are producing a chair, you want to make an original one. Because thousands of chairs have already been made. Also, aluminum chairs, and also bamboo chairs. You want your fingerprint to be effective, you want your expenses to be low.

Fact is that an aluminum chair is highly sustainable. You can easily place it outside in all weather.  You might like the material bamboo more because of its appearance (such as warm and natural colours), but it is less sustainable than aluminum. So, you mix them up, so you have archetypes of both products you like, and at the same time you have made a very original chair that no one made before only by adjusting the surface with a bit of paint. Cheap, and effective.

I think the whole surface discussion in the book tells us most of all a lot about how much we are in search for authenticity. Both in Design and Art. The surface is described as one of the most important things we are confronted with while approaching anything physical. How unlimited our possibilities can be in leaving a certain mark on an object and how effective it can be. However, that does not directly mean it is just a “fake trick” (although it can be).

It is also a way to approach material in a more scientifically way, in order to orchestrate your product. Simply to get the best out of it. We don’t have to hook up to conventional usage of material while we can take a broader look upon material. Its archetypes and how we can adapt this to other material. What are possibilities? It is a trick, but also something which is very necessary if we consider design as the act of: “creating something better/ more appealing”.

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.

contacto         manholecovers

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.

 

Pick a Goddamn book.


Monday, February 6, 2017
Pick a book.
In an art school library.
It has to be a book purchased in 2016.
How to pick a book, with restrictions purely based on a timeline of their purchase.
Take the list, go through it without any idea what these books look like…
Don’t take yourself too seriously because you have no idea how to go about it for now..
What’s that?
Holy bible.
 BIBLE
Interesting choice for the Rietveld Academie to purchase in 2016…
Being my miscreant self, I picked this book to have a laugh, a holy bible for a design research project? Maybe I could fake a convincing argument about a discussion I had with god about his design thoughts on the book that holds, inter alia, his biography…
Someone’s been worse than me:
As I open the Holy bible, I discover each page has its text partly or completely covered in photographs and parts of the text is in red. This bible instantly becomes a revelation to me. At first glance, as I carefully look through these images and corresponding red text highlighted from the bible, I feel someone has exposed the hypocrisy the value of a bible holds in our society through the images of our history.
Now that I’ve picked the book, not because it fit for the assignment, but out of curiosity and excitement to find an interesting book, with its design being rather simple, after all, its a bible. I had been deceived by this bible. Presenting itself on the outside, as a typical bible, black, gold, “The Holy Bible”, simple.
05_exodus-03
I had picked it thinking it was a real bible i could have a laugh about, and it turned out to be a bible closer to my world view in a sense. I was deceived by the design of this book.
I started wondering to myself, what if a religious freak had picked it? How would a conservative christian react to picking out a bible, that been “edited” by two artists?
Does it even matter?

 

Holy bible /Rietveld library catalogue no : bro 1

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.

IMG_5464

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.

IMG_5460

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…

 

IMG_5545IMG_5546

 

IMG_5522IMG_5543

 

FullSizeRender_4 FullSizeRender_3

 

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

FullSizeRender

 

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

Dynamic pages


Saturday, February 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the additions to the production was the artist’s own suggestion to turn the book into a walk itself. This is the reason for the cd on the cover. This inventive design allows even the front of the book to be dynamic, as another aspect of this multi-layered book.

oooooooooooooooooooooooothewalkbookcover_janet

But it is not merely a cd that adds to the aesthetics of the book, the track-list introduces me, as the reader/walker to the book in a frisky way. It invites to a vivid insight into Cardiff’s work and welcomes you to approach the book in a non-linear fashion. The audio walk in itself makes the already expressive impression of the pages become even more alive. The book actually expands even outside the pages when brought along on a walk and your “real world” impressions become combined with the audio and the content of the book. Pictures appear almost animated and the content is even more appealing when you’re encouraged to dive into parts of the the material along with Cardiff herself. I start to detect the hidden codes for the different design layers. For example I notice differences in size and color of the text according to the different sounds or voices I hear.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

This brings me back to my research.

Perhaps it has already started to make more sense now that I’ve shared a little more on the actual subject of the book, and how she expresses herself. Fact is, that when I ask what is the organizational guideline behind this very expressive design I’m told that they based their inspiration on Cardiff’s own working process.

She works by collecting fragments and combining them to art pieces. Sounds, pictures, words. And this notion of collecting fragments is what initiated the design. A clear example is the special typeface used on the cover and also on titles inside the book. These characters were set up especially for this book and were created by finding typography elements and then combining them. Collecting fragments.

ooooooooooooooooooooooootypeface2

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

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

notes

ooooooooooooooooooooooootexterna30_600

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

Further, I’m informed that they had 6 content layers when designing the book.

For example my suspicions when experiencing the walk are confirmed:

Cardiff’s voice is always blue,

and a little bit bigger

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

yellow

Other genuine elements in this book that the artist herself is particularly happy about are the fold out pages to show the actual audio editing. Among other things, she also mentions the photos that are simply thrown into the book, detached so that you easily can hold them up in front of you when you experience the walk that’s included. I agree with her that these relatively rare book design elements definitely contribute to the exciting impression of this book.

The project went on for ca 2 years and the design process was short and difficult, described as a nightmare by von Rohden. But that doesn’t change the fact that he feels it was an honor to be a part of a project like this, and that it is rewarding to see that the book still seems to have some relevance after more than a decade.

I’m happy I got acquainted with this book, the artist and the design methods. Brought upon much inspiration for the future.

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

 

The Walk Book /Rietveld library catalogue no : card 1

Not how but why it’s been made like this


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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

Why ? First impression

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

 

Why ? The object itself

hella copie

Physical aspect

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

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

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

d5

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

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

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

 

illudesign

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

 

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

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

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

HDP : Do you feel any rhythm in the layouts ?

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

HDP : How many colors do you see ?

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

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

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

HDP : How can design tell something without any words ?

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

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

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

HDP : Now that you wondered how esthetic can lead your glance, how do you meet the content ?

NDP : Content can be shown in so many ways. You can say something, and act in a way that says something else. Opening a book that you find esthetic, a book that attracts you and, then, realize that the content is disappointing, you feel like you’ve been cheated. Esthetics can fool you, because design is the structure of the content, it’s what make the content accessible.

HDP : How would you apply these ideas to this specific book ?

NDP : This book lied to me in a way. Because I felt like the content wasn’t worth the design.

 

Why ? How to meet a book without reading it ?

 Defining taste, instinct and anticipation

 

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

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

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

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

I’d say that design is the body while content is the mind. As your esthetic cannot please everyone, your mind is flexible, and the information you can get in a book won’t ever sound the same. Both esthetic and content can evolve but the link between how you show and what you show always works as parallel.

In fact, the book says something. The way you edit a book makes the object a story on its own. When you see the evolution of the images and the process Hella is going through, the discussion bellow the pictures emphasize this specific process. While the project is getting bigger, the information on the book are moving. Even though I feel like the book has a repetitive aspect, the pictures taken by Joke Robaard are a link between the content and the visual aspect. Esthetic is built but content is the starting point, so that’s when design has to adapt.

« [Maybe] Graphic Design will need to become a part of the thing and not the thing itself »

Michael Bojkowski

 

What seems interesting, reading back the first impressions I had, is that Graphic Design evolves with technologies. To me, this book can stand for a specific time of the book’s History (the 00’s) as Michael Bojkowski made me realize, questioning « Why graphic design ? ».

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

content vs appearance?


Monday, January 30, 2017

In high school, my teachers always thought that the content of a book was more important than the appearance. I had to choose my books based on the texts inside of those. Opposite to what I was asked to do high school, in this Basicyear I was asked to choose a book on its graphic design. I was pretty surprised when I was told to because I am totally not used to do that. I liked the idea of it immediately. At the same time, I actually did not really get why we had to reflect a book’s appearance until we had this guest presentation of Elisabeth Klement, a teacher from the graphic design department in Rietveld. She showed lots of books where she did the graphic design for or just really liked. She told us that the content of a book is dependent on the looks of it and also the other way around.
So when I was wandering through the library, this specific peachy/sand/pink colored book caught my attention immediately. I remembered that Elisabeth showed this one in her presentation. I took it out of the shelves and saw this nice bold font on the front saying: ‘From A to K, Aglaia Konrad’

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The book is like an encyclopedia. In an alphabetically placed order, you go through a list of words which refer to the rapidly advancing process of urban globalization. The content is focused on the relationship of society and spaces and how they change. On the cover of the book, the letters and words A to K are spread playfully over the cover. The A and the K are echoing behind the title as big geometric shapes which remind me of modernistic buildings from the past 50 years. graphic designer Linda Van Deursen made the decisions about the fonts, the cover, and the initial layout. She created an architectonic feeling in all these choices. The co-designer of the book is Eva Heisterkamp, a freelancer who got this job from Linda because she thought the job would suit her.

Aglaia Konrad is an Austrian photographer. She has a fascination for architecture, urbanization and especially their transformation. This leads into rough photographs of abandoned buildings, unfinished constructions and city infrastructures without any human beings involved. She experiences architecture and urbanization as something overwhelming. Something elusive. It is not simply about architecture but about trying to understand space and how it becomes nature itself in at a certain point. She studies the signs and codes, actions, representations and meaning of the architectural system.
Last year she had a solo exhibition called ‘From A to K’ in Museum M in Leuven. Paired with this exhibition she decided to publish a book included all the terms referring to her studies in alphabetical order. The photos featured in the book are her works from 1950 on till now.

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Linda van Deursen acclaimed international fame. Together with Armand Mevis she established the graphic design studio Mevis & van Deursen in 1986. Linda Deursen has been head of the graphic design department at Gerrit Rietveld Academy from 2001 till 2014. She is a critic at Yale School of Art since 2003. The agency has done great things. For example identity projects, organizing events, exhibitions. One of their more recent projects is the logo and identity for Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. They were awarded for several art prizes as the Amsterdam Prize and the Grand Prix at The Brno Biennial
Recently they also design the printed version of the magazine South as a state of mind: DOCUMENTA 14.  A magazine which is being published four times biannually till the opening of the exhibition in Athens which is paired with documenta 14. The magazine could be seen as a manifestation included critique, art, literature and research.

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Eva Heisterkamp was a student of Gerrit Rietveld Academy, she graduated in 2007 in the TxT department. Joke Robaard was head of the department back then. After having worked for Mevis & van Deursen for four years she now became head designer of Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I was especially interested in her role in the whole design project I was wondering how much she had to say about the layout and division of the content. She answered me all my questions clearly in an email.

After analyzing this book the past few weeks, I could tell that the design of the book made the content stronger. Using Times Ten and Univers as main type fonts is very convincing. The fonts are formal but also a bit playful because they are a bit horizontally stretched. The empty space between the words refers to the emptiness of the decayed cities. The repetition of the words in alphabetical order refer to the repetition of modernistic buildings and the recurrence of urbanization. Every page has a vertical line placed on the left side, which accentuates the vertical aspect of modernistic cities where all buildings are raising to the sky. The book sometimes still seems under construction like cities themselves are. At one page you just see a row of O’s on the left side and a picture placed over what used to be ‘ the rest’ of the word which starts with an O. The pictures are most of the time black and white except for some pages. Eva herself decided which pages she wanted to be in color and which ones to be in black and white. There is also another book which is all printed in color but less editions of those were published.

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Aglaia selected the pictures per chapter. She communicated this to Linda and Eva. Eva told me that through the whole process a lot of things changed and she could decide a lot in the design process. For example this case she told me that the font size of the essays were smaller in the beginning. In the last correcting round, the authors of the texts disagreed with the font size. The whole layout shifted, which made it very hard to finish the book in time. I find it very remarkable and a bit funny that the title refers to an unfinished alphabet because the design itself also seems like ‘unfinished’. Eva noted that here and there are some mistakes been made in the design, but I think we will find it out ourselves.The content, the appearance and even the process were constantly progressing. It all was endlessly in juxtaposition. That’s why I think content and appearance are always dependent on each other.

 

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

Communication / Expression


Sunday, January 29, 2017

"daled collection" cover

This is a book I choose from the library.

I find books very beautiful, both as reading material, but also simply as design objects. What got my attention when I chose this book is the very noticeable yellow paper band around it, with a line of cut out text over it. This creates two overlapping layers of text, which I find an intriguing choice both because of the unusual amount of text appearing on the cover and because of the confusing effect it generates.

Anyway, the book itself is actually simply a catalogue, yes, nicely organised and curated, but still just a very simple catalogue like many others, illustrating an art collection and describing it’s value.

The designer is Walter Nikkels [x], a rather well known dutch typographer based in Dordrecht. He had a very broad career, even winning two prizes for his work as a designer. He curated many books and catalogues, worked as a graphic designer for Stedelijk museum, but also curated several exhibitions and did the interiors for Museum Kurhaus Kleve.[x]

As I was researching him, I found that in 2013 he published a book called “Walter Nikkels: Typography: Depicted [x]” written and designed in collaboration with graphic designer Wigger Bierma, who actually taught at Rietveld until a few years ago. It is a chronological survey of Nikkels’ work trough images, a sort of dictionary of his visual voice.

Graphic design is a language that uses elements like typography, colour, composition and paper kind, to communicate information visually.

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

Walter Nikkels worked mainly on museum catalogues, it’s very important to him for the content of the books to be neat and legible to the reader. In the Daled collection catalogue I borrowed from the library his attention to the balance and to highlighting the value of each image and art piece featured in the book is particularly evident.

He treats graphic design like architecture, the page like a vast blank space where elements are organised to give meaning and importance to the content, like art pieces in a museum. There is a great sense of rhythm in his work, and a great sense of silence, reached through colour, composition and most importantly, typography combinations.

couplet 5 card

 

“Couplet 5″ Invitation card design (for Stedelijk museum 1995)

Vertical composition – The word couplet is divided in its two syllabs (cou – plet) written on two separate but parallel columns. Number 5 appears in the first one to balance the symmetry, maybe confusing the reader at first, but “couplet” is written in blue and orange letters (in contrast to the black number) guiding the reader’s eyes through the word.

Interesting in particular, even though hardly noticeable, is the difference in typography between the columns, the first one bearing text in regular style, as a pose to the second one in italic.

barnett newmann  notes

Catalog “Barnett Newman Notes” 1993

Use of vertical composition appears again – and, again, a peculiar orientation of text – to make a separation between the name of the artist ( Barnett Newman) and the book content (notes), while keeping the two together in the same composition.

 

 

schwitters

 

“Ich ist Silent” catalog, 2000

Once again a very simple, regular, geometric composition – Once again the variation of  typography (in this case spacing between characters and size) to maintain a certain composition 

 

It’s a form of graphic design that may not appear as very creative, in the sense that it’s mainly driven by practical purpose of clarity. I mean, there are many ways of treating the content of a book by making it more playful, while still keeping it very easily understandable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Buy Buy Buy + Lessons in the Capitalized Art Scene


Sunday, January 29, 2017

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

Akademie X: Lessons in art + life

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

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

Akademie X - Index

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

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

Akademie X - Xerox Representation

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

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

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

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

Courier_New_2017

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

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

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

The most famous example was the capitalized Starbucks coffee experience.

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

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

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

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

Courier_New_2017_2

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

External Book References:

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

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

The Fleeting Flux


Sunday, January 29, 2017

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

Scan-1

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.

scan-2

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

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

VineArt_w AnnWords_w You_w

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

williams

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

Catalogue–as–exhibition


Thursday, January 19, 2017

What do you see when you look at a book for the first time? Is it the title? Is the typeface on a cover? Is it color? Alternatively, material? Why do we still print books if we have internet, computers, e-books, tablets and phones, some of which have a screen of a pocket book? Well, in fact, because we still need a physical medium. It is notably hard to predict the development of technology. Fifteen years ago we could get a DVD exhibition catalog or indeed a movie. It would be a modern and bright solution, maybe quite fashionable.

feeling the book 2

People who are questioning the need for printed books assume that it is easier to read from digital sources. Furthermore, It is simpler to carry, and the digital book does not require physical place. Nonetheless, why do we need a material text? ‘The book, if properly designed can last more than five hundred years’ – says Irma Boom. However, digital data can probably remain longer. Though it is the feeling that makes the book unique. It is the design transformed into a three-dimensional object.

xerox book

book feeling

 Xerox Book (1) and Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art (2)

(more…)

FULL SPECTRUM BOOKSHELF


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

 

Some find comfort in mess and even manage to bring a certain order and coherence in it. As for me satisfaction comes in organization. By organization I imply functionality as well as visual clarity. When I found myself in front of a very extensive pile of book clarity was what I needed. My own bookshelf is sorted out by size, my clothes rack by color, stretching from black to blue through different shades of green, grey and pink. It brings order in the room. I know where things go and where exactly I can find them. I decided to experiment with my own bookshelf.

 

Self_organising_bookshelf

 

From grey to black. One entire shelf for the white ones. Brown, then yellow, red then come all the different colors from the visual spectrum. Although not all the book edges come with a singular color, the writing on it need to taken in account. The typography, its size and its color can completely change the order from one book to another. Organizing a library in such a way is a never-ending game. Taking one book out means it needs to go back in the exact same spot. At any moment the order can be ruined but finding the right former location is the same feeling as fitting the last piece of the puzzle in the whole picture.

 

A bookshelf organized by color is not only a piece of furniture filled with books, it becomes an architectural piece. The color coordination makes it a whole with a strong visual character. As the color together convened makes it look pleasing, it forms a new building, a construction in the space. Using books to build up the space is the main material of Fernanda Fragateiro. This Portuguese artist transforms books in “material prima”, which she uses to make her sculptures. What was supposed to be read before now is to be seen. By using books in her works Fernanda Fragateiro creates series of abstract sculptures in which the holder of the content turns into the actual content of the piece. However this content is closed and sealed and so forth silent. She picks the books for their visual property not for the content of it. Sometimes she even makes the books herself in order to get the right colors. This way the book is reduced to its only material quality and its symbolic value.

 

ff_notreadingrainbowcolors

Another example of someone sorting books by color is Willy Fleckhaus who designed the edition Suhrkamp from Suhrkamp Verlag. He created a very specific though simple visual identity consisting in the rainbow colors. He developed a highly ordered layout of evenly spaced rules with a single weight of Garamond for all the text but then gave each of the original 48 covers in the series a separate color, so that when lined up in order their spines formed a perfect graduated rainbow. The result was to make the series instantly collectable.

edition-suhrkamp-540x304

 

This visual identity is very specific to that edition and is still going on right now. In general a series represents a group of books which visually and thematically accompany one another and that are designated as series titles by the publisher. In a successful series the individual titles interact with one another, frequently presenting different perspectives on similar themes. By recreating a similar color ordered system as Willy Fleckhaus I was aiming towards a unity of the library. Books now relate to each other not through theme or author. They all have the same thing in common that makes them a whole rather than individuals. They stay distinctive in a sense because their content has nothing to do with the order they are placed in.

 

Some accidental situation can yet be fortuitous. Combinations happen while not expected. I find it most beautiful to randomly pick a book in a library. This organizing system creates the randomness for you and allows you to discover other books and not only the one you were expecting. A library needs to be able to surprise you and give you more than the Internet. Internet cannot give you random. You type in a request knowing already what you want. It then makes connections for you based on words, topics, or dates. That is also something I noticed while reorganizing my bookshelf; I have not be noticing a lot of books before because they were drowning in the whole mess. I put them together and discovered a bunch of them looking for their color. In the end I must have spent a few hours doing that getting caught by some unknown books on my way. I realized I have two volumes of New Perspectives in Drawing from PHAIDON editions: Vitamin D in english and Vitamine D2 in french. I opened both of them and definitely got new perspectives on drawing because doubled.

 

In this randomness I still find some order. Publishers working together with authors design, decide on how a cover should look like, what the colour should be according to its content. The example that comes almost immediately is the black cover and yellow typeface of most detective novels. Moreover how a book is physically designed, advertised, distributed, not only determines whether it is part of a series, but also who will purchase or read it.

Jazz


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Part 1

Library, spines facing you, from every direction. The opaqueness of all this knowledge is overwhelming to put it mildly – your head spins of confusion. The environment breathes an air of calmness, yet great anticipation, as if the myriads of hardbound works of literature and art are eagerly yearning to reveal their insides.

You stand still indecisively – you feel yourself on the narrow interface between on the one hand panic like running down the narrow corridor, to the door, halfway collapsing onto the floor and dying, and on the other hand siting down, indulging yourself in every publication that catches your eye, never leaving.

You regain your grip on reality. You see a bright yellow rectangle in front of you. You reach for it and you look at the front cover.

The cover of Henri Matisse's Jazz

You look at the cover for a solid minute. You like the bright yellow colour and the sturdiness of the cardboard. You look at the image on the cover. Primary colours have always fascinated you immensely. The blue night, the black figure, the yellow stars, and above all the tiny Red Dot as a heart. You are intrigued – you know of this man, Henri Matisse. In your head appear images of bright coloured faces and dancers, composed with mildly crude yet incredibly accurate brush strokes. You also like jazz, and wonder what this book could be about. Filled with curiosity you open it.

The inside of Henri Matisse's Jazz

That’s it. You’re taking this one.

What appears to be a great and interesting book, turns out to be – according to knowledge that you have newly obtained – merely a small, relatively unimpressive excerpt from the original Jazz. Published in German, this small yellow book is actually a book within a book. A book about a book. The middle set of pages are reduced size copies of all images of Jazz. A ten-page introduction preceeds it; succeeding are German translations and a timeline of Matisse’s life. The design of the yellow book is not very striking – minimalist but conservative, done by the publisher. Judging from the looks, the middle part – the excerpt from the original Jazz - is by far the most exciting.

The original is a thick pack of folded paper, twice as wide and twice as high as the yellow booklet you have found in the library. Twenty colour prints, of which fifteen that span two-page spreads are included in the unbound book, together with seventy pages of huge, handwritten cursive text in French.

Marveling at the bright and bursting colours you wonder – How? Why? What does it all mean? You want to find out everything about this book, so you start researching and reading, to learn more about how this artwork came to be. As you learn more and more you suddenly find yourself 74 years in the past, in the south of France.

Part 2

You are now Henri Matisse. It is the summer of 1941, and you are 72 years old. You are living in a suburb of Nice, and you own a nice house with a flowery garden, a big studio and a personal assistant. The gods of health have not been benevolent to you – you were diagnosed with abdominal cancer a few months back, and though doctors have removed the tumour, you suffered from serious complications. You have been on the brink of death for a while, and since then you’ve been only slowly improving. Standing is possible but laborious, so you prefer to lay down on your bed.

Matisse and Assistant

You have tried to pick up painting again, but it is tiring and difficult, and virtually impossible from a laying-down position. Thus, the ultra-creative human being you are, you have invented alternative methods of creating colourful expressions of expressionist effervescence: the cut-out method. Simple but very effective: cut-out pieces of paper, laid on top of each other to create compositions. You have used this technique before when making paintings, but only as an aid to perfect the lay-out, never as a means to an end. Your assistant dyes paper with pure, unmixed gouache and you use scissors to cut them into any shape you want. Easy and less labor-intensive than painting, you really like this method.

Matisse Cutting

You feel that scissors carry way more feeling for line than a pencil or brush ever will. You feel so much more improvisational and spontaneous, and your life after your near-death state feels like an artistic renaissance. You feel like cutting out people, and flowers and trees. Flowers are so amazing to make, since the natural world is not hindered by preconceptions of classical art. As you once famously said:

Nothing in the world is more difficult than painting a rose, since before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.

Full of inspiration, you start to create one, two, twenty collages. You write handwritten text, loosely accompanying the themes of the collages. The text is very big because you feel it is necessary in order to be in a decorative relationship with the colour prints. Your publisher likes the book and wants to print it: 100 copies without text and 250 ‘deluxe’ copies with text. The copies are printed by brushing paint over metal stencils made in the shape of the cut-outs. The paint is the exact same gouache used to dye the paper, so the copies are highly accurate in shape and colour.

Le Toboggan

Page from Jazz: Le Toboggan (The Sled)

The collages depict circus scenes, stories, myths, abstract shapes and personal experiences, in vivid colours and an uninhibited style. The cover displays one of your first collages, the clown, and the title of the book: Jazz. You chose this title because you like jazz, and you think there are parallels with the music on the basis of your unbounded, improvisational and innovative way of working. You consider the previous title, le cirque, not inclusive enough for all the themes the book discusses. In the front of the book you include a ‘table of contents’, an overview of all the collages, with individual titles.

Cover of Jazz

Front and back cover of Jazz

Table of contents of Jazz

Table of Contents of Jazz

The book is received as a wide success and it kick-starts a new stylistic era: the next 12 years, until your death, you will work on more cut-outs. You like the works you have made, though you doubt the artistic quality of the book – you think that the best way of presenting these collages is in their original form: loose pieces of paper, laying on a table in your studio, playful and vulnerable to any gust of wind.

Table The End

Rietveld library catalogue no : mat 17

Shapes, Space and Harmony


Monday, November 30, 2015

I tried to let my mind be open for new impressions during my selective process. My main goal was to find something that inspires me. Something that I can relate to but still find exciting in a new, different way. I also wanted to find a book with well thought out typography. So I can learn from it. Analyze it and break it down. Pick it apart like an engine.

At first, all the showcased works by students caught my attention and I started going though them. Although many of the works were inspiring—I felt like I had more to see before making a final choice. I started to drift towards industrial design. The aesthetics were nice, with a lot of grids and furniture covering the front pages. But the typography that I was looking for was missing. At last I found a book called “The Future Issue” next to the industrial design section. At first glance, the typography of the cover really struck me. It was well designed, set in black and white, in a balanced layout. I opened the book and saw that it was designed by Laurenz Brunner. He’s known to me from before and an interesting designer, the choice was easy.

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 12_2

The Future Issue—Vol. III

              

FUNCTION AND FORM

In 2007 the first volume of “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books” was released. This catalog is the first part of the Back to the Future Trilogy. “The Future Issue” which I found, is the third volume. In order to learn about the design I decided to go back and start with taking a look at the first catalog to see how the design has developed. All three volumes are designed by Laurenz Brunner. A composition of several colorful images are covering the front page. The title “The Past Issue” is written across the center of the cover. The images are positioned in a way so their corners touch each other. Connecting them together, almost creating a spiral effect. I like the fact that it also creates a clear hierarchy among the images. The cover feels well balanced yet without losing tension. Some of the images are rotated. It helps breaking up the square layout and also makes it more difficult for the eye to see the pictures individually. Instead we focus on the whole picture and get the impression of a playful yet organized layout.

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 59 00_1

The Past Issue—Vol. I

 

The second volume in the series, “The Present Issue”, has a similar cover. Yet again we see a composition consisting of colorful images. Although this time, the layout is much more organized. Every image contain the same size, and no one is rotated. They are positioned in a grid, spanning from every corner to the center, also connected by the corners. The titled is allowed much more focus—being set in a larger weight, in a bright red color. On the contrary, the title lose readability as the words are rotated. By comparing the two covers you easily spot the similarities and the differences. It is almost like they are reversed. On “The Past Issue” the images are allowed freedom and the typography is kept minimal. Creating a playful layout. While on “The Present Issue”, the images are static and the typography is allowed freedom. Filling the same function as the images on the previous cover.

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 09_1

  The Present Issue–Vol. II

 

Lets jump forward in time and look at the cover of “The Future Issue” (Vol. III). The first you notice is that it does not look anything like the previous volumes. First of all the front page is completely covered in black. Second, there is no images. Only text. Despite this time, an illustration is also covering the page. The numbers in 2009 are spread out in a square with a loose spiral connecting them together. For me the cover feels much more mysterious and cryptic than the two previous ones. It’s atmosphere also works better with the title. The future is something that is unknown to us. Something that lies completely concealed in darkness. The spiral also emphasizes the mysterious vibe and makes me think of space. Which is also something that is very unexplored for us.

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 12_3Foto 2015-11-24 18 38 40_2

 

 

VECTORS AND HARMONY

All three catalogues are set in Circular. Which is a geometric sanserif created by Laurenz Brunner himself. In 2004 he released his first typeface LL Akkurat which shortly became very popular. After it’s success he created Circular which is inspired by Paul Renner’s classical typeface Futura. Both typefaces has a purely geometric approach and a balance between functionality and idiosyncrasy. Circular also possess a recognizable character yet a universal appeal. The geometrical shapes became the representative elements of the Bauhaus design style and you can clearly see the influences in Circular and “The Most Beautiful Swiss books” series. The simple use of color also draws inspiration from the past, working only with red, green and blue. The layout and the typography of the series are simple. Designed in a minimalist way with high readability. Titles set in a clear hierarchy and text set in either two or four columns.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 01.11.25Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 01.10.27

 

 

The way Laurenz Brunner is working with the typography connects the individual catalogs in a clear energetic way. All based on the previous one but with another layer added to it. The design varies but always with the same principles in focus. Laurenz Brunner’s fine harmony between tradition and modernism creates a design that I find engaging and timeless, in a very intriguing way. Function always in mind but set in a contemporary way.

Below you can find some pictures showcasing the typography from all three issues.

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 42 49_1

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 51_1

 

Foto 2015-11-24 18 51 51_1Foto 2015-11-24 18 56 13_1

Rietveld library catalog no : 758.3 swi 2009

Element, Fifteen


Saturday, November 28, 2015

15-elements_cover2 15-elements_side 15-elements

front of box • side • 15 elements

When I first saw this book..
I thought that books always have similar size and shape before I see this book. For example, a book is made of one piece and has only one cover. When I saw this book at first, I do not know the series are a book that has one package. Also, I liked different colours in a black package and these books have diverse design and layouts. And I discovered that she used only small letters on the package and covers. I guessed small letters mean elements than capital letters. Moreover, when you open the book, you can see two pagination on the top and  under the page. I am not sure that I guessed a number on the top of a page is a pagination of one element(a book of series) and another under the page means a pagination of all elements(15 series). This is because second number start to 100 and finish to1500.  Actually, this book’s contents are very difficult and boring to reader since it deal with the history of architectural elements, the technical and social developments where they come from but this book design helps to vent. In addition, I could see really different layouts each book because these books have very diverse compositions to almost pages. So, it seems like I read a book but it is not a book.

elements-of-architecture

Venice Architecture Biennial

Design of this book..
Title of the book is ‘ elements’ designed by Irma Boom. This book is a series about architecture and the series is consisted of 15 books about 15 elements of architecture. It means this book is not one but it becomes the one as a black package. You can know what is the elements as seeing the 15 book’s titles. Also, you can find how did she show the ‘elements’ in design because it has 15 different titles, colours, books and contents. It is really interesting to me since she gave how to use the book’s title and concept as design. I realised that dividing a book is really effective for showing a small title. The book has 16 titles that is one big title and 15 small titles and you can see 15 elements before open the book ; floor, wall, ceiling,roof, door, window, facade, balcony, corridor, fireplace, toilet, stair, escalator, elevator, ramp. This book was made for the Venice Architecture Biennale by Rem Koolhaas.

Who is Irma Boom..
Irma boom is a Dutch graphic designer and she makes a book more special. This is her website. She has made over 300 books and her books are exhibited in New York City(MoMA). She is very famous designer internationally and she has lectured at Yale University in the USA. Also, she has been awarded a lot and worked as a critic. This is her website.

How does she make a book..
I was wondering when she make a book, how to approach, get a concept and develop. This means process of making a book. I was looking for some interviews(1, 2) for knowing her and her books. She said “Everything revolves around the development of a good idea; everything else – buying paper, production – are skills that one might or might not have, but the concept is what makes a project succeed or fail.” And she does not approach books like a product designer does. She said “I really approach books for what they are, as books, turning the pages. The object. Sometimes I see books, and I think it could have been a PDF. The regular book is not alive anymore. You can put it on a PDF on the internet, or on a Kindle or iPad, and it’s the same. But my books are something else. They have to be this three-dimensional object. Somebody once said that I’m building books. I really like that expression very much. ”

To sum up, I could realise that a book can evoke a lot of interests by design because I have saw books that made to similar size, techniques and feelings. I agree her opinion that her books are remained as three-dimensional objects because her books are truly special. For example, ‘Biography in Books’ is immensely small and thick. When you see the book in the internet or iPad, you can not feel this shape. Although this book is tiny, it gave very strong feeling to me when I saw. In addition, this is another example. Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor. This book on the work of textile designer Sheila Hicks. You can see different feelings when you touch the book even surface of the book. This means she just did not use the photos in the book and she made to feel real. So, she won the Gold Medal for the “Most Beautiful Book in the World” Prize given at the Leipzig Book Fair through this book. She does not apply the same style in everything when she makes a book. Moreover, searching about Irma Boom was really interesting since her books had very diverse design. I thought books will be able to disappear at one time except some specific books and be produced a small quantity. There were some intriguing points to me in her interview because Irma Boom and interviewers talked about digital books in her some interviews.

Sheila Hicks

Book number(Rietveld library) _ 710.4 bien 14 lll

Retracing, I swear I use no art at all


Friday, November 13, 2015

retracing

I enter the space and I know my mission.
I know that Today is my lucky day.
I’m heading up for something that interests and feels good to me, only one item is required.
It is an especially pleasing and reassuring occasion because I know what this place could do to me.
I love and hate this place.
As an example I know that I don’t know much, and this, adding a bit of curiosity, could keep me here for a couple of days.
Entering here I am well aware that words can trick, seduce, redeem or amaze people.
I remember that words are doors, that books are sleeping souls and that this open graveyard was once compared to a labyrinth, which indeed it is a sneaky way to describe a prison.
But today I’m blind from any content and this is my luck.
Thousands words laying down like disarmed soldiers, sleeping giants.
I’m blind and that’s the reason why I am wandering between bookshelves touching each spine, trying to use a different sense.

In this way I find the book, or the book shows itself to me.
Only by touching I read its title.
I open it  and I  feel the ink on its pages, the different kinds of paper used. It seems an attempt to remember something lost,it presents pictures in various format, it looks like dialogue between material. I still don’t know what this lost message is, after there is a text that I have not read yet. Anyway I am going to explore it now, trying to retrace it.

retracing.3retracing.2

Artist Rein Jelle Terpstra,
Book Retracing
Publisher Post Editions
Design, Studio Joost Grootens

17:45 12-11-2015

I am starting my research, I flipped twice every page of the book, still haven’t read the few written pages at the end. I am not doing so because I think it will probably be a sort of description of the work, and I would rather focus on the first part.
Like when facing a magician, you don’t want to know the trick from the beginning.
As well I want to keep being blind all those words cause this is why I choose this book, my research method.
Within its covering major capitals that protrudes through the grey linen cover, I can feel a dialogue, and I want to follow to it carefully.
It seems we are facing double track, series of thick deeply back matte pages are followed by glossy, light and shining ones, it is such for all the length of the book.
I figure out that the big thick black pages depict what it must have been a slideshow projection.
projection
In the dark of the room you can recognize the size of 35mm colour film slides projected on a wall, in the background emerge some objects like a desk and a chair. I have no clue what this slideshow is about, the diapositives depict snowy landscapes, flowers, tables.
The photos seems unrelated and the only thing I can feel is a taste as nostalgia and loneliness.
After few pages, this dark thick and deep side crash against a bright, clean and light one.
This new part is showing also some 35mm diapositives, but this time, thanks to the properties of the paper and the print, the images are clear and easy to watch. Still they are presented as part of a slideshow, and sometimes images are cut in half, leaving a white space before or after them.

Bright

For the whole length of the books these two part keep switching, dark and light pages alternate themselves, here you can see how.
If content of the pictures seems random I notice that the photos of one section reappear in the other, the slideshow must be about these 35 mm presented in the white side. My feelings are now confused. I feel like facing a reality (each photo) and being driven from a clear to a dark side of it continuously, as if we were inside a paradox,or like facing a duality a transition.
Like going form consciousness (white and clear pages) to oblivion (dark and blurry ones),from reality to memory.
All images show familiar, personal or peculiar places. I don’t know why the author made this double track, I don’t know why these and not other photos are in it and I don’t know why in this order. I need to know more, I wish I know more.

02:21 16-11-2015

I read the end of the book, everything sounds so funny to me now.
I discover why the book was and is so special to me, why I did chose it and indeed why I was so confused by the way is designed.
As described in the internet “Retracing’ is part of a wider investigation into perception, memory, photography, and the possibility of imagelessness. Rein Jelle Terpstra is working with people who are about to lose their eyesight. He has photographed images that are valuable to them on Kodachrome slides, with the promise to describe the prints after a few years very carefully in words, in an attempt to invoke the images in their heads through language. Earlier Terpstra made a slideshow installation with multiple projectors in which the light images of ‘Retracing’ slowly blend”.
The book that I chose blindly turned out being made for blind people, and it’s content try to describe how an image can disappear.
It simulate how our memories work but it is also an the attempt to save them. In fact Rein chose to make visible something impossible to visualize, to describe the process of disappearing while at the same time reverting it. She crystallize memories in order to give them back to their owner, to change the destiny of a memory while showing us how it can and does fade.
I said it sounded so funny to me because in a cynical way I think that my choice couldn’t be more natural.
Retracing came to me because of my research method, but the real magic lay in the fact that its design has been able to translate the content of the book into a material form. The design of the book, starting from its cover, where the letters of the title are almost invisible and only “vaguely looms out at a certain incidence of light”. The cover already speak about its content starting a tautological circle, the thickness and the quality of the paper, different for different papers and its printing methods.
Every element sustains the concept behind the books giving it a physicality.
Every detail is a confirmation  of the central statement and it strengthen its power.
I wish I know more about who designed the book, I know that his name is Joost Grootens, that he lives in Amsterdam and that following what internet says should look like this:

joost_grootens_portrait

 

01:32 18-11-2015
I still think how nice it is that a book can speak in so many ways.
For example  I have always appreciate old books, probably because you can feel that somebody (and not something) made it.
You can feel that the personal touch overcome its production, and I can wonder how much work and attention is behind every page.
In this way the page itself is becoming a medium behind the text or the information it is presenting. It feels that reading while touching such a book goes beyond its text.

22:24 19-11-2015
Today we had a meeting regarding our researches. I had more info regarding Grootens, for the entire meeting I had in my hands another book he designed, actually his own book, designed by himself for himself,
and it is GREAT.
I realize I should start a new post regarding this book but I will just say some words about “I SWEAR I USE NO ART AT ALL, 10 years, 100 books, 18788 pages of book design”, (in short ISIUNAAA).

ISIUNAAA_000_cover

First of all, it seems to me as the most rational and efficient work-related autobiography one can person can eventually make, for what I saw so far at least. In it are described all the works Joost made in the last 10 years, first presenting various charts regarding how his projects evolved, with whom, when and how.
As well he show a timeline about how each book or project was connected with others, describing why they were made or how they started, he present a map of the different studios where he worked, which and how many different kind of paper he used, all the kinds of binding methods, typeface, pictogram, pattern, grid and colour he chose for each book.
Here I decide to post some of these schemes and charters to make my amusement understandable.

no-art-at-all-crop-09 no-art-at-all-crop-07 no-art-at-all-crop-04 no-art-at-all-crop-10

The book is a masterpiece of order and functionality, but without losing an intriguing physical effect.
As for RETRACING the book can speak for itself about itself without the use of words, intact in the last part Joost present some samples of the 18788 pages he made, but with a trick. He reverse the order of each page so where it should be written “apple” you will read  “elppa”, this on order to make the reader look at the design without the possibility of reading its content.

00:35 23-11-2015
I found myself thinking a lot about ISIUNAAA,and I am amazed about the attention the author placed in his book, as for the control he has over it and the power of a systematical method. I think Grootens must love his work and in his book his passion manifests powerfully. RETRACING is a vivid example of it and ISIUNAAA is its symbol. It is like an old book, the attention in making it help to create a new channel of communication.

3:09 30-11-2015
It is more than a week that I am collecting memories about the book I saw only for one afternoon.
In the last week I went to the city looking for Grootens magical book, no one has it but I finally found it in Denmark.
It arrived yesterday and I can’t escape from it.
This is the end.
My research end with the beginning of a new one.
I had one more proof how much books are powerful, how much they can speak depending on how much attention they received while making them. I understand that an almost maniacal approach can be useful if it explores carefully the possibility to best way for express an idea and I intend to use this approach for my future researches.
It is important to remember that the focus and attention in the phisical presentation of a work is essential for increasing its power and strength. I am very glad all this happen, I am glad RETRACING pushed me to RETRACE, claiming awareness screaming beneath an almost invisible but powerful surface.

Rietveld library catalog no : ter 1

 


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