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Archive for February, 2019


Who said books should look like books?


Thursday, February 28, 2019

 

Who said books should look like books ?

I was initially drawn to 70 degrees due to it’s rhomboid design.
Before opening the book you get a sense of quirkiness from the get go.
The layout of content continues to play with you throughout which is eye catching and unique.
My thoughts on the design have led me to consider the potential shape of books, bookcases and technology.
If we look through time we see the generic library format of rectangular books housed on shelves with a 90 degrees support point.
I believe questioning the shape of books, bookshelves and technology can lead to new ways of giving and receiving information.
Traditionally, in two-dimensional geometry a rhomboid is a parallelogram in which adjacent sides are of unequal lengths and angles are non-right angled.
For me this definition represents the book quite well due to it’s content involving a collaboration of artists who are parallel in unison but unique by definition.
Maybe the world has become too accustomed with the usual rectangular book shape and partly forgotten about how much potential there is when it comes to the shape of books and how they are presented.
Are we choosing convenience over creativity, or is the rectangle shape law abiding for the rest of time?
Why is everything mitigated through the rectangle?
Most of the time books are rectanglular. Right in front of me I have another book. It’s a rectangular book which fits in my hands like the size of your average telephone. But why is it not shaped like a circle or a hexagon?
In fact if we think about the history of book making technology and the history of the book, there is not a particular reason why it should be rectangular instead of any other shape.
There is something about the ways in which we use technology where that technology effects us and we in turn are effected by the technology.
For example, I find it more satisfying to hold the book in front of me in a portrait position.
But if I’m not going to hold something in my hand then I often find it more satisfying for it to be in a landscape position. What would be some examples of this?
As previously mentioned the book in front of me is the same size as your average phone. They’re almost the exact same size. And although I can hold my smart phone in a landscape position, and will do that sometimes to take pictures, by and large I tend to use it in a portrait upright position.
If we look at a normal paper back book which is usually around the same size as a tablet computer then here they are both oriented in much the same way, in an upright fashion. And can it be used sideways? Yes, when looking at video.
We spend a lot of time looking at monitors and if you look at the shape of the monitor we notice that monitors are not upright, they are horizontal. Historically, televisions used to be more of a square and that’s because the movies used to be more of a square. The rectangular shape came later and then later on as television technology changed, it made it easier to move away from picture tube. Then we started to move away from the square to the rectangular shape for our televisions as well.
There is something about the ways in which we interact in the world that says to us, “If I am going to hold the text in my hand in some way and I am going to interact with it, then I want it to be upright.” But if we are to be more passively observing, like watching a movie or watching television, or if the way I’m manipulating it is at a distance-  like looking at a computer monitor, but I’m typing on a keyboard, then i want it to be rectangular. And there are many ways in which we interact with our technology everyday in everyday ways, that we unconsciously accept these things as if they are cultural imperatives.
And which is first? Is it that there is something natural about it? That just being a human with normal size human hands oriented in a normal way? That this is the way in which we desire to interact with both rectangular books and the shape of your average smart phone? Or is it that we culturally developed it and now we have that expectation? The answer is both. We make technology to change the world around us.
But by the same token we are changed by our technologies, interacting with them in many ways.
Nowadays we are looking at some changes, where people want to move to more wearable technology. And some people I think are a little concerned that as we move to wearable, embeddable and AI technology the distinction between us and our technology will be less clear. The truth is we have always interacted with our technology in much the same way.
So the next time your using any piece of technology whether it be a book, a cell phone or a steering wheel of a car, take a moment to think about the ways in which we accept certain things and that technology just seems to fit us properly, because humans made it for humans and we ourselves have adapted to the limits of our own technologies.

To conclude, If we break down the word knowledge we see the words know ledge and no ledge. Maybe this is a sign that we can expand our horizons towards a more creative and compelling environment when it comes to the shape of books, bookshelves and technology as a whole.

 

Bedwyr Williams: ECHT/70°. design by Åbäke, Rietveld library number: williams 1

You make me such a cliché


Thursday, February 28, 2019

… and as I grab you and pull you closer to me, to get a better look of you, to face you, I feel instant disgust.

Disgust.

Maybe that is too strong of a word. It’s not like the look of you make me want to let go of you, not immediately.

Discomfort. The opposite of comfort. Suits quite well.

Dis-comfort. Dis-com-fort.

So, we stand here, face to face. I don’t even try to hide my feeling of discomfort. Don’t have to.

Look at you.

You look sick. Interesting but sick. You clearly don’t know how to match colours. Your choice of colours tells me you are a try-hard. I mean, who matches ‘vomit yellow’ with ‘lame blue’?  You try to be the funny guy. Well, guess what? It’s not working. Your failed attempt is your greatest joke. Your reversed definition of the 80’s “Business in the front, party in the back” looks like a sad joke that wasn’t meant to be a joke.

Alright, so you want to be special, to stand out.  And I want a good laugh so you’ve got my full attention.

I let my fingers caress your face. My left hand supports your neck while my right hand explores the surface of your skin and all your edges. My index finger softly touches what seems to be your nose hoping to find some kind of depth. But you don’t have much depth, do you?

How disappointing.

You want to provoke me. And I am provoked. How weak of me.

I want to get to know you. Enlighten me. Please.

You start to open up, with my help of course. You grab my hand and tell me a story. A story I recognize inside of me. Your double-sided sense of humour is cute.

I can’t wait to get to know you better. You make me such a cliché.

 

To find out who you are, to get to know you better, I will have to do some research about your creator, your God, your inventor and designer.

And quickly I find out you are all one and the same person.

The man and the book. The book and the man.

I’ve already made the mistake of judging you by your cover and I won’t make the same mistake with your master.

Well, maybe you didn’t want to be judged exactly but your creator sure wanted to catch my attention.

So, who are you, great creator?

Both the designer and the artist, I see. Or maybe the artist and the designer.

You choose to have give written words but a title and a “thank you”.

As a performer and a photographer, you don’t need words. You tell stories with pictures. I get that.

But I must admit it makes me wonder. Many questions appear. So, I wrote you an e-mail. Know that I am looking forward for you to get back to me with some answers.

Still I feel like I know you quite well through my research.

Funny, isn’t it? I know you but you don’t know me.

You reveal so much of yourself and you almost eager for it. In that way, we are very alike.

We are quite connected to be honest.

First of all, through the academy;

“At the Rietveld academy, we are bit like a family”said the man who made a speech on my first day at school.

I agree with that, brother. You had your first day 40 years before me, maybe another man said something similar that day.

As I mentioned before you are a photographer. Guess which department I’m going into after Basic year…

Inside of you I found this photograph.

 

A man laying in bed, naked. On top of him there is a mirror. His face is hidden and the mirror makes a distortion to his body.

 

Now let me describe you a photograph I made for the home assignment for the entrance exam.

 

My littlebrother laying in bed, wearing nothing but stockings. On top of him there is a mirror. His face is hidden and the mirror makes a distortion to his body.

 

Yes, I definitely understand you.

 

My teacher told me you are having an exhibition soon. I wanted to look up where this exhibition will take place. But I forgot. Not that I don’t care, I promise.

I just have many things on my mind, you seem like the kind of guy who understands.

But let me tell you what happened:

So, I went to get a piece of cake here the other day. A café near the academy.

As I walked to the café I came across a corner shop with some interesting art pieces laying around the floor and some masks hanging from the ceiling.

Your masks.

The masks you already showed me the first time I took that square piece of you down from the library shelf.

What are the chances? I could have gone to any cafes, any directions, away from you. But you wanted to show me the masks in real life, didn’t you?

Masks. Why masks? Who are you trying to hide from?

I would never use masks. In that way, we are very different. Or maybe not too different. You see, I put on a specific face when I take self-portraits. So, in a way that is a mask too.

Maybe you will give me an answer when we meet up in the near future, Ton.

When you find out that I exist.

 

?: ?. design by Ton, Rietveld library number: 21620 1

Its very salty, but it just needs a little bit.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Alphabet book seemed an interesting choice among other publications that the Rietveld Library had acquired last year (2018) because it is an odd book at first glance. It is very different from most books you might come across in a library. There are only eight pages, yet each of those pages is nearly 3mm thick and made of cardboard. The book is slightly larger than A4. Another thing that sets this book apart is that there is no title on the front of the book but rather on the bottom of the spine. You can also find the title on the Kunstverein website. What really strikes me about this book is that each page has one image of an alphabet. In total six different alphabets are shown. Each alphabet is from 1971 or 1972. The ‘Alphabets’ series was a project originally initiated by Vincent Trasov and Michael Morris. The artists who created these alphabets all seem to have an alter ego of sorts, the most prominent being ‘Mr Peanut’ which is an alias for Vincent Trasov. He dons a peanut suit inspired by ‘Mr. Peanut’ which is a logo and character made famous by ‘Planters’ a company which sells processed nuts, mainly peanuts. The reason Trasov’s alias Mr. Peanut is more prominent is because of his run for the 1974 Vancouver civic election, where he dressed up in his peanut costume. He ran on the platform of ‘PEANUT’. ;- Trasov was persuaded to don the costume as a symbol for the collective aspirations of the art community and run for mayor in the 1974 Vancouver civic election on the art platform: P for Performance, E for Elegance, A for Art, N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness and T for Talent.. Trasov received 2685 votes accounting for 3.4% of the total vote. Trasov could not likely have really thought he was going to win but this would serve as a satire on the political climate of the time. Canada in that time went through a period of political unrest and economic difficulty. What made his candidacy even more interesting is that he did not utter a single word. Mr. Peanut became a kind of walking sculpture. The talking was left to his campaign manager John Mitchell.

In 1972 Trasov and Morris using their Imagebank (sort of collective) hired a silkscreen printer and printed the Peanut Alphabet. One of the people I spoke to at Kunstverrein speculated that the alphabet project was an exploration of visual language via the alphabet as a kind of study. At the time the hopes of Morris and Trasov was that this project would become larger than it really did. They invited some artists to create alphabets as representation of this language they where exploring. These alphabets also had a correlation to their alter egos in some way. At that time you would have been considered to be a part of the status quo if you did not have an alias for your work. So in some way to keep up a certain authenticity these artists felt they had to have an alter ego, and so it is only logical they would strive to create an alternative language that went against the status quo in the art community that they did not want to associate themselves with. At the same time artists in Canada Including Trasov and Morris, found themselves in a period of immense sharing of ideas with like-minded artists, this created systems and networks for artists to share these ideas even before the internet. Morris says that their survival as artists even depended on these networks.

‘The Alphabet Book’ was designed by Marc Hollenstein who does most of the design for Kunstverein publications. The Individuals I spoke with at Kunstverein are a student and Rietveld Academy alumni . For the most part I did not have to ask them any questions since they had allot to say about the book, but one thing that interested me about the publication was the thickness of the pages. They told me that this was a kind of suggestion of the volume the book could have been in regards to Morris and Trasov wanting this project to be larger than it ended up becoming.

In a way you could see ‘the alphabet project’ as a tragic comedy. There are these satirical elements, a strive to share ideas, and artistic work yet, a certain failure in the exact systems these artists  tried to create in a pre-internet society that in reality faced a similar political and economic climate that we face today. The difference today maybe that satire is so relevant yet so irrelevant, we live in a society where the satire has potentially become reality, at least in political terms. This does not take away from the work and ideals behind the project, maybe it would have taken a different direction in a post internet society. The most ironic thing about this project is maybe the fact it never became so big is what makes it so interesting.

Also if anyone has a couch that isn’t straight apparently the designer of ‘The Alphabet book’ Marc Hollenstein is looking for one because he has a non square living room.

Vincent Trasov: The Alphabet Book. design by Marc Hollenstein, Rietveld library number: tras 1

Marthe Wery


Friday, February 15, 2019

I saw a forest green spine, it was worn down so much that cracks and edges showed the plain white colour of paper. I thought to myself this book has gone through a lot. I picked it up and revealing the cover, it consisted of this same green, this forest green, nothing apart from the name Marthe Wery.Image result for marthe wery catalogue lebeer hossmann All capital font in white the same white the cracks and edges consisted of. I curiously flicked through, this tattered book comforted me like my grandparents, I felt accepted no matter how much knowledge I held. As I flicked through I saw a blur of red, blue then green. The same green as the cover. I then chose to start from the beginning and saw text, the text was in two columns covering the pages, some pages held photographs of art by the artist Wery and others a combination of both text and photographs. The majority of the photographs are in black and white and showed drawings or paintings. I never choose to read about the artists work when I go to see an exhibition and so I chose to follow my gut instinct and look at the artists work without reading the text. I again felt a sense of comfort by the art, like I didn’t have any pressure to completely comprehend it, I enjoyed the pieces without having a real understanding of it, the dark charcoal drawings drew me in and then red filled the pages with different tones and shades on every page. Abruptly interrupted by grey text and photographs and then blue tones filled the next pages until again it was interrupted by text and photographs. Finally the comforting green filled the pages and I started to realize this was the book I wanted to write about. Have you ever felt as though you were invisible in this world or merely blend in?. This book felt like this to me however, even if you have felt like that, others might find comfort and gratification in you and this is how this book made me feel and it all started with that forest green and an unexplainable link to my grandparents.

I started my research in search of the designer of this mysterious book. First I found out that this was a catalogue for Wery’s exhibition in The Hague in 1986. I began searching for catalogues published in 1986 or similar years from The Hague to see if there was a consistent pattern of the design but couldn’t find anything. I then started investigating the publisher hoping they worked with the designer or designed the book himself/herself.n Lebeer Hossmann was the publisher, and only published catalogues.


Continuing my research, I concluded that the design and layout of the catalogue portrayed Wery’s work in an intimate form. It was not created to be aware of the design but to highlight the work inside. This I find very humble because a catalogue should be to highlight the work of the artist not the designer. Where as many catalogues design overtakes the artist’s work and become a piece of its own. The format to have the three sections of the book filled pages of the different tones of red, blue and green struck me because I felt as though I was seeing the work through Wery’s eyes. There is no border or text to distract me, it is there to speak for itself, which similarly Wery’s work is. Wery was famous for her minimalism and she studied the different tone and shades of colour, putting together long or rectangle canvases next to each other consisting of the same colour with the variety of tones. Her point was to test the space and architecture with her pieces making it a whole. The majority of the photographs of Wery’s work are in black and white, this challenges the reader when connecting to her work due to the main purpose, colour. This only emphasize the photos and coloured filled pages more, when you came across which then has more effect in fact. The bleakness of the B&W photographs in contrast to the coloured also brings her sense of space making us readers more aware of how colour can affect space outside the art. In an interview at the back of the book Enno Develing describes her work as “earthy” and on first inspection could seem severe, however on closer inspection radiates an intense warmth…undoubtedly has to do with “the pleasure” she takes in the materials. I felt this warmth when I first spotted the forest green spine and now understand that this ‘forest green’ is meant to be more than just a green for a cover, but to overcome just the form of a book and that is what it did for me.

 


Marthe Wery: Marthe Wery. design by unknown, Rietveld library number: wery 1

Åbäke’s Cocktail


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ARTISTS' COCKTAILS by Ryan Gander

This small and light book is bounded with a hard cover, but also covered with a soft non-glossy finished paper so that it gives you a soft touchiness. Before you open the book, you can see the side of the paper has colored yellow, orange and fluorescent pink as you can see the same layers on the book cover. As the book has the theme of a cocktail, when the book is opened, the layered colors from both sides of the paper surround the text as the color spreads in the glass like a cocktail. Fun. In the text, the shape of the little letter ‘g’ seemed to simulate a water droplet. A fluorescent pink color was used was used to accentuate parts of the text. If you look into the images, you will notice that those are all different in size, layout and content, but the contents are all corresponded to the cocktail recipes introduced later. These layouts allow me to cross the front and back of the book and engage me to participate more actively.

This book was designed by Åbäke with Delphine Bourit. On the back cover of the book has the names of more people who participated, and for the first, there is Åbäke. Åbäke. Åbäke.

Who then is Åbäke?

 

Åbäke is a London-based collective of four graphic designers. Patrick Lacey from the UK, Kajsa Ståhl from Sweden, Benjamin Reichen and Maki Suzuki from France. They have been working together since 2000 after studying at Royal College of Art in London.

If you know Swedish language then you would smile at the name of the studio, because it means ‘clumsy’ in Swedish, but it also has the meaning of ‘ghost’ in Japanese language.
They have worked on magazine Sexymachinery(2000–2008), restaurant Trattoria(2003), the publishing project Dent-De-Leone(2009), the propaganda Victoria & AlferD Museum(2010) and so on.

 

© Shift [left] © Maison Martin Margiela / Åbäke[right]

Active since 2000, they have collaborated with many Galleries and with fashion designers such as Hussein Chalayan and Maison Martin Margiela, artists such as Ryan Gander, Johanna Billing, and bands such as Daft Punk. If you search more about them, you will find out that they are the co-founder of Kitsuné.

Kitsuné is well known as ‘Maison Kitsuné’, which is French fashion label. Åbäke established Kitsuné in 2001 with Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc.

Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc  © Maison Kitsuné

 

At the beginning, Kitsuné was French electronic music record label. Gildas Loaëc is French DJ who was the manager and art director of Daft Punk. He met Japanese-French designer Masaya Kuroki when he went to watch ’interstellar 5555 (Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – produced by Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Emmanuel de Buretel with Toei Animation under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto)’.  They found their common interest and made the label together with Åbäke.

Kitsuné, which already has a large fan base in Europe and the U.S., begun to be recognized as a fashion label in 2005, showing their first fashion collection and the mixed album ‘Compilation Kitsuné Maison 1’ at the same time at ‘Palais de Tokyo’, one of the famous museums in Paris.

Following the website of Maison Kitsuné, “Maison” is the French word for “house”, and “Kitsuné” is the Japanese word for “fox”, a symbol of versatility.

Fox symbol logo of Maison Kitsuné  © Maison Kitsuné

As the fox possesses the power to change its appearance in the Legend, Maison Kitsuné always has been tried to adapt its repertoire according to inspiration. The philosophy that Maison Kitsune pursues is that they try to change their material and style freely according to their inspiration, as their name suggests, it is quite similar to what Åbäke is doing.

If you follow the steps of Åbäke, then you will see much of their projects were coming together with concentrations on the social aspect and the collaboration. Their events usually comes with different sources like film, dancing, eating and cooking and teaching. They are also singers, painters, photographers, members of bands, furniture designers, curators, fashion designers, DJs and teachers. These are also happening at Kitsuné. They are usually coming up with collaborations between different fields as well.

Just as Åbäke runs many workshops with students along with their own projects, Kitsuné is creating their own thing while also discovering and growing artists. Further more, as Åbäke collaborates with agencies and artists, Kitsuné is also performing collaboration with artists and fashion labels. Although their fields are not quite the same, it is clear that they inspire each other.

In the interview with Japan-based international online magazine ‘Shift’, In 2003, Åbäke said that with Kitsuné they are able, because of their different fields of knowledge, to work in music, clothes and events.

I seem that it is important to talk about Kitsuné when I looked at Åbäke because they have different shapes, but same steps to each other. I am still waiting for the reply from Åbäke that I asked about Kitsuné, but I think there is no doubt that this one big galaxy -Kitsuné- is definitely the greatest cocktail of Åbäke.

Ryan Gander: Artists' Coctail. designed by Åbäke, Rietveld library number: gand 5

DOES GREY EXIST?


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Grey is everywhere. Grey is the sky, the concrete of buildings, the street and its tiles, the walls of the room I am now sitting in, steel linings of windows, many pieces of clothing, the hairs of aging people –

There are many shades of grey, colder and warmer ones. Grey can be defined as the colour between black and white. It can also be seen in a slightly more abstract way as colorlessness, being undefined, without character.

Several definitions of the word grey are:

  • Without interest or character; dull or nondescript
  • Not accounted for in official statistics
  • (of a person’s face) pale, as through tiredness, age or illness
  • (of the weather) cloudy and dull[1]

What all these definitions have in common is that they, in some sense, refer to an absence. It is the absence of color, of character, of definition – it is a lack of capacity to be interesting.

So why would anyone ever choose the color grey for something they made? Would this then be for the object to go as unnoticed as possible? Would it be to suggest neutrality?

THE BOOK

I found a book in the library that was completely covered in grey. The grey enfolded the text and the images that were inside, also filled the empty pages in between. The sides of the pages were grey, as was the cover, so that the book looked like a tile.

It was called “Power?… To which people?!”. It was a book about the Dutch artist Jonas Staal and contained a collection of essays and images related to the work of this artist. The graphic designer was called Laura d’Ors.

The greyness of the book was so dominant that I could not get past it. Although the content seemed interesting and I was somehow

tempted to read some pages and look into the images in detail, I mostly kept turning it around, covering my eyes in the grey that was all over.

I think the grey put a kind of silence around the book that made it into a very solid object. It was such a big visual decision that it forced me to relate to it

before relating to the book itself .

I found myself just flipping the pages in search for more grey, tracing the surfaces that I found with my fingers. I found the colour was also very present in some images in the book. Because of their connection with the cover that had struck me, these images stood out to me more than the other images that were in the book.

It took me a while to realize that the text was written in the same grey. Contrasting with the white background, it looked somewhat darker. I only realised its greyness when there was a big symbol placed next to it in the same colour.

THIS GREY

So what was the grey of this book exactly like?

I think a picture will never show the colour right as I saw it. It was a cold tone, with some hints of blue in it. It reminded me of the Rietveld grey, the colour that is used to paint the walls of the academy. It had the same natural and deep, yet cold quality.

Still, it was different from the Rietveld grey. It seemed less accessible. It was not a colour you could walk into. It was not a colour you would put on a wall. I think it was less green than the Rietveld grey. It was a bit darker as well.

WHY?

To come back to the question I posed earlier: why would anyone ever choose grey for something they made?

In the case of the book there are two aspects of the choice. The first one has to do with the excessive use of the colour. If another colour, for example green, would have been used in the same way that now grey was used, this would have equally caught my attention.

Now, let’s imagine it was green; what would this then result in? I think I would have thought that it would be a book about nature. Or imagine it was red; what kind of associations would that give? It could be about violence, love, blood…

The encapsulating of a book in one colour the way it was done here, immediately results in questions from the reader: why is it like this?

So why then did the designer choose grey? This is a hard question to answer, because associations with grey very often relate to backgrounds, such as walls and skies. Seeing it in such a prominent position where it is taking a lot of attention, is confusing.

Maybe that’s exactly the reason why she chose this colour – it is an anti-colour; like I said, a kind of absence. It puts the book into a background and by that enfolds it in the greyness of the world. It becomes part of the sky, the concrete and steel. It doesn’t have a colour to speak, it has a colour to be. To be a thing.

[1]Oxford dictionary

Jonas Staal: Power?… To Which People?!. design by Laura d’Ors, Rietveld library number: staa 1

Design in Collaboration


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

 

The following text is based on an interview I had with designer Adriaan Mellegers and the artist Emmeline de Mooij about the book "Art in Therapy", design, art and the relationship between those two fields.

 

Adriaan Mellegers

Emmeline de Mooij

Yelske Luit

 

So how did you start making this book? I assume Centraal Museum Utrecht wanted a book after Emmeline’s work?

They wanted a book because I did a series of performances commissioned by them, and of course nothing physical remained after this piece. So we really wanted a good record of this work.

Was it immediately clear that Adriaan was going to design it?

Yes, I think I immediately proposed that. I could decide everything myself; who made the book, who filmed etc.

     Edwin Jacobs, the former director of the museum, really trusted us with this project, it was like a warm bath.

  But I think that’s one of the positive sides of working for yourself or with friends. When you have a client, they can sometimes differ in their vision or ideas.

That can be interesting, but it can also go badly.

So where do you start, when you have this open slate?

   The project had a quite clear structure, and it was quickly clear that we wanted to have the text from the five performances in two languages [Dutch and English]. So it was a lot of text.

         We also had some film stills and portraits from the performance.

     So those are your “ingredients”, your content, and then you start thinking about what kind of book you want. That process is partly conceptual and partly intuitive.

I thought it would be cool if it had a monumental size, quite big, because it would refer to a patient dossier.

I chose to represent the text very clear. The two languages have a different font, but they come from the same font family, Trivia.

I made the letters bigger, to convey some intimacy.

And while he thinks of all this stuff, how much have you [Emmeline] been involved? Do you give feedback after the decision is made, or do you make it together?

I left it up to him, but he showed it a lot during the progress. I was very happy you could think of those things, like that the photos should be on a different paper.

But we still talked about it a lot. There was hardly anything that I didn’t like.

Did it ever happen that you saw a design for your work and you felt like it didn’t look right, or didn’t represent your work? Or does it almost become a work in itself?

Yes it does happen, but it’s usually something small.

I think you’re quite flexible.

I think it’s important to let go when you involve someone else. That you don’t control the other person, give them freedom.

So you also give some autonomy to the designer?

Yes. But it still has to communicate what you initially wanted. It can’t suddenly go in a different direction, so I have to be clear about what the story is.

So that is the risk you take by doing that. You can give them freedom, but you can’t just let it happen. 

I can imagine it’s very different with a client.

Very much so. When it’s an institutional client, they have a more clear vision or policy of how they want to communicate. You always have to get in a discussion if your idea or vision could happen.

It’s also often a lot more political, because there are other interests and parties involved.

So you could say that in the relationship between art and design, when you work for an artist the story is up to the artist, but how it is communicated is more up to the designer. However when you work with a client, this how is also controlled by the client?

It’s possible in both options, it has a lot to do with how you work as a designer. I want people to work with me because they think I make good works, not just because I provide a service.

When you work with an institutional client, you want them to have the same attitude. But there are a lot of interests at play, so sometimes the collaboration goes smoothly, and other times it doesn’t. That’s part of it. 

It can both be fun though, and I wouldn’t want to only work for artist, because those processes can last a very long time.

And I like the challenge of working for an institution, and that the end product is seen by a lot of people.

So working with both, the variety is pleasant.

 

 

Emmeline de Mooij: Art in Therapy. design by Adriaan Mellegers, Rietveld library number: 708.4 the 1

Space, Text and Boxes


Monday, February 11, 2019

 

The book I chose for my research is a book that probably doesn’t catch the eye of many people who pass it. With a relatively simple cover and a design that most people at a glance would brush over as conservative, straightforward or maybe even boring, Rosemarie Trockel’s exhibition catalogue about her exhibition “post-menopause” may seem like an odd choice for a design research essay but upon further inspection the design reveals itself to be quite rich and complex.
Maybe it makes sense to start with the outside, the part of the book that you inevitably will see first when you meet it.
On the cover you can see a picture of a big installation work called “yes, but”. The way Yvonne Quirmbach (the designer of the book) chose to present the work makes it feel more like a 2 dimensional graphic work or painting than the huge installation it actually was but it serves the purpose of making a graphically interesting and simple cover. Other than the image the front cover also contains the name of the artist and the exhibition in the upper corner. If you take off the dust cover (that has said image on it) the “actual” cover of the book is blank white with just the name of the artist and exhibition in the same spot as on the outside cover. One interesting detail is if you take the the dust cover out and look at it there is a little caption for the picture you will only see if you actually take the cover off.

 

 

There, also is a caption for another work which it says is inside. The dust cover actually unfolds and there is a poster of a big installation/collage inside but except for that already pretty hidden caption there is nothing that gives that away. I myself only discovered this totally by accident after I had the book for over a week already.

 

 

This is a good example of one of the hidden details this book has in it. It really wants you to explore it but never pushes you to. Instead it gives you space to do so.
So let’s get into it.
When you open the book you’re gonna encounter its title together with some short basic info which is placed in the center but aligned to flush left. A subtle choice that also gets masked by the fact that each line only contains at most a couple of words. The designer is playing with the blank space here using it to give the text some room to breathe without making it appear to monolithic which could be the case if it (the text) was fully justified.

 

 

Over at the next page you will find the table of contents. The arrangement of the text remains the same but this time it becomes a lot more visible because the page is more filled and some lines of text even reach the outer margin of the page. Still the aesthetic that got introduced on the previous page gets maintained and overall it is not only pleasant to look at but also easy to read because you can start reading in the center. This praxis of introducing a design element to the reader in a subtle way and then building on it further is a recurring theme in the way the book is designed.
A good example of this is the way the book handles the element of the box within a text in the text centric parts. The book contains some longer texts which could lead to long visually uninteresting passages but Yvonne Quirmbach introduces a simple element that breaks up the monotony of it. This element is a rectangular box which she places in the center of the two text columns. The first two texts are just a greeting and a foreword so as I see it more of an appendage than part of the content of the book. To communicate this in a visual way the designer uses the boxes. For these two, lets say minor texts, the boxes just contain a single word that describes the function of the text and sort of are a title as well (Greetings, Foreword). For the first text that is actually part of the content (in the way I interpret it at least) she then changes it with a slightly wider box, containing the name of the author of the text as well as the title, all in bold capitalized letters. She keeps the width and the capitalized type in the next text but changes it up with two different sizes, the bigger one being noticeably bigger than the one used before. The two texts are quite far apart from each other within the book though so a lot of readers probably won’t notice the difference in size so much.

 

 

As you can see she gradually explores the usage of these boxes and builds on it without overwhelming the reader. She continues to explore them further by using them for footnotes and then also for text related images. She introduces new elements slowly taking her time with each, introducing one after the other to subtly lead the reader through the book. This approach is also mirrored in other aspects of the design of the book like the presentation and arrangement of the pictures.
Her design choices in general don’t make any judgement about the work, they are plain while still offering variety. Yvonne Quirmbach makes a statement by not “over designing” the book and making her choices minimal but noticeable to observant readers. She is inviting the reader to take a closer look at the content, drawing people in through small almost hidden details rather than attention grabbing imagery. I want to continue this legacy by inviting you to look into Rosemarie Trockel’s work as I think it offers a lot.

 

Rosemarie Trockel: Post-Menopause. design by Yvonne Quirmbach, Rietveld library number: 754.2 tro 5

Can we control our Nature ?


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Front cover of the book Next nature

  Next Nature is a book designed by Mieke Gerritzen and edited by Koert van Mensvoort, Mieke and Michiel Schwarz. it was published in 2005. The design of this book is really interesting, not so much because of the paper chosen, the format of the pages or the functionality, but more because of the choices made on color, as well as the fonts and basically the whole visual identity, that is closely linked to the raised subject. The relation between text and image is really particular and intense with a lot of repetitions for example. This is not the only book by Mieke Gerritzen treated in this way. Her work as a designer and artist is a study of the image culture, in relation to technologies and all kinds of digital medias. She also designed other books such as mobile minded for example, “A booklet about the mobile world of quotes, essays, statistics and factoids, all reflecting the very young state of wireless thinking”, is said on the website, showing that there is still a relation to technologies.

 

<code.Front/back cover of the book mobile minded

Her website transcribes this idea quite well with a lot of of images, fonts and projects coming to your eyes as you open the page. It even gets you lost a little bit.

Koert Van Mensvoort, artist, philosoph and scientist, and one of the editors of  Next Nature, made a few conferences to talk about what is next nature. At a certain point, he draws a graphic comparing the things that were born and that we control (genetically modified fruits for example), those who were born but that we don’t control (the sun), and then does the same with the things we created : a car is controlled by us but a computer virus not for example.
In the end, he proposes that we think of nature as a nature caused by us : next nature.

 

4

Image taken from the facebook/instagram page virtual experience : https://www.facebook.com/virtualexperiences.net/

The idea of next nature and the designs, visuals that join it, are present a lot on the internet. On many pages you find a lot of content with a crazy amount of information, different elements mixed together, images repeated or put there without any explanation.  This is something that you find in the book, on the first pages already. When you open the book, the first two pages are heavy repetitions of photographs of dogs and of a font « next nature ».  This kind of designs came, in a way, with the explosion of internet , and of a new digital era, following different artistic domains. For example, codeine/purple trippy visuals or videoclips mostly came with new rapers such as yung lean for example, with his music « ginseng Strip 2002 » . The video came out in 2013, but contains a lot of references to things that were popular in 2002. A lot of music artists consider this video clip as a revolution because of the raping style that is slower, along with the instrumental, but also the visuals for the video clip, and the outfit he’s wearing. For a lot of people, this is at the origin of a whole fashion/music trend that has been really popular the past years. In his videoclip « Hurt », you find a lot of visuals that are old computer/digital styled, often absurd and colorful, really similar to the book’s visuals.

 

Screenshot from the video clip of Yung Lean - Hurt, on youtube.

The interesting thing is that this book next nature came out in 2005, but in 2005 only 9 % of the world population was using internet while now it’s 55.1 %, knowing that we are also more on earth. So, this kind of visuals were a lot less common in these days. The title next nature was actually more than accurate because it anticipated a lot of things.

As i said earlier, the content of the book is a lot about new technologies and medias, and so is  focused on modern society, in a way : « in this world it is perhaps fitting that we can now – thanks again to our technologies – also manipulate the images of nature ». Most of the images chosen in the book are symbols you find in big cities or famous logos remade with different colors, like the apple logo made as a pear for example. Even the use of pop culture images (Nike P.18 ; Coca cola P. 30) is recurrent.

 

Images from the book Next Nature

You can see that one of the main topic of the book is the consumer society, something also present on internet with  “memes”, on social medias for example. It is humor, of course, but often about technologies, politics or the actuality, so it’s still an analysis of the modern society, even most of the time a criticism, in it’s own way. In the book, they’re almost using these modern society symbols as a lifestyle, a way to use social medias, to wear clothes, to talk, to write, to listen to music. This kind of designs take the side of accepting and amplifying the fact that we are over exposed to a big quantity of information nowadays. It’s like if they were ironically trying to like this society. For example, P.113, the supermarket is compared to a neighborhood, because it has everything : theater, a club… « The supermarket […] as lifestyle ». This crazy quantity of information is translated by the fact that each page is really different : some fonts or colors come back in the book sometimes but the display of the elements, or backgrounds, is always changing.

 

front and back cover from Everyone is a designer in the age of social media

Mieke Gerritzen also published a book called : « everyone is a designer in the age of social media ». For me, this goes with the idea that us, the spectators, can now take a major role in the visual identity of objects, ideas and that by sharing it, liking it, we actively chose the way we treat the information we receive and have a role in what our designs look like. It also goes with the idea that nowadays, we, as humans, are designing our nature, the next nature.

 

https://miekegerritzen.com/books/

https://www.nextnature.net/2006/07/save-our-next-nature-buy-the-pocket/

https://miekegerritzen.com/vision/

https://miekegerritzen.com/exploding-the-world-of-graphic-design/

https://www.facebook.com/virtualexperiences.net/

 

Koert Mensvoort: Next Nature. design by Mieke Gerritzen, Rietveld library number: 754.2 nex 1

On a clear day you can see forever


Thursday, February 7, 2019

To be honest, nothing in particular made me take this specific book out of the shelf. Had it not been sticking out of the shelf already I probably wouldn’t have noticed it among all the others. It has a simple glue binding and is the size of about a standard sketch book, between an A4 and A5. The cover is a photo of a grey sky with an airplane, so the whole book is covered in a grey hue. But looking at it a bit closer, I started noticing the little details that made it a bit more interesting. The title on the cover of the book is actually not a standard font like I initially thought, but each letter is instead hand drawn from a squiggly line. A hand-made detail that’s not easy to catch on the first glance. The book is filled with diary-style texts, simple line drawings and black-and-white photos. The drawings are often of a little character, possibly a self-portrait, with funny captions. The drawings were the first things I found interesting, before I started looking at the layout and the design. The photos are most often centered on the page, but sometimes allowed to fill the entire space. They also often appear in pairs, or corresponding to a text or drawing on the opposite page. The layout was probably meant to work within each spread rather than just the page. There’s also a lot of white space still allowed on the pages. This allows the book to not feel cluttered and overwhelming. Although to be honest, nothing about this book gives an overwhelming feeling. The muted grey cover and the photos inside that are all black-and-white give the book a sober impression. One thing that sticks out is the choice of font. At first glance it looks to be a regular font made out of hand written letters. But looking closer at the different ‘e’s and ‘g’s and ‘f’s, I realized that the whole thing is probably hand written. It is however way too neat to be convincing as his actual hand-writing, but is something I found interesting enough to further research.
Looking into it more, I understood that the book is not hand-written but actually hand-traced over a printed copy of the text. If this is more or less time-consuming than just writing the entire book by hand is hard to say. But I do think it gives the book a softened appearance with it still being readable as the lines stay quite neat. Here’s an example of the traced text:

However I’m not sure if the (in my opinion) minor interesting effect it has on the appearance of the book is worth the time and labour needed to accomplish it. Since this is quite an odd choice of design and not something that I’ve come across before, I wanted to contact the designer. The designers of this book are the artist (Jan Rothuizen) and Armand Mevis. He is a renowned graphic designer part of  Mevis & van Deursen, a well-recognized graphic design-duo in the Netherlands (although they received a lot of criticism over their design of the new logo for the Stedelijk museum). I e-mailed Armand Mevis and asked about their decision to hand-trace all the text in the book. What I primarily wanted answered was “why?” but the reply i got only answered the question “how?”. Armand Mevis told me that Jan Rothuizen had initially planned to trace the entire book himself, but it turned out to be too much work, which is not very surprising. So instead, he invited some friends to help him. In the back of the book there’s a list crediting “the people who traced the text”. The list contains no less than 40 names, and the whole project apparently only took one full day.

I found out that there are a lot of interesting people that contributed to this book by tracing the text. From art conservationists to the previous head of the Design department at the Sandberg Instituut and of course several artist, designers and gallery directors. I also tried to hand-trace a printed text myself to see how long it would take for me. I didn’t get very far as my hand started cramping after about 25 minutes. In that time i managed to trace about 2/3 of an A4. Needless to say I was very disappointed with my performance, and it’s understandable that Rothuizen decided against tracing all of the text himself.

I’m usually one to appreciate any added “handcrafted” component, especially in printed material like books. But I am having a difficult time justifying the time/effort vs. the result in this particular case. Although I appreciate the bold choice to do this and I do think it looks nice, I am still asking myself “was it worth it?”. I could easily have gone with just a hand-written font, or any font for that matter.

Jan Rothuizen: On A Clear Day You Can See For Ever. design by Mevis & van Deursen, Rietveld library number: rothu 2

An Ocher Sheet


Thursday, February 7, 2019

« The library is unlimited and periodic. If there were an eternal traveler crossing it in any direction, the centuries would eventually teach him that the same volumes are always repeated in the same disorder». These thoughts from Borges’s Fictions often influence my mind when I’m searching for a book, where it seems that your choice will always be part of a gigantic spiderweb.

“>The title « A sheet of paper » and the name of the artist, Remy Zaugg, appear centered, in a Times New Roman font. The book, in a rectangular format (23×29.5), has a hard cover with a plain pale ocher background, accompanied by a gray square in the center that hosts the title. At first glance, A sheet of paper does not appear to sollicitate any attention, without breaking away from a very classic aesthetic regarding exhibitions books.

I thought I should reconsider my choice, even if it attracted me, for some other book, with a more modern, singular or attractive design. However, this book then seemed too willingly simple, hidden, to be just let on the side. 

By offering another look at it, I could then notice singular formal protocols that unravel, through visual variations and repetitions, the boundaries between the so-called informative and artistic content. In fact, A sheet of paper has been designed by the artist and his wife, and can be considered as another piece, or a prolongation of his works : on the second page, we can see written « This book as well as the reproduced paintings were produced in collaboration with Michèle Zaugg », exhibition photographs are made by Hans Biezen.

While opening the book, I could discover that the large ocher pale square from the cover multiplies itself in various ways : in the artworks presented, as in the architectural plans of the exhibition that are presented above the photographs, and many other forms.

 


In fact, Remy Zaugg’s artworks are large pale ocher canvases, and we see the m spread in different forms in the book. They appear sometimes photographed singularly : one big square taking a whole page, existing only in the space of the printed page with the white backgroung. Or, they also appear in an exhibition context (from Zaugg’s solo exhibition held at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, from August 31 to October 7, 1984.) Finally, they appear in their more abstract form with the different architectural plans that repeat as well the square structure. Thus, these artworks are existing in various forms on context (scans, photographs in exhibition, modeled), creating an effect of echoes, transmission, of this simple ocher square. You cannot discern a proper delimitation or annotation that intervene to say ‘this is the artwork’ and ‘this is the research’. The design seems to be confusing on purpose, to delete the boundaries of the classical artbook and offer something closer to experiment. Then, we can notice that the whole book is designed through an iterative process regarding this pale ocher square, that disseminate itself in every element presented.

The same visual phenomenon is present with the textual content : the text takes place under the same fonts in the artworks as in the information shown. Even if it’s still pretty classical (most of the text content is centered, justified, in a times font), the fact that it appears through different layers contributes to this repetitive visual process that ponctuates the whole book. The title « A sheet of paper » appear different times in the book, in different sizes and font.

These variations of patterns and games between the information and the artistic production creates confusion but then but at the same time they offer the possibility to approach as closely as possible Zaugg’s work. Indeed, all of his work is a reflexion on the absence, the disparition through the « banal » in art. The book A sheet of paper appeared to me entirely trivial at first sight, offering no necessarily different aspect. Yet, it is not the peculiarity of the elements presented that makes it a singular object, but the work accorded to visual rhythm, repetition, variation. It is the relationship between the elements that becomes interesting, where the repetition of extremely banal things suddenly creates a particular set. A contraction between the particular and the general. All of my research focuses on the possibilities and appearances of different forms of rhythm. The choice of this book makes me feel even more at the heart of this spider’s web, ponctuating and creating echoes between every choice.

Remy Zaugg: A Sheet Of Paper. design by the artist, Rietveld library number: zau 1

THE LOST CENT


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I have the feeling that you had a big influence on the book, also in the design, how was your balance between you and Arthur Roeloffzen the graphic designer?

Years ago I saw an old American child book with a hole in it and I thought I really want to make a book with a hole in it as well. So it was already stuck in my head for a while, but the subject wasn’t clear yet. I knew that it had to be a thick book, so that the hole would be very deep in contrast to the child book. So I started to make a lot of drawings with the design of the hole in my head. The publisher introduced me to Arthur Roeloffzen, and we started to talk. There was also another book that I’m really fond of, it’s called Dreams from Jim Shaw it’s a very solid book and nice to hold, so I showed it to Arthur Roeloffzen and told him that this had to be the feeling of the book. Further the colours of the drawings were already kind of fixed, because I work most of the time in these colours. We had very interesting discussions about where the hole had to begin, that was something I didn’t really thought of before. So there was a lot already decided before Arthur Roeloffzen started designing. Even the one euro cent on the cover of the book was already thought of. The cent is there because the book is about the absence of it. Also, about the number 99, that you see a lot in the supermarket, where again the one euro cent is missing.

Can the hole be a metaphor for the absence of value?

The hole could be a metaphor for the absence of value, but there are many other metaphors in the book for it. The drawings are sometimes builded around the hole, but for me it was also very intriguing to ignore the hole totally. So that it’s sometimes just a hole in paper and not really an important thing.

       What made you choose to show the drawings next to each other and not like in the book on a pile? Isn’t then the hole losing his function in your opinion?

In the exhibition of The lost cent, we hung the drawings next to each other but decided to have a space between the drawings and the wall, so that the hole would be still visible and still had a spacious feeling. But the drawings are specifically made for to be in a book, not on the wall. For me it’s very important with art books that they can’t exist in another way than a book. The lost cent couldn’t be a website by example. It can only be an object that you can enter, this is the same for child books. Like in a pop-up book, you literally disappear in it. Art books can accomplish the same.

In the back of the book a dialogue takes place, it’s designed in a very specific way, is there a reason behind it?

Arthur Roeloffzen wanted to make a very solid looking page, made for a reader and not like a theater piece with a lot of white space in between. To make it compact and give it even more the feeling of a concrete thing. We also searched for a long time to find paper that would be as voluminous as possible, so that it would be heavier.

How started the collaboration with Onomatopee?

The publisher came with the suggestion to collaborate with Olav Velthuis, he wanted to add an extra context. Olav Velthuis knows a lot about value and art, as a professor at the Universitty of Amsterdam. Onomatopee likes to have a literary link in books that they publish. So the story of Baudelaire came in, because it’s also about a coin that also went in another direction than it normally would go.

Do you think that you gave the one euro cent a new value with The Lost cent?

A review of my book came on the financial page of the newspaper NRC, so I think that I gave a new value to the one euro cent. I think it’s an accomplishment to be picked up by the editorial staff of the NRC. It felt like a big compliment. It means that people outside of the art world picking it up and form an opinion about it. You always have a kind of ideal outcome in thought as an artist and it really adds something if other people can do something with it, that the audience is changing.

Serge Onnen: The Lost Cent. designed by Arthur Roeloffzen, Rietveld library number: onn 3

Who Is Rick Myers In A World Of Broken Music?


Tuesday, February 5, 2019


When I was in the library I noticed a pile of newly books stacked on a table. They looked completely fresh and untouched. I could look around the newly acquired books and quite quickly I came upon 2 books about music and art. 1: Records by artists & 2: Broken music. The first book on the left first pulled my attention cause I was interested in the topic. Which great artists also made music and how would it sound? But then i was drawn to the second cover by the misshapen LP and when I looked inside the second book I was immediately drawn in by the nice design. The design was quite straightforward in rows with alot of black and white but I liked that.

The cover of the book has no title on the cover which is something I still don’t really like. I don’t know if this is because I am used to books with the title on the front cover or that I just don’t like it and think that the book is laying with the wrong side on the table… Apart from the title, the cover has a nice image which is intriguing and brings questions. There is a little LP on the inside’s first pages which has some broken string music composed by Milan Knizak and played by the Arditti string quartet for the book (quite nice). The content of broken music has to do with music and artists. It’s a combination of records created by artists or covers designed by artists, books and publications containing music by artists and sound made by artists. In the design of the book the text is mostly normally arranged.

The way of using negative space and placing of larger objects is sometimes nicely done throughout the book.

This edition of Broken Music (2018) is a renewed edition of 1989. When I went through the book to find out what the designer Rick Myers changed I actually almost couldn’t find anything. On the second page the new edition 2018 said:

Sadly enough I couldn’t find out anything about Luzzi, who she was or how she was acquainted to anyone in the bookmaking process. This Luzzi was probably known to the designer Rick Myers but nothing can be sure and he also doesn’t respond to my emails.

 


When looking at the colour of the pictures there was a very small difference in the thickness and colour of the inside of the cover. The older edition had a sturdier cover and is 2 to 3 times thicker and had a yellow tint on the inside. The LP was missing but that was not because it wasn’t included in the original edition of 1989.

For the rest there was sometimes this slight difference in the colour of pictures inside.


The black white pictures were just a bit darker in the newer edition but the coloured pictures sometimes had a difference in colour which was quite noticeable.

 

When I digged in a bit deeper, I found out that he actually made a facsimile of the book ”Broken Music”. This completely explains why there almost are no differences to be found. He tried to make an exact copy of the older book. This was probably due to the great amount of request for the book still and it wasn’t being made anymore. He spent a pretty obscene number of hours on this project with absurd activities such as assessing the tonal values of Bernard Heidsieck’s trousers, checking the density of the shadow cast by Rose Sélavy’s hat or looking for clues in measurements concealed for 30 years prior, delving further into guillotine mis-cuts made in 1989 for the facsimile to sit quietly alongside the original.

So in this case Rick Myers role was to design this new book to be completely the same as the original. In the actual content and design of the layout he didn’t contribute anything (except for Luzzi maybe).

The designer Rick Myers is an designer as artist born in Manchester and working on text, video, installation, drawing and books and editions. He is the founder of Muta which is a publisher of artist books and poetry. Only when you go to their site it’s not that interesting. It seems that Muta is not really that active anymore. On their website you can see the work of 3 artists and that’s all. When you go to their Instagram you see their last post was in 2017.
Also, you can really see that the design of the website of Muta is corresponding to the design of Rick Myers own website. Very straight and everything in the middle but still it’s not really easy to navigate on his website.
In Amsterdam in the shop Boekie Woekie you can also find some books of him that he completely made himself. So apart from remaking the book broken music, he also makes alot of works himself and produces books with recollections of his own works.

One of his works ”Before and after Death” Has an interesting idea in which he collected light bulbs made before 1908 that were over 100 years old and thereby contained a vacuum of a century.


He then made a print of these light bulbs by stamping them and made it into a book as seen in the picture. I’m curious to see if the whole book only has 1 image because on his website you see 3 times the same print next to each other. Everything here is black and white, he does that a lot but not always.

Another work from Rick Myers is An Excavation / A Reading (Before the Statue of Endymion). He used a technique in which a text is first readable and slowly over time is not readable anymore while an audio fragment is playing and reciting the text. There is a short video fragment of the work on his website.  Check it out, it’s definitely worth it!

Ursula Block & Michael Glasmeer: Broken Music, artists' recordworks. designed by Rick Meyers, Rietveld library number: 708.4 rec 1

{any suggestions for a good title?}


Sunday, February 3, 2019

By reading an interview about Åbäke, a design collective of four, I found out that they decided to work together using one name, one emailadress, one bank account and one invoicing system. The group started in 2000 and at that time they always worked together on their projects. Nowadays they’re working more individually as “It seemed that only working within the four of us was leading to implosion”. I find this promise that they made very beautiful and intriguing, since I personally think it’s very unusual and brave to commit to each other like this. Because it’s so unusual, it also raised a lot of questions.
After reading this interview I wrote the following text about my thoughts around the decisions they made. I asked Åbäke to read it and to cross out certain statements that they don’t agree with and questions that would have a negative answer, those are marked red. Logically, the green stands for positive answers and agreement. I would advise you to read the interview before continuing reading.

The construct Åbäke made (sharing name, money) is really similar to the essence of marriage. People mostly marry out of love and therefore they feel the need to share (name and property) and promise each other (financial) support unconditionally. Even though the idea of marriage got romanticized, the foundation is really practical and pragmatical. But, the main goal of it is to become happy together forever. When it comes to work though, I’ve learnt that the main goal is to become successful. I wonder, did Åbäke become a group just because they liked to be together? Or to become successful? Most probably a combination.
If the reason would be success, would this need to be a group also state the presence of insecurities of one’s own abilities? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? Or is forming a group actually proof of self-knowledge and honesty?

In this specific interview it’s really clear to me that being successful for Åbäke doesn’t necessarily means earning a lot of money, having a lot of free time next to work or becoming famous, it’s mostly being able to develop great work.
For myself and with me many others, I believe that I have the same goal, but I’ve learnt that the way to measure the “greatness” of a work is simply by the reward. In a way money or acknowledgement do translate back to me how much effort or work is worth. That’s also a reason why I find this promise so fascinating. Do you gain or lose acknowledgement when you share a name? Does it feels as nice to be acknowledged for a work someone else made under the same name as it does when you’ve made something on your own? Would it be more rewarding to receive money straight away to your bank account? So you can measure for each project separately what kind of work you delivered. Or does it work the other way around? That by getting the same amount paid every month, no performance seems worth less or more than the other.
Now that I write this I also realize a part in the interview about how interesting projects pay less than boring ones. Maybe that’s the reason to not even choose money as a way to measure achievements, since it’s apparently not that reliable.

But then there’s still the shared name. Although I think I’m understanding it more and more while writing this, I still don’t think I would be able to share my artist name with my boyfriend for example. Even though I would marry him if he’d ask, share everything together, both using the same name feels like I’m giving up a part of myself. I think it could have a lot to do with pride as well, and that’s mainly because of the creative part.
For example, if I would work as a waitress in a restaurant, I would also make a commitment to my boss, under specific terms and conditions. But, in this situation there’s a hierarchy; I’m working in the name of my boss, following his rules, not out of my own ideas. Everyone visiting the restaurant is also aware of that the way I work isn’t out of me as a person, but me fulfilling my boss’s expectations.

When working creatively though, the whole point is ideas being executed by this one exact person. The maker is crucial when it comes to creativity since that’s the person that creates the outcome. You could say that the work is carrying the makers identity. And aren’t we all proud of our identity? So what happens with your identity when you share it with multiple people? Does it gets lost? Or does it become even bigger/better? Is it even possible to identify an identity in a name at all? And if so, what happens then with this pride when you share a name? Is this identity actually as important as I just stated? Or is it just a way for artists to cover up their ego’s? Is it my ego that makes me hesitant to even thinking of sharing my name?
And when you’d look less into the emotional side of it, but more to the actual working process, does it releases work pressure to share a name? Or does the responsibility of others makes you work even harder?

I would also like to get back to this implosion they mentioned before in the interview. Something implodes when the pressure from outside is higher than the pressure inside.* Would the outside in this case then mean work related expectations from outside the group? Or, would both the outside and the inside represent the group itself? And again, what is the motive to stick together after a near-implosion, is it love, loyalty, or the pursuit of success?

In any case, I personally think it’s a very admirable way of being a collective. Also I’m happy that it invited me to rethink motives, certain constructs, and being an individual. It actually made me feel disconnected from myself and the reasons why I like to be busy with art. After I had a talk with Åbäke, a lot of questions still remained. What do I want? What do I need to get there? But, I also ended up with one really good advice. – Although it can be helpful to think about these things, it can also be helpful to let go of this assume that there has to be one higher goal. A better question to ask would be, why do I like what I’m doing now? In that way a person could spent hours on finding the right curve for the letter Å. The key isn’t necessarily to strive and long for “the great” but to find joy in small things and make them as great and important as you feel like.
“Success is mostly about being able to develop great work.”

*Åbäke did point out to me that after an implosion, an explosion occurs.

 

AT TWILIGHT // SIMON STARLING

When our teacher was explaining us in the Rietveld library to choose a book that the library obtained last year to eventually write about the design of it, I couldn’t really focus as there was this book sticking out on the shelf of which i thought i liked the texture. I went to have a look at it. As the teacher’s voice faded, the book cover became clearer. Turned out that it didn’t look like how i thought it did, but after going through the rest of the library, I still preferred this one. 

What made the book catch my eye was first of all that it was wrapped in plastic, as if it’s something really precious. And secondly it was a, I thought, white book that had brown bakery paper around it, as if it was handmade. This wasn’t the book though, and neither did it have brown bakery paper around it; I think it’s an extension of the actual book. The reason I do is because this “extension” has the form of a newspaper which makes it seem less important than the book that was also inside the plastic. Also in this newspaper there’s mostly big pictures shown, that probably aren’t the subject of the book but are there to support the context of the book.

The book itself has a very minimalist appearance, brown matte hardcover with black letters and three lines. But, when you open it, the first page is a very bright purple paper. After that, for the first half of the book it has brown paper and an often used font. Turns out it’s a play: probably the reason to choose an easy readable font and well structured text over the pages. The second half of the book has white pages and a more playful appearance. The font comes across less mature to me and also there’s a lot of pictures, even scanned in papers with written notes on it in this half of the book. I find it quite interesting how these simple choices changed the book into something special.

Simon Starling : at twilight, a play for two actors, three musicians, one dancer, eight masks (and a donkey costume). designer: Åbäke,  publisher: Dent-De-Leone, Rietveld Library Cat. no: star 2


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