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Approaching the Archive


Sunday, December 11, 2016

‘Approaching the Archive’ begins from a coincidence that becomes an unexpected point of access to the archive and book collection of artist, writer, editor and graphic designer Will Holder, in the context of his exhibition ‘Sorry! NO we don’t do REQUESTS’ at Kunstverein in Amsterdam.

The essay deals with the successful as well as the unsuccessful attempts at trying to grasp a lot of material in a little space, and the systems that one makes up in order to organize and process content through. Moreover, it is an essay about books and the stories and associations they convey, as well as it is about the finding of an unexpected relationship between ‘typography’ and ‘topography’.

Will Holder click on the image to download the pdf

The studio of Karel Martens


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

 

I had my worries walking around the book shelves in the art book shop San Serriffe. I didn’t know anything about art books how to look at them and how to look at the design.
I skipped though some books but didn’t find them interesting. Then I saw a cover that caught my attention. I didn’t know the artist but I was enchanted by the simplicity of the graphic black-and-white book cover with Japanese text on the side and the title ‘Full color’. The size of the book felt a bit small in my hand, handy and easy to flick through the pages.
I turned the first page and discovered a colorful photo showing a bookshelf filled up with paper rolls and used fruit boxes properly containing more papers. The photo only shows a small part of the room but on the following pages the panorama of the room which turns out to be an art studio is shown. Page by page I was guided into the head of a graphic designer’s studio.

 

book coverbook-shelves2

 

It turned out to be the head of the Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens. He is specialized in typography, working with prints and books.

After his studies at the School of Art at Arnhem in 1961, he became a freelance graphic designer.

Since 1977 he has been teaching in graphic design at his old school in Arnhem and at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. He is now working as a supervisor at the master-program Werkplaats Typografie [x] together with Armand Mevis. This program is based on practical assignments and self-initiated projects. It also works as a meeting place for graphic designers.

 

The book ‘Full color’ which is showing Martens’ studio was published on the occasion of the exhibition KM, Ginza graphic gallery in Tokyo in May 2013 [published by Roma Publications].

With the information about the artist and his work I started to look deeper into the book.

The photos by Johannes Schwartz are divided into 4 parts by the graphic designer Julie Peters together with Martens himself.

 

 

book2

The first part contains photos from the artists’ studio. They seem to form a long panorama, cut up and organized so you see some parts of a room at one photo and the second part of the room at the next photo. This way of organizing the photos gives you the impression of flashbacks and even more if you already know his work.

The next part is Martens’ archive, collected in boxes from the bookshelves. Here you look directly into the boxes which contain sketches, illustrations and prints of the artist. If you look at the prints you’ll find some of the shapes recognizable. When you flick through the book you get the impression of a system of colors and shapes which are being repeated. An example of that could be the small industrial metal pieces which shapes are to found on some of Marten’s prints. It seems like the editing of the book creates some sort of pattern – just like Marten’s prints.

 

book2

 

The third part is a close up of Martens kinetic work with clocks seeing from behind. A study about composition and color, by printing a dot pattern on two glass disks and attaching the disks to the second and minute hands of a clock. The chose of photographing the clocks from behind is again a way to show the process from his work.

The last pages in the book are writings by David Senior and Martens him self. The text is in English and Japanese describing the project around the book and the work of Martens.

One thing I was wondering about was why Martens choose to have a graphic designer on this book when he himself makes books. I asked Johannes Schwartz about that and he told me that the making of this book includes a close co-operation between all 3 artists. This book does not only work as a documentation of an artist. Not only the contents of the book tells about the artist and his work but also the editing is very important.

The result is this fascinating portrait which gives you a good insight knowledge of Martens’ visual language.
If you are curious for more please check one of his other books “Karel Martens: printed matter/drukwerk, 2nd Edition” which contains a big amount of exhibitions, art works and articles he have been taking part in. This book gives you a good insight into Martens’ environment and way of working too.

Rietveld library catalog no: marte 1

cover back

A hidden paper archive


Thursday, December 5, 2013

A designer makes choices. When it comes to book design, he or she is likely to decide on typography, grid system, editing, binding, format, print technique, paper quality and so on. The sum of these choices create a unified expression that tells us something. It can be a parallel language to that of the content of the book and it can be more or less emphasized and thought-out. Some would say it could even be devious in its intentions.

This is an exploration of the book “Klaas Kloosterboer: Shivering Emotions + Feverish Feelings” from a design perspective. It was published by Artimo in connection to Klaas Kloosterboers exhibition BALLAST at the Badischer Kunstverein. It is designed by the design office Mevis & Van Deursen.
I interviewed Linda Van Deursen in connection to this essay to get further insights in the design choices and the conditions from which the book came to be.

shivering_emotions_cover

The cover consists of neon orange cardboard (around 300 gsm) with the title in what looks like Klaas Kloosterboers handwriting in pencil. The orange cover folds in to almost full width of the very first and last page. I learn from the designer that this is a technical solution to add steadiness to the book. It’s a signature bound soft cover, consisting of a broad selection of heavy stock paper which can result in a weakening of the soft spine unless it is reinforced. I’m thinking it could invite the reader to use the orange cardboard gate folds as an alternative page in any of the books 100 spreads.

shivering_emotions_paper_archive

There’s an intriguing colour spectrum around the edge of the book. This feature clearly communicates that it is a book mainly concerned with visual language or images. It resembles a visual preface or introduction to the book. Each signature consists of 16 pages made from one sheet of paper. Most of the paper types only occur in one single signature, this gives us a clue about the parallel function of the book:

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

shivering_emotions_paper

Rietveld library catalog no: kloo 1

 

shivering_emotions_sequence

This feature creates a playful element to the structure of the book. For example in the sections that consist of photos of Kloosterboers work, the reading sequence is ACBD where A and C are overviews of two different artworks and B and D zoom in on the same two images. But because of the rule of the two-sided paper rythm, this seemingly logic and rigid set up completely changes. In addition to this, all rules seem to be broken at least a couple of times in the book which is a testimony to the sure instinct and playfulness of the designer.

shivering_emotions_sequence2

The text is set in EF Maxima. This sans serif is used in two contrasting ways throughout the body of copy. The left hand pages are in English and set in larger size (approximately 12 pt) and narrower leading which results in a more contemporary expression. The tracking is on the plus side of the spectrum, perhaps around 10.

shivering_emotions_eng

The right hand side has the same tracking but is smaller in size (approximately 10 pt) and more importantly its leading is much bigger which leads to a surprisingly conservative appearance. This is a demonstration of how drastically you can change the meaning of a typeface with small means. It also solves the problem of fitting the German language in the same amount of space as the shorter English text.

shivering_emotions_ger

There’s a lot of trends in typography and it is hard to define what a typeface communicates without looking at its context and treatment. Also, the way a typeface is repeatedly used will change how we read it. This could mean that a typeface that was originally designed with utilitarian intentions can end up being perceived as elitist or exclusive. EF Maxima was originally developed by Typoart as a substitute for Helvetica. Typoart was a government owned, east german type foundry that was privatised in 1989 in connection to the unification of Germany. If we ignore the complex political situation in that area at that time, and just see Maxima as a typeface created with similar intention as Helvetica but without the same exposure, then I think we could dare call it a humble and uncommercial font. This could be illustrative of the intention behind this design. Because it is clear that Van Deursen is not concerned with selling commodities or increasing value to art galleries through slick design. All the design choices are closely connected to the subject that is the artist. I think this explains why the book still seems so relevant in its form.

 

Rietveld library catalog no: kloo 1

8.000 slides; Gray Magazine #5


Thursday, September 1, 2011

In 1977, the office of Charles and Ray Eames made a short film
depicting the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten.
The film begins with an aerial image of a man lying on a blanket; the
view is that of 1m2, then slowly zooming out to a view of 10m2,
revealing a man and woman enjoying a picnic in the park. The zoom-out
continues at a rate of one power of ten every
10 seconds, ending with a field of view of 10m24, or the size of the
observable universe. The camera then zooms back in
at a rate of a power of ten every two seconds to the picnic, and then
slows back down to its original rate into the man’s hand,
to views of negative powers of ten—10m—1, and so forth—until the
camera comes to a proton in a carbon atom at 10m—16.

The analogy of cropping to and fro in the film suggests both an
interpretative view of an archive and an insight into provenance,
panning back to view it as continuously evolving means.

Slides function as a tool for teaching and this magazine presents
itself as a series of translated lectures by eight teachers from
various fields of study within the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. 8000 of
these slides were digitally scanned and structured as originally on
the shelves, then printed collated and dispersed to the teachers as
contact sheets.

On 8th April 2009, the new interpretations were presented and
recorded. After transcribing, the lectures have been edited into a
printed report of the day.

  download Gray Magazine # 5 [this is a 44 MB document] :
For more information on this and other lecture projects based on the same archive, read Gray Magazine #5. Get your own hard copy from the Library

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Subjective Library on Flickr


Monday, November 16, 2009

“subjective library” on Flickr

click on the images above to find some of the tags as we translated them into images for you. If you want to check them all out go to …… Flikcr.com /subjective library /click people link

selection made by Matthias Kreutzer and Henk Groenendijk


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