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"imitation" Tag


faux is functional


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FAUX

 

TedNoten_ChewBrooch
Chew your own brooch • Ted Noten [1998]

 

who’s Ted Noten?

He is a Dutch artist who studied at the Rietveld Academy and at the Academy for Applied Arts. He works with themes of the unusual and familiar. The designer plays with our symbolic values and perception.

 

what’s the piece about?

Noten hands you a chewing kit, you chew the gum and send it back to him. In return he’ll give you a replica of your chewed creation but this time as a wearable brooch made out of silver or gold. Anyone can become a jewellery designer.

 

how’s that faux?

It is triggering to see the combination of the famous green gum pack next to the golden jewellery pieces when you encounter the work in the museum. Questions arise and curiosity grows. Then you realize the piece was created from saliva and teeth, and the gum pack is a replica of the real “doublemint gum” brand.

doublemint_0.351

Wrigley's Doublemint Gum

 

 A treasured replica

Ted Noten copies the recognizable design of the pack to attract the viewer’s eye and make the subject clear as most of us know this brand. As an audience you are appealed by what you think it is, but it actually isn’t. He fools us, trying to get our attention, and succeeds. However he adds his own instructions and name, and through a simple gum pack, sets the rules.

Also, the final pieces shown in the exhibition are the golden replica, which aren’t what the chewers created. It is a copy, even though it is more valuable than the original, it is still a copy, an imitation.

“It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it sometimes follows function (…)” (Het Nieuwe Instituut booklet)

In this case, no one would have worn a sticky piece of gum on themselves, but many would adore wearing a golden reproduction of what came out of their mouths (and still proudly say they made it). The function of the final piece is the reason why they accept the falseness of it.

There is a clear link between Chew your own brooch by Ted Noten and The Transylvania Archive by artists Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko (http://designblog.rietveldacademie.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/VanilleOugen_screenshot.jpg). These three artists are trickery masters and no one blames them for it. Both of the pieces question the capacity of viewers to see through the surface and discern its core. Imitation is used plentifully and effectively but it isn’t perceived as immoral. As a matter of fact, imitation is the powerful characteristic that elevates them.

In conclusion, the copy of the gum pack served the function to explain the project visually, and the golden jewellery which is a reproduction of the actual creation serves the function to be functional.

 

Belonging somewhere – About Trends and being trendy


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

Having initially planned to interview an at the moment very hot graphic-designer as a foundation for my essay on contemporary design practices, I have been busy preparing myself for the last few weeks. When the person realized that I was not only interested in paying credit to her work, but more on taking it as a starting point for a broader discourse, she must have somehow felt offended, which then lead to not answering my messages anymore.

But maybe this unpleasant situation is a way to grasp something much more important. Something she shares with millions of other designers. By name: The fear of getting lost in the digital haze of simulacra through not being present in the right discourse. The fear of being rumbled and detected as: a Trend.

That leads me to the questions: What is behind the designers glimmering self-promotion facade in the haze of social-media? How aware are graphic designers about the form of language they use? And last but not least: How does this influence the increasing visual conformity in contemporary design?

As modern graphic design has one of its major roots in the post-war development of Swiss Style it might be worth having a look at its approach in order to deal with the questions raised. Since figures like Emil Ruder, Helmut Schmid, Hans-Rudolf Lutz and Wolfgang Weingart amongst others were very aware of the designers` responsibilities towards their work as well as society, the relation of form and content played a crucial role.

With the appointment of Emil Ruder as a teacher at the Kunstgewerbeschule Basel in 1942 things started changing in Switzerland. Breaking with the tradition of symmetrical and dogmatic grid-based layouts the young Swiss typographer defined new rules for a new mind-set, challenging his fellow designers.

Typography at this time was a heavily discussed field from the highest sensibility. Only the smallest disagreements about the fonts chosen and the way they were used, led to outrageous debates.

As a result of that Ruder was constantly pushed to defend his position. This made him very aware of the design decisions he took and led to him consolidating a clear personal attitude – which inspired generations after him. But how did it really look, his attitude?

Adrian Frutiger, French type-designer and close friend of him, explains it in the preface to Ruder`s book “Typographie” rather well:

“For Emil Ruder space has never been merely a lifeless paper surface to be covered with lettering or ornamentation at will. In his hands the passive background transformed into a vital and active foreground. Every piece of typography thus becomes a picture in which black and white are played off against each other; indeed, an effect of depth is often created, the eye being led by lines or rows into a third dimension.

Letters, words and groups of text form perfectly legible elements in space but are at the same time figures moving on the paper scene; designing in type – typography – might almost be said to be akin to staging a play.

In spite of his bent for pictorial thinking, Emil Ruder is never tempted to indulge in merely playful designs in which the actual purpose of printing – legibility – is lost. He himself writes in the introduction to his book: “The printed work that cannot be read becomes a product without purpose””

 

1960-radikale-liste

 

However Emil Ruder took a very clear position, not only design-wise. With the creation of political posters, like the one shown, he actively engaged in the societal debate. And that directly leads me to the work of probably his most famous student: Helmut Schmid.

After completing a typesetting education in Germany, Austrian designer Helmut Schmid got accepted at the Kunstgewerbeschule and studied there together with people like Karl Gerstner and Hans-Rudolf Lutz.

Despite his very international career right after graduating he remained faithful to Ruders philosophy. In some sense he even intensified it. After leaving Basel, Helmut Schmid´s career led him from Scandinavia over Canada to Japan, where he finally ended up introducing Swiss typography to his students at Kobe Design University until 2012. Besides that, Schmid realized two projects I want to point out in order to show his approach:

Firstly, Helmut Schmid was initiator of the so-called typographical reflections – a series of booklets constantly responding to current political events. In the example shown Schmid illustrates a newspaper article about former US-president George Bush mixing up the two terms democracy and hypocrisy.

 

Unbenann43

 

Secondly, Schmid developed a completely new corporate design for the social democratic party in Germany and the successful campaign for his namesake, the old-chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Unbenannt2

Unbenannt

The magazines designed for that campaign were inspired by a series of covers Hans-Rudolf Lutz created for the Typografische Monatsblätter ™ in 1977. For that Lutz mimicked the title-page-designs of popular magazines and adapted them to the format of the tm, showing how consumers mostly read title pages by its visual appearance only. Helmut Schmid made use of that effect and imitated Germany’s most popular tabloid in order to mislead voters and promote his candidate.

Unbenannt4

Having mentioned Hans-Rudolf Lutz twice so far, it is necessary to say some things about him: Lutz was – besides his study-time in Basel – active in the expression typographique group in Paris and later on, busy teaching typography to famous schools in Switzerland, Germany and the US. Lutz also had – like Ruder and Schmid – a political approach towards design. Through running his own and still existing publishing house, he released important books not only on graphic design and educational topics, but also on literature. For example he printed editions of the, at that time, boycotted Marxist author Konrad Farner in order to make his work accessible for people.

In an interview with Eye Magazine Lutz explains his work with the following words:

“I want to put across an educational approach which is a socio-political ideal. But even if I didn’t want that – and this applies to all designers – there is no such thing as neutral typography. No one can produce design or write texts which say nothing.”
Unbenannt3
Being aware of this, the term of “attitude” played a central role in Helmut Schmid’s work. As part of a research project at University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf in 2005 a monograph with the title “design is attitude” was published. In addition to documenting Schmid’s graphic design work, he wrote about his personal approach to typography and his general design philosophy. The following passage (out of the book) sums up his understanding of graphic design rather well.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2016-12-03 um 20.54.12

 

There was, of course, also a time after Ruder, Schmid and Lutz – a time of even louder rebellion against the Swiss Style of typography, aiming for a not yet existing, complete freedom in design. One of those revolutionaries, for example, was the third Ruder-student Wolfgang Weingart – a designer questioning his teachers’ attitude just as Ruder did in his early years and paving the way for numerous aesthetic developments taking place in later decades. With Weingart graphic design reached a breaking point, because he made the debate about Swiss Style become international. April Greiman, an American graphic designer visited Weingart (who later became a teacher at Kunstgewerbeschule) in Basel and took his ideas to the US, where she again inspired people like David Carson. Also Neville Brody teaming up with Erik Spiekermann in London began breaking, bending and bounding typography-rules in exciting experiments.

At this point I would really like to introduce a quote by Hans-Rudolf Lutz, who spoke with the Eye magazine about the repetitive circle of renewal in graphic design:

“Time and again, individual pioneers, or groups, emerge who achieve a perfect fusion of form and content. Then comes a whole wave of imitation, which reduces the form to an aesthetic shell. A while back, everything was put through the Ruder mill, then it was Weingart or Brody. Now it is Carson.”

Perhaps these words of Lutz also made Wolfgang Weingart think, as he questioned his experimental works in a later period in which he discovered simplicity again. He clearly said: “I do not know where we are heading to in typography. Maybe we come back to Ruder again.” – as he wanted to shout: “Look at this world-wide chaos – let us find the way to our roots again!”

And today this is, more than ever before, one of the big challenges. To give the things we design meaning again and prevent us from getting lost, like I mentioned in the beginning.

Although the things raised are only small observations, they still can be taken as an example to show how the designers’ relation to what was called “attitude” formed in a time of hardened structures and endless possibilities.

In that sense: Do not let ourselves be overcome by the tempting resources of endless aesthetical trends, but instead consciously approach our designs in order to make them either different for a reason or sustainable for a purpose. But never trendy, just because of a need to belong somewhere.

 

Sound Sock


Saturday, May 16, 2015

 

Startingpoint

The startingpoint to my design project  was my interest in costumemaking and theatre. I arranged a meeting with the costumedepartment of the Nationale Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam. During my visit I gained insight into the process of costume making and was struck by the amount of detail, creativity and knowledge that goes into every piece.

What inspired me most was the fact that the goal is to create the perfect illusion, to make something look like the real thing in order to make a play, character or story believable.

First Tryouts

To kick off my research I applied the idea of creating the perfect illusion onto the example of a sock. The questions I asked myself were:

 

-How is a sock constructed?

-What happens when commonly used materials are replaced?

-When is a sock a sock?

 

tryout2

 

When taking a closer look at my try-outs it was clear that replacing common materials with new ones not only affected my object’s appearance but could potentially change its function. All of a sudden that sock had turned into something more. I decided to investigate this aspect more closely by moving away from the idea of simply creating a visually authentic object, like it is mainly the case with costume making. Instead I tried to find a new or added function that would derive out of the use of a different material.

All the materials I had used so far in my research had/made very distinctive sounds. In the following steps I therefore narrowed my focus on 3 basic movements, 3 distinctive sounds and 3 different materials with the goal of making a sock that makes sound.

 

 Sound

When making music, people like to tap their feet. When I play the guitar myself the rhythms in my right foot can be reduced to these three movements:

kdungtaptick

 

 

*kdung*

*tap*

*tick*

 

 

After having limited and simplified the movements I chose three different materials that would fit each of them and represent them with a suitable sound, looking for a high pitch for the area below the big toe, a short tap for the footpad and a dull, low sound for the heel.

Metal (big toe), plastic (footpad), plaster (heel); shaped to match my own footprint as it taps the floor:

3materials

 

Final Object

To combine these three sound-elements into one wearable and therefore flexible and fitted object, I needed a third component. For that part of my final object a material research I had made earlier on during the process, a combination of jersey fabric and metallic isolation material, seemed to have all the needed qualities and even came with an additional effect: a rustling, swooshing sound as the foot is being bent, the final sound.

 

final

 

Playing the Sock

Trying to play with the sound-sock I noticed that it takes a quite some practice. Even though the number of different sounds is limited to three they can be used with a lot of diversity, combined, separated, fast and slow. The following video gives a brief idea of how the sock sounds and can be used:
 
Get the Flash Player to see this player.

 

Animal Imitations.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

It was an assignment that started out with body extensions, and ended in animal imitations. The best known or most visible aspect of a certain animal was picked out and preformed by one of the students. I personally thought they did it in a very funny way without turning it in to a joke. My favourite was maybe the video where Timo Rohula tried to seduce Maria Pedersen. Timo wore the best, most flashy outfit he could get his hands on, and danced like a crazy man. All to get some female attention. Like a tropical bird flaunting his feathers.


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