Published by Empire
Closed format 210×297 mm, 20 pages
starting on November 2019, to December 2020
1st to 15th issue — 90€
Published by Empire
Closed format 210×297 mm, 20 pages
starting on November 2019, to December 2020
1st to 15th issue — 90€
To Look at Graphic Design
Critical publications dedicated to the analysis of Graphic Design are sadly few and far between today, particularly in France, but also in Europe as a whole.
Adopting an analytical and critical posture with regard to the forms and activities of Graphic Design, Sacha Léopold and François Havegeer established in 2017 a printed publication that deals with these practices. The publication works with eight authors (Lise Brosseau, Manon Bruet, Thierry Chancogne, Céline Chazalviel, Jérôme Dupeyrat, Catherine Guiral, Étienne Hervy and Sarah Vadé). For season 2018-2020 two foreign authors will work on two big issues. During that time you can still order the 15 issues pack with all the goodies!
The goals of FAIRE are as follows:
— To produce a publication based on the rhythm of the school year (appearing from October to May), for undergraduate students as well as researchers and professionals, documenting contemporary and international practices along with the history and grammar of styles.
— To publish 15 bilingual (French/English 30000+30000 characters), A4, 20-page issues per year.
— To document each issue as a unique, tentacular subject addressed by a renowned author, by encountering the authors and Graphic Designers involved.
— To consider and print an iconography that is specific to these subjects.
— To focus on emblematic practices that go beyond questions set by current trends and the perishable nature of a magazine.
— To allow authors to submit their intentions concerning thematic openings without imposing a particular subject to be treated.
— To organize events, launches, and encounters with international figures from the field of Graphic Design in connection with each issue.
— To offer subscriptions on a twice-monthly basis. You can now order a complete pack of 15 issues!
— Il s’agit de FAIRE. It’s about DOING
I am rarely convinced when I see graphic design that was originally printed in two inks reproduced in four- colour process. Before the advent of commercial colour offset printing, the elementary colours of printing — from Gutenberg to Tschichold — were black and red. In the early twentieth century, black and red were used by graphic designers not to attempt to recreate the spectrum of colours that appear to the human eye, but as graphic forces in themselves. To make a distinction. To create dynamism. To embody ideology on the page. In particular, the combination of black and red on white paper has become synonymous with Suprematism and revolutionary Russian graphic design.
A contemporary imaging workflow can enable extraordinary reproductions of these historical aesthetics. A high- resolution digital photograph of an original black and red printed book from the 1920s can be processed using a colour profile to calibrate its appearance across design, colour correction in computer software, proofing, and printing. This workflow can ultimately achieve a beautiful and precise image of that graphic artefact as it looks today, down to small details of its patination, its discoloration by exposure to sunlight, and the many more other subtleties that define it as an archival object.
But such a reproduction exhibits a strange technical anachronism. What about the constraints that originally shaped the design of that bookk — the implicit connection between the two colours of its graphics and the architecture of the one- or two-colour printing press on which it was printed? Are they not important? Can they even be reproduced?
I compare printed reproductions of the proud black and red cover of the book ‘Die Kunstismen’ (1925), designed by Russian artist and designer El Lissitzky. Published between 1967 and 2017, these images treat the material characteristics of the original book’s colour in different ways, appealing to contradictory notions of fidelity.
The acronym ACAB, often seen in urban space in the form of graffiti or stickers, first appeared in the U.K. in the 1970s, linked to punk culture, and later found a certain popularity during the social movements of the 1980s. Meaning “All Cops Are Bastards”, over the last 20 years it has become widespread in public spaces internationally, in the wake of a number of political movements, from alter-globalization groups to the French gilets jaunes, or Yellow Jackets, along with black blocks and TAZs, even spawning different variations, such as “All Capitalists Are Bastards”, “All Colors Are Beautiful” and “All Cats Are Beautiful”.
Observing how ACAB (or its numerical version, 1312) is written, allows one to traverse multiple political landscapes, as well as a number of visual cultures (anarchist, punk, hip-hop, LOL) to which this acronym has spread. It is through this scriptural, graphic and visual movement that it has become both a sign of recognition and a polysemic statement.
Three women walk into a bar. The first lives in a large apartment in Anvers, Belgium. The second is an independent Graphic Designer who founded her own studio. The third is an avatar—you might even know her—with a certain interest in creative processes, their interfaces, and their vocabularies. Together, they eat some pistachio nuts, order vodka, and are not at all sure about getting up the next day to teach at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. But together, more than anything else, they form the troubling multiple personality of Ines Cox, a Belgian Graphic Designer who met Julia Andréone and Manon Bruet in her studio in June 2019. An opportunity to develop a narrative driven by three voices and to trace the outline of a path, a practice, and a figure.
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In 1275, the kingdom of France ruled on the rights of stationarii (copyists) and librarii (librairies, the French for “bookshop”), newly emancipated from the yoke of the Church (Friedrich Karl von Savigny (author and publisher), Histoire du droit romain au moyen âge, Tome III, Charles Hingray, Paris, 1839 (1815), p. 415). The main question was and has always been, even before the invention of printing, the regulation of the circulation of writing, and the designation of those responsible for their inscription and distribution.
Robin Kinross identified the emergence of the modern figure of the typographer in the 17th century, with The doctrine of handy-works: applied to the art of printing by Joseph Moxon (Robin Kinross, Modern typography: An Essay in Critical History, Hyphen Press, London, 2004 (1992) pp. 15-16). But long before this, graphic artists, copyists, and typographers such as Geoffroy Tory and Henri Estienne the elder were both booksellers and publishers who gave much thought to their practice and the contents that they released into the public space.
It would seem that the time has come to reassess this ancient tradition, with more and more graphic artists and designers choosing to establish their own publishing houses in order to defend their editorial approach in both senses of the word—that of “editing” and the choice and organization of graphic material, but also in the sense of “publishing”, applying a certain ethic to the distribution and advertising of the contents.
Known as “the man of a hundred million covers” and for being a major actor in the history of French Graphic Design during the Trente Glorieuses, the three decades of flourishing economic and cultural activity in France following World War II, Pierre Faucheux also had a rich activity as an architect. At the end of the 1960s, Charlotte Perriand invited him to become involved in the adventure of constructing the winter sports resort called Les Arcs. “The construction of a fantasy” designed by engineer Roger Godino, Les Arcs, a different type of Savoyard resort, would find itself embodied in a particular sign, which expresses the different instincts that Faucheux had for both the space and its transformation.
The awards programme The Most Beautiful Swiss Books has been organised almost without interruption by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture since 1943. A book design award with such history, particularly in a book-making culture as rich as Switzerland’s, offers insightful perspectives on Graphic Design for publishing, the culture that commissions and values it, and the critical discourse that surrounds it.
Each year the awarded books are documented in a substantial catalogue, made by one of the graphic designers awarded in previous years. The inherently self-reflexive tendencies of such catalogues—books about books, Graphic Design in the context of Graphic Design—present stimulating yet rather fraught conditions for graphic designers to work in. Looking back over the catalogues produced during the last two decades, a conversation-through-practice is clearly legible. After a conceptually sophisticated catalogue or series (often designers have been commissioned for series of two or three catalogues) follows a simple visual document. After a modest, finely-crafted production comes something more lavish or experimental.
The 2004–2006 catalogues were conceived by Laurent Benner, a Swiss designer working in London, and designed with English designer Jonathan Hares. Laurent’s proposition for the 2004 catalogue was audacious. He contacted the printers of each of the 20 awarded books from that year and asked them to reprint a section of their book. These reprinted sections were then transported to a single Swiss bookbinder and bound, with some additional pages of front- and back-matter, to comprise the catalogue.
On the occasion of a visit to the exhibition at the MRAC Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée entitled Honey I rearranged the collection, Jérôme Dupeyrat and Thierry Chancogne continue their discussion of the controversial relationships that exist between art and Graphic Design, based on a historical collection of “artists’ posters”.
The artist’s poster or affiche is at once the traditional medium used to advertise artistic events, produced by the artists themselves, the historical medium of a certain passion for French-style painted posters and the desire of a particular artistic practice to democratize art, the symptom or symbol of potential new relationships between Graphic Design and art in an era where artists have acquired a new graphic culture and Graphic Designers a new artistic ambition.
The thematic exchanges nourished by theoretical, artistic, and graphic references taken from recent and contemporary history are punctuated by thoughts from Mathias Augustinyak, based on his experiences with designing posters for artists, artist posters, artistic posters, and the art of the poster.
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Design history as an independent discipline and field of study appears to be in trouble. Design historians complain about its diminishing influence within universities due to the ongoing instrumentalisation of higher education. The Eurocentric canon built upon values and methods adopted from art and architecture history has been contested by decolonial theories. And finally, it appears that the trust in the institution of ‘history’ itself and its meta-narratives has eroded.
A discipline that was once considered to provide reflection on what came before and guidance on what could come to be—under the auspice of a grand narrative of continuous progress—has been replaced by modest narratives, social anthropologies, and claims of the ‘end of history’.
In this article, I rummage through the ruins of design history and try to unpack what it was that we once considered design history and our design history canon, how we wrote about it and to what end. In particular, I focus on this one image: a portrait photograph of a well-known historical figure, the designer and typographer Jan Tschichold. How is it used? And what stories do we tell about it?
Designed by Cornel Windlin (with Gregor Huber), the communications of the Zürich Schauspielhaus for the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons appeared just as the collaboration between the designers and the theater ended: with the Grand Prix of the Brno Biennial in 2010, where they won first prize in the international competition, with an exhibition in Chaumont the following year at the same time as the Swiss Federal Design Award, a brief appearance in specialist magazines and on specialist sites, and then nothing at all. Once again, Cornel Windlin retreated into the shadows, leaving behind work which asserted itself through both its amplitude and completeness in the heavy silence which remained, and through the multifaceted mass of the media imagery that it reactivated. A series of seasonal posters, event posters, annual and monthly programs, booklets dedicated to each piece, invitations, flyers, graphic materials from the program for younger audiences… everything is here, set in a precisely tuned bold Unica77, digitized by the Lineto foundry with the original team of designers (along with Windlin), all coming together in that blindness inherent to times of eclipse, where the black disk chosen by Windlin as the identity of the Schauspielhaus stands out. Now, a decade later, the idea is to propose a meticulously organized reception, informed by Cornel Widlin and placed in a cavalier perspective by the analysis of Thierry Chancogne.
Photographs of works of art in an exhibition or studio setting, enlarged to the size of the wall, have become an essential and increasingly systematic element of contemporary museography. The institutional curator accompanied by his or her set designer, and the independent curator, both use them as much to recontextualize works as for their aesthetic qualities as documentary images that have become immersive and reflexive.
The obviously richer relationship that artists have with these unique images reveals in various ways what is currently at stake in the act of exhibiting.
To create a kind of retrospective of his work, in 2016 Johnathan Monk debuted a series of exhibitions entitled Exhibit Model*, which consisted of covering the walls of the exhibition space with archive photographs that documented his work in different contexts over the last 20 years. Marie J. Jean considers these staged exhibition views as a form of augmented reality: “This manner of considering the exhibition, in other words, of exhibiting the work along with the context of its appearance, reminds us that the work of art “is a place”, “establishes a place”, is “a has taken place**”.
However for Johnathan Monk, who often uses the work of other artists, isn’t it simply a way in which to appropriate his own work?”
* — Kunsthaus Baselland and Galerie Nicolai Wallner in Copenhagen in 2016, VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal in 2017, KINDL, Center for Contemporary Art, Berlin in 2019.
** — Marie J. Jean. Autour de Jonathan Monk. Les vues d’expositions comme réalité augmentée. Ciel variable, issue 109, Spring 2018, p. 56–65
In 2008, English Graphic Designer James Goggin ran a two-day workshop with design students at the Hochschule Darmstadt in Germany. The object which resulted gradually took on the appearance of a photo album, a typeface specimen, and a color chart. On the cover, the phrase “Dear Lulu, Please try and print these line, color, pattern, format, texture and typography tests for us” is clearly addressed to the online print platform for which this book was proposed as a test.
Ten years later, the offer has become more diverse and the success of such online platforms is undeniable—indeed the phenomenon has spread well beyond the field of publishing. While some bemoan unfair competition for printers, others, professionals and amateurs, see in it a freedom to print and distribute relatively well finished objects at low cost.
The possibilities of these systems of production, are multiple but nonetheless limited, and this obviously raises the question of a possible standardization of forms and formats. However, when it comes to Print On Demand, it seems that the issue is not so much the materiality of an object (the choice of format, paper or a particular manufacture) but rather the actual existence of this object itself, outside of usual channels of production and distribution.
A mine of images and ideas for architectural and urban-planning practices, the journal Archigram (1961–70) has already been the subject of close reading and analysis by architects, historians, theoreticians, and architecture critics. This study approaches Archigram from a different angle, attempting to interpret it as a successful artifact of graphic design by confronting it with the achievements of its time and other inspirational eras of editorial and environmental graphic design. It aims to explain the graphical evolution of the journal through the graphical stimuli of London—the city where the Archigram architects worked on a daily basis. It is an attempt to demonstrate that the publication, at first glance confusingly heterogeneous, is akin to a comprehensive mapping of the secret whirrs and the more obvious trends of the English metropolis, where the futuristic utopia of the dynamic city took shape in such a particular way. By identifying London’s potential during the mythical Sixties, the Archigram journal stands out as a rhizomatic image, a living mirror of the urban organism.
There are an increasing number of spaces in the field of Graphic Design where work can be promoted. Intermediary platforms between practitioners and the public can come in the form of specific tools (Instagram, for example) or even events that are organized for that purpose (festivals and exhibitions). The conference is one of these platforms. A true ephemeral editorial object, it is highly suited to the explanation and extension of the practices and methodologies of designers. It is, for certain designers, the opportunity to take stock of an approach, an inventory of finished forms, and for others, on the contrary, a pretext for the production of new, sometimes more performative, even experimental forms. Mixing fiction and pedagogy, the multilayered conferences of French graphic designer Olivier Lebrun seem to sit at the crossroads of these different approaches. In this issue, they provide a pretext for the analysis of this conference format and its significance in the context of the discipline.
© Reala, 2000
For Lineto (https://lineto.com) the Specimen plays out through forms and formats in order to promote the foundry’s typefaces: books, posters, envelopes, pamphlets, letter transfers, print ads, and video clips as well as inflatable structures and bootlegs of logotypes. When Reala published LL Biff in 2000, the specimen employed graffiti culture and its modes of distribution, along with a combination of two references: “Medium is the message”*, “Style is the message”**. For Lineto the citation is a form that allows them to distribute their typographic catalogue while promoting diverse cultural fields: “Ignorance of your own culture is not considered cool!”***
* — Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964
** — Tony Silver and Henri Chalfant, Style Wars, 1983
*** — Print ad for Lineto published in Dot Dot Dot #16, 2008 that cites The Residents, Duck Stab Poster, 1978
Getty images, 2016
The British origins of synchronized dancing—invented in 1880 by John Tiller in a cotton mill—were quickly forgotten in Berlin, where periodicals established themselves as the expression of standardization and American capitalism. The famous Tiller Girls had become the modern figure of the “New Woman”, performing in shows attracting more than four million spectators each year. A seduced Hitler asked for his own troupe: the Hiller Girls. Face to face, both periodicals look like strictly indistinguishable replicas, apart from their opposite messages.
Synchronized dancing revealed the democratic and fascist forms given to the political discourse of the Weimar Republic when the NSDAP seized power. Between the power of forms and forms of power, amid the destruction of cities, decrees banishing the use of Fraktur, and the destruction of degenerate art, those dance shows, undoubtedly because of their popularity, showed that National Socialism was using insidious and invisible strategies to empty forms of their content only to maintain their appearance intact, thus revealing a shadow practice that, in the end, turned out to be just as barbaric as world-wide destruction or the burning of books.
he Workflow research project, run by Tatiana Rhis, Guy Meldem, and Julien Tavelli and David Keshavjee (Maximage) at the Écal, is interested in current technologies of the printed object. It consists of a series of experiences that attempt to circumvent currently available production technologies, provoking coincidences and accidents with the goal of obtaining new outcomes.
More than simply questioning the possible circumvention of tools, Workflow explores technicality, modes of functioning, and flaws. In this way, the programme pursues the field of experimentation opened up by the Swiss studio Maximage since 2008. In the context of their degree project at the Écal, Julien Tavelli and David Keshavjee already combined manual and digital techniques so as to develop their own production tools, and notably their own printing methods. From their experiments have emerged, among other things, the Programme typeface, and the Les impressions magiques publication, that appears today as a manifest object of their approach.
One of the first results of the Workflow programme has been the creation of a series of colorimetric profiles that allows the conversion of digital images for printing with one, two, three, four, or five accompanying colors, whether they are basic (CMYK), pastels, fluorescent, or metallic.
The work on these profiles has two aims. It serves to increase the awareness of students at the Écal with regard to the management and theory of color, but it also allows, for the first time, the automation of operations and settings that have until now been done on a case-by-case basis through the manual use of image-editing software and CAD.
Advocating an “innovative” and “professional” solution for the treatment of color, the Écal and the Workflow programme launched the website colorlibrary.ch in 2016 and offered the profiles for sale. The platform appears as an online library that presents a large variety of profiles with different colorful combinations. The different profiles are displayed on screen, applied to images by Iranian photographer Shirana Shahbazi; they seem to replay the codes of Photoshop type images–from the butterfly to the eye, the still life to the waterfall.
Beginning with an analysis of the structure of this platform, the aesthetic and terminological languages that it summons, and their limits, we will open a number of fields of investigation, more widely linked to the question of the tools and modes of production of images.
In 2006, the publisher Artimo entrusted Linda van Deursen and Armand Mevis with the editorial direction and the Graphic Design of their own monograph, Recollected Works. Joined by Paul Elliman in writing the texts, the two Graphic Designers responded with an approach similar to that which they adopt when they accompany other artists and photographers in the creation of books whose relevance has largely contributed to the studio’s reputation. Mevis and van Deursen propose to the reader to experience their work in operation, rather than simply contenting themselves with the reproduction of the work presented as artworks in themselves. Rather than the nostalgia for a more or less formalized organization of their previous projects, the two Graphic Designers look at their previous work as the material for an autonomous project from which this book will emerge.
Such a choice directly raises the question of the constitution and transmission of a culture inherent to Graphic Design, whether it isspecifically aimed at designers or else at a much wider audience. How to transmit the issues and points of quality of a discipline itself dedicated to transmission? One must above all recognize the capacity of this eminently visual field to confront appearances.
Our study of this work will obviously reference a corpus of monographs and publications made by Graphic Designers (Christophe Jacquet, Joost Grootens, M/M (Paris), Karel Martens, Experimental Jetset, Wolgang Weingart, etc.) while at the same time looking more widely at the forms currently adopted for the transmission of Graphic Design (exhibitions, conferences, etc.). Beyond the issues discussed and the questions raised by Recollected Works, it is a matter of both pulling on the thread of the work of Mevis and van Deursen (does a continuity exist between the editorial design of Why Mister, Why? for Geert van Kesteren or the Library Of The Museum Museum of Contemporary African Art for Meschac Gaba, and the identity of the Stedelijk Museum?) and questioning the pertinence of a discourse specific to Graphic Design.
If we could attribute to Stanley Brouwn a desire to dissociate his artistic production from who he is and to reveal otherness through the mastery of his image and that of his work, we could also divine an intention to focus the public’s attention on his exhibitions. Behind the standards put in place for the communication related to his exhibitions—the use of lowercase and Helvetica exclusively, the refusal to reproduce images of his work, to produce (or allow production of) written commentary on the subject of the same work, to appear in the context of a vernissage or even to answer an interview—the artist builds his identity by way of ellipses. Since his participation in documenta 5 (1972), the stories linked to this attitude have come to draw the outlines of an artistic posture that goes beyond any one particular case. The invitation cards for his solo exhibitions provide a symptomatic example: set almost exclusively in Helvetica, the absence of uppercase, flying in the face of the graphic identity of the gallery or the host institution, they seem impossible to date, give or take twenty years.
This mastery reveals that graphic and typographic choices represent one of the spaces of neutrality built by Brouwn, like other artists and theoreticians of his generation, and generations that came after. According to one of the positions of Sol Lewitt, “conceptual artists are more mystical than rationalist,” and the case of Brouwn gives weight to this idea. Whether it be by way of a mediation adopted by the artist himself and the relationship with the institution that it entails, that of the myth of the autonomy of the artwork, of the relationship with documentation, with commentary and the analysis of an artwork or even the conditions of reception, Brouwn escapes the category of the conceptual artist and incites us to measure the contemporary echoes of his radicality.
On July 1st, 2017, just as I was about to begin research into the use of social networks by Graphic Designers, the Dutch studio Experimental Jetset posted a slideshow containing 7 images on Instagram. Entitled “P/Pa/Para/Paradiso” it presented, as a whole and in its details, their new posters for the Paradiso center for music and culture in Amsterdam. Apart from the obvious formal relationship with the Blow Up poster that they created in 2007 for the London Design Museum, this slideshow gives very few keys to read what seemed to be a new aspect of the center’s communication, something that Experimental Jetset had been working on since 1996.
Currently having over 1,500 likes and tens of comments, this post is where my article begins. An opportunity to investigate and review this collaboration, that over 20 years has taken various forms (flyers, programs, posters), along with the singular and radical practice of Experimental Jetset. And also the opportunity to provide a more theoretical view of the way that Graphic Design is shown and seen on different platforms, that have now become an integral part of the teaching and the evolution of the discipline.
Since the end of the 1990s, Batia Suter has been collecting books—second hand for the most part—that she acquires for their iconography, in such a way as to build up an image database that sits on the shelves of her personal library. All of this has become the basic material for an artwork that consists of presenting the images according to a logic of visual editing, providing them with new modalities of appearance and thus new possibilities of interpretation.
Parallel Encyclopedia is, at the time of writing, the artist’s most significant work. Ongoing since 2004, it has taken the form of a number of installations and two imposing publications from Roma Publications published in 2007 and 2016. Each version of the project is characterized by the association of hundreds of heteroclite images (historical, artistic, scientific, and technical), grouped according to typological and formal links. From one system to another, the conditions of presentation of these images taken from books are renewed: the sequencing and seriality of bound pages; constellations or, on the contrary, linear sequences of images reproduced and exhibited on wall panels; constellations or linear sequences of book pages opened and placed on flat mounts. Though the exhibited images are the same, these various exhibition possibilities determine differential readings.
Beyond the fascination that such a project can generate, this text will attempt to seize all of its complexity. To do this, Batia Suter’s work will be re-situated within the context of a history of iconographic practices that run through different fields of activities and knowledge. We will also focus on the trajectory of the images gathered in Parallel Encyclopedia and the effects of the process of remediation to which they are subjected. Ultimately, it will be a question of drawing a figure of the artist as an “editor” and of studying both the function of Graphic Design in the artist’s work and the place that we can attribute to the artist in the field of Graphic Design, a field to which Batia Suter doesn’t directly belong, but one that runs through her productions, and to which she was confronted in a concrete fashion in the context of her collaboration with the Graphic Designer Roger Willems in the design of the two volumes of the encyclopedia that, in fact, is today a reference for many artists, as much as it is for a large number of Graphic Designers.
While still a student in the Ésad Valence, Coline Sunier, along with Grégory Ambos, created a striking front cover for the booklet associated with the Zak Kyes programme, Forms of Inquiry, using a series of jewels sampled from the more or less heraldic graphic patrimony of highly local emblems.
When she founded her studio with Charles Mazé, the duo continued the work of collection, which is at the same time one of the etymologies of reading, and one of the characteristics of the conceptual aesthetic of the list that emerged in the 1970s—first, in the re-casting of the Ésad Valence’s identity in 2012-2013; then in the work created during a residency at the Villa Médicis, Come vanno le cose?, dedicated to records of 1,512 graffiti found on the walls of Rome illustrating the portrait of a mysterious survivor, perhaps imagined, of the Red Brigades; and more recently in the identity developed for the Centre d’art contemporain in Brittany.
The collection of signs of power and the traces of resistance profoundly inscribed in the always political matter of the spaces is often accompanied by an attempt at typographic translation bringing to mind the work of typification in the personal writings of Fernand Baudin, created for the catalogue of the eponymous prize in 2012.
Mitim. Three letters interpolated into a palindrome and an ambigram, /Mit/ in Dutch, as in German, means “with.” Three peaks, an effect of symmetry and circulation. The triadic structure of the sign. Of what takes place. Of what binds. Signifier, Signified, Reference.
Mitim. A typeface designed by Radim Pesko for Dot Dot Dot. Again, three characters and a distribution. Three points that follow and invite pursuit, even if the period of this essential review ceased, ten years and twenty issues later.
Mitim. A spun figure of a triangle that calls on asterism, a constellation of stars that is the figure of the constitution of meaning, at the same time being the typographical sign of changing paragraphs, or tailpiece. A prolific sign of rupture and continuation that marks the condition of every text and any periodical publication. A sign that proposes, in its form of a horizontal line of stars, an equivalent of the ellipsis, or “dot dot dot” as it is more commonly known.
Mitim. A triangular figure that refers to typographic signs of logic and mathematical relationships: consequence ·˙·, cause ˙·˙. In certain Masonic expressions, a figure that is one of abbreviation, of predictability, and of redundancy like that which is hidden in the sign: the sign of the secret to be deployed, the secret to be pursued.
Mitim. A typeface design that extends to become a self-reflexive artistic and typographic project. An alphabet that evolves and adapts to the cycle of appearances of a publication in the form of a suite.
The figure of Robert Brownjohn oscillates between New York and London, swaying between the 1950s and the 1960s, juggling, within the profusion of his production, with typographic games and photographic essays, identities on headed notepapers and advertising installations, packaging in the form of a rejected project and the opening credits that went on to become an archetype for every other spy movie. Constantly stumbling between life and ideas, the trajectory of this student prodigy of Moholy-Nagy who later became the design prodigy of swinging London is a line that never ceases to end. Whether he burned too bright or simply burned too much, this unruly genius forced the gaze of history to turn away, preferring to look elsewhere so as not to frighten the other well behaved children. Little matter the story, once it is signed Love B.J. This 10th issue of the magazine Faire contains original watercolors by Natacha Leluc.
It is a question of observing and analyzing, through this text, how the practice of certain artists and Graphic Designers is built in a relationship and reciprocity with a practice of publishing and the exhibition, specifically according to two modalities:
The exhibition imagined as an editorial process, according to a shift towards the space of the exhibition of logics of writing and shaping having their origins in the space of the book.
The exhibition catalogue considered as a space and as a mode of amplification of artistic and curatorial work, beyond the strict documentary and critical issues usually vested in this type of publication.
The text will be developed beginning with concrete cases, and will focus more particularly on Julia Born by looking at Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié, Klaus Scherübel, Yann Sérandour and Simon Starling, all while inscribing the analysis of their work into an extended history, from the phenomenon of the “gallery book” in the 16th century to the work of Marcel Broodthaers.
In the first half of the 17th century, French doctor Théophraste Renaudot launched a periodical, La Gazette. In it appeared the first “advertisements.” The initial meaning given to this term was that of rendering something public, and Renaudot, a man of multiple pursuits, endeavored then to apply his adage: “For just as ignorance dares desire, since it is impossible to desire what one does not know, even the knowledge of things makes us envious.”
These syllogistic and paradoxical relationships between the stimulation of desire, masked ignorance, and longing lead to the exploration of the tensions that exist between audience, advertising, and eroticism. Leaning on the appearance of so-called “porno” magazines, and in particular the magazine Emmanuelle (launched by éditions Opta—Office de Publicité Technique et Artistique—in 1974), Poster of a Girl undresses “heroic masculinity,” to use the expression of philosopher Paul B. Preciado, all while exploring what could be a “magazine of pleasure” (the subtitle of Emmanuelle) in the stark light of contemporary techniques of dressing.*
To open up Emmanuelle is, then, to open up a set of vanishing lines, from a print revolution to a cultural revolution, unveiling forms that are skilled, mercantile, or critical, the very forms in which Eros drapes himself.
* — October 13th, 2015, Le Monde published an article about Playboy abandoning full nudity on the cover of its magazine, called “Playboy rhabille ses playmates” (“Playboy dresses its playmates”). The notion of being dressed is certainly quite close to that of being covered. It does however lead to thinking around the idea of parergon, of adornment, and also of armor as habillemens, from the ancient French word for clothing, etymologically the engine, the weapon, the war machine. What new techniques of diversion and feinting does “rhabillement” (“dressing”) name?
In 2006, on the occasion of the 22nd Biennial of Brno, Peter Bil’ak proposed to 20 Graphic Designers and collectives to design posters for the exhibition that they were going to participate in: Graphic Design in the White Cube. These posters could then function on two levels: as the content for an exhibition (the newly created collection would be presented, accompanied by the sketches that led to the creation of the different posters) and in the streets of the city where the posters would be hung in order to promote and provide information about the event.
With this invitation, the designer/curator wished to respond to the idea that the exhibition space isolates Graphic Design creations from the real world, from context (commercial, cultural, historic) and from the function that is necessary for reading and understanding them. He thus chose to make the conditions of the exhibition space (in this case the Moravian Gallery) the context for the creations, and to exhibit the work of Graphic Designers rather than objects.
This strategy, which doesn’t hide its self-referential nature, was accompanied by an essay, written by Bil’ak himself; a text that continues to be regularly cited when the question of approaching the exhibition of Graphic Design as a subject arises. Our study will engage the analysis of this latter in order to question the characteristically theoretical approach of this project. It will attempt to place the reflexive, discursive approach and the editorial part of this curatorial proposition within the recent history of Graphic Design. It will also try to show how the positions taken will lead to a form of redefinition of Graphic Design.
The poster, more particularly the event poster, is a building block in the identity of French Graphic Design, in the way it organizes itself, presents itself, and states itself. However, despite being developed over 15 years by one of the major Graphic Design studios with a reputation that has been established on an international scale, the work of M/M (Paris) for the CDDB (Centre Dramatique de Bretagne) Théâtre of Lorient has largely not been examined in relation to this tradition.
The posters made by M/M (Paris) for the CDDB are remarkable on more than one level: the timescale of the work, for one, along with the consistency of its principles (black and white text related to a photograph reproduced in four colors), and the power of the relationship that exists between Graphic Designers and their client, CDDB director Eric Vigner. If that is not enough, one can also highlight the critical dimension of these posters, as much in relation to theatre as Graphic Design, while also emphasizing their singularity and their innovative character, in direct rupture with the habits of the French cultural poster.
We could continue to argue over the necessity of dealing one-by-one with the points raised by this work, but we prefer to look at it as the unpublished journal of M/M (Paris) that speaks about them, their work, and the world. “But it is not like surfers who advocate ‘surf’ culture. We are not advocating a Graphic Design culture” (M/M (Paris)). Commissioned by, and an integral part of, the CDDB project, these posters are intimately linked to the career of M/M (Paris), and they contain numerous fragments from it: voyages and busy places, steps along their route, traces of other projects, such as catalogues by Yohji Yamamoto, or a collaboration with Björk who, photographed during the making of the cover for her Vespertine album, became, with photographer Inez van Lamsweerde, the protagonist of Duras’ Savannah Bay. It will therefore be necessary to follow the trail laid by these clues, and to propose a reading of it.
Though many Graphic designers write about their projects or their practice, it seems that this is often a priori, in the context of a statement of intent associated with a call for offers for example, or a posteriori, to provide commentary for their production. First we think and do, then we formulate in order to show others, we explain, we justify. This is finally one of things at stake in our profession. In fact, most of the time emphasis is placed on a context, a discourse or a result. Ultimately, we rarely speak of “during”, of the moment of “doing”, probably because it consists more of discussions – sometimes even negotiations – and mail exchanges, than of design itself. This is what interests us here.
This issue, with its different voices, has been created in two stages. First, we will look at our “studio” work within Spassky Fischer for the communication and identity of the Mucem of Marseille (Musée des civilizations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée). Rather than explaining the approach or choices of the Graphic Designers, it is our intention to take a look, intentionally devoid of hindsight, at a project that we work on every day. To speak about its ambition, its evolution and development due to the contact with the different participants from the museum, of our place as designers in the face of a cultural institution such as this.
During the second stage, we will question other designers on their experiences in similar contexts: Experimental Jetset, Bureau Mirko Borsche, Cornel Windlin, OK-RM, Mevis & van Deursen, Strobo, Roosje Klap, Studio Dumbar. An opportunity to provide a wider view of the day to day activity of the discipline.