Blogs The Gradient Boris Meister

Design Fellow 2013-14 and guest writer for the Gradient ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) www.borismeister.ch

Designing for Christian Marclay’s The Clock

Despite being called a “tour de force,” “monumental,” and even “Wagnerian,” the premise of Christian Marclay’s The Clock is very basic. The movie is 24 hours long and features thousands of clips from other movies, each clip featuring a clock or a watch or a timepiece. Each clip is ordered as to play at exactly […]

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Installation view of The Clock, 2010. White Cube Masonʼs Yard, London (October 15 – November 13, 2010) © Christian Marclay. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York and White Cube, London. Photo: Todd-White Photography

Despite being called a “tour de force,” “monumental,” and even “Wagnerian,” the premise of Christian Marclay’s The Clock is very basic. The movie is 24 hours long and features thousands of clips from other movies, each clip featuring a clock or a watch or a timepiece. Each clip is ordered as to play at exactly the same time of day as featured in the particular film, therefore operating as something of a giant clock itself, running all day and all night, always in sync. It’s a fascinating experiment with time.

As a designer working on the exhibition’s marketing materials, I was used to being presented with a batch of images to work with. But as hugely popular as The Clock has been, there have only been a few images ever released. An obvious reason is that any particular moment in the film would simply look like the particular film it was excerpting, leading one to the conclusion that The Clock might be impossible to capture an image of. Another reason might be the thousands of film rights that were never collected in the making of this cinematic collage, complicated even further when used for marketing purposes. Marclay’s response to this: “If you make something good and interesting and not ridiculing someone or being offensive, the creators of the original material will like it.”

Going for a typographic solution seemed necessary, not only because of the limited amount of imagery available, but also because it would seem very arbitrary and reductive to use five film stills from a movie made of more than 2,073,600 consecutive frames, with no consistent narrative nor leading characters in it.

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Final designs

It’s interesting to think of The Clock as an anti-movie, not only because of its extensive format but also for its “anti-entertaining” qualities. Typically, a film spectator goes to the theatre to escape time or reality, but when watching The Clock, you instead focus quite specifically on the passage of time, in real time. A sort of memento mori. The Clock is no Hollywood production to be watched at the Egyptian Theater, but a challenging and meditative artist film screened in museums where people catch some parts of it sitting on very rudimentary Ikea couches.

Some early sketches proposed the idea of an “anti-trailer,” in a very dry sense of communication, even “spoiling” the whole movie on the inside of the postcard with a count of every minute in a single day, basically the full script of The Clock.

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The “anti-trailer” sketches.

 

This idea was later dismissed in favor of a different concept in the design, where textual description is abandoned over a system that would allow the design to have its independence. This graphic system was meant to be deployed on invitations and informations cards, posters, a title wall, and a few other collateral applications such as badges.

 

Neuzeit

After examining a wide selection of typefaces to use, mostly looking for geometric typefaces, the choice was set on Neuzeit Grotesk, designed by Wilhelm C. Pischner in 1932. It’s modest appearance seemed to fit the idea of emphasizing a system over one strong appearance.

The postcard is totally oversized compared to what usual postcards are. It measures 12 × 12 inches when unfolded, referring to Christian Marclay’s early records cut-and-paste works or LP covers collages and other works using vinyls as primary material.

 

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Intermediary sketches.

 

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Emma and Dave (of Discover Signs) installing the title wall at the entrance of the gallery.

 

As Marclay, I grew up in Switzerland. One of the only 24/7 grocery store chain’s logo was in some corner of my mind as a good example of how to represent a continuous activity through the day

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You can mostly find these shops in train stations where you can see the iconic clock designed by Hans Hilfiker in the 1940s. The Swiss Railway clock would stop for two seconds, for technical reasons first, but also “to give you a break and anticipate the forthcoming minute”, and then start again with its two bold hands ticking the new minute.

Then, using the “L”, the central letter of the words “the” and ”clock” put together, became an obvious solution. The two words merge into one single “image”, embedding the dynamic system in itself, as would be the title of Marclay’s artwork being at the same time the modest name and the “container” of the concept for this 24-hour movie.

TheClock

Christian Marclay’s The Clock is on view in the Burnet Gallery at the Walker Art Center until August 25. Some extended screenings are scheduled, check here for more informations.

Call for Applicants: Walker Art Center Mildred Friedman Design Fellowship 2014–2015

Above: 75 years of design at the Walker Art Center APPLICATION DEADLINE: May 14, 2014 The Walker is pleased to announce that its 2014–15 Mildred Friedman Design Fellowship is now open for application. Since 1980, the Walker’s Design department has maintained a graphic design fellowship program that provides recent graduates the opportunity to work in a professional […]

Above: 75 years of design at the Walker Art Center

APPLICATION DEADLINE: May 14, 2014

The Walker is pleased to announce that its 2014–15 Mildred Friedman Design Fellowship is now open for application.

Since 1980, the Walker’s Design department has maintained a graphic design fellowship program that provides recent graduates the opportunity to work in a professional design studio environment. Selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, fellows come from graphic design programs throughout the United States and abroad representing a diverse range of design programs, such as Art Center College of Design, California Institute of the Arts, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Eastern Michigan University, Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, NC State University, Rhode Island School of Design, Royal College of Art, Werkplaats Typografie, and Yale University, among many others.

Ideal candidates will be firmly grounded in visual design principles and the print design process with some experience in interaction design. In addition to print-based projects such as exhibition identities, wayfinding, and collateral materials, this year’s fellow will also work on select online publishing initiatives. The fellow will join an accomplished team of professionals known for creating industry-leading work. Immersed in the Design, Editorial, and New Media departments, fellows gain a deeper understanding of design, work on projects with rich, interesting content, and are expected to produce work to the highest standards of design excellence. See here and the above video for examples of the studio’s design output. The fellows will also be key contributors to the Design department’s blog, The Gradient—so an interest in the discourse of graphic design and contemporary culture is highly desirable. Fellows are salaried, full-time employees and are involved in all aspects of the design process, including client meetings and presentations through production and development. DURATION OF FELLOWSHIP: August 1, 2014 – July 31, 2015

How to apply
For consideration, submit the following materials by PDF attachments only: a letter of interest, a resume, names and contact information of 3 references, and a PDF portfolio containing 8–10 examples of graphic design work (no larger than 19 MB, otherwise your file will be rejected). Email application packets to design.fellowship@walkerart.org. No phone calls please.

For more information, visit our fellowship page.  Also check out the Walker’s job listing.

We look forward to meeting you!

 

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Maximage – Emotions & Technology

Berlin-based graphic designers Julien Tavelli and David Keshavjee are active within the group Maximage Société Suisse, a loose structure of designers, photographers, and artists working either on commissioned works or self-initiated projects. Their strong body of graphic works often explores the idea of errors and aberrations in the process of the making and how to […]

Berlin-based graphic designers Julien Tavelli and David Keshavjee are active within the group Maximage Société Suisse, a loose structure of designers, photographers, and artists working either on commissioned works or self-initiated projects.

Their strong body of graphic works often explores the idea of errors and aberrations in the process of the making and how to accept them and let them create their own new aesthetic.

 

Emotions and technology, how does this motto drive your practice? Where do we find the emotional part?

Not sure this motto really drives our practice; it’s more a punch line, though. Graphic design involves different technologies and tools. We often try to reappropriate these tools by using them in a twisted way. The emotion comes from the result, when we reach an end that surprises us.
Despite the margin of the unexpected we allow when we work, we give much importance to the final result, the print, the color, the material. In Les impressions magiques, we tried to have a feeling that would emerge from the very first page.

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Acid Test, 2010, in collaboration with Tatiana Rihs and Körner Union

 

What made you start to work analogically, besides the computerized means you already used?

We have always been super interested in printing techniques. A few years ago, we were talking with a printer and he told us that he once cut himself and some blood dropped on the offset plate. He later noticed that a few printed pages were stained with his blood.

We loved this idea, imagined some crazy drawings mechanically reproduced. The first time we tried this was with Guy Meldem and Tatiana Rihs when we processed the plates ourselves, messed around with the chemical products, and did a first poster called Acid Test. We found it interesting and so, while on a residency in New York, we tried to push the technique further.

 

Please explain how you intervene on the printing process.

We spent a week at a printer, working on-site, directly on the plates with no computer but adhesive tape, razor blades, acids, or brushes. We had to understand how the colors would overlay, how the chemicals would react, and so on. Les impressions magiques is a “best of” all the tests we did there, presenting the large palette of tools, shapes, and gestures we created and experimented with.

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Les impressions magiques, 2010. The interventions were made directly on the offset plate using several tools and chemical processes, based on ancient lithography techniques and advanced technology of offset printing. All the process was analogical and irreversible, from crop marks to overprinting. The design process became almost a part of the production.

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Various Projects (2010-2012)

 

How do you gauge errors or unexpected happenings?

We try to always anticipate what will be the final result, yet knowing there will always be something we wouldn’t have expected. We like these accidents. They are strange; you need to get used to them, and sometimes you need a couple of days before you start appreciating them.

 

You leave a remarkable signature on your works. What’s your position on “a designer as an author”?

We try not to justify our position either as designers or artists: we make forms and create our own tools that we want to use whenever there is an appropriate project in order to achieve a good result. Most of the time we try to collaborate with artists. This specific condition allows us to engage a dialogue and an attitude that cancel the boundary between designer and client. Each one brings either his rules or knowledge and we work together. The result is a cosigned printed piece by the artist and Maximage.

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Tooled Sundays (2011) is a commissioned exhibition catalogue. They worked in close collaboration with the artist to define how they would interfere with Philippe Daerendiger’s work to create new images from the installation pictures, something between the artist book and the factual catalogue.

 

What does attract you in the offset printing process?

We like to work with the offset method because it’s the standard printing device in the industry. It’s kind of high-tech, and our interventions on it are rather primitive. We like this contrast and the balance that results.

 

What other tool or process do you like to play with?

We made a couple of works using screenprinting. We also did a book only using the publishing software of a cheap print-on-demand service, messing around with the filters and everything. Basically, we like to push the boundaries of a tool or corrupt its primary use to obtain a new result.

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Commercial catalogue for an art book publishing house, made in 2013 in collaboration with Marietta Eugster

 

How do you relate to the Swiss modernist design heritage? I’m referring to your use of simple grids, sans-serif typefaces, color schemes, and also the fact that you published several “guides,” which is to me a singular Swiss-modernist attitude. 

When we were studying, we were surrounded by great examples of modernist works, and we love some of them. That being said, our goal is not to perpetuate this style. What we love in modernism was the strong attitude of the designers in how they would approach a design problematic, and that’s what we kept from this heritage. Now we try to have our own contemporary attitude and push forward our own forms, not just a reenactment of old aesthetics.

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Maximage Formula Guide, 2011

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La Grida Loca (2010) is short didactic booklet addressed to graphic design students. It presents common mistakes and solutions to them, as well as designer’s tips — in collaboration with Körner Union.

 

Your typeface Programme was just released on Optimo Type Foundry. How was it made? 

While studying at ECAL, we started to develop some scripts that would automatize the drawing process in FontLab. The first idea was to develop a contemporary-looking typeface with tools of our age. While working on it, we noted some errors due to scripting technology—they became marks of the process, like the traces left on the offset prints. We thought these “trademarks” were strong enough to be interesting so we pushed them further in order to get an identity out of them.
Primitiv is the rough cut, and we later made more calligraphic cuts. We tried to get the full use of OpenType to allow the user to switch between the different version and make his own combination of styles.

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Programme in its final version, 2013.

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David Keshavjee and Julien Tavelli’s diploma (2009) consisted in a series of posters presenting the first version of Programme.

We were not good in school,” they explain. “In Switzerland there were a lot of exhibition openings with free alcohol and good food.”… .We developed our own tools. First we worked on a program that can automatically generate a whole font (we never use serif fonts). Then with a font developed in the program, we made woodcut letters. We were interested in the process, not just the finished product.” — as they present it on Wallpaper

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… it then became Book Medium, a later version of their typeface developed for the book Typeface as Program (JRP Ringier, 2009).

 

What are the next projects?

A couple of artist books, catalogues, some posters for techno festivals, record covers, and an exhibition in Zurich. Later we want to publish a type specimen for our typeface Programme.

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Acoco (2013), by the artist and photographer Simon Haenni (also part of Maximage), is a book with almost no design traces but intensive editorial and sequencing work. It was edited by Andreas Koller and designed by Marietta Eugster and Maximage.

 

www.maximage.biz

Conversations on the Contemporary – Fall 2013

Hot off the press, here is the flyer presenting the new season of Conversations on the Contemporary—it basically lists all the great artists, designers, and thinkers we have coming to speak at the Walker. Based on the same graphic system as the previous one, the illustrations emphasize the lively exchange of ideas and references between […]

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Hot off the press, here is the flyer presenting the new season of Conversations on the Contemporary—it basically lists all the great artists, designers, and thinkers we have coming to speak at the Walker. Based on the same graphic system as the previous one, the illustrations emphasize the lively exchange of ideas and references between both artists and the public during these lectures.

See all the great events coming up, including talks by Claes Oldenburg, Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, Bjarne Melgaard, Liam Gillick and Hito Steryl, and filmmaker Sam Green on Buckminster Fuller, here.

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