Blogs The Gradient

Another Look Inside Hippie Modernism

We cut a longer trailer for the exhibition Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, curated by Andrew Blauvelt, featuring more footage from inside the exhibition. The show closes February 28th here in Minneapolis, after which it travels to the Cranbrook Art Museum and then the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The trailer was edited […]

Insights 2016 Design Lecture Series

   Insights 2016 Tuesdays in March Join us in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Insights Design Lecture Series, with four talks by some of today’s most exciting designers. Over their careers, these visual form-makers have created vast collections of symbolic imagery—logos, layouts, photographs, alphabets—intended to elucidate the present and destined to one day delight […]

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 Insights 2016
Tuesdays in March

Join us in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Insights Design Lecture Series, with four talks by some of today’s most exciting designers. Over their careers, these visual form-makers have created vast collections of symbolic imagery—logos, layouts, photographs, alphabets—intended to elucidate the present and destined to one day delight and confound historians of the future. This year’s series features lectures from South Korean conceptualists Sulki & Min, music-packaging designer Brian Roettinger, design curator Jon Sueda, and Susan Sellers, cofounder of 2×4 and current head of design at the Met.

If you can’t make it in person, please tune in to our live webcast on the Walker Channel and participate through Twitter (#Insights2016). For educators, AIGA chapters, and anyone else who might want to throw their own viewing party, have a look at our Viewing Party Kit.

 

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Sulki & Min Choi (Seoul, KR)
March 01, 7 pm (tickets)

When asked what their studio motto might be, designers/artists Sulki Choi and Min Choi replied, “Clarifying is our business, obscuring is our pleasure.” Indeed, this tension between fact and fiction, concrete communication and abstraction, reveals itself throughout their practice as the designers create what they call “impurely conceptual” work. The married couple founded their design practice in Seoul in 2003, focusing primarily on the cultural sector with projects such as graphic identities for the BMW Guggenheim Lab, architecture firm Mass Studies, and the 2014 Gwangju Biennale; the guest art direction of Print Magazine’s 2012 “Trash” issue; and an extensive graphic system for the architecture exhibition Before/after.

Working in both Roman and Hangul alphabets, their intense approach to typography reveals a deep interest in language. Whether systematically inverting English oxymorons in a type specimen poster or dissecting the typographic relationship between Hangul vowels and Taoist yin-yang symbolism through a series of patterns, much of Sulki & Min’s work exerts an almost scientific approach to the use of words, reminding us that language is, in fact, the earliest and perhaps greatest “kit of parts” at a designer’s disposal.

In 2006, the duo founded Specter Press, a publishing imprint that presents monographs of Korean artists. Sulki & Min are also one half of the artist collective SMSM, which is an “applied-art collective devoted to health and happiness.” Their work has been exhibited internationally and Min also curated Typojanchi, which is a typographic biennial in Seoul. Sulki teaches design at the Kaywon School of Art & Design, and Min teaches at the University of Seoul.

 

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Brian Roettinger (Los Angeles, US)
March 08, 7 pm (tickets)

The work of graphic designer/artist Brian Roettinger is an uncanny union of punk ideology with a conceptually driven mode of modernist design. He frequently employs architectural strategies such as repetition and structure (think die-cuts and folds) while subverting this sense of order by manipulating the production process in unexpected or “wrong” ways (think pulling the sheet out of the printer before it is done). Hailing from Los Angeles, Roettinger launched his own record label in 1998 called Hand Held Heart and began to release albums by bands such as the Liars, No Age, and the Chromatics, featuring artwork that he designed and produced himself. The moniker Hand Held Heart came to encompass all of Roettinger’s creative output—curating, publishing, editing, artwork—including his stints as the in-house designer for the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), art director for LA–based fashion magazine JUNK, a variety of projects for clients such as Yves Saint Laurent and MIT Press, and most obviously, his ongoing work in the music industry. As Rolling Stone’s 2009 Album Designer of the Year, Roettinger has created album artwork for Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet, and most recently, Florence + the Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. In 2013, Roettinger was commissioned to design Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album, which was nominated for a Grammy (his second nomination).

With friends, Roettinger was also responsible for celebrating the now-legendary Colby Printing Press in LA, for which he created an official archives, curated an exhibition, and designed and edited a beautiful catalogue.

 

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Jon Sueda (San Francisco, US)
March 15, 7 pm (tickets)

Over his career, Jon Sueda has carved out a unique practice for himself as a designer, curator, and educator—a practice that has allowed him a curious perspective simultaneously creating design, generating dialogue about the field, and helping shape the designers of the future. Originally from Hawaii, Sueda has bounced around the globe, working in California, Holland, and North Carolina, and finally founding his design studio, Stripe, in 2004. Since then he has created work for a variety of cultural clients such as Chronicle Books, the New York Times Magazine, the Architecture Association (London), and REDCAT Gallery. For seven years, Sueda served as director of design for the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, creating all of their exhibition graphics, catalogues, and branding. He is also the art director of Exhibitionist magazine, a journal “by curators, for curators”; coeditor of Task Newsletter, a journal of design; and a co-organizer of AtRandom events, a “community-sponsored public gathering of designers, artists, writers, and researchers within the Los Angeles area.” Sueda is currently the chair of the MFA design program at the California College of the Arts.

As a curator, Sueda creates shows that endeavor to contextualize aspects of the design field. His most recent exhibition, All Possible Futures (SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco), tackled the subject of speculative design, examining the conditions in which graphic designers are able to create work outside of the typical client-based relationship. Featuring an international range of practitioners, the show and its accompanying catalogue have been highly influential, mapping the connections between speculative fiction, academic investigation, think-tank innovation, and contemporary art.

 

Susan Sellers (New York, US)
March 22, 7 pm (tickets)

From her early career working with Dutch studios Total Design and UNA to cofounding a preeminent global design agency to teaching at the Yale University School of Art to her recent appointment at the world’s third most-attended museum, Susan Sellers has kept herself at the epicenter of some of the world’s most exciting design and cultural scenes. She has actively explored issues as varied as data visualization, screen-based technologies, critical design, material culture, brand development, and craft. In 1994, Sellers cofounded 2×4, an agency with offices in New York, Madrid, and Beijing. Its massive output includes anything from brand work for Vitra to in-shop displays for Prada, environments for Nike, identity work for the Brooklyn Museum, pattern work for Kate Spade, and the design of a 7-screen cinematic experience for Kanye West. On top of her work at 2×4, Sellers was recently appointed head of design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she will oversee a team of designers, installers, and architects to execute the full range of the institution’s design needs, including print materials, gallery installations, and signage. In March 2016, the institution will unveil its newly designed brand—Sellers’s Insights lecture will be her first public presentation of what should be a fantastic new identity.

Sellers is also one of the core faculty members of the MFA graphic design program at the Yale University School of Art, where she helps shape one of the most prestigious design programs in the world. She has written about design for such publications as Eye, Design Issues, and Visible Language and her work has received countless awards.

 

 

Printing of the Insights 2016 poster courtesy the Avery Group at Shapco Printing, Minneapolis.

Counter Currents: Tomás Saraceno on Buckminster Fuller

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Dread Scott to Experimental Jetset and Lucky Dragons—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here artist Tomás Saraceno links the work […]

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Presented in conjunction with the exhibition
Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Dread Scott to Experimental Jetset and Lucky Dragons—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here artist Tomás Saraceno links the work of R. Buckminster Fuller with Aerocene, his “series of air-fueled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth.”

This is a memory of a story about the construction of a telescope. The first day we built a telescope of small dimensions, we looked through it and could not see anything. Then we built a bigger telescope, four times as big. We looked again and… nothing. So we built an even bigger telescope and we kept going… The telescope got bigger and bigger. Still… nothing. There is a moment when the telescope gets so big that others can see our telescope first, rather than, through it, us seeing them.

US Pavilion for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and Shoi Sdao, erupts in flames. Montreal, May 20, 1976

US Pavilion for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao, erupts in flames. Montreal, May 20, 1976.

“Welcome aboard Spaceship Earth!” R. Buckminster Fuller said while looking up to the sky and downward to the ground. He noted, “We are all pilots.” Astronaut Don Pettit, aboard of the International Space Station, could have easily replied to him, “From my orbital perspective, I am sitting still and Earth is moving. I sit above the grandest of all globes spinning below my feet, and watch the world speed by at an amazing eight kilometers per second. The globe is equally divided into day and night by the shadow line, but being 400 kilometers up, we travel a significant distance over the nighttime earth while the station remains in full sunlight. During those times, as viewed from Earth, we are brightly lit against a dark sky. This is a special period that makes it possible for people on the ground to observe space station pass overhead as a large, bright, moving point of light… Ironically, when earthlings can see us, we cannot see them. The glare from the full sun effectively turns our windows into mirrors that return our own ghostly reflection.”

Telescopes turn into microscopes, and all universe fits into it. From where I stand, I found the Universe in a spider web, its harmonic rhythms in the cosmic vibration of a silky string; I found my dreams of flying cities in used plastic bags. The options are infinite. Today I feel the urgency to sense the atmosphere, and I want you to feel it too, because, in the end, we are all already on-board.

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Fifty years ago, Fuller’s Spaceship Earth was a clever and sensitive metaphor. Today, this metaphor is a reality, concrete as the particles floating in the universe: the Earth is a Spaceship, with an endless journey and limited resources. And the geological Era we live in, the Anthropocene (critically renamed Capitalocene by Jason W. Moore), by privileging the endless accumulation of capital over all other biological, geological and meteorological forms of life—demands us to re-invent our resources. This is where Bucky Fuller would have comforted us with his ability to change perspective: “There’s no energy crisis; there’s a crisis of ignorance.” To which Marshall McLuhan could have added, “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” This is “the paradoxical message that Aerocene bears: up from the sky it calls the necessity to be on earth, well-grounded.”1

When I look up, I see an Open Source Space Agency; I see Aerocene­—the opportunity to “de- and re-engineer the hydrocarbon and intellectual property infrastructures that envelop our world,”2 and to reinvent existing methods of flying in ways that do not harm the Earth. It is a new epoch without fossil fuels, engines, helium, or batteries… I want all of us to learn how to fly a 3000 m3 lighter-than-air vehicles that use only solar thermodynamics to become buoyant. We do not need to be all astronauts to explore the overview effect, because we are all pilots. By “all,” I mean it: to change the planet we can only Do-It-Together.

Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene 10.4 & 15.3 During UN COP21 Climate Summit, installation view at Grand Palais, Paris, 2015, www.aerocene.com Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Tomás Saraceno, 2015

Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene 10.4 & 15.3, installed at Grand Palais, Paris, 2015, during the UN COP21 Climate Summit. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Tomás Saraceno, 2015

Notes

1. Michelon, Olivier. “I bind the Sun’s Throne with a burning zone” in Tomás Saraceno (Ed.) Aerocene. Berlin: 2015.

2. Shapiro, Nicholas. “Alter-Engineered Worlds” in Tomás Saraceno (Ed.) Aerocene. Berlin: 2015.

Tomás Saraceno was born in Argentina in 1973 and is based in Berlin. His oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research, influenced by the world of art, architecture, natural science, and engineering; his floating sculptures and interactive installations propose and explore new, mindful ways of inhabiting and perceiving the environment. He attended the International Space Studies Program in 2009 at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley, California. The same year, Saraceno presented a major installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale and was later on awarded the prestigious Calder Prize. Saraceno’s work has been shown internationally, in solo and group exhibitions such as Aerocene at Solutions COP21, Grand Palais, Paris, Arachnid Orchestra.Jam Sessions at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Le Bordes du Monde, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), In orbit at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21 in Düsseldorf (2013–16) On Space Time Foam at Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2012–13), and Tomás Saraceno: Lighter than Air at the Walker Art Center (2009), among others. Since 2012, he is Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). His work has also been exhibited in public museums like Museum for Contemporary Art Villa Croce, in Genoa (2014), The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2012), and Hamburger Bahnhof, in Berlin (2011–12). Saraceno lives and works in and beyond the planet Earth.

Counter Currents: Thomas Lommée on Modular Systems

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Thomas Lommée of the […]

Counter Currents_7Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Thomas Lommée of the Brussels-based design studio Infrastructures weighs in on modular systems of the 1960s.

Being rooted in a context that offered easy access to both hallucinogens as well as pioneering new technologies, the works of the more “action-oriented” hippies produced perceptions, insights, and methodologies that have been guiding me in my daily practice as a designer ever since I’ve discovered them during my studies at the IwB (Institute without Boundaries) in Toronto, now almost a decade ago.

Buckminster Fuller’s lectures made me understand that things should be conceived within larger systems in order to support both the natural and technological cycles that produced them in the first place. Steward Brand’s observations pointed at the fact that constant iteration isn’t about correcting mistakes but rather about responding to an ever-evolving context. Victor Papanek’s books told me to measure success by impact rather than appearance, while Ken Isaacs’ manuals assured me not only to focus on the object but to also carefully consider the design of its surrounding services if I was to kickstart a co-creative design culture.

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Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973/2015

Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973

Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973

Ken Isaacs, page from How to Build Your Own Living Structures, 1974

A page from Ken Isaacs’s How to Build Your Own Living Structures, 1974

All these observations introduced me to a way of looking that somehow felt right. A perception that a certain point in time almost seemed to be forgotten but that is now being widely rediscovered by a whole new generation of people. Young, engaged, and (more than often self-) skilled citizens are building upon these very same principles while applying a completely new set of tools.

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On the left: Steward Brand book “How Buildings Learn” and on the right: Thomas Lommée “Mural, the next big thing … “

Autarkytecture further explores the OpenStructures model on an architectural level.

 Thomas Lommée & Christiane Hoegner, Autarkytecture, commissioned by Z33, Hasselt, 2013

Today hippies write code rather than pamphlets, activists share 3D files rather than photocopied manuals, and protestors contribute to peer-produced texts rather than silkscreened manifestos. Though the content of what they are producing syncs up neatly with what was being produced 40 years ago.

Even though this contemporary movement is still largely operating within the margins of society, it has become globally interconnected and therefore holds the promise of pushing this thinking from the margins of society towards its very core. It is representing a movement that, in my view, is becoming increasingly important because it offers us a glimpse on a more human-oriented and value-driven networked environment, while at the same time reminding us about the initial ambitions of those who imagined the World Wide Web in the first place.

 

"Rethink the modular" USM exhibition Milan Furniture Fair, April 2015

Rethink the modular, USM exhibition Milan Furniture Fair, April 2015

The OS (OpenStructures) project explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. It initiates a kind of collaborative Meccano to which everybody can contribute parts, components, and structures. The ultimate goal is to initiate a universal, collaborative puzzle that allows the broadest range of people—from craftsmen to multinationals—to design, build, and exchange the broadest range of modular components, resulting in a more flexible and scalable built environment.

OpenStructures are influenced by Ken Isaacs’s Living Structuresopen design, not only designing the object but also the manual and offering this (almost) for free.

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Jesse Howard & Unfold, OpenStructures WaterBoilerFilter (left); OpenStructures parts on grid. Photo: Kristof Vranken for Z33

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Thomas Lommée, Jo Van Bostraeten & Andrea de Chirico,Triangle bike (Cargo version) (left); graphic by Thomas Lommée (right)

 

Thomas Lommée is the founder of Intrastructures, a pragmatic, utopian design studio, that applies product-, service- and system design as a tool for change. He is also the initiator of the OpenStructures project, a hands-on design experiment that explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. Next to his activities as designer / design researcher Lommée has been teaching at the Social Design research program at Design Academy Eindhoven’s Master course and is the co-founder and mentor of the ENSCImatique at the ENSCI in Paris. He lives and works in Brussels.

Counter Currents: Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) on Marshall McLuhan

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing Counter Currents series invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) discusses Marshall […]

Counter Currents_7Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing Counter Currents series invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) discusses Marshall McLuhan

“All media are extensions of some human faculty—psychic or physical.” —Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is The Massage

In front of the Eiffel Tower the main attraction of the 1900 world’s fair in Paris was the Palais de l’Electricité. Lit with thousands of electrical lights, it presented electricity to a large consumer market and a new era took off. In the century to come, a form of energy nobody quite expected made mankind’s ideas of the ultimate extension of the human faculty lift off in record time. At the same time, the world went through several radical cycles in society, from bright moments of insight to dark periods to a multitude of fights for freedom. As one of the few students who used coding as a tool I was aware of Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the Mass Age when I graduated in 1997 from the Design Academy in The Netherlands.

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects 1967; bottom: Peter Moore, Eye from The Medium is the Massage 1967 Photo by Peter Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, 1967; Peter Moore, Eye from The Medium is the Massage, 1967. Photo by Peter Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Considering McLuhan’s notion that “the wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye, clothing an extension of the skin, electric circuitry an extension of the central nervous system,” I made a small exhibition attempting to create awareness of the impact of these extensions to the mind at the moment the computer would become part of the extension. I needed five installations to cover all physical senses, seven to come as close as I could to the psychic, and all of them interactive, using Macromedia Director, to involve the visitor as much as possible. I was interested in the effect of cybernetics on our thinking, the way it would change how we see ourselves—just as, for instance, the camera did, in particular with the Earthrise photo taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 and featured on the cover of Whole Earth Catalog a year later.

In the nearly 20 years since my graduation, technological developments have taken off even more. Looking back from now one could imagine that since the Palais de l’Electricité we’re about halfway to actually knowing where this evolution will truly lead us to. Along with the scientific progress, how will information and stories fluidly move from one medium to the next? What will we filter out along the way? Will we only share and like what can be bought, or also what is not for sale? What do we choose to see, or who is the one that makes that choice? And will borders between the digital and physical completely vanish when VR and AR are becoming consumer products in 2016? An Internet of Humans in between reality and delusion? Or would the extension eventually become the replacement of what is was supposed to extend?

As Cedric Price asked himself: “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” Maybe it’s about time to formulate the question. We should use the hyperconnected knowledge as a find-engine to create a new human process of self-generated thoughts about the future. Let us use technology as a tool to take us from doubt to a curiosity driven by an idealistic observation. We have reached the point where a long series of smaller changes in cybernetics became significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. We are the tipping-point generation.

Data as an extension of the superorganism of all mankind’s thought.

As two persons meet, new forms of computational movement emerge. Actions initiate reactions, and information is felt as a spatiotemporal incursion within the realm of bodies. Yet, expansion becomes synonymous with dispersion. Movement becomes frantic, immediacy foreign. Distraction is not an interruption, but the very condition of bodies in code. Project : lustlab.net/#type-dynamics

Type/Dynamics, LUST/LUSTlab in collaboration with Ruben van Leer and Lukáš Timulak, recorded at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2014. As two persons meet, new forms of computational movement emerge. Actions initiate reactions, and information is felt as a spatiotemporal incursion within the realm of bodies. Yet, expansion becomes synonymous with dispersion. Movement becomes frantic, immediacy foreign. Distraction is not an interruption, but the very condition of bodies in code.

Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen is a visual philosopher in art, design and technology. He studied at the Technical University of Delft and the Design Academy Eindhoven. Within his autonomous and applied work he researches from the perspective of several disciplines the affect and effect of digital culture with the aim of humanizing the unhuman and exploring the missing links between the digital and the physical. Besides giving talks at numerous places around the world, he teaches at several art academies including Sandberg Institute Amsterdam, curates and initiates exhibitions, symposia, thinktanks, and hackathons, and is one of the supervisors of the Sandberg@Mediafonds masterclass. He is co-director of the multidisciplinary design studio LUST and the research-based art and technology laboratory LUSTlab. Here new pathways for art and design are explored on the cutting edge where new media, information technologies, performance, architecture, urban systems, graphic and industrial design overlap.

Bricks from the Kiln—Issue 1

  Given the relative lull of releases in the arena of journals/periodicals/readers focused on graphic design and typography in the past few years, we’ve been intrigued by the recent announcement of Bricks from the Kiln and ultimately curious to check out the iterations of editors Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart’s approach to assembling varied content […]

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Given the relative lull of releases in the arena of journals/periodicals/readers focused on graphic design and typography in the past few years, we’ve been intrigued by the recent announcement of Bricks from the Kiln and ultimately curious to check out the iterations of editors Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart’s approach to assembling varied content (where, as the editors elaborate on below, a body of collected content is analogous to a collection of bricks—each “a piece of a larger structure,” each “a part of a sum”—that are fitted together in the process of editing and designing).

This debut issue of Bricks from the Kiln features contributions from Ron Hunt, Natalie Ferris, Ralph Rumney, James Langdon, Mark Owens, Jamie Sutcliffe, Iain Sinclair, Traven T. Croves, Parallel School, Catherine Guiral, and Max Harvey, He Pianpian, & Li You.

For those of you in London, Bricks from the Kiln is set to launch at Tenderbooks on Thursday, February 4th. There will also be an exhibition of material relating to, and stemming from Bricks from the Kiln #1 on display at Tenderbooks until Saturday, February 13th.

To help kick-off this debut issue and to shed some light on how Bricks from the Kiln came to be, Andrew and Matthew have shared with us their insightful Afterword.

 


 

ASIDES TO OUR TIME AND TO OUR CONTEMPORARIES
(An Afterword from the Editors)

Between 1917 and 1921 Ret Marut published thirteen issues of his anarchist, satirical magazine Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brick-Burner or The Brick-Maker). It was ‘the size, shape and colour of a brick’,1 and appeared at irregular intervals from Munich (and later Cologne) before Marut escaped to Holland, London and eventually Tampico in Mexico, where he would become the elusive author B.Traven. As former BBC Television Managing Director turned literary detective Will Wyatt notes, ‘the bricks were fired by Ret Marut to comment upon the corrupt society in which he lived and to begin the rebuilding of a new and better world.’2 Der Ziegelbrenner included ‘sporadic laconic news glosses’,3 which were listed on the cover of the second issue under the heading, ‘Ziegeln aus dem Brenn-Ofen: Randbemerkungen zu unserer Zeit und zu unseren Zeitgenossen’ (Bricks from the Kiln (or Combustion Furnace): Asides to our time and to our contemporaries).4

 

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For us, ‘Bricks from the Kiln’ implies something in flux and liable to crack. A piece of a larger structure. A part of a sum. Fittingly, many of the bricks included here stem from larger bodies of work and ongoing research. Some are chapters lifted from forthcoming books, or investigations begun but forced aside. Others are unrecorded talks, or previously unpublished autonomous editions in their own right.

In preparing BFTK#1 we were keen not to arbitrarily hang the issue on an overarching theme before the fact, but rather to adopt a more responsive approach, allowing connections to develop organically through both the editorial and design processes. In particular, the conversation with Ron Hunt that opens the issue, has begun to shape much of our thinking, and here a number of threads and recurring characters begin to emerge.

 

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Guy Debord and the Situationist International loom large. Explicitly in Ron Hunt’s lapsed anarchism (pp.1–20) and in Natalie Ferris’ essay on the ghostly presence of the artist Ralph Rumney (pp.21–34). And more tangentially in the rural psychogeography of Westering (pp.65–88), in vaporwave’s détourned ‘music optimized for abandoned malls’ (pp.45–55) and in ‘photographs of grand coupes and synthetic sweets’ captured on dérives around Beijing (insert #2).

 

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Ron also identifies a preoccupation with the peripheral and the overlooked, touching on the difficulties of recuperation. Again, this sentiment seems to run throughout these pages, peripheral characters and locales a constant presence. Marut, Rumney, Breakwell, Viollet-le-duc and Faucheux. Langcliffe, Hastings, Newcastle, Changsha, Dorset, Uxmal and Brno. A ‘necessary otherness’, as Iain Sinclair puts it.

An interest in ‘the picking up, turning over, and putting with’5 is discussed in more physical terms in our own talk from the Brno Biennial (pp.89–136) and also extends to some of the structural considerations for the issue as a whole. An initial plan had, in fact, been to produce the issue a signature at a time, as and when money was available.***** A production model not dissimilar to that adopted in Phil Baber’s first Cannon Magazine or Dieter Roth’s Copley Book: ‘a kind of visual diary squirted out during three years of spasmodic labor’.6 But as the inevitable financial holdups, printer bankruptcies and editorial concerns played out, this model seemed less and less appropriate to our needs. In this first collection of bricks we have thus attempted to maintain some of the ‘oddities’7 and specifics of original contexts, whilst still working within a cohesive structure. From Westering by Iain Sinclair, produced to exist as a standalone edition for publishers Test Centre, and to be bound into the issue as signatures I, J and K. To the decision to allow the formatting of footnotes and references to alter from piece to piece, in keeping with their original settings.

Of course, there are precedents for this kind of exploration of the periodical format that have come before and greatly inform our approach. The likes of Typographica, Icteric, Dot Dot Dot, Dieter Roth’s Collected Works and Jacqueline De Jong’s Situationist Times being of particular note. Perhaps the strongest affinity for us, though, is with Theo Crosby’s Uppercase, which ran for five issues between 1958 and 1960.

 

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Crosby was facilitator-in-chief for a specific brand of post-war British design and architecture, initiating the hugely influential exhibition This Is Tomorrow in 1956 and later co-founding the design studio Pentagram. He published Uppercase whilst working as Technical Editor for Architectural Design under Monica Pidgeon, and would subsequently take the editorial reins of Living Arts: a ‘documentary magazine’8 published out of the ICA in London. Despite its short lifespan and modest format (close to pocket size at 5.5″ x 7″), Uppercase intended to ‘deal with the whole field of visual communication’.9 Striking a balance between historical research and current work—and drawing connections between the two—it featured the work of Crosby’s own cast of recurring characters, including among others, Edward Wright, Richard Hamilton, William Turnbull, Eduardo Paolozzi, Kurt Schwitters, John McHale, Magda Cordell, Nigel Henderson and Alison & Peter Smithson. Each issue was, as Crosby put it, ‘an experiment in type within the same overall format’, an attempt at translating ‘a mass of material from an artist’10 into the specifics of print production.

Ultimately, and perhaps selfishly, BFTK#1 presents a collection of texts and projects we simply wanted to read and see more of ourselves, and that we felt would benefit from wider circulation. The hope is that it finds an audience of likeminded readers and that this first iteration provides a platform upon which to build. Inevitably—in the same way that Crosby notes in his introduction to the inaugural issue of Uppercase—‘it will be tentative, incomplete and inconsistent.’11

AL & MS

 

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Notes

1. Wyatt, W., ‘Introduction’, in Marut, R., To the Honorable Miss S… and other stories by Ret Marut a/k/a B. Traven, 1981, Cienfuegos Press, Orkney, p.viii.

2. Ibid.

3. Carr, G., ‘Lion’s heads—or just bricks and tiles? On satirical motifs and chance’, in Rasche, H. & Schönfeld, C. (eds.), Denkbilder: Festschrift für Eoin Bourke, 2004, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, p.188.

4. Marut, R., Der Ziegelbrenner, Heft 2, 1 December 1917, cover, in Marut, R. / Traven, B., Der Ziegelbrenner, facsimile, 1976, Verlag Klaus Guhl, Berlin, p.23.

5. Lichtenstein, C. & Schregenberger, T. (eds.), As Found: The Discovery of the Ordinary, 2001, Lars Müller Publishers, p.8.

***** The signature marks included at the bottom of the first page of each 8-page signature (eg. BFTK#1—A) are a remnant of this initial model.

6. Hamilton, R., ‘Introduction: Diter Rot’, in Roth, D., Copley Book, 1965, William and Norma Copley Foundation, Chicago.

7. This approach to typographic detailing and phrasing is particularly well exemplified in Richard Hamilton’s Collected Words, (Hamilton, R., Collected Words: 1953–1982, 1982, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London) of which there is a more in-depth discussion in our talk from the Brno Biennial (pp.100–102).

8. Crosby, T. & Bodley, J. (eds.), Living Arts no.1, 1963, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, p.1.

9. Crosby, T., ‘Introduction’, in Uppercase no.1, 1958, Whitefriars, London p.1.

10. Ibid., p.2.

11. Ibid.

 

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BFTK#1_Insert01_w

 


 

Bricks from the Kiln #1 will be released in early February 2016 and is available now for pre-order on the Bricks from the Kiln website: b-f-t-k.info.

Bricks from the Kiln #1
Edited and designed by Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart
170×224.764mm, 138pp. + 2 inserts
Edition of 700, ISSN 2397-0227
TTC-090, December 2015, London

Bricks from the Kiln #1 is supported by funding from Winchester School of Art

 

 

Counter Currents: Geoff Manaugh on Haus-Rucker-Co

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Tomás Saraceno to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, writer and curator Geoff […]

Counter Currents_6Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Tomás Saraceno to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, writer and curator Geoff Manaugh examines a provocative and participatory installation created by Haus-Rucker-Co in 1973.

 

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Haus-Rucker-Co, Grüne Lunge (Green Lung), outdoor installation at Kunsthalle Hamburg, 1973   Courtesy Archive Zamp Kelp, Photo: Haus-Rucker-Co

 

The best speculative art projects have a peculiar ability to come true, years later. In 1973, Haus-Rucker-Co, a “Viennese architectural collective,” in the words of Esther Choi, installed Grüne Lunge (Green Lung) at the Kunsthalle Hamburg. In essence, Green Lung was an architectural breathing apparatus; it pumped artificially conditioned indoor air through a series of inflatable ducts to a grape-like cluster of transparent plastic helmets suspended to a pole in the square outside. Visitors—that is, any public passer-by who wanted to pop his or her head into a helmet—could thus breathe the rarefied atmosphere of an art museum, inhaling airs that only minutes earlier had been gently rolling over the painted surfaces of Romantic landscape scenes and delicate statuary.

While playing with questions of inside vs. outside, of public vs. private, of enclosure vs. space, the project also came with the larger conceptual implication that air itself could be treated as a kind of readymade object. Charged with both sensory and poetic significance, air is an index of the circumstances within which it is found. Air is perfumed with context.

 

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Haus-Rucker-Co, Oase Nr. 7 (Oasis No. 7), installation at Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany, 1972

 

In its time, a commentary on everything from curatorial practices to urban air pollution, Green Lung has been oddly, if uncomfortably, upstaged today by the business practices of everyday capitalism. A café in smog-choked Beijing has begun charging its customers for clean air, for example, and this is only the latest symptom of an emerging clean-air market in China and elsewhere. Fresh air packaged from the Chinese mountains has been canned and sold to enthusiastic urban customers, even as various airs taken from idyllic foreign landscapes—the Canadian Rockies among them—are being imported by firms such as “Vitality Air,” who have found a small fortune to be made in selling atmospheres. Their products—which the CEO’s admits began as a prank—include canisters of “Lake Louise Air” and “Banff Air” (“On Back Order!”).

 

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Photo: China Stringer Network

 

A 2014 marketing stunt by a Chinese tourism firm played on this notion by setting up a temporary outdoor air bar for urban residents to give them a whiff of pristine countryside. Photos of the event look like a Haus-Rucker-Co installation, with futuristic blue air bags suspended on wires and poles, and people strapping medical facemasks onto themselves and loved ones. In other words, given a sufficiently dystopian atmospheric context, 1973’s Green Lung has smoothly transitioned from a curatorial provocation to a viable business model.

Geoff Manaugh is a freelance writer and curator, as well as the author of BLDGBLOG, a website launched in 2004 to explore “architectural conjecture, urban speculation, and landscape futures.” His latest book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, about the relationship between burglary and architecture, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in April 2016.

The Walker is looking for a Digital Designer

  The Walker’s design department is currently accepting applications for a full-time, digital designer position. In collaboration with members of the design, new media, and marketing teams, this person will work on: • web design projects • art direction of the Walker’s social media channels • art direction of the Walker’s online publishing initiatives • design […]

still-of-sandra-bullock-in-the-net-(1995)-large-picture

 

The Walker’s design department is currently accepting applications for a full-time, digital designer position. In collaboration with members of the design, new media, and marketing teams, this person will work on:

• web design projects
• art direction of the Walker’s social media channels
• art direction of the Walker’s online publishing initiatives
• design of dynamic and interactive screens throughout the museum
• development of email and online advertising templates
• development of future online publishing strategies

As a member of the design department, this position will be tightly integrated with our print, wayfinding, publishing, advertising, blogging, and programming activities. This is a highly creative position that will continue to be defined moving forward.

Read the full job description here and we look forward to your application!

PS. The Walker is also looking for a new Social Media Specialist.

Counter Currents: Fritz Haeg on the Cockettes

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Fritz Haeg discusses the […]

Counter Currents_6Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Fritz Haeg discusses the Cockettes.

When the anarchic gender-queer theater troupe left the warm circle of their Haight-Ashbury commune for a much-anticipated East Coast debut performance at the Anderson Theater nearly 45 years ago, everyone was there: Liza, Candy, Holly, Andy, John, Yoko, Gore, Truman, etc. But something fundamental was lost in translation from their West Coast hippie amateur anti-money free-for-all community across the continental chasm to Manhattan’s professional circles of downtown cool, and many of New York City’s coolest walked out before the show was even over.

 

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Fayette Hauser   The Cockettes in a Field of Lavender   1971   Photo courtesy the artist

 

To them the Cockettes were unprofessional, unrehearsed, and unskilled, qualities that endeared them to their regular hometown audience at San Francisco’s Palace Theatre. What happens when culture is formed, nourished, and developed so thoroughly in one place, for one particular community, at a certain moment, that it may not be fully appreciated or understood once it leaves? What is lost when work is made to travel, for any place, any one, any time? Today’s global art world can give us many things, but it also takes away some of the most precious and intimate moments of making and experiencing art.

 

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Bud Lee   Lendon   c. 1971   Courtesy Sergio Waksman

 

I have occasionally experienced chasms of misunderstanding when my own work has traveled from the eastside Los Angeles community that nurtured it to institutions that commission it for the crowds. It can feel like a failure to connect, but sometimes I think of the Cockettes and want to dig in and resist—perhaps to stubbornly create work that is not quite cool enough, and slightly indigestible to the global industrial art complex.

 

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Fritz Haeg (at right) creating Domestic Integrities A05, a 30-foot handmade rug, with volunteers at the Walker in 2013   Photo: Gene Pittman

 

Fritz Haeg is an artist based in California. With the 2013 Walker Art Center residency, exhibition, and public projects Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City the Minnesota-born artist came back to his roots to conclude a decade of of serial projects including Edible Estates and Domestic Integrities. In 2014 he began new chapter of life and work on California’s Mendocino Coast with the purchase of the historic 1970’s commune Salmon Creek Farm, being revived as a long-term commune/farm/homestead/art project.

Counter Currents: Adam Michaels on Blueprint for Counter Education

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and artist Tomás Saraceno—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Adam Michaels of Project Projects […]

Counter Currents_5
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and artist Tomás Saraceno—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Adam Michaels of Project Projects and Inventory Press highlights the innovative nature of Blueprint for Counter Education as one of the defining works of radical pedagogy from the Vietnam War era.

 

Blueprint for a Counter Education

Blueprint for Counter Education

While I generally avoid hyperbole, I can say in good conscience that Blueprint for Counter Education is a truly unique cultural artifact. The outcome of a sustained iterative research, writing, and diagramming process that took place between Brandeis sociology professor (and future dean of Critical Studies at CalArts) Maurice Stein and his then-student Larry Miller, Blueprint’s innovative form and format were then developed by the graphic designer Marshall Henrichs as a mind-expanding example of carefully structured (and mass-distributed) anarchy.

Maurice Stein and Larry Miller, Blueprint for Counter Education, 1970, as installed in Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. Photo: Greg Beckel

(more…)

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