Blogs The Gradient

Counter Currents: Experimental Jetset on Provo

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 LUST—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Amsterdam-based graphic design studio Experimental […]

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 LUST—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Amsterdam-based graphic design studio Experimental Jetset focuses on Provo, a counterculture movement in the Netherlands from 1965 to 1967.

Bernard de Vries with display promoting the White Bicycle Plan, Amsterdam, May 1966 Photo: Cor Jaring

What we learned from Provo is the idea that the city is basically an environment that could (and should) be shaped through the printing press.

At the heart of Provo is the notion of the city as a graphic space. Magazines were sold in the streets, posters were pasted to the walls, performances (“happenings”) took place on public squares (and around specific statues and monuments), surreal slogans were being chanted (such as the repeated mantra of “ugh, ugh, ugh”), and pamphlets were handed out to unsuspecting bystanders. In the meantime, the (illegal) printing press of Provo had to be moved constantly, from one location to another, because there was always the danger of confiscation. So the printing press itself was on a constant dérive through the city, echoing the way the Provos themselves were drifting through the streets of Amsterdam. (more…)

Counter Currents: Josh MacPhee on the Diggers

  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 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 designer, artist, and archivist […]

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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 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 designer, artist, and archivist Josh MacPhee links the ethos of the San Francisco Diggers with his own experiences in DIY publishing and punk activism decades later.

In my early 1990s East Coast punk and anarchist scenes, the Diggers were a myth—a composite of militant urban legends, their exploits mixed up with the actions of the Yippies, Black Mask, Up Against the Wall Motherfucker, the Provos, the Black Panthers, King Mob, the Metropolitan Indians. There was a generation gap of radicals in the late ’80s and ’90s; I had no anarchist mentors, no direct line to this troublemaking history we attempted to piece together from a trail of crumbs left in old political pamphlets, fanzines, and proto-Situationist literature.

The Diggers   Funeral notice for Death of Hippie   1967

The idea that these mythic countercultural heroes would fall under the hippie umbrella wasn’t really on the radar. I hated hippies—those affected, lazy peaceniks who fell back on their class privilege to avoid having to engage in what we perceived of as an intense social war: the status quo vs. everything worth living for. We exchanged bell-bottoms and tie-dye T-shirts for double-bibbed Carhart work pants and gas station attendant jackets. We cloaked ourselves in a form of emo-militancy. An ideal of softness, support, and loving within our scene, but all barbs and taunts projected to the outside world. (more…)

2015: The Year According to Michael Oswell

Berlin, December 2015 To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: […]

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Berlin, December 2015

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                   .

Michael Oswell is a British–born designer based in the Schengen Zone. He is interested in operating in unconventional contexts, regarding design as a kind of terraforming; mediating between fact, fiction and rumour. He has made songs about graphic designers. Teaching, exhibitions, accolades, etc. More words. Client list. Call today.
 

Firstly an apologetic preface: this is less a catalogue rarefied selections from a tastemaker at the top of their game so much as a collection of personal synaptic touch-points that marked 2015 as a difficult, disturbing, joyful year. The first months were spent freaking out over mysterious health problems that culminated in an emergency cholecystectomy. Two weeks later, a tentative move to Berlin—a thoroughly revitalising experience later dulled by the theft of my backpack containing items that consitute ‘home’ to a nomad. My laptop, my phone(s), my passport. A second psychological scare, resolved through a rich tapestry of friendship, colleagues, collaboration.

As such, a number of the following selections didn’t materialise this year; they just happened through circumstance to play a role in it. I didn’t read as much this year as I should have; I went to fewer art openings and film screenings; and my experience of new music came from frequenting (admittedly rather good) techno clubs. I have been a Bad Graphicdesigner: I have failed in my task to actively take in the world and infuse it into my life’s work. I’ve used culture this year as a comforting eiderdown, my filter bubble is in full effect. With apologies, here are my things of 2015.




2015-01

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Torus XXIII, by Vril

In the Hall on the evening of January 1st, I heard the distinctive 110bpm clicking; the continually descending, guitar-like riff signalling that 2014 was in the process of being sucked down and remodelled. The clicking continued onto the train back, onto my bike through the streets in the rain, into waiting rooms of varying medical specificity.

 




2015-02

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Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft. Published by Verso. Designed by Michael Oswell.

Extrastatecraft, by Keller Easterling

Two confessions. Firstly, this book was published in late 2014, and secondly, I designed its jacket (art directed as always by Verso’s Andy Pressman). One of the dictates of book cover design is that you should always read the book before you design the cover – a dictate established by someone with no concept of contemporary publishing production timelines. I didn’t have a chance to read the book until this year, so in it goes.

 




2015-03

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MOUNTGROVE / Everything I know about Technocapitalism, I learned at Berghain

Ashkan Sepahvand is a writer who amongst other things runs the Technosexual reading circle here in Berlin; in its extended and informal incarnations it’s resulted in some stimulating conversations of varying degrees of coherence about contemporary selfhood, collectivity, sex, technology and the future of the species. Everything I Know About Technocapitalism…, a performative lecture, falls under the umbrella of Mountgrove – the sprawling, delirious science-fictional imaginary of a well-known techno club, home to the intermorphs and other demiurgic concepts. It was first performed at the ICA in May; I managed to see a later performance at Spektrum in Berlin. Delirious, super ambivalent, and ultimately accurate. Our happiness is a horizon, and a platform.

 




2015-04

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Sans Soleil, by Chris Marker

 




2015-05

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The Nausea of Uploading, by Jaakko Pallasvuo

Commanding attention in exchange for network kudos doesn’t feel like a sustainable form of life. The mainline kick of getting retweeted has dulled. Public discourse got soured by layer upon layer of second-guessing and assumption of bad faith. This year, the backchannels were more rich, more vital. But I don’t want to Quit Social Media To Focus On Real Life. I want to lurk—as Jaakko says, deleting twitter is just the “having a buzzworthy twitter.”

 




2015-06

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David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Buffalo), 1988–89

Untitled (Buffalo), by David Wojnarowicz

At some point in the summer, I made Untitled (Buffalo) the wallpaper for both my computer and my phone. It must surely have something to say about 2015. The image came back to me after seeing it used on YouTube as the background for a Delia Derbyshire radio composition, in which different voices recall dreams of falling. The combination did a certain something to the image, which is so rooted in a certain epoch of AIDS activism. All these different ways for buffalo to fall.

 




2015-07

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Reduce 2, by Vainqueur

A single notch-filtered FM chord, breathing, in, out, in, out; a jittering high-pass-filtered stab of noise for a hihat; a round, enveloping kick – this track, which came out in 1996, unfurled itself at approximately 3:30am on October 12, in the process becoming a new affective cipher I’ve yet to fully dekode.

 




2015-08

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Probably not a Dyson swarm. But not definitively not-A-Dyson-Swarm until definitively proven not to not be not-a-Dyson-swarm.

 




2015-09

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Black Transparency: The Right to Know in the Age of Mass Surveillance (2015), by Metahaven

Black Transparency, by Metahaven

The bare possessions of a non-person living in a non-place.
A laptop.
A backpack.
A night with friends.
An on-and-off relationship.
A temporary job.
A trove of secrets.

We have a non-plan.
All we do is show that we still exist.

A delicious neapolitan ice-cream of a book.

 




2015-10

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David Cameron Fucked A Dead Pig

The British media’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn showed what a deeply fucked up establishment it really is, but its treatment of this delicious pink faberge egg of a story really sealed the deal. I had the great pleasure of reading defences of Cameron that amounted to the underclasses are simply jealous that they don’t get to FUCK DEAD PIGS and who *hasn’t* fucked a dead pig in their youth?. Hilarious but irrelevant. None of us will ever look at Dave the same way ever again. He will forever be David Cameron, Who Fucked A Dead Pig. This whole affair was an oasis of pure and unblemished joy, a real highlight.




Bonus:
11. IMF: It Gets Better (Pinkwashing Version)

Extra:
12. Saying “No” to Nomadism (#NeauxMoNomadisme)
13. The Continued Evolution of ASMR Videos (#Rule34b)
14. Hay guise its meh (#NeverGiveUpOnYourDreams___________LikeEvenIfYouReallyWantToJustDzohnt)
15. Goodbye, by Bottoms
16. Enya Revival (#LetTheOrinicoFlow)
17. Progress Bar (#WhatWouldOstgutDo)
18. Pierre Bernard
19. ISIS Dildo Flag (#SexToysAsLanguage)
20. London’s continued decline and war on nightlife
21. Bono’s on-stage tribute to Paris (#NousSommesTousParis)
22. PrEP
23. 9/11 Building 7, by Martin Noakes (#OpenFireCantMeltSteelItsNotHotEnough)
24. Unedited Footage of a Bear
25. The concept of Yanis Varoufakis
26. Trance (#ItWillAlwaysBeWithYou)

2015: The Year According to Na Kim

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Michael Oswell to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According […]

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Na Kim. Photo: LESS

Na Kim. Photo: LESS

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Michael Oswell to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                   .

After receiving her MFA in 2008 from the Werkplaats Typografie (Arnhem, NL), Na Kim launched her own Seoul-based studio. Most recently, Kim has been an artist-in-residence at Doosan Gallery in New York since July 2015 (and concluding in December 2015).


2015-01

SET, exhibition view

SET in New York

Since this past July, I’ve been staying in New York for a six-month artist residency program at Doosan Gallery. During this stay, I created a solo exhibition in addition to publishing an artist book—both of which are titled SET.

SET, exhibition view

SET, the solo exhibition of Na Kim—one of the DOOSAN Artist Awards 2013 recipients—was on exhibit from October 8th–November 5th, 2015 at Doosan Gallery in New York. With a background in graphic design, Na Kim creates expansive work that freely traverses the boundary between fine art and design. By doing away with pre-existing rules and symbolic meanings, Kim studies the essential elements in form, rearranging it based on its geometric standards. In SET, Kim’s work from the past 10 years will be exhibited in one space, and a namesake catalogue will be shown as part of the exhibition. Regardless of production year, medium, commission, etc, the catalogue comprises of design and other works that are reordered according to the visual elements found in each work. The production and editing of this catalogue is a collaborative effort with graphic designer Joris Kritis. As it is the first time Kim has handed over the designer role to another person, she intends to redefine the notion of the artist and the designer’s role. Along those lines, the wall and floor space of the exhibition will be divided in a similar proportion as the catalogue’s design, then the works in the catalogue will be made into wall drawing, serving as the set for a performance that will coincide with the visual aspects of Kim’s work. In this way, Kim’s work brings out the intrinsic distinctions between fine art and design, tearing down the boundaries of process and form. And by expanding into the realm of installation and performance, the artist shows the possibilities of a cohesive and unified body of work. It is these reconstituted and restructured heterogeneous elements that point towards and reveal new meaning and potential.

 

SET, Publication by Roma

 




2015-02

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Je suis Kiri

The whole world was shocked by the shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Paris endured additional terror attacks in the latter part of this year, but the Charlie Hebdo attack was the starting point of the debates on many aspects against terrorism in Europe. I became aware of Hara-Kiri—a former body of Charlie Hebdo which had been more progressive and daring than now—as a result of this tragedy. RIP the brave, Stupid and Vicious. Look at those covers!

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The French journal Hara-Kiri was a satirical journal published once per month. The journal contains many insults, plenty of black humor, abominations, vile pictures, and really harsh writing. The main featured themes were adult content, violence, body horror, as well as political provocations. See more amazing covers.

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2015-03

selfie stick

Tourists use a selfie stick outside The Louvre in Paris, which is expected to follow Versailles and ban the selfie stick from inside the building.

Narcisstick

This new invention has undoubtedly become a must-have amongst tourists and social networking types. Now, the selfie stick has become a nuisance and potential liability. Read more about why galleries and museums and banning selfie sticks.




2015-04

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MMM Corners mmm

A few years ago I saw a concept image for the MMM Corners museum and immediately thought that I have never seen such an aggressive and stupid work of architecture before. And now, unfortunately, it’s real.

Read more about the museum on Designboom or from the evil architect, Zaha Hadid.

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2015-05

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Karl Nawrot, Selection from LIG Art Hall poster series

Karl Nawrot & Mind Walk

One of my favorite graphic designers, Karl Nawrot won the first prize at the Chaumont International Poster and Graphic Design Festival in 2015. His LIG Art Hall poster series was a great example of how a graphic designer can create an autonomous approach for translating and giving form to the content of contemporary culture. Recently, Karl is having an solo exhibition at Bel Ordinaire, Pau.

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Karl Nawrot, Selection from LIG Art Hall poster series

 

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Karl Nawrot, Selection from LIG Art Hall poster series




2015-06

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Unlimited Edition

Fairs, Art and Books

“Why has there been such a boom in art book fairs?”—Supporting Yannick’s point, there were 2 events in Seoul in the past year. One is Goods, the (sort of) alternative art fair and the other is Unlimited Edition, the art book fair already in its 7th year. This kind of culture, comparably, has a short history, but both of these art/book fairs were a great success in attracting visitors. Additionally, young artists and designers are finding their own way to exhibit and sell their art works or products. Read more about Goods.

 




2015-07

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After 30 years

I have to admit that I was a fan of Michael J. Fox. Not only did the Back to the Future trilogy celebrate the 30th anniversary of its beginning this year, but the moment in the future that Marty McFly travels to—October 21, 2015—was also celebrated. I miss these adorable guys—Dr. Brown and Marty, from my childhood.

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2015-08

Na Kim, Identity for Art Sonje Center, 2015

Identity for ASJC

I designed a new visual identity for Art Sonje Center in Seoul, which they began applying to their website and materials this year.

Na Kim, Identity for Art Sonje Center, 2015

 

Na Kim, Identity for Art Sonje Center, 2015

 




2015-09

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Na Kim, avatar

Want to transform yourself?

It’s easy and fun. My Idol is an amazing new app for making avatar. A great way to kill time, but in certain moments quite scary.

 




2015-10

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Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at Centre Pompidou, Paris

The best exhibition in 2015.

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2015: The Year According to Hassan Rahim

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                   .

Hassan Rahim is an artist, art director, and publisher. He has worked with a variety of culture producers including Ghostly International, Jay-Z, Suited Magazine, THVM, Wet, Marilyn Manson, MMOTHS, and more. He is co-founder of publishing platform Shabazz Projects, and has shown his personal work in Amsterdam, Milan, Miami, and Los Angeles.


2015-10

NYC-Under-Water-Flooding

Surging Seas

“In 100 years, this is going to be beach front property!” This map from Climate Central illustrates how the ocean’s water will overflow in best and worst case global warming scenarios. Additionally new reports suggest the sea level rise has slowed the earth’s rotation by 1.7 milliseconds.


2015-09

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Björk Live at City Center, NY

Tickets were $$$ but we had to make it happen. First time seeing Björk live. I wasn’t even familiar with the new album, which initially concerned me but turns out it barely mattered, her great performance paired with the general soundscape felt like I knew every song. Arca was low-key the star of the show with his outfit though.


2015-08

Floating Points, Elaenia

Album of the year, hands down. Floating Points has been on my radar for a long time, and I don’t think anyone expected a jazz album from him. Oh, and he’s studying for his PHD in “The Neuroscience of Pain.” You know, on the side.

© The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photography Michael Wilkin


2015-07

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Damaris Goddrie

2015 showed the rise of many great models of color in the fashion world. I keep up with the industry pretty closely, especially as my girlfriend (Jessica Willis) is a stylist. In particular we both were dead in love with Damaris on sight—she has such a classic look.


2015-06

Assassins

What Are Thooooose?!


2015-05

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“The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence”

An eye opening piece on the exponential growth of human technology. Long read. My favorite vocabulary takeaway was the term “DPU,” or “Die Process Unit” — the amount of years a person would have to travel into the future to “literally die of shock” at how advanced and incomprehensible the world is to him.

Tesseract scene from Interstellar2014


2015-04

on stage during the BRIT Awards 2015 at The O2 Arena on February 25, 2015 in London, England.

Kanye West, “All Day” (Live At The 2015 Brit Awards)

The song wasn’t huge, but this was the most powerful TV performance in years. Clearly racially charged and totally unexpected. The looks on the crowd’s faces.


2015-03

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Martine Syms, Vertical Elevated Oblique

Walker readers may know her name very well by now, but if not, watch for it. Martine had an amazing debut solo show at Bridgette Donahue this year, the works of which were primarily inspired by a riff on a popular joke, “Everybody wanna be a black woman but nobody wanna be a black woman.”


2015-02

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The Lonely Death of George Bell

A riveting article by the New York Times, chronicling the process of investigating the life of a rather unknown hoarder who quietly passed away in his filthy Queens apartment. The journalist follows the city on their full journey, from tracking down his family/friends, to allocating his estate, and eventually burial. “Sometimes, along the way, a life’s secrets are revealed.”


2015-01

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West to East

On a personal note, 2015 will always be important to me as the year I moved to New York. My girlfriend Jessica and I left Los Angeles, clearly against the flow of most artist migration, to experience a new pace of life. So far, living in New York has given me perspective I couldn’t attain in California. But mostly, imagine growing up with movies like Home Alone but never having snow on Christmas!

Thomas Demand, Gangway, 2001

2015: The Year According to Åbäke

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to artist and publisher Hassam Rahim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year […]

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official portrait, Aurélien Mole 2012

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to artist and publisher Hassam Rahim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                   .

Åbäke is a transdisciplinary design studio based in London, working in the fields of graphic design, fashion, art, publishing, film, cuisine, music, furniture, dance, architecture, etc. “[Åbäke] means ‘something in between’, ‘a hulky rusty car which still functions but is not pretty’, ‘something clumsy’, ‘very large thing’, ‘monstrosity’, rather negative definitions but they somehow loosely describe what we do.” *


2015-01

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No news

A strange year regarding what news comes into one’s life. I gradually stopped buying newspapers or RSS-feeding myself with media which felt either focused on the negative or simply lying to us. Of course, Fox News is still a must to understand how low we have come. The only place I’d get a glimpse of what was happening was at airports. Even there, television screens are mute, which leaves some place to imagination. It’s just a ride, as Bill Hicks said once.


2015-02

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21 October 2015, the day Marty McFly arrived now

I was in the audience at a talk on that day. The speaker was wearing too many layers for the over heated conference room and kept taking clothes off and on while speaking of what has now left my memory. Retrospectively I understand he was wearing the Marty McFly outfit or equivalent, celebrating it for himself.


2015-03

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31 December 2015

I fell asleep early and dreamt of the Olympics and the US presidential election. I know who won yet cannot remember.


2015-04

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25 February 2015

My friend Yair Barelli and I are locked in a house for a week with ten students. We all agree to not discuss what happened with people outside.


2015-05

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11 July 2015

A year ago (take or leave a few days) On Kawara died. He’s still present, that’s cool.


2015-06

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13 March 2015

A baby was born in Sweden. In exactly 17 years time, few people know she will win the football World Cup for Nigeria, abolishing racism. Wow.


2015-07

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25 October 2015

Lotte Keller made a beef stew. Her children happily judged it the absolute best dish ever in the history of cooking. They even ate the salad without dressing.


2015-08

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3 January 2015

Stefano Carcetti, a student from Rome, didn’t use Internet or buy anything for the whole 24 hours.


2015-09

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25 November 2015

Julia Simon, a waitress in Brussels, buys a box of chocolate. She realises how bizarre it is they should be shaped as mussels and shrimps. She spends the next week asking people what they think of it.

Type Designers Q&A: Heavyweight

Heavyweight, a Prague-based type foundry, was established by Filip Matejicek and Jan Horcik in 2014. Filip and Jan were kind enough to set aside some of their time to respond to ten questions regarding their practice as type designers. They elaborate on their entry points into type design, observing their typefaces in use out in the world, their […]

Heavyweight, a Prague-based type foundry, was established by Filip Matejicek and Jan Horcik in 2014.

Filip and Jan were kind enough to set aside some of their time to respond to ten questions regarding their practice as type designers. They elaborate on their entry points into type design, observing their typefaces in use out in the world, their aspirations as a type foundry, reacting to and evolving alongside the field of graphic design, and more.

 

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Endless Illusion Records (CZ), Ideomatic (FR); Graphic design by Filip Matejicek and Jan Horcik; Font by Heavyweight: Pano (coming soon)

Ryan Gerald Nelson (RGN): In looking back at your younger days, are you aware of the moment or period of time at which you first became interested in letterforms and how they were made?

Heavyweight (Jan): I came across typography and typefaces as such for the first time while painting graffiti in the first year of high school. Back then, I was highly interested in hip-hop culture, a part of which is graffiti, yet this culture intertwines with several fields which are often associated with authentic visual expression. It was only during my studies of Typography at a college in Prague when I experienced the need for basing my graphic design works on a distinctive typeface, considering that I was quite unimpressed by the generally available typefaces at that time.

Heavyweight (Filip): I remember the moment when one of my friends shared with me a catalogue of graphic design creations (unfortunately, I do not recall the title of the book). It happened during my first year of high school. While flipping through the book, we reached a chapter solely about typography. There was this pure use of typography and beautiful layout, of beautiful books, large details of shapes, etc. This chapter, for me, was completely different from any other graphic design which the book offered. I fell in love with those forms. Right at that moment, I naively desired to develop a coherent set of characters and use them in my own works. Yet it was impossible, since I was unable to create it at that time. That is, in my opinion, the moment when I became interested in typography in a rather complex way.

 

Heavyweight type specimen

RGN: Which character do you find the most difficult to draw/create? Give us an analogy to help us understand what drawing this character is like.

Heavyweight: This is quite a challenging question, considering the amount of letters and characters that an entire typeface demands. However, if we look at it from a general perspective and ignore the coherent characteristics and feelings of the letters in relation to the entire alphabet, then the most difficult letters are those which stand-out on viewing the entire alphabet as a whole. We presume that you will not be surprised when we mention the characters of “s”, “g”, and similar characters. However, in order not to sound so superficial, also such relatively overlooked characters of “,” or “~” cause a lot of trouble while being created. All of these examples are not that difficult to draw by themselves without any connection to other letters. Yet, when it comes to gracefully fitting these characters into the nature of the alphabet and even support it, then they become very important and difficult.

 

Heavyweight type specimens; Font in use: Left

Heavyweight type specimens; Font in use: Left

RGN: What’s your process for naming your typefaces?

Heavyweight: When choosing names for typefaces, we attach importance to the reason of their creation. In our case, a lot of typefaces were created for a specific occasion, even though they were not drawn to be strictly customized. When inventing names for typefaces, we also consider the practicalities of promoting the typefaces and their inclusion into specimens and similar promotional materials. For us, the name should simply support the feeling that the typeface awakens.

 

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Left

RGN: Do you have an ultimate goal in terms of where you hope to see one of your typefaces in use someday? (Being used by a major car brand? By a sports team? In a film title? Other?)

Heavyweight: This is an interesting question which we honestly haven’t entirely considered yet. Perhaps because none of our typefaces have made it to that level yet. A better idea of what is and what isn’t possible will be realized when we launch our website (which should happen soon). However, we would be lying if we said that we don’t envision our typefaces being generously used, for example, within the cultural sphere, or in certain international art galleries, or as part of a graphic identity for a city’s transportation system, or a large sign on a huge cargo ship, and more. We also like to imagine, for example, a typeface of ours being applied to a space shuttle which heads for the universe as part of a space agency’s visual identity.

 

Heavyweight type specimens; Font in use: Gletscher

Heavyweight type specimens; Font in use: Gletscher

RGN: Have you ever discovered one of your typefaces being used in a really unexpected place or project?

Heavyweight: In some cases, it is quite difficult to trace all applications of our typefaces. Yet it is true that the power of the internet is obvious and there is a lot of information coming our way through the graphic design community.

As the time goes by and while growing up with and observing the field of graphic design, we’ve become more naturally inclined to create typefaces which are less characteristic and more universal, yet still with the Heavyweight authenticity. The only exception that we can recall is the Topol typeface which was our first jointly-produced typeface, and while celebrating its creation we offered it for free download for one week. As a result of this benevolent move, we received paradoxically strange, often even surprisingly negative responses from people who didn’t belong to the graphic design community at all. This was an unintended, yet very interesting and valuable insight into the perspective of other people and their reaction to “different” typefaces.

 

Heavyweight type specimen—silkscreened poster (594mm x 841mm); Font in use: Topol;

Heavyweight type specimen—silkscreened poster (594mm x 841mm); Font in use: Topol;

 

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Topol Narrow Sans

RGN: Of your offerings, which typeface is your most popular amongst your customers? And do you have any theory as to why this is your most popular typeface?

Heavyweight: At the moment, we offer four typefaces and the most popular of them all is Danzza. We always find it interesting to ask ourselves the question of why it is that this typeface is so popular as well as questioning how to make other typefaces that can be equally as popular. When Danzza was being created, our thought was that this typeface should be drawn as a grotesque that was more geometric, all the while capturing the current tone of graphic design. But we also followed our own taste while creating Danzza.

The truth is that all of our typefaces have been based on the model and approach we used to create Danzza. Thus, if Danzza had less stylistic character, it would probably not be so popular. In the end, we feel that an ideal typeface should contain only as much (or as little) stylistic character as to not feel stale, but to also be created in such a way as to reflect the leanings of contemporary graphic design.

 

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Danzza

RGN: Of all the times you’ve seen your typeface in use, has there ever been an instance in which you’ve been appalled by how the designer used your typeface?

Heavyweight: We haven’t really been dismayed by anything we’ve seen yet. However, we were surprised regarding certain uses of our typeface, Topol, which reached a lot of people over the internet and who used the typeface in many different ways.

Honestly, we would like to see our typefaces used in a manner which we are not used to. This is related to your earlier question, since seeing a typeface in use, from a different perspective, also helps to uncover the typeface’s hidden potential. On the other hand, it’s also interesting to see the slightly erroneous or odd uses of the typeface that emerge when the typeface is used by a “lay person”. We have, of course, seen typefaces being used by lay people, yet not in an odd situation that’s worth mentioning.

RGN: What’s the impetus behind the making of your typefaces? Being commissioned by client? Attempting to fill a void in the world of available typefaces? A custom creation for a project that you’re a graphic designer for? A combination of? None of the above?

Heavyweight: In fact, all of the above is true. Sometimes, we create a logotype which then evolves into an entire typeface. Sometimes it is an entire project which is so important that it’s worth it to create a special typeface. And sometimes we are also approached directly for the creation of a specific typeface. However, should we talk about the future, we’re most inclined to create typefaces that further complement our selection of current typefaces. We would really not like to find ourselves simply offering standard grotesques or headline typefaces, nor oldstyle serif typefaces, for example.

 

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Joe182; Photo: Michaela Čejková

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Joe182; Photo: Michaela Čejková

RGN: What’s more of a consideration for you when designing a typeface: screen or print? Or are these contexts irrelevant?

Heavyweight: Prior to any drawing of a typeface itself, we do not think about the way that the typeface is going to work in print or on the screen. More importantly, we consider a range of things: the manner of the typeface’s functioning within a text in general, the feelings that the typeface awakens, how modern the typeface should be or how much of a link to history the typeface should include, as well as similar topics.

Considerations of screen or print applications are mostly of secondary importance, yet the client may, at times, give us an assignment which will limit the typeface only for use on a website, for example. In that moment, we clearly approach the task differently. We do not consider the influence of technology and the quality of display, but rather the form of the media as such. After all, these two different manners of application can be combined successfully.

 

Heavyweight type specimen; Font in use: Left

RGN: When you describe your work/profession to family and friends who are not acquainted with typography and type design, what do you say?

Heavyweight: This is a very good issue which is discussed in our circles of friends who do this for living, or who are fans of this field. When a person becomes engaged in a specific field in any way, that person then sees the given field as more significant than other relative fields and practitioners, and this also applies to typography.

Although typography is an important field, it clearly does not save mankind, and therefore we try to keep its significance only amongst the circles of those who are interested. On many occasions, we’ve found ourselves interested in a distant field of practice/profession, and then, naturally, we’ve asked ourselves whether our field is interesting to other people after all.

Yet, there is still the prevailing question of how it is possible to make a living from doing this considering that typography was discovered a long time ago and, relatively speaking, cannot be moved much further anymore. When we talk about typefaces which maintain a contemporary appeal and which are still both usable and readable, then yes, it is possible.

In the end, we are honored to be involved in the expansive field of graphic design, yet, when asked by someone outside of this field about what it is we do, we often simply reply that we engage in graphic design with a focus on letters for a living.

RGN: Many thanks for your time, Heavyweight!

 

Heavyweight Type Services—Filip Matejicek & Jan Horcik

—See more of Heavyweight’s type design on their website or on Facebook.

 

 

BOOOOOK: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing

  Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing is the latest release from London-based publisher, Occasional Papers. This is the first comprehensive overview of the life and work of the pioneering British concrete and sound poet Bob Cobbing (1920–2002). Boooook addresses all aspects of Cobbing’s rich career, with new essays detailing his key roles in London […]

BOOOOOK_003_combined_sd

 

Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing is the latest release from London-based publisher, Occasional Papers.

This is the first comprehensive overview of the life and work of the pioneering British concrete and sound poet Bob Cobbing (1920–2002). Boooook addresses all aspects of Cobbing’s rich career, with new essays detailing his key roles in London Film-makers’ Co-op, Better Books, abAna, as well as his involvement in the Destruction in Art Symposium, Fylkingen, and his publishing imprint Writers Forum.

Occasional Papers, with editors William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper, have paid homage to an avant-garde publisher, poet, and verbal artist in a very thorough and attractive way. And we can’t help but admire that book spine as well!

To celebrate this latest release from Occasional Papers, we’re very pleased to share the following chapter from Boooook.

 


 

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Bob Cobbing compiling Writers Forum publications, June 1965. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.

 

Conversation about Writers Forum
Adrian Clarke and Arnaud Desjardin

 

Arnaud Desjardin: So when did your involvement with Writers Forum start?

Adrian Clarke: Not ‘til the mid-1980s. I did encounter Bob a few times at the Poetry Society in the 1970s, but I didn’t rediscover him until I was reintroduced via Gilbert Adair, who pointed me in the direction of Bob’s events at the London Musicians Collective. Bob published me in 1988—I had been going to his Writers Forum workshops for a couple of years by then. The first time I read something at the workshop, he said ‘Hmf, have you got a publisher for that? Otherwise I’ll do it.’

I was involved in another magazine—Angel Exhaust1 with Andrew Duncan, who wrote that Bob’s sound poetry was ‘the ugliest noise in the world’. Bob decided I should be keeping better company and said, ‘Why don’t you come in on AND with me?’2 And so I came over and started issuing AND with him, which had been dormant for 21 years.

 

Bob Cobbing, Description of Writers Forum activities, n.d.


Desjardin: Do you think Bob was looking at any models for what Writers Forum might be?

Clarke: He was receiving a whole range of publications from quite early on in the 1960s. He had a whole run of Chopin’s OU, and a wide range of other magazines and journals. Whether that influenced him I don’t know. But, I can think of one or two American publications from the 1950s that had similar designs.

Bob was one of the first to publish Allen Ginsberg’s The Change, which he distributed through Better Books. The American influence was strong and it seems in turn that Bob took quite a lead from what was being published there.

Desjardin: Conversely, there would have been things that would have crossed the Atlantic from the UK into America and Canada. Better Books was just one of the subterranean networks where you could get access to the counter-culture. My interest is in more than publishing texts—it’s in artists’ publications, and the circulations around them—famous examples being Printed Matter in New York or Art Metropole in Toronto in the 1970s. But there were other networks that were there in the 1960s.

The centrality of Writers Forum to the UK poetry scene seems to have been very much about Bob himself. He was somebody who was continually creating networks. Was that the way you understood Writers Forum when you came into it at that moment?

 

left to right: writers’ forum the manuscript, 1952; Collage for AND magazine, 1955.

left to right: writers’ forum the manuscript, 1952; Collage for AND magazine, 1955.


Clarke: Oh yes. I think that’s as crucial as the press—Bob’s sound poetry, his visual poetry, his verbal stuff. He was an organiser and inspirer. He did it in an extraordinarily laid-back way and somehow things happened around him. He was central to the scene. Bob and his workshop as well as his publications were so clearly associated. Everyone knew the Writers Forum workshops as Bob’s workshops, although he didn’t impose himself in any way—in fact, quite the opposite. He would come up with his pint of beer and sit down and look around the room, and if no one showed an inclination to read he’d say, ‘Well, who’s going to start then?’ Then that was it, and he probably wouldn’t say anything more until the end when he’d launch the latest Writers Forum publication.

Bob rarely came to a workshop without something new—if only a small pamphlet, or even a card. Sometimes there was more. It was slightly irregular, but I guess it averaged out at about every three weeks—so many of the around 1,100 Writers Forum titles in the end got launched there. It sped up when he got a photocopier.

 

Adrian Clarke and Bob Cobbing in the kitchen of Cobbing and Pike’s home at Petherton Road editing AND 9, 1995. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.

Adrian Clarke and Bob Cobbing in the kitchen of Cobbing and Pike’s home at Petherton Road editing AND 9, 1995. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.


My experience of these workshops goes back to the 1970s and the Poetry Society. Before Bob came along, these workshops were very dull. Things were passed round and commented on and there were long arguments about botanical details—what sort of flower was it and so on. Bob changed things: what he insisted on was that if you stood up and read a poem in front of your peers you’d know for yourself whether it was any good or not. Otherwise you were a hopeless case. There was a lot of emphasis on performance, but you were welcome to just read. If you wanted to discuss the work, you would do that in the bar downstairs afterwards.

Desjardin: So at the Poetry Society Bob initiated a shift from a more staid way of working to a more informal one.

Clarke: Bob not only opened the bar there but also the print shop. He initially made his Gestetner available to everybody. And then he acquired an offset litho machine and that was the extent of it. I don’t think he got his photocopier until 1984, when he moved to Petherton Road.

 

left to right: Anselm Hollo, Isadora and Other Poems (Writers Forum Minibooks no. 2., May 1967); Jeff Nuttall, Mr. Watkins Got Drunk and Had to be Carried Home (September 1968); Bob Cobbing, Sound of Jade (1984)


Desjardin: Did you think those particular methods of printing were important to Bob?

Clarke: Absolutely. Changing Forms in English Visual Poetry3 lists all of his methods. From the typewriter—both dirty and clean—to calligraphy, handwriting, hand-drawn letters, pressed-on lettering, and other means like mimeo and its misuse, which relates particularly to Destruction in Art.

Desjardin: That sounds like an important document, like a genealogy of printing. I like the idea that Writers Forum could be one continuous way of outputting things from the late 1950s. Having seen Writers Forum evolve over half a century, what’s your perception of that whole body of work: where it came from, where it’s gone, and what the legacy is?

Clarke: Well, Bob is the constant element and he was just so open that it’s very hard to characterise the press—which was intentional. It was a matter of openness, of encouragement, and having fun himself.

Organisation was not a word that was often on Bob’s lips. He was very spontaneous, so our editorial meetings were a little chaotic. There was that big table there in the kitchen, and very often he would clear the table, and we’d just shuffle stuff around to decide the magazine’s order. Sometimes, if there wasn’t space, we’d move onto the floor, which was very much what he would do with his visual work with Jennifer. He would run off a number of variations and then he’d lay them out on the floor and get her to choose the best.

Bob’s workroom was initially quite spacious: by the end there was just a narrow passage from the door round to the photocopier. Piles and piles of publications, submissions—which were always read—and loose sheets. He worked in what was, at the end, a tiny space.

Desjardin: There seemed to be a political project around transmission, communication and being with people, rather than Bob making a name for himself, for example. For me, it is part of a moment in history when political positions were a very determining factor in one’s activity. But those positions are ultimately very difficult to read through Writers Forum publications alone. It’s not officially or visually Marxist stuff, but it’s quite radical all the same. As a project, Writers Forum is interested in change and pushing an agenda.

In every respect, Bob loved to collaborate, and the collaboration was always genuine. If the edges were undefined in terms of whose copyright it was, Bob was not concerned. His ethos went back at least to the 1960s. In their joint publications in the 1970s, he and Bill Griffiths were very much in accord. Bill’s pirate press carried an anti-copyright statement. Did they ever get into trouble about copyright?

 

W.H. Auden, ‘The Gobble Poem’ (London: Fuck Books, 1967), p. 1.

W.H. Auden, ‘The Gobble Poem’ (London: Fuck Books, 1967), p. 1.


Clarke: Oh yes, particularly over Bob’s pirated ‘Gobble Poem’, where I think he had a visit from the police. Not the only visit he had…

The poem—really doggerel—is by W.H. Auden, recounting an occasion where he picked up a student in New York and took him back to his place for a bit of oral sex. Bob somehow got hold of it and published it, and I think he was hoping that he’d surreptitiously shift quite a few copies. But the police got wind of it, and after the visit he just assigned them to a cupboard.4

Desjardin: Would the police have been involved over copyright, or obscenity?

Clarke: I imagine it was probably obscenity because I don’t think Auden would have known about it—but Bob had a bit of a reputation as a pirate. He later pirated Kerouac’s Old Angel Midnight, which was not available other than in the Evergreen Review. With Writers Forum and its propensity to re-print and re-issue, it’s quite difficult to know what is a first edition, particularly if Bob started reprinting things on the same equipment.

Desjardin: The idea of a first edition for these kind of things is fetishising a form of publication that was totally invested in ideas of immediacy and directness. You do it because it’s now, it’s now, it’s now… It’s not really interested in its legacy, or in its historicisation.

It’s only when it’s over, which is where we’re at now, that there is that possibility to reappraise the production, to corral the publications into a body of work that can then be declared the identity of the press. It’s hard to go about defining that with Writers Forum. Maybe one way of mapping out something could be to think about ‘means to immediacy’—the Gestetners, and then the photocopying machine, and so on.

Clarke: That’s fair, but I wouldn’t want to put a full-stop on it. I think that Writers Forum functioned for so long and in so many different contexts, with the inputs from so many different people, that I still see its identity as provisional.

 

left: Jennifer Pike, Stockholm Images (January 1988); center and right: Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)

left: Jennifer Pike, Stockholm Images (January 1988); center and right: Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)


Desjardin: If you start to formalise something too much then you start to lose that form of immediacy, which is a form of direct transmission. For instance, discussions of language, typesetting and composition of the text as a visual object reached quite extreme levels, by Henri Chopin through OU, and Hansjörg Mayer through his publication Futura. They really upped the game in terms of quality of production and visuals. But now we’re talking about 1965, and by then those international networks were already quite formalised.

Bob’s production at this time is resistant to this formalisation, to this idea of making something that is going to be a bit more polished, more finished. It’s about directness and openness and this has always undermined the notion of a press’ identity.

 

Spread from Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)

Spread from Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)


Clarke: One thing I was going to mention, going back to immediacy, are publications I have that Bob and Clive Fencott did when they were touring the States, including CLYDE DUNKOB IN VANCOUVER.5 What they would do was create what they were going to perform in the evening in the course of the day, and take it to a print shop somewhere and produce it. I think that there are four of these that they brought back with them and they’re quite extraordinary.

Desjardin: Almost like a travelogue. This seems to reflect the whole ethos of Writers Forum—that it was somewhat on the hoof.

Clarke: Immediacy, yes. The whole thing relates to the political in the widest sense. Bob was very much concerned that the activities he was involved with should be accessible to everyone—that his publications should be affordable by just about anyone. There was a memorable occasion which kind of shows his position. Every year he used to take a table at the Artists’ Book Fair when it was at the Barbican, where much of the work had high production values, and some of it was quite ambitiously priced. time goes as bought by Lawrence Upton and Bob Cobbing was produced for the 1999 Artists’ Book Fair—it takes a page from an obscure novel, and does some startling things with it. He sold it at the Fair for a pound. And every hour, on the hour, he, and very often Lawrence, would stomp up and down between the tables performing what they had for sale—to the chagrin, bemusement or resignation of other participants!

Desjardin: But they carried on anyway.

Clarke: Yes!

 

Notes

1. ‘Angel Exhaust’ was the name of a automotive spares company on the Holloway Road in North London, not far from Bob’s home.

2. AND magazine was started by Bob Cobbing in Hendon, in 1954.

3. London: Writers Forum, 31 December 1988.

4. There are a considerable number of these publications in the Cobbing family archive, in a large box marked ‘Gobble Poem and Fuck Books’.

5. Writers Forum / El Uel Uel U, 21/22 March 1982.

 


 

This conversation, between Adrian Clarke and Arnaud Desjardin, took place at the Cobbing family collection in March 2015. First published in Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing, edited by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper, published by Occasional Papers, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9929039-5-4.

Boooook is available for purchase at occasionalpapers.org.

Occasional Papers—founded by Sara De Bondt and Antony Hudek—is a non-profit publisher of affordable books devoted to the histories of architecture, art, design, film and literature.

Boooook is the culmination of Bob Jubilé, a three-year long programme of exhibitions and events around the Bob Cobbing family collection, organised by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper (bobjubile.org). Supported by Arts Council England, The Henry Moore Foundation, The Estate of Barry Flanagan and The Estate of Bob Cobbing.

 

 

Refugees Welcome: A Storefront Sticker Campaign by Veda Partalo and Burlesque

How can someone know that they’re welcome in a new place? What can we do to tell them they are? In response to the current refugee crisis and harsh anti-refugee sentiments harbored and broadcasted by some Americans, Veda Partalo collaborated with Mike Davis and Wes Winship of Burlesque of North America to create a set of window stickers which will enable local businesses to […]

How can someone know that they’re welcome in a new place? What can we do to tell them they are? In response to the current refugee crisis and harsh anti-refugee sentiments harbored and broadcasted by some Americans, Veda Partalo collaborated with Mike Davis and Wes Winship of Burlesque of North America to create a set of window stickers which will enable local businesses to create visibly welcoming environments for recent refugees. I spoke with Partalo and Davis about the process of creating these stickers, from initial ideas to design and distribution.

First, could tell me a little bit about yourselves—who you are, what you do?

Veda Partalo: I’m a refugee, a woman, and a terribly loyal person—loyal to family, friends, and to my sense of right and wrong. By day I am an advertising strategist in corporate America. I’m also an activist, a filmmaker, and a dog owner.

veda portrait 3

Veda Partalo

Mike Davis: I’m one of the owners of Burlesque of North America, a creative studio focusing on graphic arts and high quality screen printing. We do a lot of screen printed concert posters and art prints, and we also publish art prints for a pretty big variety of artists from all over the world.

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Mike Davis in the screen-printing studio at BRLSQ

Where did the idea for this project come from? How did you get the ball rolling?

Partalo: This Thanksgiving marked the 19th anniversary of my arrival to America. I came here with my mother and sister as a Bosnian refugee. Every year, in remembrance of our own arrival, we donate goods and money to the Immigration Center. This year, with the influx of refugees coming into Minnesota, I posted a call for extra donations on Facebook trying to get my friends to help as well. While most of the reactions were positive, I received hate mail. Really nasty stuff. And I remembered those first few years in Minnesota, and how harsh people could be.

It was in that moment that I realized something very essential: my family’s ability to integrate into American society had everything to do with how we were received upon our arrival. The more we felt welcome, the more we were able to contribute, the more we felt at home.

Because of this, I wanted the newest refugees in America to have a great sense of welcome. While there is a lot of vitriol online and in the media, I wanted to create a physical manifestation of the feeling of welcome in their day to day lives—I wanted to create safe zones within our community. Places refugees could feel accepted in. That’s when I reached out to Wes and Mike to create a welcome sign.

Wes, Mike, and I have worked together before. We shared a studio back in the Life Sucks Die magazine days, probably 15 years ago now. I love their work, and I love them as people. When I called Wes and said, “I’m tired of this anti-refugee BS. Can you help me make people feel welcome?” It only took a few minutes for us to agree to make a “Refugees Welcome” sign for businesses and homes. We both felt that it was important that the gesture was physical, not just digital. We wanted something that created a space of comfort and safety and appreciation for the newcomers.

Five minutes after our talk, Wes got a hold of Mike, and within a day Mike had a design in mind. Mike nailed it pretty much on the first try. Because Mike is seriously that good.

A sticker at Glam Doll Donuts, one of the first businesses to participate in the project

A sticker at Glam Doll Donuts, one of the first businesses to participate in the project.

Davis: Over the last couple of years, Wes and I have been wanting to get into more socially conscious or socially aware projects, something that would allow us to use our design and screen-printing skills to make something beyond concert posters or advertisements. We just wanted to do something that would have a bigger message in the grand scheme of humanity. There’s a lot of crazy things happening in the world right now, and we talk about it a lot. Even if we may not do any actual design work to work towards fixing it, we’ll at least discuss it as we’re working on other stuff, so we’re both very aware of what’s happening in the world, and also right here in our own community in the Twin Cities.

We’ve always been wanting to get into more projects like this, but we can get overwhelmed by all of our day-to-day projects, so it can be hard for us to step back and say, “Alright. We’re going to do this.” So I think it really took Veda lighting fire under us, to be like, “Hey, I’m basically hiring you guys to work on this with me. How can we make it happen, and what do we need to do to get this out?”

It’s hard to tell just walking up and down the street and looking at someone: Do they know that I’m from a different country? Do they care? Are they threatened? Are they scared? So it’s nice to be able to just walk up to somewhere and to see an actual symbol or a sign that says, point blank, “Hey, you’re welcome here. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. You’re human, come on in.”

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The stickers were screen-printed at BRLSQ’s studio in Minneapolis.

Can you tell me more about the process of designing the sticker?

Davis: I wanted to create an image which was very simple and would be recognized by anybody and everybody. I’ve always liked the really stripped-down design of symbols and logos such as the ones you see at the airport for restrooms, food, gift shop, arrivals—the really basic symbols that anyone across the world can immediately recognize and know what to do when they see it. Our symbol should be just as simple, but also clearly say, “Refugee families are welcome here.”

My wife Mali is also from a refugee family. They moved to Minneapolis in the late 1970s after escaping the Secret War in Laos. She’s an artist and designer, and I ran my ideas past her for input and approval, since I knew this was a logo her family might have been looking for when they first arrived. I wanted to imply both a family and travel, but wanted to keep details to a minimum. I chose to keep the genders vague to just suggest “two adults, two children,” and I included the suitcase and backpack to suggest they had recently arrived from a long trip. Mali told me that a suitcase and backpack would have been luxury items for many refugee families, but I still felt it was a universally recognized symbol of travel, so I ended up keeping it in. I made sure to leave out any other frills or ornaments with the exception of the tiny zipper pull on the backpack.

20151207_haleyryan_untitled shoot_IMG_9939

The stickers come in two versions, for inside or outside of windows or shop doors.

What are your plans for distributing these, and getting people to display these in their windows?

Partalo: Our distribution method is simple: connecting with local friends who are business owners. And them reaching out to their friends. It’s purely grassroots and requires people to think about what sort of community they want to live in. What they want to stand for. Within minutes, we had an acupuncturist (Amy K Acupuncture), a donut shop (Glam Doll Donuts) and an ad agency (Mithun) raise their hands up and ask for the sticker. They were on board with what we wanted to say: refugees are welcome in our community.

Why stickers, and why shop windows? How does the form affect the message?

Davis: From the perspective of a business owner, quite simply, posters are huge. It can be a big, overwhelming statement. We just want something a little more subtle. You know when you walk into a shop and you see a small, little credit card sign on their window, like, “Hey, we accept Visa”? We just thought it would be a nice, small gesture that somebody can do without having to make a giant, big show out of it. Something subtle and simple and a little understated.

Partalo: There are a lot of words of encouragement online, and that’s great. Thing is, when you are completely new to a place, everything seems scary. The architecture is different, people speak a new language, the money doesn’t make any sense, you’re constantly lost on city transportation. Life is really hard the first few days, months, years. And you feel out of place and very alone. No one will stop a refugee on the street and say, “Hey there, welcome to America. I’m glad you’re here. How can I help you?” That just doesn’t happen.

But I wanted that feeling to occur, even if that conversation wasn’t going to. I wanted recent refugees to walk down the street and see a sign of welcome, a simple gesture that assured them that they would be treated with respect and care should they walk through the doors that carried our sign.

My goal is to make refugees feel welcome. It’s also to create a physical manifestation of that welcome, so we can become more comfortable saying it out loud.

Update: All stickers from the first print run have been distributed. To help pay for production costs on a second printing, consider buying a sticker set

What Is Hippie Modernism?

The following text originally appeared as the preface to Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia (Walker Art Center, 2015; Andrew Blauvelt, ed.). The exhibition is on view at the Walker October 24, 2015 through February 28, 2015, before traveling to the Cranbrook Art Museum and University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. […]

The following text originally appeared as the preface to Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia (Walker Art Center, 2015; Andrew Blauvelt, ed.). The exhibition is on view at the Walker October 24, 2015 through February 28, 2015, before traveling to the Cranbrook Art Museum and University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

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I first encountered the term hippie modernism twenty-five years ago in an essay by Lorraine Wild, who mentioned it passingly in the context of the design program at Cranbrook Academy of Art—a reference to the process and methodologically oriented character of a certain type of 1970s design.[1] Although no examples were shown I could not help but conjure an arresting image in my mind. Perhaps she was thinking of a poster that documented a road trip in 1973 by fifteen students and faculty undertaken in a Winnebago from Detroit to New York. The black-and-white broadside mapped their route and a lexicon of design terms surveyed the terrain of ideas they encountered along the way. Certainly, the piece was the product of a collective process and a self-conscious method. The poster’s orderly modern grid exemplified what one historian has labeled the International Typographic Style.[2] However, with its typewriter typography used to define terms such as architecture machine, software, “democratic” design, and design freaks, and a map masterly collaged with the signs and symbols of the roadside vernacular—a gesture right out of Venturi and Scott Brown’s Las Vegas playbook[3]—the project also embodied a hippie otherness. The poster, like the air inside that packed van, exuded some kind of funk. Titled “The Cranbrook design trip,” the double entendre spoke for itself. After all, what could be more hippie than a collective road trip inside a recreational vehicle transformed into a nomadic design studio for eight days?

Despite the clarity that this example offered, the term still contained an unresolved dissonance: were the hippie and the modern opposing concepts or complementary ones? Why does the notion of the hippie seem so estranged from modernism? At first glance, the culture of the hippies evokes not the modern but the premodern and the preindustrial: an affinity for nineteenth-century pioneer dress and its agrarian way of life, vividly captured in photos of rural communes;[4] the stylish period clothing of the Victorian-era Wild West said to have emanated from the vintage clothing stores of San Francisco and the Red Dog Saloon in Nevada, an early site of acid rock;[5] or its counterpart, the recurring figure of the American Indian as a countercultural touchstone representing a more authentic spiritual connection between man and nature.[6] In these ways, the hippies anticipate the postmodern search for historical symbolism and identity. But the hippie scene also embraced modernism’s fascination with new media, materials, and technologies—taped music, synthesized sound, feedback and distortion, light effects, slide projectors, portable video cameras, television, plastics, reflective Mylar, and computers.[7] But unlike the technocratic impulse that viewed scientific advances as intrinsically progressive and socially good, the hippie modern sought alternative uses for such technologies, which were increasingly adapted for personal creative effect and collective betterment. For instance, video and television could fulfill its democratic potential,[8] computing could be for personal use and no longer the sole purview of military and corporate elites, [9] technology could be made appropriate for local contexts and more environmentally sound,[10] the urban environment could be rehabilitated rather than euphemistically renewed,[11] and man and nature could be brought into ecological balance. These ameliorations and alterations typify a reconditioning of modernity through encounters with its hippie other. In a larger context of the counterculture, the hippie modern sought a recuperation of the avant-garde’s utopic dream of integrating art into everyday life. It did so by fusing art and politics and by creating alternative ways of living and thus producing the artifacts, rituals, and experiences that were necessary for this new life.

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Hippie modernism marks the tension between the modern characterized as universal, timeless, rational, and progressive, and its countercultural other, which adopts a more local, timely, emotive and often irreverent, and radical disposition. I argue that hippie modernism was a momentary reconciliation of these seemingly opposed values as a way of resolving the impasse that faced postwar cultural modernity—caught between the proverbial rock of technocratic progress and a hard place of impending social disaster[12] that erupted in crisis in the 1960s and would later be very differently reconciled under the rubric of postmodernism in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

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The path forward in art-historical terms was split between those artistic movements more aligned with deeper investigations into the increasingly essential properties of a particular medium or reductive practices (e.g., Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Minimalism) and those movements that actively sought an expansion of the arts into a plurality of new forms, hybrid media, and interactive experience (e.g., expanded cinema, intermedia, installation art, performance).[13] Of these choices, hippie modernism would follow the latter course through experiments that drew upon the theatrical qualities and the participatory actions of the Happening, embraced Fluxus’s democratic spirit in its everyone-is-an-artist philosophy, explored the work of experimental filmmakers seeking to expand cinematic experience, and experimented with the fluid nature of light and sound as well as the interactive qualities of kinetic art. From Pop art it drew its lessons about popular culture as a source of inspiration and entertainment as well as its potential for social critique and the dangers of market commodification. Despite these influences, the fate of most countercultural production was that it would be undertaken outside the disciplinary boundaries of art—beyond its studios, galleries, and museums—and enacted in the public spaces and places of popular life: in streets, parks, plazas, discos, and theaters.

While advanced industrial society at mid-century continued its forward march, the 1960s’ counterculture embodied a deep skepticism about modernity’s technological progress in a postwar society. Seeking a promised liberation from stifling social conventions and oppression, it looked back to seemingly ancient or non-Western examples for spiritual and ethical guidance, exploring open social networks and experimenting with collective actions in life and work. It demanded an expanded social conscience for all, while preaching enlightenment and human potential through expanded forms of consciousness one person at a time.

The hippie modern is not invoked to delineate a style, but rather to denote a historical moment—the creative eruption of the countercultural period that I bracket between the Merry Pranksters’ cross-country acid trip in 1964 and the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 to 1974, which brought into dramatic relief the limits of Western society’s progress and geopolitical power. From the thrilling promise of a post-scarcity society to the sobering reality of a stalled economy, the decade unfolded with dramatic speed but concluded like so many idled cars queued at the gas pump. By evoking the word hippie, I do not mean to suggest that all or even any of the artists in the exhibition self-identified with the term or would have described themselves as one. The hippie was and remains a highly mediated figure, one used rhetorically within this project as the same kind of empty signifier to which accreted many different agendas. Or, as the Diggers once said, the hippie was just another convenient “bag” for the “identity-hungry to climb in.”[14] I adopt the term hippie modernism as a convenient art-historical bag with which to gather and identify various countercultural remnants. By doing so, I risk a similar co-option that the Diggers tried to burn and bury in their “Death of Hippie” event to cleanse Haight-Ashbury of its insipid commercialism. However, my objective is to contest that fate by drawing attention to this liminal period between an increasingly insular high modernism that furthered the cause of art’s autonomy in society and an emergent hippie modernism that engaged new forms and experimental practices that drew upon the early modern avant-garde’s desire to dissolve art into life.

The period under consideration is a historical transition from one epoch to another: from an industrial to a postindustrial society and from a culture of an ossified high modernism to a nascent postmodernism. Because of this transitory status and its rejection of disciplinary boundaries, the counterculture, until very recently, existed in the margins of so many art, architectural, and design histories.[15] This project foregrounds such practices and excavates such histories.

 

Finding the Hippie Modern

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The modern conjures the figure of the machine as its preferred metaphor—a creation of man but with no trace of the hand, all smoothness and refinement, an abstraction of labor and an efficient, if indifferent, labor-saving device—something apart from nature. By contrast, the hippie evokes not the machine but the body—sensual and emotive—connecting man to nature, a direct rather than a distant connection wherein man and nature are part of a shared cybernetic system. If the modern was the hardware, then the hippie was the software—offering a new operating system for “Spaceship Earth.”[16] It is the collision of these philosophies and aesthetics that defines the project’s center of gravity, the tension between the hippie and the modern.

Despite any differences, both movements shared a similar desire to sweep aside convention and to “start from zero.” In this way they both can be said to be in search of a utopia: whether technological, social, or political. In the modern, the new wants to be invented without history, ex nihilo—out of nothing—zero. With the hippie it must be recaptured, relearned, rebooted—a return to renewed beginnings—a different kind of zero. As Tom Wolfe, who had famously chronicled Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ escapades in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test of 1968, affirms in his essay “The Great Relearning”:

The hippies sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero. At one point the novelist Ken Kesey, leader of a commune called the Merry Pranksters, organized a pilgrimage to Stonehenge with the idea of returning to Anglo-Saxon civilization’s point zero, which he figured was Stonehenge, and heading out all over again to do it better. … This process, namely the relearning—following a Promethean and unprecedented start from zero—seems to me to be the leitmotif of the twenty-first century in America. [17]

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Above: Stuart Hall, “The Hippies: An American ‘Moment,’” in Student Power, ed. Julian Nagel (London: Merlin Press, 1969), 173.

 

It is this utopic impulse that gives the counterculture its radical edge and avant-garde position.

The interplay of the hippie and the modern can be gleaned in various ways throughout the exhibition—through its process, appearance, and politics. I see the hippie in the patchwork assembly of Drop City’s handcrafted “zomes” and the modern in their avant-garde notion of creating a community to integrate art and life. I recognize the concept in Victor Papanek and George Seegers’s “tin can radio,” a dung-fueled receiver for the developing world—which fascinated the faculty at the Ulm School in Germany, successors to the Bauhaus, but who were nevertheless repelled by its anti-aesthetic form and the decorative cozies knitted by its local owners. I’m reminded of today’s networked culture in the powerful collages of Superstudio’s Supersurface—a cybernetic grid of modernism enveloping the world, its hippie inhabitants living happily in a “world without objects.”[18] I can learn through doing—a favorite trope of the counterculture that sought to free education from the tyranny of schooling[19]—by making my own spaces from the plethora of “cookbooks” offering up recipes for modern living structures, whether plastic and inflatable or wooden and modular.[20] I try to decipher the message of the acid rock poster, its vibrating palette a Josef Albers color exercise done, to quote Dave Hickey, “backwards—inside out, too much, and exactly wrong.”[21] I read the paperbacks of Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, and Jerry Rubin, whose countercultural ideas are not locked up in dutiful text blocks on Gutenberg’s press bed but released onto Quentin Fiore’s fluid, cinematic pages—an ironic testament to the fact that the revolution wasn’t televised as much as it was printed.[22] I’m immersed in the wondrous images of John Whitney’s technically sophisticated films, whose micro and macro compositions evoke the sacred geometries of a more timeless cosmological order. I wander through Helen and Newton Harrison’s sensuous cybernetic orchard of fruit trees under grow lights, while recalling Richard Brautigan’s poem “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.”[23] In these and in other projects in the exhibition, implicit and explicit critiques of modernity are made manifest in the work and in our shared experience of them decades later.

 

“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”

Using Timothy Leary’s famous dictate to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” the exhibition is loosely organized around these concepts. Attributed to Marshall McLuhan, the phrase is both a countercultural cliché and a handy, but rough, chronicle of the period’s evolution. As such, the first section explores the notion of expanding individual consciousness through altered states of perception—whether through the pharmacologically induced acid trip or its drugless approximation via technological or spiritual means, for instance: the psychedelic canvases of Isaac Abrams, the optical apparatus of Haus-Rucker-Co, or the meditative quality of USCO.

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The second section, “tune in,” explores the notion of social awareness and collective consciousness and action, with particular attention paid to the role of books, magazines, posters, and prints as more democratic modes of cultural production and objects more easily circulated through society, including: the weaponized Pop graphics of Corita Kent or in the timely missives of Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party’s minister of culture; the immersive media chamber of Ken Isaacs’s Knowledge Box, with its projected images culled from popular magazines of the postwar image bank; or one of the most widely circulated and successful books of the counterculture, Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, which served to connect a far-flung community in common purpose and purchase.[24]

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Third, the “drop out” is addressed through a diverse range of refusals, which often explore the pitfalls and potentials of technology and nature, such as: Drop City, the iconic artist colony turned countercultural commune; the proposed nomadic community of Ant Farm’s Truckstop Network and their roaming Media Van,[25] which refused the destiny of network television in favor of portable video; or the recycling of Evelyn Roth, who wove new environments wholly out of the detritus of society’s discarded videotape and thrift store sweaters. Radical architects and anti-design proponents refused the high modernism of 1960s and design’s conventional practice and lack of social engagement. In the words of Adolfo Natalini, one of the founders of Superstudio: “If design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of bourgeois model of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities … until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then, design must disappear. We can live without architecture.”[26]

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Victor Papanek harbored equal disdain for product design that only served the wants and desires of consumers rather than the real needs of all people: “It is about time that industrial design, as we have come to know it, should cease to exist. As long as design concerns itself with confecting trivial ‘toys for adults,’ killing machines with gleaming tail fins, and ‘sexed up’ shrouds for typewriters, toasters, telephones, and computers, it has lost all reason to exist.”[27]

In Stuart Hall’s discussion of Leary’s famous phrase, he rightly points out its mechanistic metaphors: one turns on a device like a TV or a radio and we tune in a channel or a program. Tuning in is channeling one’s inner-self while being attuned to the lives of others. As Hall relates: “There is, as the phrase suggests, more than one ‘channel of perception’ through which we experience the world. The trouble with straight society is it that it is tuned in to the ‘wrong station’ and thus getting the wrong message or signal.”[28] To “drop out” is to refuse to participate in the organized rituals of normative society—its schools, its military, its economy, and so on—in essence, its way of life. This kind of nonparticipation, however, is too often seen as socially passive and politically apathetic. This project seeks to counter this common misperception of the counterculture’s slacker ambiance, preferring to understand its disengagement as an active form of disavowal. Because it looked beyond modern industrialized Eurocentric viewpoints in matters of spirituality, healing, and technology to other places such as India or Africa, or back in time to the American West of nineteenth-century pioneers or to fin de siècle Vienna in matters of style, the counterculture harbored the kind of tendencies that would later define the stylistic eclecticism and historical nostalgia of postmodernism. For the most part, the search elsewhere was not a matter of reviving earlier historical styles as it would be for postmodernism, rather it was a spatial and temporal displacement in the present day to a contemporaneous world of agrarian peasant practices, vernacular building methods, “third world” technologies, and the like.[29] In other words, one did not have to look back into history for premodern, non-Western precedents but rather could find them coexisting alongside advanced industrial society in the present—not at its center, but at its margins.

 

Utopia Now

If the exhibition is about a relatively brief moment in time, it is not ultimately limited to this era. For every historical example, there seems to be a contemporary corollary. In fact, so much contemporary art and culture can trace its roots to the themes and movements of this period, whether the pedagogical experiments of a socially practiced art, the speculative and open-ended nature of a more participatory and socially impactful design, the discourses of sustainability and resilience in architecture and design, or the harvesting of once radical and visionary ideas into the image banks of contemporary practitioners.

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Hippie Modernism is a Janus-faced figure, one side facing forward and looking ahead and the other side facing backward and looking behind. But looking at what? Conventionally, we would say that one sees the future and the other the past. However, they both see the future not simply projected from the current reality forward but one shaped and altered by this backward and forward looking glance—a transfigured vision that holds a utopic potential. It seems unlikely though as the future is always ahead of us, or so we are told, just on the horizon. It challenges, among other things, the idea of that which is in front of us is intrinsically positive and progressive, while that which is behind us is inherently negative or regressive. Technology is constantly presented as a future proposition, one that is in front of us but can also appear as if out of nowhere, out of the blue, beyond our field of vision—even from behind us.[30] Technology is portrayed as within our grasp, just as André Leroi-Gourhan conceived that evolution coincides with technological evolution: as humans stand upright on two feet, they free their hands for grasping and their faces for communicating.[31] Thus, humans are free to fabricate extensions of their bodies and senses through the tools and technologies that remake them and project them forward. In this historical moment of the hippie modern, the Janus figure sees the future both in front of him and behind him. However, in the hippie modern every step forward recalls a turning back—not a step backward, but a return to that moment when humans originated their technological selves. It is this forward and backward glance that bends or alters the seemingly inevitable trajectory of a relentless forward-facing, technocratic progress.

Utopia, like any tool, is conjured from a future but it is destined to remain just out of reach of the technological self. This unresolvable conundrum defines the struggle. Nearly a decade before those fifteen Cranbrook students and faculty piled into their Winnebago, Ken Kesey and his acid-fueled Merry Pranksters drove their wildly painted school bus across America. Their bus was named Further, which describes a position beyond one’s current location but without directional bias. Even a half-century later, we still ask: are we any further? Such is the question of a hippie modernism.

 

Notes

[1] Lorraine Wild, “Transgression and Delight: Graphic Design at Cranbrook,” in The New Cranbrook Design Discourse, ed. Hugh Aldersey-Williams (New York: Rizzoli, 1990), 31.

[2] See the chapter “The International Typographic Style,” a reference to the dominant architectural modernism of the early twentieth century but in its mid-century corporate graphic design guise, in Philip B. Meggs, A History of Graphic Design (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983).

[3] The reference is to the landmark study of the Las Vegas commercial strip by students and faculty from Yale University. See Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972).

[4] See the cover story and photo essay, “The Youth Communes New Way of Living Confronts the U.S.,” Life, July 18, 1969.

[5] Beginning in 1965, the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, owned by Chandler A. Laughlin III (aka Travus T. Hipp), helped buoy the music careers of the Charlatans and Big Brother and the Holding Company with its unique blend of psychedelic-fueled mayhem, light show displays, and a burgeoning form of electric folk music that would soon become the template for the San Francisco scene.

[6] See Philip Deloria’s “Counterculture Indians and the New Age,” in Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s & ’70s, ed. Peter Braunstein and Michael William Doyle (London: Routledge, 2002), 159–188.

[7] For one fascinating example, see: David W. Bernstein, ed., The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

[8] For an account of the intersections between commercial television and early video and media activism, see David Joselit, Feedback: Television Against Democracy, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007).

[9] See John Markoff, What the Doormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (London: Penguin, 2005).

[10] Two influential books from the period that argue for a downsizing of technology include E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (New York: Perennial Library/Harper & Row, 1973) and Lane deMoll, ed., Rainbook: Resources for Appropriate Technology (New York: Schocken Books, 1977).

[11]The reference is to the countless urban-renewal projects undertaken in American cities in the 1960s and 1970s that eliminated various so-called undesirable and unproductive parts of the city. By contrast, projects such as the Integral Urban House (1975), a retrofitted Victorian mansion in Berkeley founded by the Farallones Institute sought to bring a more eco-friendly lifestyle to the existing urban environment. See Sim Van der Ryn, The Integral Urban House: Self-Reliant Living in the City (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1979).

[12] The apocalyptic overtones of the countercultural period include the risk of annihilation from a nuclear explosion brought on by the Cold War, a much anticipated civil race war following the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as American cities erupted in riots, or the computer-predicted ecological disaster brought about by overpopulation of the world and its limited resources forecast by the Club of Rome’s 1972 report The Limits to Growth.

[13] See Eric Crosby, “Introduction to Art Expanded, 1958–1978,” in Living Collections Catalogue, vol. 2, ed. Eric Crosby with Liz Glass (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015), http://walkerart.org/collections/publications/art-expanded/introduction.

[14] The full quote states: “The media cast nets, create bags for the identity-hungry to climb in. Your face on TV, your style immortalized without soul in the captions of the Chronicle. NBC says you exist, ergo I am.” Free City news sheet published by the Diggers, October 6, 1967, http://www.diggers.org/images/freecity/fc_c01_l.jpg.

[15] See my essay in this volume, “The Barricade and the Dance Floor: Aesthetic Radicalism and the Counterculture,” 15–30.

[16] The metaphor can be found in a speech by US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson in 1965 to the United Nations in which he proclaimed: “We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.” Albert Roland, Richard Wilson, and Michael Rahill, eds., Adlai Stevenson of the United Nations, 1900–1965 (Manila: Free Asia Press, 1965), 224. The term was, however, popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller in his book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969).

[17] Tom Wolfe, “The Great Relearning,” in American Spectator 20, no. 12 (December 1987): 14.

[18] See William Menking, “The Revolt of the Object,” in Superstudio: Life without Objects, ed. Peter Lang and William Menking (Turin: Skira, 2003).

[19] See the foundational text Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1970).

[20] Among the many “cookbooks” of the period are Ant Farm’s Inflatocookbook, Ken Isaacs’s How to Build Your Own Living Structures, and Victor Papanek and James Hennessey’s Nomadic Furniture books as well as Lloyd Kahn’s Domebook series and Steve Baer’s Dome Cookbook and Zome Primer, which are all featured in the exhibition.

[21] Dave Hickey, “Freaks,” in Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era, ed. Christoph Grunenberg (London: Tate Publishing, 2005), 64.

[22] See Sam Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), in particular the chapter “Book as Tool: Lifestyle Print Culture and the West Coast Publishing Boom.”

[23] The poem was written in 1967 during a period when Brautigan was poet-in-residence at the California Institute of Technology and was published and freely distributed by the Communications Company (Com/co), the printing arm of the Diggers. The poem can read online at http://allpoetry.com/All-Watched-Over-By-Machines-Of-Loving-Grace.

[24] For accounts of the Whole Earth Catalog, see Andrew G. Kirk, Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2007) and Simon Sadler, “An Architecture of the Whole,” Journal of Architectural Education 61, no. 4 (May 2008): 108–129.

[25] For an account of the Truckstop Network project, see Felicity D. Scott, Ant Farm: Living Archive 7 (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2008).

[26] Adolfo Natalini, lecture at the Architectural Association, London, March 3, 1971, quoted in Superstudio: Life Without Objects, ed. Peter Lang and William Menking (Turin: Skira, 2003), 20–21.

[27] Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (New York: Bantam Books, 1973), 15. The emphasis is in the original.

[28] Stuart Hall, “The Hippies: An American ‘Moment,’” in Student Power, ed. Julian Nagel (London: Merlin Press, 1969), 173.

[29] For one account of such explorations, see Alison J. Clarke, “The Anthropological Object in Design: From Victor Papanek to Superstudio,” in Design Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st Century, ed. Alison J. Clarke (Vienna: Springer, 2011), 74–87.

[30] For a deconstruction of the concepts of anteriority and posteriority as well as his conception of the “dorsal” turn as it relates to humans and technology, see David Wills, Dorsality: Thinking Back through Technology and Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

[31] See André Leroi-Gourhan, Gesture and Speech (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993).

 

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