‘One publishes to find comrades’ - Andre Breton
Suggesting that the social aspect of publishing, within any of its forms, is the most important thing about it. With this unit, the focus lats on the idea of publishing something and what it mans to ‘make something public’? Graphic Designers are more often than not asked to create with an audience in mind, an audience generally defined as a societal or consumer group. Does something change if we instead think of graphic designers creating an audience?
There are three focus areas to this unit, one of which will be chosen for an essay question and explored in further detail; Print, Digital & Public Space.
How is print media evolving in a digital world?
How do different technologies affect design communication?
What should designers consider when making something for a public space, or a gathering of a community?
Digital Adjective, from the 15th century digitalis, digits, meaning finger, toe) - Recording or storing information as a series of the numbers 1 and 0, Using or relating to digital signals and computer technology, Showing information in the form of an electronic image. The internet started off as the ARPANET in 1969 and funded by the US Military. It took the form as we know it in 1990, the World Wide Web was invented by Tim-Berners-Lee. Digital publishing is everywhere, however there has been a resurgence in traditional print communication.
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC
'We Live In Public' - a 2009 documentary film by Ondi Timoner, which profiles internet pioneer Josh Harris - "The greatest internet pioneer you've never heard of". The theme of a loss of privacy in the internet age is explored, linking with the idea of different technologies altering communication. In particular, the film looks at harris' art project 'Quiet: We Live In Public' which involved more than 100 volunteers living in complete surveillance. 110 cameras captured their every move and each resident had the access to watch each other. Harris' Orwellian concept was forced to shut down on January 1st 2000, by order of the New York Police Dept. The project was said to have had a 'Neo-fascistic element'. After this project was shut down, harris then began weliveinpublic.com - where both he and his then girlfriend, Tanya Corrin, lived in their home under compete 24 hour surveillance. The project had cited emotional and mental stresses in corrin, resulting in her leaving a few months later. This film looks at an early creative exploration of the world web, and highlights how much technologies have developed in the 20 years since. 'The internet is not an intimate medium. If you want to keep something intimate, and you want to keep something sacred, you probably shouldn't post it' - Ondi Timoner. We willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire. Through Harris' experiments he demonstrates the price we will all pay for living in public.
JORDAN WOLFSON - ARTISTS FRIENDS RACISTS
Jordan Wolfson ARTISTS FRIENDS RACISTS - Sadie Coles Gallery. In this exhibition, Wolfson presents an immense digital installation consisting of multiple HYPERVSN 3D holographic displays. Arranged in a grid the devices project multiple images/animations developed by the artist to create a multipart digital mirage. In this piece wolfson probes American culture and contemporary life, a recurring theme in his work. LEDs are embedded in the blades of rapidly spinning fans, illuminating in a precise manner they create the illusion of imagery floating in space. Paired with the vast size of the gallery space, the advanced technology and its gentle hum create a somewhat hypnotic state. Whilst many of the images depict almost kitsch cartoons and words, scenes of 9/11 and other charged subjects are thrown in the mix. 'The presentation highlights how symbols, characters and even language have achieved a life of their own in today's advanced image economy, existing like spectres that float beyond the confines of the media and systems in which they circulate'.
BIG BROTHER (2002)
Independent to my research for this unit I watched the most recent channel 4 series on Jade Goody. I felt this documentary contrasts incredibly well with WE LIVE IN PUBLIC.
The Orwellian concept that Harris’ project explored is done here in Big Brother, not too many years later. Not only does the documentary cover the show - it explores exactly what it means to put your life in public view. Big Brother 3 was aired just as the internet was still taking shape and before social media was what it is today. The impact Jade had on British society in terms of being the first reality TV star is significant. It’s said in the documentary that the whole idea of modern celebrity replaces religion and jades impact was a deep symbol of that, The first real sacrifice of reality television. Her death marked the end of an era defined by the phone hacking scandal and the end of the news of the world. In a sense what jades story paved was the ability to shape your own narrative, the ability for everyone to make their own reality tv show. Jade was the first real hardcore symbol of a world to come, and it’s this ‘world to come’ that I’m really interested in from both a designers perspective and a conceptual one - aren’t both the same?
LUCIA SEKERKOVA - VRAJITOARE
A four year project, fusion photography and ethnological study, profiling the women of Romania's Wallachian Roma community. Documenting how ancient traditions have transitioned into the modern world with savvy social media promoting and live-streamed rituals. The particular women in question are the vrajitoare - witches. The projects' resulting images show the 'strange split between the old and the new world, as well as between magic and the internet'. What is seen is a consequence of modernisation that has transformed an ancient profession, which now relies on social network/media advertising - an old craft transformed into a business with great media strategies. Nine year old girls are already starting their promotional vrajitoare profiles on facebook. Dolls are at one moment their toy, yet at any time they can become magical artefacts with the ability to regain a clients lost love.
The Wallachian people were once nomadic groups, moving across Europe, with their traditional norms, specific forms of behaviour and own rules and laws (their nomadic lifestyle was eventually made illegal).
A vrajitoare's work is defined by fortune-telling and spell casting - known as witches, fortune tellers and healers - descriptions many Romanian Roma women identify themselves with. Due to their lifelong experiences, fortune telling abilities were primarily attributed to older women and their potential clients found in anywhere their caravans may have stopped. Before 1989 their work was prohibited by the Communist regime, fortune telling and witchcraft could result in imprisonment. Though today their names are often mentioned in police reports discussing blackmail and client manipulation, their services are seeing a new upsurge. The use of social media and technology here is fascinating when taking into account the century long traditional context. This collection of images is wondrous if not bizarre.
It’s an undeniable fact that digital technologies have changed our relationship with printed objects. Movable type was introduced to Europe in 1455 by Johannes Gutenberg, however it had already been invented in 1040 - in china. ‘Print culture brought about the cultural predominance of the visual over the aural/ oral’ - Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message.
Print media holds a greater importance today than spoken word. In 1955, Beatrice ward, on the 500th anniversary of Gutenberg spoke of print - ‘Print (as opposed to loud speakers) is on the side of people who (want to) turn back to the page on which they have found something debatable…turn forward to the end…stop short at any word or statement that seems to call for verification, or resort to the dictionary. Print is on the side of the people who still have the courage to say ‘Stop, I want to think about that’ or ‘surely that wasn’t what you said before?’ Or ‘what are you getting at?’. Essentially printed communication has a physicality, where the reader is able to direct and analyse what’s said to a detail. From The New Art of Making Books by Ulises Carrion, 1975 'A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment - a book is also a sequence of moments. A book is not a case of words, nor a bag of words, nor a bearer of words. A book is a space-time sequence. Books existed originally as containers of (literary) texts. But books, seen as autonomous realities, can contain any (written) language, not only literary language, or even any other system of signs.
JON RAFMAN - 9EYES
'At the centre of Jon Rafman’s “9Eyes” is Google Street View, which in 2007 sent a fleet of electric cars around the world to take photos with a nine-lensed camera mounted on its roof. The resulting images formed an amazing view of the world, all accessible from one’s own screen. In 2008, Rafman began to collate the fascinating, banal, and absurd images from Google Street View and give them new context by publishing them in books, exhibitions, and on blogs. The project remains ongoing and can be viewed through its own website.'
What's really interesting about this 'archive' is that it really demonstrates the warning, i suppose, that was central to harris' project outcome. Whilst the idea of surveillance to an extreme then was a mere futuristic concept - it is our reality. As demonstrated in the example screen grabs, we are under surveillance 24/7 without our knowledge.
DAZED DIGITAL - 'ALONE TOGETHER'
Dazed Digital have created 'Alone Together' - an online community in which they plan to connect with their audience by offering URL experiences, art and advice. As part of the projects 'campaign' thirty-three artists have contributed their own take. A post-pandemic future is the basis for a wide range of poster art. With themes of personal growth, consumption and friendship - each artist creates an entirely unique outcome. The art project will also raise funds for NHS trust barts charity. Donations give you the chance of winning poster art from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Wolfgang Tillmans and more. In response to our current situation, we are having to publish our work digitally and i think this project captures that perfectly. Much how rough and ready printing was the best way to spread a message quickly at the peak of fanzines, today 'publishing' work on the internet is our best bet. These posters, with print based aesthetics are created predominantly digitally - bringing 2/3 focuses of the unit together. (top left) 'Inside/Outside' by James Messiah, (bottom left) 'WHEN THE REAL IS NO LONGER WHAT IT WAS, NOSTALGIA ASSUMES ITS FULL MEANING' by Boot Boys Biz. (bottom) Watercolour on cotton - Ida Ekblad.
DEKMANTEL FESTIVAL WEBSITE
Given the subject and purpose - to inform and sell, this website does much more. It entices feelings of excitement, an organised chaos maybe? “The idea was to approach with an ‘editorial-ish’ approach, mixing different headliner weights and the 3D assets. We liked the idea of an ever-changing site, which lets you discover the line-up instead of seeing all in one go,” he tells us. The whole site is therefore designed on a grid and each tile can be populated via the website’s backend individually. Each also has its own custom animation. “The whole grid switches its tiles in a rhythm or can be switched by the user” - Ben Wegshceider, designer and founder of Bureau Cool.
MICHAEL WOLF - STREET VIEW
Michael Wolf's project, Street View, is coined 'photojournalism re-defined'. Dedicating hundreds of hours at his computer to trolling the world via google street view, wolf has 'photographed' the things he comes across. The final body of work is completely composed of selected personal calamities (in progress, or about to happen) caught by random chance by Googles GPS-coordinated street view cameras. By mounting his camera in front of his computer screen he creates a picture from a picture. This collection can be connected to two previously mentioned works - Ed Ruscha's 'Every building on sunset boulevard' (1966) and George Orwell's novel,1984, in which closed circuit surveillance was envisioned darkly - and yet today it is even more commonplace.