How to Be a Successful Graphic Designer


yetzer hara

Yetzer hara is Raphael Leray is from Paris, and draws the insides of things.

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Recent graduates Johannes and Tim make up Coolmix, and they have some great projects:

Fat modernism: our idea was simply to take the icons of "neo modernism" and blow them up.

A brochure dedicated to the typographic decorations Syd Mead designed for the game grid in Tron.

Applescript: fabric pattern based on programming language sequence.

Another fabric pattern.

And they make postcards too:

But getting back to Syd Mead, his first book Sentinel looks interesting. It includes his 1971 concept painting for Playboy. That's a liquid crystal light show in case you were wondering.



Apolonija Sustersic | Community Research Office

At the Architectural Association summer show there was yet another infuriating project concerning the redevelopment of Hackney. I skimmed through it (piles of professionally bound paper) and there were some pretty pictures, but I didn’t see any documentation of dialogue with the community concerned. Not even a questionnaire hand-out. Here’s a spread:

This prompted Jerome to lend me a book: Community Research Office. In 2003 Apolonija Sustersic temporarily converted the IBID gallery on Cambridge Heath road (Hackney) into a CRO with the intention of running a bunch of projects in the space, exploring the different aspects and consequences of gentrification in East London.

In the introduction she says: the gallery white cube gives way to an office space for this work-in-progress. Ultra aware of the role art spaces play in the gentrification process, this isn’t a theoretical exercise. They called it a base for collecting information about the neighbourhood. Sure they start off by quoting Paul Treanor but then the interviews begin: the owner of dairy on Columbia road, Gilda O’Neill on the changes in Roman rd’s Kelly’s Pie and Eel Shop (vegetarian pies? That doesn’t seem right to me.)

Sustersic talks about the problematic nature of housing contemporary art, and how non-contextual spaces offers a poor communication system with the general public. And in relation to gentrification, she makes a point: the young gallery running in a cheap space in the cheapest part of town is not there to revive or communicate with its neighbourhood, but is trying very hard to invite the rich art elite from the other part of town. Vyner street comes to mind.

She mentions the New York-based Center for an Urban Future and their neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood assessment for the potential of arts and culture in stimulating economic growth. Widemar Spruyt talks about urban designers. I like the idea of these people - they are inbetween urban planners and architects. Spruyt - who works for Tower Hamlets Urban Planning Dept - reckons that urban planners are more concerned with social inclusion, and architects with aesthetics and details. He mentions urban design as a growing discipline, working with urban initiatives and re-urbanism, and the urban renaissance as coined by Richard Rogers. The rest of the interviews in the book include Francesca's cafe in Broadway market, the story of York Hall, Bellevue road in Wandsworth. The latter is another story in itself, and Tom Slater (urban geographer) uses it as a case study to underline and group together the various forms of gentrification. In short, this publication is ace.

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Idea 2006 | Seattle Public Library

This conference should be (insert word for something really good, that isn't one of the 3 I always use.)

People taking part include Bruce Sterling, Linda Stone, Fernanda Viegas who worked on that History Flow project which got compared to Ben Fry's SNPs project, and Dan Hill who also hearts Tim O'Toole (tube stations as churches, yes)

Topics for discussion are listed on the conference blog. Dan's at the top there talking about the reinvention of broadcast media in reaction to web 2.0. He mentions the BBC hosting music festivals in second life... Um. This is where I'd scan in the cover of Wednesday's Liberation, with its hand-drawn image of youths filming themselves, being broadcast on youtube. On the front of the newspaper. But the scanner's broken.

All taking place here too:

Why am I in Paris again? Ah yes, I have a maison flottante to visit:

Not sure why I made that visual comparison there, but any which way Cneai will be showing some interesting things inside it I hear.

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Frances Stacey | New paintings

When Fran's not busy hugging trees or stealing my boots, or both at the same time, she paints. Up in Edinburgh she's been creating these stunning, enormous pieces about journies and octopi and monkeys. Wow.

More here and here.



le Corbusier: architecte de bonheur 1957

So, I went to the pavillon de l'arsenal (again) (which by the way was recommended by Alessandra Cianchetta of AWP architects when she talked in London this summer otherwise I'd never have known) And they were showing this film tonight, with a debate afterwards concerning the portrait of the architect. I think in the UK it would have had a catchier title, something like, I don't know, architect:superstar?. It was a tiny room so I did what I always do: seek out the oldest man. The one with white hair and glasses and shirt tucked in and hairy ears. And then sit behind him. They always have the best conversation, these men.

And so, the film was predictably awesome: begins with Corb (can I call him that now?) painting in his studio. The floor is full of brushes leaking out of paint pots. It's messy. There's nothing golden about this situation, aside from the vacuous blonde/ 50s siren's hair. She's the one asking him questions throughout. Every time her face fills the screen is pure comedy and the entire room giggles. Maybe that's a bit cruel? Anyway so he takes her to a blackboard where he chalks out the essentials of living. We see a crudely drawn sun setting over the earth. It's important, light. And lots of tech drawings. And then to Marseille: sitting on the roof, sketching, children run towards le Corbusier with glee, for he is l'architecte de bonheur.

All this without a morcel of irony, wow! And unfortunately the organisers in the comfy chairs up front wanted to talk about mis-en-scene, and how cinema is vital for transmitting ideas of utopia, and the soundtrack, etc etc. They were starting to talk about le Corbusier's ideas and practice in relation to all this when the old guy in front of me got itchy and stood up to interrupt like all old men should and said: those drawings? I drew them! those models of the unite d'habitation? I made them! Those paintings he was painting? We painted together! If anyone here would like to ask me questions regarding le Corbusier, feel free to ask me. And then he sat down again.

At which point I really wished my french was a little better and the rest of the room weren't such cowards / snobs. There was an authoritative silence. The organisers followed this by saying: well, this talk is more about cinema than le Corbusier himself and then referred to his army of helpers and then spoke of his opportunism, at which point I tuned out and listened to the old man in front, who was busy reeling out the anecdotes concerning Corb's politics. It went something like Left! They were all left, everyone surrounding him. You know what he said to me? He said, heh, you're a communist. Just like me! And then he began mumbling, which is fine by me but kind of hard to arch your neck to. I wanted to stay longer and maybe hover around this old man next to the apperitif table, but unfortunately my companion had fallen asleep. And so ends this tale of getting it right: stalking OAPs at architecture talks. Should start a guide book.

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pavillon de l'arsenal, videotheque, xenakis again.

The Pavillon de l'Arsenal is a gorgeous building. It's next to the Seine and has a statue recalling Rimbaud near its entrance, and a glass roof. On the ground floor is a story of Paris told through the changing public areas over hundreds of years. Descriptions of urbanity through models, drawings, diagrams, old footage and chronological statistics (daily feature of Parisian life)

pavillon de l'arsenal

Upstairs is an exhibition of architects' exhibitions. Neatly summised in English and French, my favourite of the floating windows (imagine it is a desktop please) was Bruce Mau's pragmatic utopia generation: Too Perfect | Seven new Denmarks. Working in collaboration with Danish architects/designers, they tried reimagining the triple bottom line of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.

His letter "Dear Denmark" is ace. More countries should get open letters. Or maybe colour-coded diagrams. UK could get a myspace page.

Anyway, a few more steps and I was confronted by sticky red booths.
pavillon de l'arsenal videotheque booth

Videotheque! I am loving this word. Not only do they have short slapsticky films on the tramway of 1922 (don't ask) but also big-hitting long-players (Godard et al) and, Xenakis.

Xenakis talking about the U.P.I.C. on French TV to be exact:
xenakis footage from videotheque

Up close:

This page describes the U.P.I.C system pretty well.

We had a voice over telling us he is a "classical greek man" (ha) and then the man himself talking about the genetics of sound, the demise of tradition, the necessity to invent nature, and lastly, how we must go further than nature. (Take note this film was only a few minutes long)

Apparently there is a Windows version of UPIC. Don't know what version Haswell + Hecker used for their project, but here's a section of the tale from Frieze:

Rather than concentrate on simple forms of mark-making and the sounds they produce, they experimented with different types of visual material – tracing onto the UPIC tablet images ranging from news photographs of disasters and atrocities, through depictions of the natural world to microscopic images of molecular structures (such as that which makes up 'the blackest ever black', a coating for telescopes that is purportedly the least reflective material on Earth). Despite the limitations of the system (it won't, for example, allow a full circle to be drawn – a sound that occurs over time can't, after all, travel back on itself), their research was in the spirit of stochastic exploration Xenakis advocated. Haswell and Hecker took the material they recorded at CCMIX and developed it for a diffusion system. No mere PA or surround sound set-up, a diffusion system is a multiple set of speakers that distribute sound through space, and allow for a high degree of real-time control over volume levels, equalization and, most importantly, spatial placement by the operator or performer at the mixing desk.

I want to visit the CCMIX quite badly.

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