in conversation / design graduates

By Tom Eckersley, who started the first undergraduate graphic design course in Britain at LCP in 1954.

I took part in this conversation that happened at LCC today, it's supposed to be published in Creative Review in June but who knows what will happen. It had the subtitle of "positioning" ourselves as designers, and life after university.

There were about 20 of us students in the third year of "graphic and media design" at LCC, from all pathways: (which means classes) advertising, typo/graphics, information design, illustration and interactive design (last one's where I'm from.) There was also Jonathan Ellery from Browns Design and Joshua from Provokateur together with tutors Sarah Temple and Anna Gerber.

It was interesting to talk about design-related issues round a table, although I got a bit frustrated about the limited nature of the discussion at times. There seemed to be a notion that boundless conceptual creativity is confined within education, and the industry is where one works for the man and is a mere implementer, under the thumb of an art director. Binary dumbness! Eventually this got dismissed, as it is clear that there is a messiness /diversity /ambiguity of roles emerging from a design education background. Which is pretty exciting.

There was a lot of talk initially about magazines, which made me angry in one of those volcano ways. I think I said something like "why are we talking about this? Design magazines are redundant*, piles of paper to be thrown away, concerning themselves with stroking egos and the design we should be discussing is what we see around us in our daily life." * Apart from Dot Dot Dot, I added at a later point.

Yeah I can get a bit righteous in these kinds of conversations ... oh well. But there was some good talk about problem solving, research strategies and striking a balance between practical / conceptual skills at college. I mentioned the typographic quiz in Paris, how we should all be instilled with THE RULES regardless of whether we use them or not. The designers imparted their wisdom: Joshua talked about love, having to love design. Jonathan talked about maintaining criticality and curiosity. Sarah thinks the new generation of graduates are multidisciplinary and Anna thinks the UK has a healthy, irreverent, thriving, somewhat DIY design scene. The conversation concluded with Jonathan saying that he was flabbergasted, because he thought we be a bunch of wannabe superstars. Ha! He has to go to other design schools for that attitude, I reckon.


29.03 | warehouse party

Alex is playing a live set on Saturday, woop.


One of the things I miss about the past: meeting up with friends at shows and exchanging mix tapes. I'm not going to get all Thurstonian about it, I just miss it.

Anyway, that's kind of what muxtape is doing online, it's a tape-stop!

This is my muxtape.

Thanks Jerome for pointing me in this direction.


marion bataille | ABC-3D

night slugs | friday 28.03

Alex's new night, it's going to be fun.
Here's a 5 minute mission statement about it which makes me smile.

to visit a volcano.

That is my dream! I think this one is most likely:

Mount Vesuvius has its own webcam, which while being amusing is somewhat insufficient.


talks n talks

So lucky there are so many good, free (or close to free, less than a cup of tea) talks around.

A few months ago I went to hear Orlan talk at Goldsmiths. It was so nice to hear someone with a great sense of humour speaking French, but sad that her young translator lost so much of it.

Orlan looked fabulous. I don't think I could say that word out loud, but I'll write it down anyway. She had 80s style Corbusier glasses, and Cruella-ish hair. And her nodes were all glittery:

Orlan was talking about baroque and religion in her work and put some words on the screen: THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY SOFTWARE.

Here are some aspects of her work that she said, and I like:

+ the living and the fake, side by side. (Which Jordan/Katie Price was talking about in the paper yesterday. I think they'd get on)
+ exploration of excess.
+ every representation of the self being pseudo.
+ a flood, explosion, dysentery of images.
+ re/dis/figuration.
+ life as a recoverable aesthetic phenomenon.

Here are some artists that she referenced:
+ John Cage
+ Artaud
+ Cronenberg
+ Kristeva
+ Freud
+ Plato

She also read from her manifesto about Carnal Art.

"Carnal Art transforms the body into language, reversing the Christian principle of 'the word made flesh', the flesh is made word. Only the voice of Orlan remains unchanged."
I think it was the week after that I went to see Madelon Vriesendorp talk. It wasn't so much a talk, it was a game. It seemed like a lot of people there were her friends and family. It was a bit like being in her living room, everyone was nice and chatty and laughed a lot. Here's a close up of her collection, she calls it a city.

The game was about moving the objects around, and when a person is finished, everyone else has to analyze what it means - you go round in a circle. At first it was a bit intimidating - we were strangers at the party - but we goofed around and James said some things that made Madelon call him an expert. I discovered that anything about men and power goes down well. It would be nice to have regular moments in time to host these intellectual silly games with lots of different people, not just AA folk.

There's a new edition of "Life, A User's Manual" (3rd cover down)

This is why a bunch of French and English Oulipo members got together to read from Perec's books, and share anecdotes about their friendships. Vowels, lateral dichotomies and cats all heavily featured. We found out that the name of the famous cat is Duchat, and the child of Duchat is Duchatton, and the child of Duchatton is Douche.

Maybe the nicest moment was the simultaneous reading of Perec's 35 variations sur un thème de Marcel Proust, and Harry Matthews' 35 Variations On A Theme By Shakespeare which apparently he wrote on a transatlantic flight.

One person asked the table what they think Perec would be doing now, with a computer. They said they were pretty sure he'd be exploring word games as usual, programming his constraints, but trying to find the solutions that the computer missed out.

speed dating for artists.

Because artists should be with artists, duh.

I got sent an email about this thing at the ICA which stated: please note that we are nearly fully subscribed on the women's side but there are spaces available for men. That made me chuckle.

They're inviting people to bring along their work, so it could just turn out to be some extended, indulgent group crit where no one can hear anyone.

Ah to be a fly on the wall! Here are some things I can imagine being said:

+ How many isms can you name in a minute?
+ How do you feel about Sophie Calle?
+ 1960s: Conceptual art or Computer art?

Everyone gets 4 minutes to chat. Surely one couple will do a John Cage! (Sorry for the bad jokes) I'd go as an experiment, but it's really expensive and sounds like it'd be like Camberwell's college bar.


semaine de la langue française | perec

"On Monday 17 March, Oulipians Jacques Roubaud , Marcel Benabou , Ian Monk and Hervé Le Tellier will join Oulipo President Paul Fournel at the Institut to discuss the newly-updated translation of Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual (Vintage, 2008) with its distinguished translator David Bellos (Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Princeton, and winner of the 2005 Man Booker International Translator’s Prize)."

I can't wait! More info over at the French Institute.

PS. Now I'm going to read this thing I just found about Perec and Calvino sharing paragraphs.


about the typefaces not used in this edition | safran foer

A friend of mine is making a program that visualises letters in grayscale, according to how fast you are typing. He's making different variations, and mentioned disappearance of letters alogether, which reminded me of this short story by Jonathan Safran Foer, which made me develop a crush on a print-out.


telepathic momus

I love it that my everyday thoughts are somehow converted into insightful prose over at imomus.

Last week I was mulling over the strange allure of the contrived, uber-alles-English twee girl, only casually, and poof! he makes this highly problematic post/ode to Emmy the Great which is a pretty humorous exercise in intellectual fetishization of a type. Down there in the comments is my slogan of the week:

Really, who would require her to shut up about her aprons and her baking? Who would require her to be "feisty" when she can be yeasty?

I find this celebration-of-femininity-in-binary stuff really funny. It's as if it's provoking me to be feisty! Which will in turn lead to energy-burning, which inevitably leads to me finding something yeasty! Ah the endless feedback loop of being a girl.

Anyway, more pressing in my brain right now is participatory park design. And poof! He writes all about Hamburg's Park Fiction group. Who have done some really ace work which draws inspiration from Arabic geometry and relates to a project I'm working on at the moment. I really like the different sections of their plan: Interventionist Residents, Desire Production, Tools and Infotainment.


brutalism revisited, maintenance, modernists and conservation.

"No one has yet coined a term, at least not a favourable one, to describe the way man-made materials grow old. There are no haikus about plastic. There is not much Zen in an old Ford Mondeo. There is even less Zen in an old housing estate."

Stephen Bayley outlines a brief history of the Smithsons, talks pointless petitions and almost romanticizes concrete in his article on the Robin Hood estate. I would just go all out and eulogize about concrete if I had the time, so I won't, but this is the Robin Hood estate: