Whose Legacy? Public Walk

To continue the CG2014 theme this public walk may be of interest:

Glasgow Games Monitor are hosting a free public walk around the Games Village and in the wider area of the Dalmarnock, Parkhead and Bridgeton. On Saturday April 26th, meeting at Bridgeton Cross at 1pm.

There are currently frantic attempts by local government and its partners, spurred on by the Games, to create a “new east end”. This walk, or “territorial enquiry” will be a critical response to those efforts. We will be going to key sites of transformation in and around Bridgeton, Dalmarnock and Parkhead to discuss and reflect in-situ, what these changes mean in the everyday, and in a wider political context for the city and for democracy. JOIN US!


With the huge countdown clock appearing above the departure board at Central Station, excitement for the Commonwealth Games has stepped up. The nine digit clock had initially shown 128 days to the opening ceremony before somebody switched it off and on again to get the correct number of 135 days. This minor glitch of 7 days brought back fond memories of being part of a group of Glasgow School of Art students contributing to the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in 1986. The 1986 Games were affected by a large political boycott and financial mismanagement. A rotund newspaper tycoon with black dyed hair called Robert Maxwell had stepped in promising to invest £2m. Unfortunately the contribution of this demagogue was just £250,000 encouraging Private Eye magazine to lampoon him as the “bouncing Czech” (he was Czechoslovakian born).




With The Pastels on my Sony Walkman, I walked over to Garscube Road from Wilton Street to join my fellow GSA students at the Display company. We assembled in a big warehouse and were briefed by a monosyllabic boss man in a nylon shirt on the master plan for the Opening Ceremony. Demographic schemes including Africa and Oceania were proposed for carnival style floats. These would be driven around the running track in Edinburgh with happy people waving their hands in fancy dress. I was put in charge of ‘blowing up’ thumbnail drawings of the Houses of Parliament and applying them to the side elevations of the float. I was given a small projector with a 25 meter flex and a wobbly podium on wheels to complete the enlargement. This took me two weeks to execute and when it was laid out on the warehouse floor, it was twice the size required. I was happy to be dismissed of my duties because it meant I could join my fellow students who had nearly completed their 3D rendering of the great barrier reef. After a few more days we were all asked to meet with the monosyllabic boss man who proceeded to hand us some money in small brown envelopes. Our work was done, it was time to leave and the BBC stepped in.

The graphic design that complements major sporting events from the mid 1960s onwards is a patchy affair. Otl Aicher and the 1972 Munich Olympics was breaking new ground. However, when researching the graphic design for the 1986 Commonwealth Games, I found very little evidence. The logo designed by Joe Hall stands up very well (the cross of St Andrews combined with roman numerals), but I was struggling to find anything else. I shifted my in-depth research to the iPad and YouTube. To my delight I found the VHS footage I was looking for of the Opening Ceremony in 1986. Move over Danny Boyle, Yer Magesty and 007 – this is “Smile With Us”. The floats appear at the beginning up to about 3:25 when the female daredevil with the tan coloured shower cap and swimming goggles defies an icy wind off the sea and lands on the grass. The smooth journey of the floats around this jamboree of a running track is assured by blue tractors. The highlight of the pageant (at 5:00) is a massive shortbread tin on wheels stopping briefly in front of the Royal Box and then being escorted out of the stadium by paramilitaries in white boiler suits – blink, and you will miss it.

Will the Red Road flats being blown up and beamed live into the ceremony at Celtic Park on a 100 meter ‘Window on the Commonwealth’ LED screen, be able to match this?

Visual Journalism

As part of It’s Not Very Nice That, at the Lighthouse, VisComDes person Chris Kohler/Acta is presenting Riot From Wrong, a documentary on the London riots made by young people, and which raises lots of important issues about both the subject matter and future directions for ‘visual journalism’. Free to attend.

Why design cannot remain exclusive

The Open Design Now website is well designed. I have the book (available for loan, as are other books), but hadn’t seen the site before. A useful and interesting resource.

It’s sunny in Dundee mostly


Tentsmuir WW2 Coastal Defences

In the spirit of inter-institutional caring and sharing:


Preview: Thursday 27th March 7pm
Exhibition Open: Friday 28th March 12 – 4pm, Saturday 29th March 12 – 4pm

The White Room project space, Tin Roof Studios. 38-40 Bellfield Street
Dundee DD1 5JD

Presenting an exhibition of work created by 3rd year Illustration Students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

Come along to our show! It consists of hand printed posters and set designs for a series of imagined theatrical adaptations of plays exploring climate change, sustainability, urban planning and related social and political issues.

Exploring subjects such as:
Hydro Fracking, Gentrification, Micro-topias, Climate Activism, Nuclear waste disposal, Nuclear War, Social Housing, The melting ice caps, Surveillance, Community Gardening.

For more information please visit:

Radiant Discord

Emmet Byrne is writing some great stuff on The Gradient — Walker Art Center‘s blog. This latest post on Lance Wyman, Mexico ’68 and the Tlatelolco massacre is fascinating, and bears parallels with the book Kommando Otl Aicher (by A. Negrelli) and Argentina ’78 (by viscomdes person Kieran Mccann), both of which are currently on show at the Lighthouse, Glasgow, in ‘It’s Not Very Design That‘ – an exhibition about contemporary political graphic design by a young and up-and-coming design curator*.


Reading the Signs

This is very interesting, both in what it is about, and as a form of design research.

Sink Away

Congratulations to Marc Johansen (Yr1 ComDes) who has been nominated for the Creative Scotland Student Media Awards.

via Sink Away on Vimeo.

Business as Unusual

GSA occupies an interesting space in Higher Education. It is (very) small by HE standards, and based in Scotland (where tuition fees, for Scottish students at least, don’t yet exist), on the fringes of Europe and the UK, in a city that has a well connected thriving artistic community. It is a designated SSI (Small Specialist Institution – though current director Tom Inns suggests this could be reframed as Specialist Studio Institution), so it’s interesting to think about how organisational logics have an impact on the nature of educational experiences. Some schools of organisational theory suggests that all expanding, complex organisations will grow to the point where they only serve themselves. This is a problem inherent in all public-facing organisations, as discussed in Ivan Illich’s De-Schooling Society. He suggests that this drive towards institutionalism “undermines people – it diminishes their confidence in themselves, and in their capacity to solve problems… It kills convivial relationships … kills creativity”. In the same text, Illich also suggests that “most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting”, and this too cuts to the heart of the art school issue.

Why are we seeing a resurgence of interest in alternative educational experiences, at the same time as the emergence of the MOOC? In the emerging technological landscape, GSA might as well give away all its course content. Alone it is valueless. It would (and will) get devoured – lost in a second – in the race to the bottom of the free open content paradigm. What do these phenomena tell us about the way GSA could find a place for itself in the world? Where does the value lie? Surely its in the ‘meaningful setting’ of the studio, peopled by driven independent students, assisted by staff who are equally able to respond to the studio as the locus of activity – projects, talks, workshops, visitors – looking out of the institution and connecting to the world outside. We’re running a version of the Parallel School in Glasgow soon, and hopefully we might be able to air some of these issues, in an environment of self-directed learning that eschews the hierarchies and accountability, modularisation and commodification that seems to increasingly dominate the mainstream.

And I’ve posted it before, so will post it again (apologies), but the video from Stewart Lee below is very good. While I’m aware that I sound conspiratorial in tone (yes, I know), the pervasive creep of conservatism (with a small ‘c’, not the political party, though there is a big overlap in that particular venn diagram) is best countered locally, where the urge to homogenise, unitise and compartmentalise is as present, if slightly less well signposted, as it is in the policies of an austerity government. Momus, at a talk he did at GSA a few years ago, talked of the ‘delirious’ and the ‘pragmatic’, as two counter forces at work in modern society. Pragmatism has become the ruling logic of our current political debate, the trump card of the reductivists, and is as evident in education as it is elsewhere. The position GSA occupies enables it to say no to business as usual, if it wants to.


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I haven’t urged anyone to do anything in a while, so I urge you to read New Practice - an urgent, (in the political sense), final-year project by Thom Swann, a student at Kingston University.

D16 Digital Bolex : : Digital Super16mm

The Digital Bolex D16 Review from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

A Digital version of the 16mm Bolex financed through KickStarter.

OnLab talk: 20th March

LongLunch, Event: 55

GSA have 20 free tickets for LongLunch, Event: 55 - OnLab. The talk is on the 20th March in the Mackintosh Lecture Theatre. Click here to book a ticket, one per person. Please only book up if you can definitely make it.

A future beyond capitalism?

The always great Dan Hancox talking about an alternative to capitalism by looking at the social-democratic and cooperative village of Marinaleda, Spain. Worth a listen if you have any interest in ways to address inequality and redistribution of wealth within society, both globally and nationally.

Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King

Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King... Tickets, Glasgow - Eventbrite

Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King.

Part of the preview events for It’s Not Very Nice That, a forthcoming exhibition at the Lighthouse, Michael Oswell and Scott King will discuss their recent projects. This talk is the first in a series of events that run alongside the exhibition, and which will be posted on itsnotverynicethat.com, when the organiser gets organised.

The exhibition opening follows the talk, to which everyone is very much invited.

Supported by the Design School, Glasgow School of Art

This event will take place in Gallery 1 at the Lighthouse. Doors 5:30pm.

Image: Libcom Anniversary Poster (Michael Oswell)

(was) the sound of the future

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there is scope for a beautiful symphony here.



2001: a typeface odyssey








space, typography, kubrick, and biscuits* are all great.




*biscuits not supplied

Stiicks : : For Hanging Stuff



A Kickstarter idea for hanging from these guys.
Simple idea get 2 bits of wood and some magnets to hang stuff.


WIP replacement

image (2)

opening 31st january at 134 renfrew street

after party in the new old vic

we look forward to seeing your faces

Super Signs

Super Signs, by Vis-com-des person Gabriella DiTano, opens at the Arches on thursday evening.

Rachel Thomas + Ross Sinclair

Rachel Thomas + Ross Sinclair – A Feral Studio

Rachel Thomas + Ross Sinclair – A Feral Studio:

Feral Studio returns, with Rachel Thomas and Ross Sinclair, featuring talks from two artists and designers, both working with space, scenes and ‘set’. Rachel uses bold, simple visual archetypes and signs but is interested in “the mental craft of thinking something out and creating a puzzle” through her visuals. Ross is a prominent artist who loves Real Life.

Feral Studio events are open to all GSA students, plus fully open to members of the public and the design community in Glasgow and beyond. The workshop attached to this event (20 + 21st Jan) will open for sign-up at 10am on Mon 13th Jan, via the VLE.

Doors open at 6pm, for a 6.30pm-ish start.

Venue: Due to the campus developments at GSA the venue for this talk is currently ‘in flux’ – we will confirm the venue within a couple of days, and post it to this eventbrite page. It will be Glasgow city centre, one way or the other.

Image: Rachel Thomas / Behind the Scenes