We did a Conditional Design workshop recently, as part of the Feral Studio *If,Then* events. And I just happened across this video, coincidentally, prompted by a couple of questions from Sam. I thought it was worth posting as it’s relevant in terms of the discussion that might, or could, be generated from the previous post about ‘craft’.
By the mid eighties, Glasgow had an ‘anorak music scene’. Groups like The Pastels (original member, Annabel Wright), The Shop Assistants, Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Boy Hairdressers, The Vaselines (loved by Kurt Cobain), BMX Bandits and The Soup Dragons (original drummer was GSA’s Ross Sinclair). Bobby Gillespie (who was often seen on the door taking tickets wearing a striped t-shirt and dark glasses) and others started a club called Splash One which played host to most of these bands plus many ‘seminal’ bands, including an early appearance from Sonic Youth, a reunion gig from Wire, 23 Skidoo and the best ever riotous 15 minute gig from The Jesus and Mary Chain. Splash One was held occasionally in a nightclub called Daddy Warbucks (West George Street) so you had to look out for the fly posters around the centre of Glasgow. I found three of them recently and enjoyed the playful fanzine aesthetic (inspired by Sniffin’ Glue). I also discovered some fanzines from around 1986 which illustrate the sense of a ‘scene’ that superceded Postcard Records. I was somewhere in the background of this original video recording by Jim Lambie.
Facebook Analog Research Laboratory is, well, odd. Wired magazine, the breathless pronouncers of all that is ‘new’, write about it here. At first glance it would appear that to enter this ‘research lab’ you need to be able to convincingly pretend to yourself that it is 1953, be comfortable with the idea of ‘self-help’, and have read all editions to date of The Little Book of Calm. From the image above, and those in the link, you’ll see that all boxes are ticked. Proofing press (with new lick of paint) – tick!, fixie – tick!, Miley Cyrus(hang on, is this some kind of topical bandwagon jumping? -ed), weird distinction between analog [sic] and digital – tick!…
I am on Facebook, but I really don’t get it, and all this makes me wonder what dynamics are at play here? If it’s a desire to seem human, handmade, authentic, then is that desperation or pure cynicism? Is the supposed reverence of ‘traditional’ tools and techniques an attempt to search for some inspiration, or filling a worrying void in someones life and experiences? I find facebook, from a user perspective, to be a strange combination of simultaneously compelling and boring experiences. This kind of cultish hipster fetishism pushes me one step closer to web suicide 2.0
VISIT / 10.00am
– NOBROW / Sam Arthur
– An informal insight into London’s leading independent book publisher for contemporary illustration. They started in 2008 and work with illustrators across Europe that inspire. Their publications use a striking palette of colours and are printed on carefully chosen paper stocks. We were all envious of their screen printing area tucked away in the basement underneath the shop. Sam was really enthusiastic and gave the students great advice on self promotion.
VISIT / 12noon
– PURPOSE / Amie Herriott
– Award winning design agency with slick presentation giving us an insight into the nature of branding. They organised a large selection of printed work on their board room table for us to browse. Interesting thoughts on how branding has to work across many platforms, their work hinted at “simplifying the complex”.
VISIT / 4.30pm
– GRAPHIC THOUGHT FACILITY / Andy Stevens
– Andy spent 90 minutes with us giving us a tour of his favourite projects. He studied in Leeds before going to the Royal College. It was there that he embraced collaboration across the design disciplines. The anti-aesthetic of GTF’s work still resonates. The importance of building relationships with clients opens up the idea generation, often delivering the process that drives the work. Andy remains a guru.
VISIT / 10.00am
– SEA DESIGN / Danny McNeil
– Compact studio on street level with elegant meeting area upstairs. Masterful design work presented with style and a quiet confidence. We were all reassured when Danny said that they start working on projects “without an idea”. He then showed us where they look for inspiration. Danny emailed us after the visit “It was a pleasure. A very nice group of students to present to. Let me know next time you are in town and I will do the same when I’m in Glasgow.”
VISIT / 12noon
– ITN WORKS / Alex Bec
– IT’S NICE THAT
– Alex inspired us with an introduction to his team (lots of beards) and a journey through his favourite work. ITN Works have a idiosyncratic business model based on a simple premise – great ideas and making them happen. Six years out of college, and they are working for Nike. They are facilitators who use a network of talented thinkers and doers.
VISIT / 4.30pm
– KK OUTLET / Dave Bell
– Dave took us through the dynamics of a communications agency, gallery and bookshop. They host exhibitions and collaborations on a monthly basis. KK Outlet was set up by the Amsterdam based communications agency KesselsKramer. Well known work includes the famous low budget Hans Brinker Budget Hotel. Dave is originally from Edinburgh and followed a circuitous route to becoming a Managing Director. It is his writing skills and an ability to identify talent to collaborate with, that continues to motivated him.
“Field Studies is a four-day summer-school led by three acclaimed sound artists and composers. It explores the possibilities of engaging with places through listening, and working with recorded sound as a creative and practical tool in the context of architecture, the city and art practice.”
Clockwise from top left, reconstructed overheard conversations, fishing for sounds using DIY hydrophone and the shoe-less Davide Tidoni discusses exploring space with radio static.
I didn’t manage to get the obligatory photo of artists/designers on laptops around trestle tables, it did happen though!
In Christina Kubisch’s talk, she showed films of her electromagnetic induction headphones in action. They pick up electromagnetic fields from electrical devices and convert them into sound using something like this. Reminded me of the sunglasses scene from They Live.
Will Wiles offers some salient observations on the ‘New Aesthetic‘, countering some of the more short-sighted and blunt critiques (generally from art and architecture directions) that the New Aesthetic’s role was just as a collection of glitchy tech-artifacts, and that *yawn* we’d seen it all before in the late 90’s and early 00’s.
Talking about Bruce Sterling, and helping define what role the ‘New Aesthetic’ might serve, this passage perhaps best sums up its potential value: “He called it a ‘gaudy, networked heap’, and better than that, a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities — geodes, two-headed lambs, bits of coral — that were assembled by hungry minds in Enlightenment Europe. The wunderkammer is part of the first act of modern science — astonishment at the oddities of the natural world, which whets the appetite for inquiry. ‘A heap of eye-catching curiosities don’t constitute a compelling world-view,’ Sterling wrote. Perhaps not, but it’s a start.”
Mariuz Watz, in the video below, does a good job of addressing this issue. He also rather succinctly addresses algorithmic laziness, but what I think is useful is that this critique could be applied to any creative technique or tool, applied unthinkingly. The same goes for assuming that the New Aesthetic’s only value is as a sort of visual amalgam of modern digital ephemera, rather than as a signpost for a way of processing the world that has further to run and far greater depths to be investigated. All these tools, collections and observations offer us a lot, but only if we thinkingly engage with them, use them as a starting point, and make up the distance ourselves.