Archive for the 'Archives' Category


One of my favourite journals – Open! – which recently ceased in its print form due to funding cuts by the Dutch government, has only gone and reimagined itself in amazing website form.

Vis Com Des in Action

Reinforcing its self-appointed position as best department in the whole of GSA, Vis Com Des people continue to represent. Some events on the radar right now and in the near future include;

Becca Davies, and her Beau Belles Ice Cream Van, will be part of the Barbican Open East Festival.

Alec Farmer, and his company Trakke, have an exhibition exploring their processes and profiling their collaborators, currently running at the Lighthouse, Glasgow, until 25th August.

Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond, with artist Fiona Jardine, are presenting Barrie Girls (organised by Panel) at the Briggait during the Merchant City Festival (26-28 July)

The Spirit of Revolt exhibition

As a possibly very interesting source/archive, an interesting exhibition, and, via the video above, an unintended assault on any of the conventions of video-making, The Spirit of Revolt exhibition, presenting one hundred years of Radical Presses Clydeside, and protest literature, photography and recordings at the Mitchell Library this week, might be worth a look.

This is Visual Thinking

The Muppets, Henson and Sesame Street are covered in an interesting article in the latest Bulletin of the Serving Library.

Beyond Interesting

I can’t remember if I’ve previously flagged up the brilliant things magazine. It is beyond the usual internet interesting.

“This is a pretty piss-poor explanation. But it’s also extremely interesting.”

The only thing these following two videos have in common is that they’re both black and white, (and I saw them both at round about the same time). That’s what passes as a connection these days.

The Einstein Theory of Relativity (a silent film/animation made by Max Fleischer in 1923) could be said to be an early example of ‘info-graphics’ and/or the dumbing down of science for the ‘masses’.

‘I See a Darkness’ could be said to be a fine self-cover version of a Bonny Prince Billy song, using the lanes and Necropolis of Glasgow as the unlikely backdrop.

(The title of the post comes from the comments section of YouTube).

The Day My iPad Went Mad

Following on from Michael’s earlier post about the 1983/4 GSA timetable, in the process of researching a job for a client, I recently had the good fortune to unearth a programme for the GSA Fashion Show 1989, from their own collection of late 1980’s dance/performance ephemera. In what can only be described as an epic piece of friday afternoon work-avoidance, on an almost industrial scale, I’ve recreated the playlist from the programme as a youtube playlist for your delectation.

“The necessary departure from context has been carefully affected to minimise any detriment to the original communication”

From; International Design Conference in Aspen: The First Decade, via Internet Archive.

I came across this after seeing (i think) something about a film on the 1970s period of the Aspen Design Conference. But as seems to be happening increasingly regularly, I can’t remember where I saw it. I’m interested in whether ‘search’ is stretching our expectation of memory, but on a more practical level, if anyone knows about this (possibly real, possibly imagined) film, do let me know.

Department of First Year Studies. 83/84.

I recently discovered the 1980/82 GSA Prospectus from in the Dancer archives. My First Year timetable fell out when flicking through the pages. It makes fascinating reading with interesting comparisons to the next academic session (2012/13) – 83/84 Term 1 = 13 wks (12/13  = 13 wks), 83/84 Term 2 = 11 wks (12/13 = 10 wks) and 83/84 Term 3 = 10 wks (12/13 = 9 wks).

Little Libraries

Little Libraries and Tactical Urbanism on Design Observer is a really interesting article mulling over the recent past of small independent ‘library’ initiatives, the library as institution, and the varying roles these play in ‘information culture’.

“Libraries are about much more, of course; they exist not simply to store and provide access to information. Advocates argue that libraries continue to serve crucial civic and social functions, and their tenacious faith is reinforced by a flurry of recent street-level library activity. The last few years have seen the emergence of myriad mini, pop-up, guerilla and ad-hoc libraries, which are part of the phenomenon that Mimi Zeiger, in her Interventionist’s Toolkit series for this journal, calls “provisional, opportunistic, ubiquitous, and odd tactics in guerilla and DIY practice and urbanism” — to which I might add, librarianship.”

Image: Reanimation Library, Brooklyn.

The British Council Film Archive

The British Councils Design, Fashion and Architecture blog, Back of the Envelope, carries a good link to an archive of British Films produced in the 30’s and 40’s promoting British Industry. More on ‘Industrial Entertainment’ later.


Pictured: Brave New Alps, Fortezza Open Archive, from Reading Forms blog

Congratulations to everyone who did such a great job with the Work in Progress exhibition. On a similar topic we were recently alerted to this Reading Forms Blog, ‘Exhibiting Graphic Design Exhibitions‘. It’s interesting to compare a range of different contexts for exhibiting design, and while there is no written narrative, it’s a really useful visual resource to reference, and seems to be fairly regularly updated.

(Thanks to Matt from GoodPress for the link)

The Serving Library Media Archive

“You are sat in a pitch-black room. Your head is gently buzzed with whisky. Out of the darkness you hear a recording of my voice.”

Some interesting podcasts, via The Serving Library.

Cover Looks (Strangely Familiar)

The latest print incarnation of the Serving Library is out.

Martin Boyce and the Design Research Unit, (unbeknown to him).


“The machine is accepted as the essentially modern vehicle of form. Our designs will therefore be essentially designs for mass production, but at the same time we hope to rescue mass production from the ugliness and aesthetic emptiness which has so far characterized the greater part of its output”. —Design Research Unit, 1943

Another post-talk train ride, another blog write up. Again, seizing on the time allowed by this journey, I’m going to try to condense an interesting talk from Martin Boyce, and an interesting peruse around the Design Research Unit exhibition, currently at the Cooper Gallery in Dundee, into a succinct and coherent blog post.

The talk for me raised some pertinent issues which were hinted at in an earlier post covering an interview with Metahaven, where the politics of aesthetics raised their head, and the point was made about how the politics of a design piece can fade over time, (or at least not be directly replicated in a different place and time). Boyce’s work heavily references, and in some cases perhaps directly appropriates, design forms of various types. And he talked eloquently about about how by processing and representing these forms in a contemporary art context, their meaning is changed, “distorted by the process of recollection”.

While it might be possible to question this appropriation of accepted ‘well’ designed objects – is it primarily for their forms and aesthetic value? – he pre-empted this by talking of his lack of ‘academic’ insight into his work, and interest in “wild knowledge”. He talked about following his eye and instinct, and this reminded me of an idea of Brian Eno‘s, where he talked about the “intellect catching up with the instinct”. I think there’s probably a studio project in this, and the same could be said for his approach to his typographic pieces. It was interesting to hear how these pieces came into being and how they then went out into the world, with seemingly little reference to typographic history or conventions which we perhaps get a little fixated by.

The Design Research Unit exhibition which this talk ran alongside was a concise and functional display of some of the projects undertaken by that design organisation between 1942 and 1972. Again, the key thing it raised for me was that the politics of the time, while implicit in the work, often get overlooked by designers who seem fixated with this orderly way of working in terms of stewarding design and identity today. It’s difficult to put my finger on, but I’m fascinated by why the template laid down by this early move into corporate compliance is so resilient. Maybe it connects to ideas about why a particular way of looking at design, productivity and manufacturing, (and I guess by all this we mean the free market economy in its many facets), achieved such traction in the post-war years. Definitely a subject for further thinking, and a very good exhibition, well worth a visit.


N.b. Apologies for the use of ‘Boyce’ during this post. ‘Martin’ seems overly familiar, while ‘Boyce’ sounds a bit pompous. Rock and a hard place.

Design Research

There is currently an Exhibition at DJCAD on the Design Research Unit, a pioneering organisation responsible for some of the most prominent design produced in post-war Britain. There’s also a talk in relation to it by Martin Boyce on Thursday 1st December. Was wondering if anyone fancied a mini field trip to dundee to see the exhibition and hear the talk? Would need to leave Glasgow about 3pm, and would be going by train, at least I would, (1st class). If you fancy doing that, drop me an email or reply in the comment thread here.

Click here to book (free) tickets.

Disclaimer: Make sure it doesn’t clash with anything you’re meant to be doing in the studio.

Trend List

Trend List is a bit like every design blog you’ve looked at, viewed through different goggles. Possibly interesting and cynical in equal measure, its that troublesome burden of history again, magnified through the internet vortex.


(And I’m not sure that centre-aligned is a trend, so much as one of 3 or 4 standard ways of aligning text).

More here and here. Thanks to DC for the tip off.

Glasgow 1980

Glasgow 1980, as viewed by Oscar Marzaroli, from 1971. In reference to Nostalgia Now brief.


If there’s one thing about the internet, there’s plenty to look at. To assist, using some widget-type rss aggregators, I’ve made myself ATN Reader, to visually and textually sort interesting feeds from sites that I like. If you have exactly the same interests as me, then you may like it too.

OASE Journal for Architecture

OASE Journal for Architecture has a new website and better still, editions 1-81 are available as PDF’s to download to your non-brand-specific portable tablet device. OASE is/has been designed by Dutch designer and educator Karel Martens.