Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Eyes Wide Open

I’m interested in the links between projects like Médor (link via Eric of OSP), and recent discussions in Scotland about independent investigative journalism. This was the subject of a really interesting discussion that Bella Caledonia hosted just prior to the referendum, and something that the Scottish Inquirer are, amongst others, looking to develop further. Peter Geohagan is also interesting to follow on these topics.


Concrete Flux Issue 3 – Escapism by viscomdes person Solveig Suess and designed with other viscomdes person Sophie Dyer, gets a write up from Kendra Schaefer. Sophie is joining us next week for this interesting project, via Feral Studio, which students of GSA are welcome to sign up 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.


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.

Graphic Narrative

This event (14.08.13) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival*, with Joe Sacco (no relation to Michael, at least as far as I know) and Chris Ware, should be well worth attending, if you can still get tickets. I found out about it via the Skinny, which vis-com-des person Emer did the cover for.

*If you really like festivals, Edinburgh would be a good place to hang out about now. There are at least fifty different festivals on the go, most of which have their own festival fringe, which is like a version of the festival but run by people who think that they can do it better. You can also go to the Festival Festival, or the Festival Fringe Fringe, or get a Military Tattoo. (Think that’s enough about festivals – Ed.)

Addendum: Actually, while I am on about Festivals, Momus says “These Self-Matsuri events are great fun; totally non-commercial, they connect weirdos, art students and artists with some of Osaka’s poorest residents in a spirit of “anything goes”, “the more the merrier” and “dress up crazy”. Check out this earlier one. Entry, by the way, is free.”

Image above: Joe Sacco


In my new role as self-appointed events organiser I feel that I should take this opportunity to advertise some upcoming events.

Firstly, Myself and Lydia Brownlee are having a ‘partial book launch’ in Aye-Aye books at the CCA this friday, at 6pm.

Secondly, I’m doing something midway between Djing and holding a record sale at The Art School Union this Saturday, 8 – 12.

And finally, comrade Kieran Startup and myself are hosting a table tennis tournament, incorporating the first iteration of a live projection installation that we’ve been working on, at Good Press in Mono on Thursday the 2nd of May at 8pm.

That is all.

Loose Associations

In the run up to Christmas, because I’d been exceptionally good last year and worked very hard at graphic design, when I came across a copy of ‘Did You Kiss the Foot that Kicked You?‘ – a project by Ruth Ewan – I bought it for myself. The publication consists of a book designed by Will Holder (who is quite simply a very very good designer and artist), and a 10″ red vinyl of 8 interpretations of the ‘Ballad of Accounting‘ – a song, popularised by Ewan MacColl (who wrote it) and Peggy Seeger with a great title that is at first glance an unusual and odd coupling, and at second glance forces you to re-think the word ‘accounting’ in its broadest context.

As a Christmas present, I also received a copy of 33 Revolutions per Minute, a fantastically well researched and well written book by Dorian Lynskey, charting the history of the protest song. In the book there are many mentions of Peggy and Peggy’s brother Pete Seeger, who along with Alan Lomax and Woody Guthrie (1) could be said to constitute a central part of American folk music (and by association many of the political and social issues) of the 20th century. (There are also several references to Greil Marcus in the book, who coincidentally is also quoted on the reverse of Hal Fosters ‘Design and Crime‘ which is a key reference text in one of this terms forthcoming projects. Fascinating).

You can read about all aspects of Ruth Ewan’s project here, but in common with the Ballad of Accounting itself, I particularly like the reflective questioning nature of the title. The song itself is structured around a barage of questions (of which ‘Did you kiss the Foot …’ is one), seemingly directed by the singers at themselves as much as anything, and as such, might be considered to be a bit ‘meta’. It also reminded me, for some reason that’s now unclear to me, of the inquiry-led learning advocated by Neil Postman (and Charles Weingartner) in Teaching as a Subversive Activity – which, while fairly bombastic in style, and a product of its time (the early 1970’s), contains some highly pertinent observations and thoughts on learning and teaching.

At the outset of this post I had a sense that this would all come a full circle, and join up with where we started. But it hasn’t.

1. Full-time GSA staff Doppelgänger and part-time singer/songwriter Billy Bragg, in a collaboration with Wilco, recorded a number of Guthrie’s unfinished songs in the Mermaid Avenue series of recordings. One of Bragg’s earliest songs, A New England, was recorded and released by Kirsty MacColl, daughter of the aforementioned Ewan. Compelling!

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.

Shock of the New-ish

New Aesthetic, New Anxieties is the outcome of a book-sprint organised by V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media. (downloadable as either pdf or e-book from that link there). It explores and expands upon the concept of the ‘New Aesthetic’, as coined by James Bridle in 2011. We’ve touched on this before, in terms of both the idea and some critical comment on it. Thanks to Michelle for the link.

Vis Com 12 Degree Show

Vis Com 12 is the website of this years graduating 4th year students. And representing as it does, a fantastically diverse body of works, has the most tags of any post on the vis-com blog ever.

Savage Messiah

Rick Poyner’s latest critique for Eye magazine is on the Savage Messiah zine by Laura Oldfield Ford, which may be of interest to those doing the micro-publishing project, and everyone else. Charting the neo-liberal changes in Londons East-end as a result of a partially olympics-related crusade of ‘regeneration’, the zines have been gathered together and republished by Verso. I have ordered a copy if anyone wants a lend.

Eye 82 also contains an interesting historical take on the info-graphic and should be available from all good 3/4th year vis-com-des studio magazine racks shortly.

Image: Laura Oldfield Ford


The arrow and the frame on Click Opera manages to touch on a whole range of topics relevant to current projects; Banking, currency, wild knowledge, art archive, not to mention an interesting reflection on Google adwords. And not only does it contain some very interesting thoughts in the continued thread of good and useful arguments against ternary or binary thinking, but it is also awash with great hyperlinks.

While on the topic, big thanks to Anja and Chris for their currency workshop earlier in the week. There are some pictures below, and a link to Anja and Chris’s bookmarks on the topic here.

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.

Derrida of the Digital Age

Friedrich Kittler has been described by some as the Derrida of the Digital Age – the first philosopher to truly explore and understand our emergent relationship with digital technology. Friedrich Kittlers computer wars is a podcast on the Guardian website which explores this legacy.

Another writer on the ‘digital’ who might be worth looking into is Vilém Flusser, who wrote about networks, but also photography and the ‘technical image’.

Thanks to Gordon Hush for the initial link.

Cover Looks (Strangely Familiar)

The latest print incarnation of the Serving Library is out.

Good Press

Good Press is a new outlet, based in Mono (temporarily, while they find a permanent space), from this Friday the 7th October, starting with the first exhibition, The Family Show.

The Family Show will be exhibiting 30 UK and International artists (two of which; Oliver Pitt and Jess Copsey, are recent GSA graduates) who mostly work with illustration and painting. It’s also a fundraiser for their permanent space, with all the original works being available for £30 for those who may wish to buy them!

In the bookshop there will be a large variation of different independent & self-published books, zines and other printed and handmade things. All Com Des people are invited to attend, more background info here. If you’re interested in selling zines etc, they’ve asked interested parties to get in touch directly, just via that web link, that one, back there.

Many Returns

Like a Phoenix from the flames, Book and Web of the Week resume usual service, with the first website — the Café Society — suggested by Alex Lunn (thankyou), and the first book being Studio X NY.

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.

The Serving Library

The Serving Library is online, and the first edition is out in print. Making the articles available online as PDF’s, and by print then post distribution, in parallel, (and with an online document of those recently ‘served‘) questions are raised about the false dichotomy of analogue vs digital. On a purely practical level, students (or others) with zero budget (but a functioning network connection) can download and read/print some very interesting design/art/media documents. Below is a beautiful picture of me interacting with the Serving Library through the arcane/bizarre/logical aesthetic and anti-perspective quandry that is iBooks.

More on the Serving Library statement of intent here.