Benjamin Loyauté LE BRUIT DES BONBONS-THE ASTOUNDING EYES OF SYRIA

Briefly Noted

Dans le cadre de Design City 2016 – LXBG Biennale

…a little bite of unforgettable happiness…

at Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain

the_astounding_eyes_of_syria_1   the_astounding_eyes_of_syria_8

 

ABSTRACT OR NOT Philippe Apeloig in Luxembourg

Philippe Apeloig is an influential French graphic designer. His approach to a given assignment, whether it is a poster, logotype, or font, shows an impressive amount of both thoughtfulness and understanding of the subject matter at hand. His typographic solutions are skilfully crafted and demonstrate great attention to detail. He always aims to get the maximum effect with the minimum of means. Apeloig is a master of typographic interpretation. His work is idea-oriented and process driven. He can thoughtfully play with words and images in order to transmit concepts that are aesthetically appealing, perfectly balanced, and intelligent.

Most of the time I start from a text, from typography and I continue with images. I use the editing techniques from film editing. I carve my ideas into pieces and then reassemble them in a different order. I manipulate them until the composition is right and it is strong enough to fix itself in the visual memory of the public.

 When you read a text most of the time it’s very static—you don’t even look at the shape of the letters, you consider the meaning—but one of the goals of the designer is to make text appear spectacular, like a show that really catches your eye.

 The challenge is to be persuasive: like an actor who convinces the audience to suspend disbelieving. He has to interpret his role so vividly that he and his character become one.

Philippe Apeloig

Last Wednesday Philippe Apeloig came to Mudam, Luxembourg to talk about his work. It was one of the events organised by Design Friends. I was given the opportunity to coordinate this talk. On this occasion DF published a little catalogue featuring some of the projects Philippe Apeloig Studio worked on and an interview with the designer. The book will be available to buy on DF’s website soon.

Philippe_Apeloig_01 Philippe_Apeloig_02 Philippe_Apeloig_03

REVELATIONS

Do not go outside, return into yourself; it is in the interiority of the person where the truth dwells.

–Saint Augustine

Human beings are destined for contemplation.

–Éric Chenal

Revelations is the title of a humble and beautifully executed project and exhibition at the National Museum of History and Art (NMHA) in Luxembourg. In 2013 the museum commissioned Éric Chenal to take pictures during the renovation of the museum’s new wing. Chenal’s photographs depict entrances, windows, walls half covered with paint and markings, and other ordinary objects and parts of the buildings. The colors are muted with occasional bursts of light blue and green, vivid red and orange. Chenal describes his first encounter with the site as challenging. It didn’t have a lot of appeal and he admitted in a conversation we had that he was unable to stay long. He didn’t feel welcome. He would only photograph the buildings when nobody was around and it was quiet, because this was the only way he could enter into dialog with the empty space. But as it turned out, the project became a spiritual experience that not only started, but was also shared, and had its continuation within that space.

Chenal divides his time between Lorrain and Luxembourg. His career as a photographer started some twelve years ago and his main focus is commercial photography. In 2009 he began one of his first personal projects called Out of Breath followed by Esprit du Lieu (Nature of Space), and White Inside, which many think was inspired by Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube. He photographs spaces in moments of transition: old churches being restored, contemporary art centers between exhibitions, houses in renovation. The key elements that thread through his work are the presence of light and a sense of being in the moment. He doesn’t stage anything; he uses natural light, and stays open, unassuming, and respectful. His aim is to let the place reveal itself. It is an organic and intuitive process. While working on Revelations he wasn’t interested in the museum’s past or future, he aimed to capture the here and now. The immediate relationship with the place, the dialog he maintained with the site revealed sublime aspects of the project. The camera became Chenal’s tool in uncovering something beyond measurement or calculation, something that can be perceived within oneself.

In this photographic and spiritual search Chenal has found inspiration and guidance in Jean-Louis Chrétien’s latest philosophical work, L’Espace Intérieur (The Interior Space), a book which combines elements of practical philosophy and Christian theology. Chrétien analyzes texts of Saint Augustine, Saint Teresa of Ávila, Origen, Dante, Baudelaire, and Freud among others. Chenal was particularly interested in the idea of representing what Saint Augustine calls the interiority of a person, in other words, the human soul as a space, cell, temple, castle, or room, where it can stand face-to-face with God.

To discuss the concept of Chenal’s project I met with him at the Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain. It’s 10:30 in the morning, the museum is still closed but I can get in to meet Éric. He wears a grey linen suit and welcomes me with a warm smile. There’s something modest and direct about him. The museum is between exhibitions so it’s noisy and full of people. Chenal seems to know everybody; he greets and shakes hands with the museum’s staff. We retreat to the Casino’s kitchen and sit by a small table. We talk about his commercial work and personal projects. Then I show him a selection of images from Revelations that resonate with me. It turns out they are also significant to Éric. “Tell me something about the entrance blocked by a big piece of play wood?” (Figure 1), I ask. “It’s a veil, the light is behind, you see, you’re in contact with it. You see how to get out”, replies Éric. When we look at the image of a pillar covered with a piece of semi transparent plastic (Figure 2) the first thing that comes to my mind is an offering pillar. When Éric sees this photograph he talks about generosity and sharing. Next we look at the image of a vivid red stain on a wall surrounded by patches of white paint (Figure 3). There is a moment of silence before we say anything. “It’s about how to accept the given moment”, observes Éric.

The exhibition space is intimate and transmits a sense of ascetic emptiness (Figures 4, 5). The design of the installation is simple and conveys the meditative nature of the project. The first room is an homage to Jean Louis Chrétien’s The Interior Space. The six wooden pillars scattered around the room have six quotes printed on top. The quotes come from Heraclitus, Pascal, St Augustine, St Ignatius de Loyola, Hugh of Saint Victor, and St Teresa of Ávila. These quotes, as well as a short text on the wall and the leaflet with a map, frame the exhibition. The pieces of text are meant to be a guide when you are exploring the rooms; they also introduce a contemplative mood and can help the viewer to understand the artwork. The exhibition’s layout is circular; you begin and end in the first room.

Can silence and simplicity give a profound experience of beauty? Can a state of being in the moment equate to being happy? To appreciate silence you need to disconnect from the usual rhythm of life. The message has to play itself rather than be played. Behind the words and images in Revelations there’s something that cannot be seen until it reveals itself. You just have to stay open and give yourself time. The exhibition doesn’t impose on you; it has the quality of a discovery. In an interview after the exhibition White Inside Éric said something that is also relevant to Revelations, “Photography taught me that everything is a gift. It is all offered to us. I’m just here to look at the light, to try not to search for it…”

10*15_MNHA_1175
Éric Chenal (Figure 1)
10*15_MNHA_9745
Éric Chenal (Figure 2)
30*40_MNHA_9249
Éric Chenal (Figure 3)
Révélation_Exopsition-27
Éric Chenal (Figure 4)
Révélation_Exopsition-4
Éric Chenal (Figure 5)

DESIGN CHANGES: POSTSCRIPT

A few days ago I had the chance to talk to Nadine Clemens, the president of Design Friends Luxembourg. We spoke about Resolute–Design Changes, Postscript: Luxembourg and the local design scene.

With Resolute exhibition Design Friends celebrates its 5th anniversary. It has always been its mission to invite internationally renowned designers from many fields of design and present their work to the local community. But for some time now the association’s leaders have felt there was something missing in the rich programme they offered every season. In October of last year, during the Night of the Museums, Design Friends presented a portfolio show featuring 100 Luxembourg-based design studios, so now Resolute–Design Changes is accompanied by Postscript: Luxembourg. This addition presents socially involved projects that come from designers who are either based in Luxembourg or have some link to it.

Postscript perfectly complemets  the themes chosen for the main show. Two projects that caught my eye were  “A Do Something But Not Anything Manifesto” by Isabelle Mattern and “Jailbird Manual” by Socialmatter. The first is a compilation of questions, keywords and instructions that relate to, among other topics, personal experience, commitment, motivation and ways of working. These are presented in the form of a layered recording, a poster with a transcribed text that is typographically interpreted and a jar filled with small pieces of rolled paper that each has a short text on it. The second project is a guide with a set of tools and techniques useful in carpentry. Designers from Socialmatter, Giacomo Piovan and Lynn Schammel, decided to present the guide as graphically interpreted manual of instructions. This graphical tool is now being used at the penitentiary centre Givenich, Luxembourg.

DESIGN CHANGES

Existing political, economical, ecological and even social structures are widely questioned. … As a consequence design can no longer only be defined by just technical performance, aesthetics, or creativity. …

Dennis Elbers, London Calling, Dee, Issue 3, 2014

It is still quite rare to see a design exhibition in a museum. But thanks to Dennis Elbers and Sven Ehmann’s initiative, and the sensitive approach to design of Nadine Clemens, the president of Design Friends Luxembourg, it is now possible to see Resolute–Design Changes exhibition at the Casino Luxembourg–Forum d’art contemporain. The projects presented in Resolute and Postscript Luxembourg give us insight into how socially responsible designers approach social problems and how they try to solve them on a bigger scale. What’s interesting is that these designers always work in, with and for a community. Their work is no longer just about staging provocations; it is about involvement and finding solution.

Design for Social Innovation applies the abilities of talented individuals to collective creativity and to the transformation of complex systems at great scale. In this new role, the designer’s practice takes place not in private studio but inside an organisation or community. It the invisible dynamics of individuals and their relationship with each other instead of material resources. Its method and value are in collective participation and creativity that engage organisations in finding solutions that work for them.

Cheryl Heller, The Social Innovation Revolution

An interest in social matters has become a hot topic in the world of design. Dutch design, for example, aims to make an impact on a society rather than show off strong visual concepts. With Works That Work, Peter Bil’ak, a Slovakian graphic and typeface designer based now in The Hague, quietly revolts against the usual magazine publishing models and promotes design that happens in most unexpected places and circumstances. Alice Rawsthorn in Hello World casts light on the new challenges we all face when it comes to solving delicate social issues using design systems. In her book she showcases fantastic examples of projects concerned with communities. Everyday Rebellion documents social movements that speak up against inequality, injustice and fraud. And, last but not least, the V&A curators have recently shown Disobedient Objects, an exhibition which explores the role such objects play in grassroots movements.

Conclusion? Designers and people involved in design fight to be sustainable; they put their efforts in growing something, often intangible, rather than creating objects that you can buy and throw away when obsolete.

The Maker Movement

olduvai-chopping-stone_lr
Olduvai stone chopping tool

Everything made now is either a replica or a variant of something made a little time ago and so back without break on to the first morning of human time.

Georg Kubler, The Shape of Time

I have recently seen, long expected, documentary from Mu-Ming Tsai MAKER and it inspired me to have a closer look at the maker movement. I was wondering how and why they became so popular in the US and what are the opinions about the movement outside the makers circle. In this post I gathered quotes from the Form Design Magazine based in Frankfurt, The New Yorker Magazine and MAKER documentary. I also felt Esther Pasztory’s Thinking with Things: Toward a New Vision of Art would give a dipper understanding of the phenomenon. I see the maker movement as a gathering of creative and independent people in action. The makers connect to the physical world around them. They look for self-respect and the possibility to decide for themselves. The makers are not consumers. They are ordinary people who, with some powerful tools at hand, can make a difference.

The maker movement, as we know, is an umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. … Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers.

Time, Why the Maker Movement is Important to America’s Future by Tim Bajarin

The Maker Movement as being the web generation meets the real world. It is the tinkerers, the do-it-yourselfers, the hobbyist, the workshops  of the world, now working together online and using digital tools to do something that none of them could do by themselves. Let’s say the first industrial revolution was the mechanical revolution. 1700, the replacement of muscle power with machine power. The second industrial revolution was the information revolution. But this was not the creation of the computer, but rather the democratisation of the computer. … The third industrial revolution is just a combination of the two. The information revolution meets the mechanical machine manufacturing revolution. And, the reason it’s happening now is because that essential democratisation movement has finally kicked in. It’s not enough to invent technologies, they have to be put in the hands of everybody … it liberates the ideas and creativities.

Chris Anderson, C.E.O. 3D Robotics, Maker

An anthropological view on the material culture.

All things are related to each other in a vast chain of formal transformations. It is not as simple as the nineteenth-century writers thought, developing from naturalism to abstraction or vice versa.

Between levels of different social integration there are major dislocations and reformulations in material culture. I suggest that two processes are at work: translation and innovation. Innovation is almost always necessary at times of change and may effect both the type of object and its style. Innovation can be very sudden and dramatic. Translation is the term I prefer for the continuous reinterpretation of forms which have in them at least as much change and innovation as is often necessary to translate a statement from one language and context to another. Through a process of translation, a form may last many hundreds of years, but the relationship may be unrecognisable in terms of its appearance.

Althogether, “things” need to be reevaluated against other technologies such as writing and media. In fact, they all need to be looked at together as parts of a systemic and changing whole. This rises basic questions about things and how we relate to them biologically, functionally–and, yes, even aesthetically. Humankind has existed without writing and media for a long time but thinking with things goes back to Kubler’s “first morning”.

Esther Pasztory Thinking with Things; Toward a New Vision of Art 

themakermovement_lr

Although, the maker movement is a fascinating concept not everyone seems to be impressed by it. Stephan Ott from the Form Design Magazine has a rather critical view on the makers community.

There is talk of a culture even a movement of “makers” who are revolutionising design, as cheap production of spare parts and small production is no longer a problem. But a cursory look at design history is enough to at least temper any such notion of revolution.

Whether in film, music or writing, it has always taken professionals to shoot, compose and formulate coherent content. This need still applies, and the availability of widely affordable 3D printers will not alter that: good products will continue to depend on a design file produced by a professional designer. There is nothing wrong with the maker community — essentially an amalgamation of the long-established do-it-yourselfers movement and the hacker scene. But one thing must be kept in mind: even by their own self-definition, makers are tinkerers and hobbyists, but not (yet) designers.

Stephen Ott Wohin der Wege? Designer 2014, Designer Quo Vadis?, Form Design Magazine Nº 251

Finally, in Making It: Pick up a spot welder and join the revolution Evgeny Morozov touches on a slightly darker and more complex side of the maker movement.

The maker era might not be upon us yet, but the maker movement has arrived. …

Like the Arts and Crafts movement–a mélange of back-to-the land simplifiers, socialists, anarchists, and tweedy art connoisseurs–the makers are a diverse bunch. They include 3-D-printing enthusiasts who like making their own toys, instruments,  and weapons; tinkerers and mechanics who like to customise household objects by outfitting them with sensors and Internet connectivity; and appreciators of craft who prefer to design their own objects and then have them manufactured on demand.

Each of these groups has its own history. What turns them into movement is the intellectual infrastructure that allows makers to reflect on what it means to be a maker. …

Then there are the temptations facing the movement. Two years ago, DARPA–the research arm of the Department of Defence–announced a ten-million-dollar grant to promote the maker movement among high-school students. DARPA also gave three and a half million dollars to TechShop to establish new makerspaces that could help the agency with its “innovation agenda”.

Mark Hatch (C.E.O. of TechShop), for one, shows no concern that proximity to power might compromise his movement’s revolutionary potential. “Now, with the tools available at makerspaces, anyone can change the world,” he writes in The Maker Movement Manifesto. “Every revolution needs an army… My objective with this book is to radicalise you and get you to become a soldier in this army.” How radical is Hatch’s project? At the start of the acknowledgements that open the book, he thanks Autodesk, Ford, DARPA, the V.A., Lowe’s, and G.E. His talk of becoming an army soldier may not be a metaphor. … Hatch and Anderson (C.E.O. of 3D Robotics) alike invoke Marx and argue that the success of the maker movement shows that the means of production can be made affordable to workers even under capitalism. … But both overlook one key development; in a world where everyone is an entrepreneur, it’s hard work getting others excited about funding your project. Money goes to those who know how to attract attention. Simply put, if you need to raise money on Kickstarter, it helps to have fifty thousand Twitter followers, not fifty. It helps enormously if Google puts your product on the first page of search results, and making sure it stays there might require an investment in search-engine optimisation. Some would view this new kind of immaterial labour as “virtual craftsmanship”; other as vulgar hustling. The good news is that now you don’t have to worry about getting fired; the bad news is that you have to worry about getting downgraded by Google.

Hatch assumes that online platforms are ruled by equality of opportunity. But they aren’t. Inequality here is not just a matter of who owns and runs the means of physical production but also of who owns and runs the means of intellectual production–the so-called “attention economy” (or what the German writer Hans Magnus Ezensberger, in the early sixties, called the “consciousness industry”). All of this suggests that there’s more politicking–and politics–to be done here than enthusiasts like Anderson and Hatch are willing to acknowledge. For Anderson, such innovation is prelude to a great business: when hobbyists cluster together to work on obscure technologies, someone eventually gets rich. But it’s misleading to view the Homebrew Computer Club solely through the prism of innovation and entrepreneurship. It also had, at least at first, a political vision.

Evgeny Morozov, Making It: Pick up a spot welder and join the revolution, The New Yorker, Jan.13, 2014 

Weingart

Typography is not only for reading and must not be a pain. Typography can be a game and a lot of fun.

weingart_3
A drawing inspired by: Schematische Darstellung des M-Buchstabenwürfel-Experiments in: Schonwiedertypografie 1970, Sonderdruck der Typografischen Monatsblätter, Rückseite, Buchdruck
weingart_2
A drawing inspired by: Es war einmal und ist nicht mehr | 1989

At the beginning of September I went to see Weingart Typografie at the Museum of Design in Zurich. I spent a couple of hours there looking at his work and the work made by his students. And, while I was sketching and taking notes, all of a sudden, Weingart entered the exhibition room and I said hello and he looked at me and asked me if he had taught me…

On my way out I bought a copy of 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse  in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter: TM RSI SGM 1960-90 published by Lars Müller Publishers. Typogrfische Monatsblätter was a typographic journal that became a discussion platform for professionals in the field of typesetting and printing.

In “Typografie ist eine Kunst für sich” from 1973, Tschichold called typographical game playing a hybrid decadence, stressing that a good typographer, unlike the self-aggrandising graphic designer, never actually feels free, he does not play, but rather follows the considerations of his reason.

30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse  in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter, p.134

weingart_Zurich_4

 Is this typography worth supporting, or do we live on the moon? Typography is not dead, yet! But its effect is undoubtedly anaemic and vague. But, by and large, it is intact, it is definitely less than ever a practical skill. Instead, it endures as an intrinsic necessity. Typography lives! It is not regarded with the primacy of perhaps 10 or 20 years ago, and is comprehended less as a “picture”, but rather, more as a “text”. Nevertheless, it remains a prominent element of “visual communication”: indispensable, and occasionally fresh, even original.

Peter Kornatzki, 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse in the Typogrfische Monatsblätterp. 157

As for the exhibition, it is a thoughtfully organised space that shows Wingart’s practice as a constant search for solutions. It shows clearly his regard for process-oriented work.

I was not interested in a single result, but in the research. I was interested in process-oriented teaching…

Wolfgang Weingart in an interview for Typographische Monatsblätter (TM)  

weingart_Zurich_16

At the Basel School of Design they try to bring out in people a kind of intuitive approach to making things visual, whether it’s typography, or drawing, or whatever, and help them find ways of analysing what they’re doing while they’re doing it.

Hamish Muir, 30 Years of Swiss Typographic Discourse in the Typogrfische Monatsblätter, p. 169 (originally published in Heritage, Emigre, no.14, 1990)

…but one of the important things I learned from him was how to work; a healthy process. It was more of a process of discovery and exploration than of trying to make something that looks like the teacher’s or anybody else’s work. When he gave an assignment, he would encourage us to work on 20 different iterations all at the same time. I found that method very useful. …They may all be good solutions, but maybe only one is really appropriate. I think that is the strongest thing I learned from Weingart: a playful, beginner’s-kind-of Weingart mind.

April Greiman for Typographische Monatsblätter (TM)  

In my search for information about Herr Weingart I found out that he liked listening to Bruno Walter’s rehearsing Mozart’s Linz Symphony.

While working on the week ends in the typeschop at the school, Weingart often wheeled out a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and played the music of German composers–Wagner, Bethoven, Mozart–would accompany his labour. One of his favourites was a recording of a legendary orchestra conductor Bruno Walter rehearsing Mozart’s Linz Symphony in which Walter implores his musicians to share his grasp of a particular passage as a “shimmering”. The same could describe Weingart’s body of work. His typographic vision embodies a similar vitality and richness. It shimmers.

Wolfgang Weingart, Biography by Philip Burton


typography as illustrated music


graphic landscape


repetition, densification, scattering, progression, tension


Wolfgang Weingart’s My Way to Typography is a publication that accompanies the exhibition. It is an interesting read for anyone involved with art, design or typography.  Keith Tam and Stuart Bailey, among others, wrote about the book and it is striking how contrary their opinions were on Weingart’s practice, the design and the content of his book. Either you love it or hate it, I guess.

[hlysnan], it is all about listening

[hlysnan] in old English means to listen with intention and attention. The exhibition and the publication titled [hlysnan] The Notion and Politics of Listening prepared by the curators Berit Fischer and Kevin Muhlen for the Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain presents sounds that inspire to reflect on spatial and sociopolitical relations. The selection of recordings presented in the Casino carries meaningful messages that examine usually unexplored territories, like the impact of drone surveillance on civil communities in FATA, the voice as a tool to gain position in society, historical speeches as a source of recreation of history, the concept of mimesis as resistance, etc. As for the publication that accompanies the exhibition, it is a conceptual piece that records some aspects of work made by sound artists who take part in the [hlysnan] project. The book contains, among others, a very interesting essay by Peter Cusack who is a ‘sonic journalist’ and records sounds in dangerous places like Chernobyl. Anther essay worth mentioning is a piece about the linguistic diversity under threat of disappearing by John Wynne.

The exhibition focuses rather on sound than an image. There is a sense of emptiness in the rooms which enhances the experience of listening. The artists invited by the curators presented powerful projects that made me listen and think about some of the aspects of sociopolitical dependencies I didn’t realize existed. The curators wanted as little visuals as possible. For me that was an invitation to produce some drawings. The images below are some of the drawings I made while listening to the recordings in the Casino Luxembourg.

The sonic bleed of a circling drone that one cannot necessarily see, but hear, is a constant reminder that a deadly strike may come at any time, quite literally out of the blue.

Susan Schuppli, Uneasy Listening: The Chronic Sonics of Life under Drones

Subliminal Projection Company is an experiment  to transduce memories of the artist to the visitor. The method applied — subliminal text concealed under nature sounds — imitates the self-hep CDs that are widely used in the hope of effortless self-improvement. Instead of the inspirational self-improvement messages, Menick infiltrates recollections of his childhood.

From the booklet for the exhibition, John Menick’s Subliminal Projection Company

The future’s past has caught up with itself. In the Citadel residents are equipped with special auditory mechanisms for acute hearing. Communication has been stripped down to its most basic level; the voice and its aural residuals. Here, voice recognition technology controls the flow of social exchange. The Interlocutors of the Citadel control the social order as well as the very limited resources of life. The voice is the key to pass. The Interlocutors guard vocal codes with full authority. Those in the half-light exist on the periphery without access.

Angel Nevarez and Valerie TevereWhat we might have heard in the future is a science-fiction based radio drama