Archive

3 Manifesto

In order to clear up my work in progress with student projects and make space for the latest post-university projects (aka after assessment!) I am cleaning up the categories, but here are the CSM-specific categories just in case of need:
(and don’t forget to scroll down if you want to read through the development of a project from start to finish!)

Projects done around CSM

Year Two at Central Saint Martins (2012-2013):
Unit 5
Visual Language: International Klein Blue
Book/Building:
Liberty’s Department Store into Flipbooks, a building translated into a book
Yves Klein by himself, a book translated into a building
Blast/Bless: Postcards from London, Luxembourg and Paris

Unit 6 – The Bigger Picture

Unit 7
Time is of the Essence: Student Organiser
What if Music Could Be Seen: Musical Perception
Pop Up Shop: &London Notebooks

Context / Dissertation
Unit 8-9

Year Three at Central Saint Martins (2013-2014):
Unit 10
Home Town: Luxembourg(ish)
The Value of an Image
A Do Something But Not Anything Manifesto
Public/Personal Space

TSI (Typography Special Interest Group)

Final Year Digital

Bookbinding

Events & Exhibitions

Competitions & Collaborations & Live Briefs
Karstadt
Barnard & Westwood
Font Aid IV
Lacoste

An Illustration Workshop
An Internship at the Imprimerie du Marais
Afterall
Art Auction 2013 Catalogue
D&AD British Council
D&AD Monotype

 

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My manifesto started out with a few main questions that were part of my first self–initiated brief experimentation with the communication between the work and the viewer which was ‘Did you find what you are looking for?’ as well as ‘What are you seeing?’ (the contrast between past and current tense aiming to create nearly a contradiction between the current action and the unchangeable past). The main part of my first self–initated brief was that I wanted to make the observer question what it is that they are looking at, the process of their sight and to create further questioning into themselves or with other people.

I then sat down to collect keywords that I collected as being important for myself in my practice and things that are important in my life. While I looked at different (design) manifestos (mainly from the Manifesto Project) before the briefing and in preparation for the performance, I continued collecting keywords. I call them keywords because I carry them around in my mind and they are triggers for specific thoughts, aims, comments and feelings that I know. They sort of compress what I feel that I want to say. With these keywords and in combination with the sight–questions I started writing further questions that relate to the keywords and what I feel is important around myself. All of these diverse questions that all somehow include how someone might feel, behave or live their life were then put into the ‘Jar of Questions’. A few examples of these questions are:

– Did you find what you are looking for? (repeated mostly, because it can create a moment of self–reflection for the readers and make them consider their actions more)
– Did you do something perfect today? (procrastination/making up excuses)
– Which window has your favourite view? (as an invitation to have a break, being aware in and of the environment and include the senses and perception)
– Wien verstees du net? (a few questions are in non–English to make the reader aware of outside cultures and languages)
– Whose birthday is next? (as a trigger to think about the people that are around you and care for them)
The questions were numbered onto /20, but continued over 20 as well because I wanted to push further questioning, although this would only have happened if a few questions were picked together, not isolated.

With these numerous questions in a jar smelling of coffee to have a refreshening smell with it, I went to the briefing not sure what/how to use them in an action that considered a crowd rather than isolated people. The tool for introspective self–reflection then turned into an outward forced communication tool. The questions written with a lot of thought behind them were transformed into awkward conversation–starters between the whole group with a lot of laughter as well as confusion and a bit of self–reflection depending on the different characters. As passive feedback (because we didn’t sit down in a round and talk about it, but created outcomes in groups instead) I was associated with the job ‘marriage counsellor’ and keywords for it were forced communication, prompts openness and little secrets while the jar of questions stayed in people’s heads.

From the briefing to the interim crit I did not have as much time as I would like to have had because of preparations for our degree show presentations while we were still in the run. I was stuck with the jar of questions as I considered it a somehow finished project (which, by itself it probably was, a tiny one) and didn’t know how to push it forward. So I went back a step and looked back at my keywords which I had also narrowed down for the performance in case I wanted/needed to say something. Using the keywords to re–identify the questions and in order to get me back on track with my project, I then added fitting paragraphs to questions that might help identify the subtle meanings of the questions and help reading between the lines of the collection. I then combined the paragraphs with the questions on small cards while compiling a long text at the same time with the paragraphs. I wanted these small cards to be like friendly reminders for myself or maybe other people of my values in design. When I presented these drafts for cards in the interim crit, the other students and Paulus did not agree with me wanting to keep them small little objects to carry around. They found the paragraphs which I added way too much useful for not being shouted out, especially because of the written brutal honesty of which I wasn’t aware and which probably only reflects my personal honesty and direct way (at least to the people that I know well, again we are going back to the personal communication issues that I have which becomes visible through this project more and more). It was during this crit that they started drifting to weird solutions and possible projections for this content. There were more obvious solutions like big posters. but also the suggestion to yell the manifesto into uni as it should be useful for every student at CSM, especially right before the degree show. Finding the posters less interesting and the yelling/shouting more (and with that I mean a lot lot lot more) difficult for myself and more unexpected coming from me, I decided to work towards that direction, continuing in the forced rail, but this time as in forced helping/listening/creating a positive impact in a negative environment that yelling/shouting often comes from. I re and overworked the paragraphs–text and went to the recording studios to start slow with the yelling and to see how I could interpret it in a spoken/soundbased way rather than a visual solution. I spent a good part of the friday in the studio argumenting, speaking, shouting and singing at an imaginary person that I am trying to help and giving advice for guidelines of how to work (now that I am writing this I don’t like the sound of it, seeming like pretentiously telling people how to live their lives as if I have all the solutions). While these paragraphs were originally written to work in separated circumstances, some of the transitions turn into awkward repetitions of terms. While shouting into the microphone, my words were accompanied with a lot of big articulation which I did not capture or document in any way though and I am now wondering if they need to be included. The recordings seem very desperate to me and I still am not comfortable with people listening to them as I don’t find the content brilliant or that useful to someone other than myself, which was confirmed by Rebecca said during our FYD meeting yesterday: ‘there are a lot of clichés’. But most of the people listening to it seem more interested in the layering and the contradicting aspect of advice through attacking rather than the content. I spent yesterday morning reflecting on my project and the more I look into it the less I feel comfortable talking or sharing it as it gets more and more personal and I feel like I am exposing myself even though a lot of listeners don’t know what I am connecting this with (or maybe not yet) I know that I do. I get the impression of needing to explain myself in order for someone to be able to understand the concept or aim of my statements and that I have to take a few selfish (design) decisions in this project.

Having an aim or direction is just so much more difficult out of an editorial graphic design environment into self–directed open projects. Even though the openness is probably more the problem.
I know that the content that I have for this Manifesto is relevant to myself. I am not sure if I have to make the content easily reachable, as I myself am not comfortable in talking about myself. I am always eager to help people out when they are stuck, however personal and communication boundaries from myself often keep me from giving advice, which reflects in the way I have presented the content. Yet I don’t know if this is a strong enough aim to justify my concept of layering and the need to interact and make a move to see (or hear) the advice, in a random order to create the effect of something unexpected like an oracle which can help you push your project further or into different directions. I think I am not taking the recording as a final outcome because it is too passive and I want it to be more interactive and involving the user, even though it does need an active and conscious listener in order to really listen to and understand the content. The aim of my project is creating something that needs attention and digging and getting involved by being consciously aware of your past, present and future actions to create an impact on a person’s design process and/or living conditions in an active, not passive way, if that can be an aim. Now I need to make this sentence shorter: am I aiming to create an experience that needs active investigation and leads to aware self–reflection of personal actions and moves?

I had a little helper to increase the volume of my mix and make it less quiet, so I uploaded the first version to soundcloud in preparation for the mid–point assessment for next monday.

You can listen to it here, and if you have any feedback or a paragraph that you would think could add to the project please let me know!

This is the first draft and that I want to add further layers to this to make it more intriguing and vast and the visual interaction part is (maybe) still missing, but for now I have to finish preparing my portfolio for assessment and quite like the idea of it being sort of a soundscape.

I got further feedback during our FYD meeting this afternoon. As I still haven’t been able to change the volume of the recording, it was difficult to hear the different layers, however most of the people did hear the differences. The recording was interpreted as a ‘slipping through your fingers’ of the information given as you can not hear all of it and it has a clear rhythm and repetition. It also appeared as a bombarding of advice and Rebecca referred back to my project about sound from last year, how I somehow can’t seem to leave sound out. Everyone agreed with me that it should not be stated in a poster or static way, but rather in a bombarding of words that don’t stay but flow away and which rely on interaction between the user and the work. I should think about how I could make the layering more dense, if it needs to have a visual part and how I could create or re–integrate interaction into the outcome.

A really lovely visual text–statement was also sent to me by Melissa as inspiration:

Type / Dynamics – Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam from LUSTlab on Vimeo.

The Dutch design studio LUST has created a new interactive installation for the exhibition ‘Type/Dynamics’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. ‘Type/Dynamics’ interacts with and comments on the work of graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer (1926–1990) in an effort to revitalize recent design history. The installation visualizes information that continuously surrounds us and is always accessible. By searching for real-time locations currently in the news, like “Ground Zero”, “Reichstag”, or “Tiananmen square”, the installation can locate the panorama images from Google Streetview, abstract them into grids and fill the grids with new information. As a visitor to the space, you are literally ‘transported’ to that location and surrounded by all the news associated with that specific location. Instead of a photographic representation, the place is represented purely typographically with a host of new items currently being talked about at that location. Nothing in the gallery space stands still; all information continuously moves.

Yesterday was the day of the final crit for our last set project. It was again a very rich and diverse crit as everyone explored a different route and context. While I had struggled to print the pages this morning as uni’s printserver was offline just yesterday so I wasn’t able to put credit on my account and my printer obviously ran out of ink in the middle of the printing process, I managed to print it during lunch time. I borrowed a camera in order to be able to record and look back at the action from an outside, calm point of view.
When it was my turn (I had waited for the end of the day so that not many crits would still be going on around the studios), a few people had already left the crit. I presented my mixed recording to the group, however as I hadn’t exported the mix in a loud volume, the yelling didn’t come through enough.
I then spread out the pages with different paragraphs onto the table and asked people to choose one or two that they could relate to (even though there were also a few that just searched for the shortest on the table). Being a very quiet person and private in larger groups, shouting/yelling is something unexpected coming from me for other people (or so it seems), which is why I took this challenge in the first place, in comparison to ‘this needs to be yelled out’ as comments onto my text in the interim crit. So when we left the studios to go and shout the manifesto out into the building (there were still too many people that could be disrupted by the performance), I had to go first and yell the first paragraph. It is my manifesto after all. Once on the middle bridge in front of the graphic design studios, I took a deep breath and yelled my paragraph out. Then everyone slowly followed and it all merged together into a big mess of yelling rather than an organised linear presentation. Instead of focussing on the content, most of them were more concerned in projecting their voice and being embarrassed (there was a lot of laughing and gathering inside the group instead of going around) than what they were shouting. Looking back, I should have had a more precise plan about how this was going to work.
What Paulus said to me on the way back is what stuck with me the most: he had a very awkward feeling of not knowing what just happened, and not a good feeling of yelling it into the world. A lot of the students didn’t remember their yelled content and the action gained a higher impact. This performance now makes me think back to my Music perception brief that I did last year, in which most people didn’t react to the music at all and it is similar to what happened during the crit. Due to a lack of knowledge of the content (being it text or music), most of the participants did not react to the content/happening but stayed focussed on their own behaviour (or the absence of it for the music brief). While this allowed for surprise elements in the music brief, it turned into awkward behaviour in the performance. As Gilad said at the end of the crit: ‘It is your manifesto, not ours.’

Here are a few screenshots of the video I took:

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I have to say that I am really happy though about how much everyone participated and that everyone yelled as well, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do this. So after we went back to the studio table, there was a very lively and contradictory conversation about what just happened. What was mostly recognised was the opposition of the nearly fascist format of yelling with a very liberal content that is trying to be helpful, turning the recording as well as the performance into a weird intriguing project of contradictions which I myself did not see from the inside of the project. It shows a personal struggle between trying to express myself and make myself heard by being helpful, although it almost seems forced (onto me and/or onto the user. The aggressiveness of the yelling is confusing for the listener as well as the (outside, not me) yeller, because it is unclear if someone is being yelled at in a positive or negative way. It is only once you listen to the yelling that you can make out that it is meant to be positive. (I sort of feel like this project is turning too much into a search of myself but I guess it is part of the process of finding your practice and aim). For the group there seemed to be a lack of aim, which Gilad also noted as my weak point, while I don’t know if it is just because I am not able to express myself in the right way (again). He then brought up the concerns I have with not wanting to produce something that is nice to look at, something that we discussed together on a busride a few weeks ago. It has to do with the fact that I get really annoyed when someone looks at one of my projects and then solely discusses the looks of it. The looks of my designs is not what I have in my first aim of design, however it is easier to say that something looks appealing (or not) and to ignore the concept behind it. Nonetheless I somehow can’t help myself to try and make something look appealing (I am a designer after all) even in this project as I feel that it is still missing a visual part as I wasn’t able to motivate a real protest. It was also mentioned how apparently my project was probably ‘so CSM’ due to its contradiction part (which, for me, means cliché, so not that great).
So we finished the crit with the conclusion that I have to find and decide what it is that I want to say with this rather than just contradicting or intriguing.

There was a proposition of me doing a manifesto choir rather than single sung/yelled versions in which some people of the group would also participate voluntarily. I am curious to see how it would sound/look/seem like if I let people choose paragraphs that they agree on to shout together and how there would be different variations in tone and volume depending on how many people agree with the paragraphs as it would also reflect the relevance (or non–relevance) of my manifesto. But for now I have to stop trying other different things out and reflect on my work.

As (mostly) every monday, we had a meeting with our group of practice this afternoon. We were supposed to bring work as a preparation for the mid–point assessment happening next week, but there weren’t a lot of people who remembered and brought stuff to the table. I managed to get feedback on my current project, the Manifesto brief, whose final crit is happening tomorrow.
As I had only the roughs of the recordings ready to listen to and wasn’t happy with the designs that I had done so far, I played the separate recordings to the group. These were quite well taken by them and I was asked why these shouldn’t be considered as final outcome. I feel that these recordings are not final versions (even if edited and cut down), the recordings are about one hour altogether so that is quite of a mass. I was proposed to layer them which I am going to try anyway because I don’t want to loose the three parts of questions, keywords and the paragraphs manifesto. The yelling record seemed like a protest take, so there was the suggestion of creating a protest (which is close to what I got as a comment during the interim crit last week as well) with protest posters. This makes me remember l’Automàtica from Barcelona, who letterpressed a set of newspaper prints to create a newspaper useable for the manifestations that were going on at that time.

 

I quite agree with creating visual protesting supports that can be read out while being carried around by the manifesto group through the studios, yelling around. Even though it might be a bit disruptive, it still has a useful content that could help push productivity and get over creative blocks.

Photos from l’Automàtica‘s protest supports created by Pelousse in May 2011:

Unfortunately (or maybe it’s for the better) I know that from tonight to tomorrow morning there is not much time to develop elaborate posters and print them as well. I want to keep the ‘posters’ or manifesto sheets simple anyway because the focus should not be on the posters but on the ‘protesters’ voices. The sheets would only serve as a support for them to read or hold up.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 13.17.49

I went to record the manifesto, key words and questions in the recording studio in university on Friday morning. It took me a few hours and left me with a sore throat, but I find myself with a few recordings to rearrange and select from, from whispered, spoken, yelled to sung versions. Half an hour of compressed recordings (without the singing versions, as I am not yet sure if or how I am going to use them) make a lot of minutes to choose and reduce.

I am not yet really sure what I want to use the recordings with, I am currently thinking of an interactive set of posters that yell at you when you are in front of them, or extract–installations, as well as a moving image video with a face portrait as communicator (which I don’t know if I’ll have the time to do it in time as I only got the film studio tomorrow afternoon and other workshops going on at the same time). The designs for the handlettered posters that I have been trying out have not been going to any directions that I would be happy with so I am still working on those.

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While doing this I also went back and did further research about manifestos, and here are a few of the keywords from it: declaration, set of guidelines, reminder, affirmation, intentions, declaration.