Switch Off

Graphic design is often where I’m conservative. I enjoy the traditions of typography and layout, and illustration I think needs to be of a certain quality and professionalism. With music I’m the opposite. I put on my conceptual artist hat and get buck. I’m happy to fuck shit up and not worry about the rules.
Object design poses a problem for me. I want to get crazy, but more than anything else I do, it has technical tolerances, and there’s no getting around those.
The idea began for this semester in a straight forward way. A response against technology and its detrimental impacts on our lives. As a personal response that didn’t have anything to do with reconnecting people, but simply with me preferring to switch off than to be constantly plugged in.
Then I gave things the finger. Human centred design is the current “it” thing. Every industry has its things. For design, we’re all about service design, working with and for people, innovating in the streets not in the office. So I gave that whole thing the finger and went on a more egotistical tangent. Who needs other people right.
I delved into Metamodernism and the current state of the most progressive art. But who needs that? Not me. We can go beyond that.
Here I got into a contrarian attitude as progress. All states of progress are a rebellion against the current. It’s not about tweaks, but about radical change.
I summed up my approach simply - Absurdity as diversion is just as valid as resolution. Shit was going to get weird. I handed in paintings and noise instead of the models and information I was asked to type weird.

More than chairs I was looking at sculpture and art theories. I wrote a narrative that tied to the philosophy and drove the project. I was looking into no linear story telling like video games, when the tone of my project drew me towards memorials. I was looking at sculpture already, and the in-depth stories behind monuments and memorials made them appealing and relevant.
One of the more exciting projects I checked out was a project titled Parallel Lives that comments on 100 years of Jewish immigration through Mexico by Archetonic. All of the elements contribute to the story, but it is also an exciting piece that interacts with the tide and landscape.


The design evolved from the developing information connecting to an atmosphere told in the conceived story. The story when drawn presented an image that could relate to religious significance, or equally a throne and royalty.

I moved instead to an object of its own significance connected to the ideals of the concrete artists. Simply, the concrete artists looked to create without referencing symbols or history, developing a pure form of art free from humanity. The link to the ideals being difficult to convey, an aesthetic link was explored. The next rendering is based on interconnected planes that clearly connected to the works of Nicolas Schöffer and Joost Baljeu.

What I only learnt on further exploration was that  Schöffer is connected with cybernetic art and his works consist of moving parts. The significance of this was primarily that I was exploring artificial intelligence at the time in the art of computer artist Harold Cohen. More interesting than the mobiles of Calder, the movement connected to principals that were tied to combatting and progressing forces in art. The clearest discussion of this follows Frieder Nake. Nake was somebody who worked with computers as a generative artist, but at various times rebelled completely. Computers represented at different times war, the coldness of machines, and for many unemployment, and the association people had is comparable to their feelings towards fascism. Computer art therefore was hated particularly around the Vietnam war when it was associated with capitalism. Working without computers for many was an existential act. This was later reverted towards the 80’s, and generative art with and without computers emerged again. The significance, is going back to the idea of ready made parts, and Sol LeWitt doing generative art. The possibility of creating a system or rules based on instructions made using unaltered parts crucial. Links, lengths, and material could generate similar ideas, but greatly different and complicated forms. The reappropriation of the material was an appealing element as a distortion of intended meaning.

The movement in the piece was presented symbolically. Instead of creating a flat structure, altering the angle, as if by weight or pressure, was inspired by Joseph Muller Brockman, whose compositions without angles would otherwise appear rigid.

What happened next can best be described in photos. I built it. It didn’t work. My idea of repurposing pre-made parts instead of traditional welding proved to falter, and falter in a big way. The joints didn’t just shift, they, kinda sorta, imploded.

At that point, 90% of everything above became irrelevant and I had to make something responding to the initial idea in a short space of time.
At the time in graphic design I was studying James Victore, an outspoken designer who uses  techniques like hand writing instead of typography to convey ideas in an unconventional and more personal way. His ideas include moving away from the “right” choice of font, when it should be the designer doing the design work not the font. Looking through my own previous works that are more risk taking, and considering integrated projects, I considered communicating this project as I would a graphics project. Taking the elements I had purchased for this seat as a beginning, and being able to construct some simple forms lead to an concept to create an editorial advertisement of sorts. Taking text, and props, I aimed to compose a photograph to convey my message that had the object as a significant element. Going back to the idea of a throne, I placed the person sitting as an element on a plinth. Their value is measured by their position, and the square form is not unlike a plinth. Going back to the initial concept against the interruption of consumer technology, I considered a sarcastic remark on technology being of importance. Placing technology on plinths to elevate its status and connect that to the questionable value of the person was interesting, but to further emphasise this I used equal heights of books to create the plinths, as if the technology was its chronological replacement. Interested in creating a typographic message as part of the composition, I kept the glass as the central element, and explored word combinations. While directly responding to technology destroying time was initially considered, it felt simple and uninspired. Making the books of less significance by putting valuable objects on them instead of technological ones pulled emphasis to the death of the book, which is conveyed in the line “In memory of print”, which is a contemporary concern for the design industry. It relates back to my explorations of Frieder Nake and the computer artists questioning what technology means for us. Showing the person on the chair reading signifies that print is in fact not dead, and that it is a question to consider. The work requires contemplation on the issue.