Day three was small in numbers, but gigantic in content. We spent the morning in self-assessment, evaluation, and the afternoon in a skype discussion with Michèle Champagne of That New Design Smell, in which she delivered a talk all the way from Toronto, beaming into the studio in Camberwell. She has kindly provided us with a summary of that talk, after the jump.
Five Smelly Things The Design Press Could Mull Over, Even If For Just A Moment
The first smelly thing is that design publishing is a mixed bag of goodies. It's not thriving or failing, good or bad, black or white. It's grey. Sometimes light grey, sometimes dark grey. But always grey. Consider how some view design publishing on computers and the internet. Some are optimistic and praise the holy wonders of online publishing. Woo hoo! Others are pessimistic and condemn it altogether. Yuck! Yet both are blind-sighted. Design publishing is going through both a renaissance and a nervous breakdown, all at the same time. That is the first smelly thing.
The second smelly thing is that success and failure in design publishing is never evenly distributed. Publications can benefit some people and harm others. Consider the tablet magazine. Where tablets have taken hold, people find them a blessing. Not lease those who sought gratifying careers in online publishing, including executives, interface designers, programmers, media planners, editors and writers. They think tablets are super awesome. Now consider the career of lumberjacks, paper salesmen, printers and print designers. They might have tablets themselves, but know that tablets are terribly awful for their careers down the line. Who wins and who loses? Consider the wins and loses on the internet. A person can shop online twenty-four hours a day, easily bookmark thousands of findings and vote at home while eating BBQ chicken and watching the game. But they're also more easily traced and located by companies and governments keeping track of their "internet crumbs".
The third smelly thing is the powerful prejudices embedded in every design publication. Prejudices are often abstract and hidden, but have real-world effects. Publications predispose us to favor and value certain agendas and perspectives. Writing predisposes us to logic and analysis. Video clips predispose us to brevity and emotion. And the internet predisposes us to immediacy rather than history. This is given expression in how publications make people use their minds, or not. And in how they accentuate or disregard varying emotional and intellectual phenomena. In other words, the third smelly thing is the substance of what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said, "The medium is the message."
The fourth smelly thing is that change in design publication doesn't add up, it's contextual. A new platform doesn't simply add another medium or platform; it changes everything. When the internet emerged in the 1990s, it wasn't the world plus the internet. It was a completely different world with completely different people, homes, schools, churches, industries and war. Smelly thing number four, then, is that change in design publication is contextual.
The fifth smelly thing is that design publishing tends to be mythological. I don't mean as in allegories from the past or fake stories, like urban legends. I use the word mythological in the way used by Roland Barthes. He referred to our tendency to assume things are the way the are because they're part of the natural order of things. Take fashion magazines, product catalogues or graphic billboards. They did not simply fall from the sky. Yet we'd be hard pressed to identify when they were invented. When a publication becomes mythic—as well as its editors, writers, articles and subjects which they represent—it is accepted as it appears and never questioned. The American architectural critic Alexandra Lange referred to this phenomena as "sacred cows," which she identified as Paul Rand, Steve Jobs at Apple and Yves Behar with One Laptop Per Child, among others. Publication, like other forms of human creation, is not natural; it's a product of human invention and its ability to be beneficial or consequential rests on our awareness of what it does for us and to us. That is the fifth smelly thing.
In the past, we experienced change in design publishing as if we were zombie cheerleaders: sleep walking, half dead and always hoping for the best. Could we wrangle design publishing today without unbridled optimism or depressing pessimism? Could we wrangle design publishing tomorrow without hope nor fear? Only time will tell. And until then, perhaps the only way to make sense out of change is to plunge in with our eyes wide open, give publication a good shake, move with it, confront it, question it, re-design it and enjoy the dance.
Among Other Things
Fresh Prints: Camberwell Press has been invited to display a range of recently produced publications at the Fresh Prints exhibition – Showroom, University of the Arts London. Please join us at the Private View on Wednesday the 1st of May to discuss and see what we have been working on.
Let's Get Quizzical – Round 2: Following the success of the first, we are inviting you to join us and take part in the second instalment of the Camberwell Press pub quiz, with categories such as: Typography, Animation, Illustration, Film and more to question your creative mental knowledge.
18 February 6pm - 9pm
Camberwell College of Arts
Book launch for I used to be a design student, created by Brighten the Corners, Frank Philipin and Billy Kiosoglou. The launch takes place at Camberwell College of Arts where the inspiration began after a workshop led by Brighten the Corners for the BA Graphic Design students, which looked at the relationship between their student work and their development into professional practice. Find out more about the book and event here.
13 December 2012 09.00 - 18.00
LBi Event Space
To find out more on the event visit the Alt/Shift website and join the discussion online.
4 October - 20 October 2012
Mokita 2: illustration Symposium
16 October 2012 10.00 - 17.00
Le Fil The Filosophy of Making
25 - 28 September 2012
Le Fil presents his debut solo show 'Pop Sculpture: The Filosophy of Making', which will bring the spectacle of pop music into the art gallery context. Camberwell Space will be transformed into a multi-disciplinary platform ready for a pop sculptural reinvention. 'Pop Sculpture' features new songs, ceramics and sculptures created by Le Fil during his art residency at Vanguard Court Studios in Peckham.
Writing on the Wall
14 March 2012
CCW Wilson Road
Into the Fold
24 February - 13 March 2012
Camberwell Press seeks to create and ideal and interactive studio within a public space for two and half weeks. The exhibition will culminate in a publication formed from material generated with collaborators via a series of talks, workshops, design & publishing projects.
Among Other Things
10 January - 10 Feburary 2012
Among Other Things brings together objects, video, sound and installation by four artists who question what it means to produce work through relational encounters with and between people.
onedotzero_adventures in motion
23 - 27 November 2011
2011 sees onedotzero celebrate 15 years of championing the progression of global digital culture and innovation in motion. Programmed in partnership with regular host venue BFI Southbank, this special anniversary will present short films and animation, music videos, interactivity, digital art and everything in between.