Back where I am from, Hong Kong, things have been relatively unstable in terms of the state and emotion as a result of the Occupy Central movement in respond to the issues raised in the way the chief executive will be elected. Protests has been going on, with citizens of the city physically occupying the city with roadblocks in peaceful manner. As we were advised to go to the V&A for the “Disobedient Object” exhibition. Without any previous knowledge of the exhibition (forgive my ignorance…), I thought it was a probably a catchy name for some fancy conceptually curated show. Little did I know this exhibition would have such a big impact on myself, not only in ways that it was presented, by also the insight it provided me with. “Disobedient Object” explores the role of art and design in protests around the globe, whether it is political or just simply satirical to our society.
The exhibition did not take place at one of the larger exhibition halls but at The Porter Gallery which is relatively small and located right next to the reception/dome area of the museum. The interesting thing though is that the size of the exhibition played well with the content of the exhibition, in which the vast quantity of resources presented to the public being packed into the restricted space created a sense of chaos – a good kind of chaos. The overwhelming impression generated by the chaos literally casts over you as you enter the gallery and the way that the exhibition is planned out allows you to follow a path and get to experience the entire experience without missing anything.
A lot of objects used in protests were collected and kept from all over the world, which I think makes the exhibition so valuable and relevant to people of all age, gender and race. Also, the objects were not something extravagant or anything – they were pot lids, simple paper mache, or just cardboard painted over with some paint. No typography, no grid system, no technical assistance in any sort – they were made by non-designers, by people who only wanted to translate their expression onto something visual to help to reach further. One of the exhibited objects was a clip showing the locations of the world where protests broke out gradually over months and years, since 1978 or something like that. It was fascinating seeing as time goes by, the idea of protest reached out to more people, from Africa/Europe to the States, then to Asia. It goes on and on and the trend reflects much more than just the location or the “popularity” of protesting – but also the idea of people willing to express their thoughts and stand up for what they believe in. Things used were simple, even the medium and material in which the objects were displayed on along with the descriptions were also reused materials. The echoing of theme with all the materials and objects present creates this full-on impact on the audience upon entering the exhibition.
With such a little space, “Disobedient Object” managed to get me leaving the museum with a lot to take in – not only visually, but also the impact of knowing that other people (who are not necessarily designers) manage to make use of everyday objects, or something so easily obtainable to successfully bring forward what’s on their mind. It is a very emotive exhibition, as everything in it could be so relevant to ourselves. It’s thought provoking…leaves you thinking – what can you make today to make a change?
I came across this post/organization which my friend shared on facebook: FCKH8
here is the particular video:
Basically FCKH8 is a for-profit t-shirt company which sells their t-shirt aiming to raise awareness about LGBT, racism and sexism. They have been doing some comedic viral videos on the internet to get audience watching and discussing – and recently they’ve made one about sexism, in which they filmed young aged “princesses” bringing the attention to pay inequality, rape etc using a high-volume of swearing in the span of 2m36s. With this in mind, the producer of the video wanted to use the shocking effect of 6 year old girls swearing like crazy to highlight the shocking statistics of different case of sexism existing in our everyday life. I categorized this finding under Zine as I intend to classify this as one of my research. Although I am not diving into the endless debate and discussion on sexism and such, I am purely looking at it from the controversy in (children) swearing.
Using foul language and profanities may be offensive to some, mainly due to the fact that most of these languages have some sort of connotation to sex and genitals which isn’t socially acceptable to be spoken about in public. Sort of like a taboo. (Kind of stating the obvious here). Fair enough though, I wouldn’t want my own kids to be talking about vaginas and shagging and all that stuff when they’re still learning how to write in cursive. However in this context, the point of using profanities was to bring light to that imbalance. In a moral perspective – it’s not too good; in a marketing perspective – it worked well.
This campaign is absolutely epic in my opinion. It reached the level 100000 of controversy but that’s what works in terms of context as well as from a PR angle.
Reading through “Fanzines” by Teal Triggs (alright I’m just joking I only read through chapter 6 because I was told to, let’s be honest I doubt students like me would actually have the time and energy to read through a whole book), the author was explaining the evolution of zines in terms of quality of make. It had a major element in the idea of crafting – since zines were experimentations of found-objects and collection of an interest, it was a chaotic but eye-fulfilling journey flipping through pages of a zine. With technology advancing and more techniques introduced, the whole idea and outcome of zines has changed – the method used to make zines changed the content of it – resulting in more delicate and aesthetically dominant designs. I love the word Triggs used – “uncluttered”. It sort of brought to the attention about how layout works and how everything is made so much more structured i.e. the importance of graphics (as technology advances).
Our task was to respond to this publication, not that alone, but also taking into account the controversy stirred up when this book was published as Triggs did not credit all zines featured in the book, or that she provided wrong information. Funny enough, she mentioned in chapter 6 about this creator Alex Wrekk who created “Stolen Sharpie Revolution”, which she then on mentioned how Wrekk mentions about “consideration of copyright ‘if you are going to reprint something from another zine'” bet Triggs didn’t read that zine well did she!
In general, I think Triggs has definitely put in a vast amount of effort in research and compiling together a good collection and analysis in the zine culture for this book. Regardless of that, the original creators and zinesters who felt ok with giving her permission has also put in a lot of time and effort into creating their zines which deserves correct annotation, credit and exposure. If I saw my own work featured in some other publication but credited wrongly or not at all, or if I didn’t give permission at all but it appeared anyways I would probably go ape shit too.
It’s all about the mutual profession respect.
Having to choose a favourite artist to write about is like telling parents to choose their favourite child – it doesn’t work that way. Being a graphics student myself, I appreciate different fields of design (and also art) and acknowledge the authenticity and uniqueness of each creator. Having to choose one particular designer to talk about, I shall be introducing one of the designers I always look up to – Eric Gill. I am pretty confident that in the graphics world no one has ever not heard of him – Gill Sans anyone?
Eric Gill didn’t start off as a typographer. He wasn’t even meant to be known as a type designer. He began his artistic journey as a sculptor and studied calligraphy on the side. Creator of the famous Sans Serif typeface, the clean and spare design was always compared to Edward Johnston’s which was the one used for the London Underground system, and a result of his stone and wood letter cutting expertise.
I’ve been at the Lethaby gallery at the Central St Martins campus for the Lettering: Objects, Examples and Practice exhibition which has a collection of lettering and typography from the college’s archive. Guided by the co-curator Prof. Phil Baines, I was shown a rich amount of resources all from the collection, from different eras illustrating the development of lettering and typography throughout history. For Gill’s work in particular, the archive featured his teaching sheets and also his drawings showing detailed form and style of the type itself. It is very intriguing to see how a typeface is formed and developed, especially from its initial drawings into how we use it on the computer.