· Anthea Hamilton: a butt story ·

Anthea Hamilton is a London based artist born in 1978 and that was one of the four shortlisted participants in 2016 Tuner Prize exhibiting at the Tate Britain. She decided to re-stage her piece of work ‘Project for a Door’ which consist of a gigantic butt that was originally designed to be the front door of an apartment block in New York. Furthermore, she exhibited a floor to ceiling painting of London’s sky at 3pm in June amongst other likewise surreal sculptures.

The tone of voice she uses is playful and engaging since she attempts to make the viewer participate of her work and get surrounded by it like in the room with the weights hanging from the ceiling, She strives to surprise the audience with the monumental sculptures and astonishing effects such as the one in the bricks’ pattern suit displayed in front of a bricks background.

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‘Project for a Door’ by Anthea Hamilton (2015)

Her message response to a genuine urge of her to run deep research about her topics of interest and presents them in a beautifully appealing and humorous way that would be memorable for the viewer. This can be easily spotted in her ‘Project for a door’ where she challenged herself to actually build up the door Gaetano Pesce once projected but that never happened to create. She just got inspired by a male ass he got as a reference and decided to do it herself in a larger scale.

Her values are reflection, amusement, spreading knowledge, investigation and experience-designer.

I want to believe that her ultimate aim is to connect with her audience at the same time that she explores subjects of her own interest and try to convey that to the public with unexpected and unforgettable approach. Obviously, she as a young British artist, strives to make a name yet I reckon she stays loyal to her own interests.

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· Jeff Koons: An ironically thoughtful point of view ·

I found fascinating how he could be so conceptual and thoughtful through such playful and thoughtful pieces. Everything seems to be little bit childish around him, like his “Play-Doh” (1994-2014)  monumental sculpture of modelling clay. Already here, we can see he likes to borrow brand’s names and all it comes with them.

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“Play-Doh” (1994-2014).

I have to acknowledge that I didn’t know about Jeff Koons. However, I recognised his work at first glance and as a matter of fact there´s no way you can forget his pieces even if you see them just once. In my case, it was last year when Jeff Koons was exhibiting at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. I couldn’t manage to go yet I remember I saw a short report about the exhibition on the TV and, as it could not be otherwise, his particular universe stuck in my mind. Luckily, this time I got the opportunity to see his work live and get to know about him and his peculiar approach to this world.

Jeff Koons was born in Pennsylvania (USA) in 1955 and was captivated by dada art since a very young age. His career starts in the 80´s taking the superfluity of consumerism as one of his key topics. He’s considered a post-modernist keen on the kitsch and pop-art with a tendency for monumentalism. This exhibition was a fair reflection of this work since all kind of disciplines, from sculpture to painting and photography, were displayed.

At the beginning we find some ready-mades like the hoovers from his collection ‘The New’ (1979). These vacuums are all immaculate, pristine brand new machines never ever used before which is obviously a rhetoric and ironic reference to his dada background.

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New Hoover Delux (1980)

In this same first room, there are on display some billboards like “The New Roomy Toyota Family Camry “ (1983) or the “Find a Quiet Table” (1986). These particular pieces have a great link with branding since he is taking real brands like Toyota and the liquor Frangelico. He works with a brand an takes the values these brands represent to convey his message and get it across the viewer. The audience has a previous idea of the values of these brands and this is something Koons uses in his benefit rather than get rid of it.

Same happens in the last room where he uses identities as part of his work. There we can find “Acrobat” (2003-2009), an aluminium sculpture of an inflatable pool toy lobster, he called it himself the ‘Dalí-esque’ lobster as it has a large erected moustache.

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“Acrobat” (2003-2009)
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Popeye: “I yam what I yam!”

The serie of inflatable sculptures have the name of “Popeye”, the cartoon sailor from the 1930’s. Thus, once again, he takes the values behind these two identities and adds them to his work. Certainly, the mention of Dalí refers to the fact that the sculpture itself is quiet surrealist, Dali’s appreciation of lobsters, and the fact that the material they are made of is actually the last thing you would expect, since he is representing a quite volatile material but used a way heavier one instead. The reference of Popeye is linked to his wide-spread quote “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam”.

He is probably trying to fool the viewer by telling them that what they see is what it is but it is not the case at all. It is all a playful trick of Koons in his attempt to make the viewer doubt and get intrigued .

The way he makes the viewer take part in the interpretation of his art, has a lot to do with branding as well, as the viewer is not a mere spectator but raises some thoughts and creates some links and relationships with the pieces. Like in his monumental sculpture “Ballon Monkey (Blue)” (2006-2013) which is made of stainless steel that lets the viewer see himself reflected on the surface of the massive piece.

 

Some of the values that describe Koons’ work would be:

  • ironic
  • engaging
  • playful
  • provocative and supportive with the normalisation of sexual taboos
  • thoughtful
  • conceptual
  • inflatable
  • monumental
  • dadaist
  • ready-made
  • critic with consumerism
  • colourful and bright

All in all, such a wonderfully grateful experience and a brilliant discovery of both art gallery and artist.

· StoryBranding ·

The first session of CTS Brand Busting was very interesting, this is what I would call a great and powerful beginning. Amongst many other topics, we talked about storytelling related to brands. This is also known as ‘Storybranding’.

The eventual aim of every brand is to sell. However brands can either advertise products to purchase or brilliantly create an entire story behind the brand to get sales by itself. This way, the brand would establish an enduring relationship with the consumer that would guarantee the ‘repeated purchase’. Thus, it is smart to think that the more people relates to a brand, the more will the sales increase. Indeed, the current president of ‘Story-Lab U.S.’ and author of ‘StoryBranding 2.0.’ (2014) stated that “A product’s purpose is functional. A brand’s purpose is meaningful.”

Hence, how can this lasting connection between consumer and brand be achieved? Basically, it consist in creating the soul of the brand, its values, its ideology. In the end, all we aim to is to make people feel identified with the brand. Almost as inventing an always supportive friend: no matter what, this brand will always be a guaranteed value you can trust to fulfil your needs and a ‘friend’ you can always rely on in your next purchase.

Yet, how are the brand identity and its values created? First of all, it is key to understand and analyse the background of the brand to identify the values this brand stand for. The second is relating these thoughts with the brand. Once this is accomplished, it is time to realise which is the profile of the target market and where is the gap the brand can get to them. In other words, distinguish which needs are still not fulfilled that the brand in question can and let the brand reach the prospects through this little gap.

For instance, the energetic drink Red bull is not introduced as a questionable nice flavoured drink made with peculiar ingredients but as a drink for the unstoppable, the adventurous, the ones with no limits. Red Bull is a drink specially made for them, that understand their desires and encourages them to keep it up.

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Red Bull advert “Find Your Wings”

Eventually, there might happen to be some obstacles. The only way to face them correctly is by being aware of this possibility since the very beginning and stay firm when they arrive to even broaden the meaning of the values they stranded for since the beginning.

To sum up, story branding is a lifelong method brands can use to get a loyal spectrum of consumers by focusing first on their own story and then on prospects’ needs to find an unbreakable connection between them.

_______________________

References>

Dahlia, M. and Lange, F. and Smith, T. (2010) ‘Marketing Communication‘.Chichester: Willey.

Signorelli, J. (2014) ‘StoryBranding 2.0.‘. Austin, Texas: Green leaf Book Group Press.

 

· Kay Catalogue, Modernism and Fashion Persuasion ·

This lecture aimed to give an overall vision of Modernism and its key points regarding fashion, people’s taste and society.

First of all, we were presented the figure of the ‘flaneur’ which is a French term to describe those who just like to wander and stroll aimlessly around the cities in a very slow and calm pace discovering the cities and the society that inhabit them. This particular personality was fundamental for the French senator and member of the Parliment, Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891) who aimed to enhance the city for the wellness of the people by creating more open spaces like parks that would encourage people to walk through new streets that have never before dared to step on. He used a grid system to make the city geometric so that people would be able to navigate more easily and stimulate the social activity of Paris. This idea was named ‘phsycogeography’.

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Flaneur wandering around the city.

So by this, we can understand that this concept of city that we have nowadays have not always been like this, and that cities were not thought as the urban scenario that are today where we expect to find many different activities to do by wandering all around.

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The grid system of Paris by Haussmann

By applying these ideas into the city, the evidences between different social classes became more obvious and clear. This lead to a class system where people’s taste was linked to their status. However we realise throughout the lecture that taste has nothing to do with the status or the purchasing power, but with what we saw, learned and received since we were born. So actually tastes were passed on from generation to generation.

Nowadays, according to the theory of the French contemporaneous sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002), our tastes are as well set for us beforehand, as the media and publicity send those images and messages of what we should like. A great example is the catalogue of the Sweden company ‘IKEA’, where all those ideas decorations and furniture are so ideal and attainable regardless our social status.

 IKEA Catalogues of ideal houses

What’s more, our tastes is now considered a way to self-improvement as the English educator Mike Featherstone claimed: “consumer culture publicity suggests that we all have room for self-improvement and expression whatever our age or class origins”.  The Kardashian’s show was used in the lecture to exemplify how someone can become a brand that actually sells you the idea of self-improving by your own taste elections.

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The Kardashians’ Show (example of self-improvement)

It’s kind of scary to realise how advertisement define for us our tastes and choose for us what we need. We make in class the exercise of thinking about how many adverts of products we might like pop up every time we surf on the Internet. This is an absolute privation of our intimacy, which can be related to the second part of the lecture about the pleasure of gazing. Recently, the popularity of realities that sneak into other’s houses increased considerably and TV productions take advantage of the inherent predisposition of human-beings for gazing and the pleasure we get from it.

All in all, our tastes, doesn’t matter who originate them, are gonna catch some eyes due to the strong inclination of people to stare at others. And probably, everything is just a vicious circle where  people feed back from what they see to make a selection of their own tastes.


Reference List

October, D. & Hauer, G. (2016) Kay Catalogue, Modernism and Fashion Persuasion [Lecture to GMD Year 1] T303: Contextual and Theoretical Studies. UAL

· The debate ·

This lecture had a very clear purpose, discuss about the importance of grids and whether they are essential or not. So, let’s get the ball rolling with the ‘pro-grids’ ones:

The Swiss graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann (1914-1996), known for his constructivists designs, described that the work of the designer needs to have “the clearly intelligible, objective, functional and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking” and continued with a long list of all the virtues he considered of the grids such as its consistency, the rationality of creative and technical production processes, the ease to integrate colour, form and material and the dominion of space and surface. He considered that “work done systematically and in accordance with strict formal principles makes those demands for directness, intelligibly and the integration of all factors” and that “working with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity.”

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This last point is very interesting as human-beings, like the nature and the entire universe, have this genuine and inherent desire of order and organisation. Indeed we can find clues of this tendency in the way society is organised, our daily life and even on our spare time. Furthermore, the fact of having tools such as the grid to create this order, make it easier for our brain to create links between contents when we look at a page, for instance.

The grid, therefore, was agreed for many designers like German relevant typographer Jan Tschichold (1902-1974), architects like the French modernist Le Corbusier (1887-1965),  and artists like the Dutch suprematist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) to be a funcional and clear way to convey the message as well as international and universal. Moreover, the grid was considered to show the criteria and creativity of the designer as it proves that the decisions aren’t taken randomly but following an order. Müller-Brockmann concluded in his book ‘Grid Systems in Graphic Design’ (1996) that “every visual creative work is a manifestation of the character of the designer. It is a reflection of his knowledge, his ability and his mentality.”

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Mondrian (1929) Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue III
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Le Corbusier’s grid system applied to people and architecture

On the other hand, the ones against the grid system like William L. Fox argued in his book ‘The Void, The Grid & The Sign’ (2005) that “the grid exercises authority over space by applying a ruler to it in all senses of the word” and also that “as an artificial extension of our egocentric visual triangulation of the world, the grid is always suspect”. In summary, all those ‘anti-grids’ considered it as “spatial signature of modernity” made “to control and discipline”.

According to the Canadian essayist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) stated that the grids were used to create order but that it forgets the relationships between contents. Moreover, he criticised the fact that many urbanists were applying the grid, which was used in printing mediums, to organise cities, and therefore, the way people lived as if they were types. It was a “neutral and rational” according to the Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen (1947).

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The American grid towns

The American critic and theorist Peter Lunenfeld juxtaposed the the advantages and disadvantages of the grid in his book ‘Snap to Grid’ (2001) claiming that “the gains in predictability and accuracy are balanced against the losses of ambiguity and expressiveness”. So he was one of the pioneers who pointed out both the strengths and weaknesses of the grid system.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the 20th century the avant-gardes like the dada movement began to experiment with the collage which is a technique not opposed to the modernist grid but a thoughtful about representation, time and space. It was an absolutely visual media willing to convey how the world spoke, shouted and made sounds. That is to say, a new way to liberate the words -parole in liberta- and let them stand by themselves, which was very clearly represented, for instance, in the dadaist poetry.

 

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Theo van Doesburg’s dada poster. (1923)

Dada poster from Hannah Höch & Parole in liberta  (right)


Reference List

Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1050153.files/Grids_Rosalind%20Krauss.pdf [Accessed 8 May 2016].

Baines, J. & Hartnett, JP. (2016) The debate [Lecture to GMD Year 1] T303: Contextual and Theoretical Studies. UAL

Fox, William (2005) The Void, the Grid & the Sign: Traversing the Great BAsin. Reno & Las Vega: University of Nevada Press.

Krauss, R. (1980). Grids. New York: Pace Gallery.

Lunenfeld, P. (2000). Snap to grid. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

Müller-Brockmann, J. (1981). Grid systems in graphic design. Niederteufen: Verlag Arthur Niggli.

Sassen, S (2000) New frontiers facing urban sociology at the Millennium. British Journal of Sociology.

Sennett, R. (1990) The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities. New York: Alfred A Knopf. This can be found online by putting the following words into Google: Conscience of the Eye Harvard pdf [don’t forget the pdf]

Thegreatamericangrid.com. (2015). The Great American Grid. [online] Available at: http://www.thegreatamericangrid.com [Accessed 8 May 2016].

· Typography and language ·

We got started with the following statement:

Typography can be treated as an image itself

Text doesn’t need an image to stand by itself. Actually there is a metaphor that Beatrice Warde (1900-1969), who was a typography expert and publicity manager for the Monotype Corporation, uses in her book “The Crystal Goblet” that explains it pretty well: you have to worry about what’s inside the goblet not about the goblet itself. That is to says that the content is much more important than the contender. Despite so, the typography needs to have a relation with the content because, otherwise, it would be just decoration.

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Beatrice Warde (1955), ‘The crystal goblet’ or ‘The printing should be invisible’.

We were supposed to understand that typography interferes somehow with how we read and also that the typography needs to be entertaining by its own. This is one of the main principles of 8vo, a graphic design firm founded by Simon Johnston, Mark Holt and Hamish Muir back in 1985. They created, for instance, a new -and weird- disposition for a essay to make it more entertaining, engaging and appealing to the eye.

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Design by 8vo.

To sum up, the typography has to work for the text and it is graphic designers jobs to create the relationship between these two subjects. As once the American famous graphic designer, David Carson, (1954) did. He tried to fit a text he was given to the blank space he had by using a 5p font.

Nevertheless, to be able to play around with the text, first you need to know some basic keys about storytelling and narrative processes. The main thing that not even a graphic designer can modify is the Story Classical Line which is roughly the initiation of a conflict until it reaches the climax and its decrease until a resolution is found.

Moreover, we went through an introduction about semiotics which is about signs and its meanings, something very useful for a graphic designer. It all began in the mid 19th century with the Swiss linguistic Professor Ferdinand de Saussure and the American Charles Sanders Peirce. Both of them realised in a short time of difference that there are some meanings that comes naturally, the signifier, and other that are both personal or cultural interpretations, the signified. The first one is called the denotative meaning of the item and the second one, the connotative meaning of it. So we can get the connotation of an X subject by our own reading or because it’s a global cultural and conventional agreement.

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For example, the traffic lights: everyone understand the meaning of each colour, red, orange and green, -signifier- but when we apply these colours to the traffic lights they become ‘stop’, ‘cross quickly’ and ‘cross’ -signified-. The meaning of each colour is a convention as they mean the same for everyone and yet there’s no logical relation between the colour and its meaning, the society created these links.

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Colour of the traffic lights -signifier/sign- & their meanings -signified/concept-.

Taking this into account the designer can mess around with the different meanings of the words to get the word that fits the best the purpose of the text, its content and its look.


Reference List

Eyemagazine.com. (2016). Eye Magazine | Feature | Beatrice Warde: Manners and type. [online] Available at: http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/beatrice-warde-manners-and-type [Accessed 6 May 2016].

Mitchell, W. (2005). What do pictures want?. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Slatter, A. & Homer,N. (2016) ‘Typography and language’ [Lecture to GMD1] T303: Contextual and Theoretical Studies. UAL

Warde, B. (1955). The crystal goblet. London: Sylvan Press.