Fan Phenomena


Like the Facebook page for a chance to win the first six Fan Phenomena titles

Intellect is delighted to announce Fan Phenomena, an exciting new book series that ‘decodes’ cult subjects in terms of popular culture written by and for those of a passionate disposition. The series taps into what constitutes an iconic or cultish phenomenon and how a particular person, TV show or film infiltrates their way into the public consciousness.

Each book will contain a collection of edited essays and will have visual appeal, subjects will include fashion, fan media, fan fiction, language, philosophies, economics, character/characterization, influences and fandom in the virtual world. Our upcoming 2013 titles are Star WarsBuffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoTwin PeaksStar Trek and Batman.



Coming up soon in the series:

Fan Phenomena: Twin Peaks
Edited by Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulegue
Fan Phenomena: Twin Peaks is the first book of its kind to revisit the ground-breaking series and explore how the show’s cult status continues to thrive in the digital era. In ten essays, the contributors take a deeper look at Twin Peaks’ rich cast of characters, iconic locations and its profound impact on television programming, as well as the impact of new media and fan culture on the show’s continued relevance. Written by fans for fans, Fan Phenomena: Twin Peaks is an intelligent yet accessible guide to the various aspects of the show and its subsequent film.

Published: July 2013 | Price: £14.95/$20 | ISBN: 9781783200245

Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Edited by Jennifer K Stuller
Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer explores how continued devotion is internalized, celebrated and critiqued. Featuring interviews with culture-makers, academics and creators of participatory fandom, the essays here are windows into the more personal and communal aspects of the fan experience. As an accessible yet vigorous examination of a beloved character and her world, this issue provokes a larger conversation about the relationship between cult properties and fandom and how their interplay permeates the cultural consciousness, in effect contributing to culture through new narrative, academia, language and political activism.
Published: July 2013 | Price: £14.95/$20 | ISBN: 9781783200191


Friday, 7:01am
30 November 2012
Free listening and learning

Critical path
Design education
Graphic Design
New Media
Do university blogs still have a role to play in developing links between students, institutions, countries and disciplines? Essay by Neil McGuire

The design course blog, over a decade after blogging hit the mainstream, is still relatively rare, writes Neil McGuire. But when used imaginatively, they have the potential to enhance the educational experience on a number of levels.
Course blog as critical and reflective tool
Blogs can be a discursive tool, for debating ideas but also offer the potential to connect these ideas with an expanded network of theory and practice available online. This networked approach is embodied in Designblog, the ‘research blog’ of the foundation design year at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. It sets out its objectives as follows:
‘Designblog is not a regular blog. It is a complex and layered system in which facts are more than facts alone … It is a network of Metadata, an experimental blog for all Rietveld’s foundation year students. It is an instrument, and it is your platform for publishing.’
While Designblog is still very much embedded in studio practice, sites such as Limited Language also incorporate printed output (see Jane Cheng’s review in Eye 75), and take these debates to a wider audience. Colin Davies of the University of Wolverhampton, who co-founded Limited Language in 2005 with Monika Parrinder of the Royal College of Art, says the initial idea was to create a discursive platform for critical debate. ‘When we started nearly a decade ago the most exciting ingredient was the possibility of instant feedback. Of course today that feedback loop has become rather congested. However [blogs] still offer new potential for blended learning, and the opportunity for ‘students to see their thoughts and words appear in a public dialogue, rather than the usual to and fro between tutor and student in traditional essay writing’.
This is extended further by critical design courses such as D-Crit at SVA and the Critical Writing in Art and Design course at the RCA, which use their blogs as a central (public) space for the evolution and dissemination of student (and staff) projects.

Feedback Loop
While making process visible or tangible in this way might be seen as a universal good, it is always closely followed by concerns about whether blogging leads to an aggregation culture of surface-only investigation – a rapid recycling of ffffound images and styles.
Some of these concerns about Web literacy may appear over-exaggerated, but it is worth exploring in more detail the implications of, in the words of David Coyle, a ‘graphic-design-will-eat-itself’ culture.
Samuel Bonnet (of the Parallel School) adds: ‘It is so easy to copy a picture, using the same typeface and make a similar typographic composition, and we, young designers, look at so many things that we have a culture of quantity, developing an intelligence of watching and reproducing … maybe the good graphic design student today mustn’t have any website or blog, maybe (s)he just has to protect himself from the flow, and I know that some are…’
Camberwell Illustrator

Course blog as project tool
Blogs can also function as rich, but sometimes short-lived, collaborative research environments on a project by project basis. In a project on the future of reading run by Lust with students at ESAD Valence, the project’s Tumblr site became alive with a tightly focused set of references within a very specific niche activity, enabling the quick sharing of reference material and development of ideas. It also provided a handy on-the-fly way of revisiting parts of the project and collective note-taking.
Peter Nencini, a lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts, believes there is a greater role for the ‘comment’ function to play in live annotation: ‘At the moment it feels too passive; or, in the social networking context, edging somewhere not nice.’ By way of comparison he references Matthew Stadler of Publication Studio, who ‘talks about the PDF strand of their published books and a live annotation process, which echoes the moment when he would take books out of the library and find other researchers’ notes in the margins. This seems like an enrichment mode’ – a mode that courses could develop when thinking about layered learning.
This, of course, raises interesting questions about the traditional reading list and a staff-centric view of knowledge transfer that can still sometimes prevail. Alternative modes of reading, writing, collating and publishing continue to disrupt (in a good way) and force us to re-examine existing academic value systems.
Course blogs as extended family
Course blogs, by their inherently interconnected nature, offer further opportunities to extend the collegiate community of any given institution beyond its campus. This can be through alumni who continue to blog with the department, and industry professionals who both contribute to and read these blogs. Vocationally focused blogs such as Fuel at the RCA offer an open way of sharing information about future careers and advice, and in a way that potentially makes the most of the ‘wisdom of crowds’.
Blogs also provide a channel for institutions to connect with other courses, students and staff. Limited Language suggests that a possible future for design course blogs ‘may be in developing links between institutions, countries and disciplines. The trip is a simple and effective tool for communication across geographies … [an] underutilised aspect is how we can use [technology] in this more globalised educational framework.’

Blogs as incidental promotion
Perhaps unintentionally, and maybe all the better for this, course blogs have become a very good way of promoting design programmes. Nencini sees the blog ‘as offering an authentic view of the kinds of activity and discourse that happen in the studios of the course. It is free of institutional edit, at a stage where prospectuses and open days have, to an extent, become a quick, open pitch to prospective students and their families.’
Other courses have further blurred the boundaries, with their websites adopting Web 2.0 characteristics, and a spirit of ‘open’ communication. Yale University School of Art’s website is built on a wiki, in theory allowing any student or member of faculty to contribute to and edit pages. The System Design course at Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig utilise webpages somewhere between a work-bench and work-in-progress blog.
But is this openness always welcomed by the host institution? Nencini notes that, in a culture where the default is set to share, ‘there is also the question, on everybody’s part, of “keeping our powder dry” – the worry that freely accessible content online might encourage a kind of remote learning culture’. Ultimately however, he feels ‘it’s an act of confidence, generosity to the wider culture and also somehow credit[s] the students on that course with the intelligence to know what it means to be in the studio, among other people, making and thinking. The “live” element sublimates any pre-posted planned content so I think longer term it’s always about how the Web can intensify the studio moment.’
Department 21

Online and Off
What often emerges from this discussion is a false dichotomy, between online and offline culture. In reality, we’re dealing with a parallel situation where (as Nencini notes) ‘Having process visible – either teaching or making – allows for a more textured conversation. A side-by-side mentality.’
Therefore an interesting facet of these online spaces is what other types of activity might emerge around them. The Parallel School, a student-organised adjunct to business as usual at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, points the way towards some of these possibilities. While not necessarily intended as a wholesale replacement for institution-based studio education, it nevertheless created an additional layer of fluid, student-directed learning, that through its online existence made contact and collaborations with Manystuff, the RCA (and Department 21) and a likeminded group of other protagonists along the way. More importantly, through its concurrent online documentation and discussion, it presented the possibility to work in this way to a vast number of other students elsewhere.
Writing about Paul Elliman’s Wild School in Eye 25, Rick Poynor lists among its distinctive aspirations that ‘everyone will be an auditeur libre as the French put it, a “free listener” able to wander at will and determine his or her educational needs’.
‘At that time,’ Poynor notes, ‘the project was more a proposal than fully functioning public reality’ … The challenge being to ‘transform this proto-school from a list of sometimes eccentric links … and recycled teaching briefs … into a richly imagined and responsive experience in self education.’
This was in 1997. The digital tools to assist in this happening are now freely available, and their increasing uptake by existing design courses and autonomous student groups alike open up some exciting possible futures for design education both on and offline.
Neil McGuire is a designer and tutor. He blogs at OffBrand and on Visual Communication, the Communication Design course blog he established at Glasgow School of Art with Lizzie Malcolm, Sam Baldwin and Brian Cairns.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can see what Eye 84 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.

The Paradox of a Book

Being Digital

by Nicholas Negroponte


The Paradox of a Book

Being dyslexic, I don’t like to read. As a child I read train timetables instead of the classics, and delighted in making imaginary perfect connections from one obscure town in Europe to another. This fascination gave me an excellent grasp of European geography.

Thirty years later, as director of the MIT Media Lab, I found myself in the middle of a heated national debate about the transfer of technology from U.S. research universities to foreign companies. I was soon summoned to two industry-government meetings, one in Florida and one in California.

At both meetings, Evian water was served in one-liter glass bottles. Unlike most of the participants, I knew exactly where Evian was from my timetables. Evian, France, is more than five hundred miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Those heavy glass bottles had to traverse almost one-third of Europe, cross the Atlantic, and, in the case of California, travel an additional three thousand miles.

So here we were discussing the protection of the American computer industry and our electronic competitiveness, when we seemingly could not even provide American water at an American conference.

Today, I see my Evian story not so much being about French mineral water versus American, but illustrating the fundamental difference between atoms and bits. World trade has traditionally consisted of exchanging atoms. In the case of Evian water, we were shipping a large, heavy, and inert mass, slowly, painfully, and expensively, across thousands of miles, over a period of many days. When you go through customs you declare your atoms, not your bits. Even digitally recorded music is distributed on plastic CDs, with huge packaging, shipping, and inventory costs.

This is changing rapidly. The methodical movement of recorded music as pieces of plastic, like the slow human handling of most information in the form of books, magazines, newspapers, and videocassettes, is about to become the instantaneous and inexpensive transfer of electronic data that move at the speed of light. In this form, the information can become universally accessible. Thomas Jefferson advanced the concept of libraries and the right to check out a book free of charge. But this great forefather never considered the likelihood that 20 million people might access a digital library electronically and withdraw its contents at no cost.

The change from atoms to bits is irrevocable and unstoppable. Why now? Because the change is also exponential – small differences of yesterday can have suddenly shocking consequences tomorrow. […..]

Read more of the electronic version of “Being Digital”:

Next: Bits and Atoms or Epilogue


A Book is Technology: An Interview with Tan Lin

Angela Genusa on Wednesday Oct 24th, 2012

Over the past 15 years, poet, novelist, and filmmaker Tan Lin has been at work creating an “ambient” mode of literature that engages a set of practices including sampling, communal production, and social networks, addressing issues such as relaxed copyright, boredom, plagiarism, and the commodification of attention.

He has written 10 books, most recently Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking; Insomnia and the Aunt; and HEATH COURSE PAK. His video work has screened at the Yale Art Museum, Artists Space, the Drawing Center, and the Ontological Hysterical Theatre. He is currently finishing work on a novel, OUR FEELINGS WERE MADE BY HAND. He teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.

We talked by Skype, G-chat, email, phone, and used Google Drive in real-time to talk about the many different uses of technology in his work and what its implications are for the future of literature:

In your books, especially HEATH (plagiarism/outsource) and Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking, you introduced people to a new idea of what a book of literature can be. For these books, in their various versions and associated events, you incorporated everything from email to Twitter, programming languages to RSS feeds, Google Translate to Post-it notes. What led you to use so many different forms of technology in the creation and publication of a book? How would you define a book?

People forget that a book or codex is a technology. My interest with HEATH and 7CV was to treat the book as a distinct medial platform through which a lot of ancillary information passes, much like a broadcast medium like TV or a narrow-cast medium like Twitter or Tumblr. Reading is information control, just as a metadata tag is a bibliographic control. So I wanted to highlight the book’s medial and time-based underpinnings.

How would you prepare someone who has never read a Tan Lin book to read one of your books?

It’s a little hard to say. I think a book is something consumed slowly over many years—it’s a little like watching a plant reproduce. What are HEATH and 7CV? I’m not sure, but maybe a delayed reading experience that involves Course Paks, marketing departments of publishing houses, seminars at the University of Pennsylvania, RSS feeds, and Post-it notes. And, of course, other books—with 7CV, The Joy of Cooking—and with plagiarism/outsource, blogs that chronicled Heath Ledger’s death. Why insert The Joy of Cooking into the title of 7CV? Because it was the cookbook my family used to become American and because I thought the title would increase Google hits. I consider Google a mode of (loose) autobiography. A book in Google Books, like someone’s search history, isn’t really a book; it’s data connected to other data, and it’s searchable. Reading, like autobiography, is a subset of a search function…




Designed relations

Interdisciplinary instruments for possible
relational aesthetics in communication.

Printable version

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, graphic design has created a language, has achieved professional authority, has ventured to overlap with other disciplines and allowed other disciplines to model its development. A special link between visual communication and visual art has always existed: if we look at visual art as a form of expression of society values, it is easy to understand its influence on the language the designer has to create to speak to the public at large, a revision of that of everyday life, that art tries to capture in its forms. The intrinsic link between the two disciplines is particularly evident in this period: many are the personalities whose work can be placed in an intermediate field between art and graphic design. The mistake often made is trying to give borders, to define the two subjects, forgetting the interest in the work content and its communicative and social power. After all, the raw material used by the artist and the designer is the same and also the role society gives them today is similar: director, producer, stage designer, composer, programmer and we could add also DJ, called to organize, remix, give new function to existing cultural forms in new contents. Art in its development, started to move slowly, at first only in the spectator’s retina, then by means of small motors, sometimes only moved by wind gaining more and more speed until it left the galleries as in Daniel Buren’s white and green striped paintings, invaded towns as in Nouveau Realism’s experiments, until it created experiences involving all the spectator’s five senses. Gruppo T’s environments, GRAV’s experiments, Debord’s films but also Duchamp’s first ready made do not mean anything without the presence of the spectator. Today Marina Abramovic and Vanessa Beecroft’s performances, Rikrit Tiravanija’ dinners, Pierre Huyghe’s billboards, Sophie Calle’s projects do not live without the relationship with the spectator, but they also add something more: the relationship between the work and the space it takes and most of all the relations that will be established among the public. Relational art takes the last step towards the spectator. The spectator’s participation, theorized by happenings and performances, has become a constant of artistic practice: perhaps it is better to say that the relation between work and spectator is what makes an object a work of art, as Duchamp says ce sont les regardeurs qui font les tableaux.
Nicolas Bourriaud in his essay Estetique relationelle, is the first to define this new trend in contemporary art:
After its control over the relationships between humanity and divinity, and afterwards between humanity and the object, art concentrates on the sphere of interpersonal relationships, as the first works that have been produced since the early 1990s testify.1
The artist concentrates on the relationships his work will create with the public, or on the invention of models of society. Relational works welcome the attempt to establish intersubjective social gatherings, a new communication, outside consumption areas (bars, coffee houses, shops, etc.). Bourriaud believes that the widespread use of new communication technologies such as social networks is an answer to the growing need to find new spaces of conviviality: but what these means can offer is only the illusion of communication, the transformation of the society of the spectacle into a society of figurants. In an article titled The false myth of electronic democracy, Edmomdo Berselli brings the phenomenon of televoting to our attention: one of the simplest forms of participation that characterizes our times. Despite being a communication mechanism that may seem old fashioned, in fact it reminds us a world in black and white and curled telephone wires, it is widely used today thanks also to the possibility to vote via sms and Internet; the 1,900,000 voters for the final of the programme Amici, gives us an idea of the phenomenon.
It should be clear that these are techniques to fill in the wide open void in the public space, to tear down political anxiety and also to look for an opportunity of vicarious participation: something similar to joining a discussion group on Facebook, it doesn’t matter if they are admirers of the fiction about De Vittorio or thoughtful lovers of Nero di Avola. What matters is saying something about oneself, adhering, but also sabotaging; being for or against, anyway being there and being visible.2
The great danger of illusory participation arises in a society that has transformed the everyday, everyday life into a prime-time show: the revaluation of life in its meanest aspects, Debord and Fluxus and a large part of the art of the 1960s had hoped, has turned into a show of the everyday, leaving the spectator passively on the sofa. The problem is no more that of defining art boundaries but to experiment art resistance ability inside the global social field. Bourriaud underlines that while in the past art linguistic developments focused on the relationship inside the artistic field, today what matters are the relationships outside it, in an eclectic culture where the work has to resist show business. The strength of relational aesthetic art is that it does not want to predict utopian changes, that can lead to easy disillusions, but to create daily micro-utopias: the criticism of society has proved vain because it has been absorbed and revised by society itself. With small revolutions in the everyday, mimetic but feasible, ordinary actions, art tries to reconstruct the texture of relations. These artists’ works stake the modes of social exchange. Most of the works of the 1980s focuses on the relationship with the media, experiments new languages and new channels, one example is Jenny Holzer’s work included in neon sign advertisements, with some incisive sentences such as Protect me from what I want, part of the Survival Series. Relational art looks for new communication outside the media, produces relational time-spaces, experiences that try to get rid of the constraints of mass communication ideology.
In the American pavillion of the last Biennale in Venice, the floor of a small room is completely covered with little candies wrapped in the classic golden shiny paper: a carpet of bon bons. Visitors look at each other in amazement and are bewildered when someone picks them up, unwraps them, without any reproach from the guard: is one allowed to eat the work? In this installation the spectator is responsible for the work dissolution: Feliz Gonzales Torres tells us a reality, the work dematerialization and underlines the central position the spectator has now acquired in the work of art. His Candy pieces are steeped in reflexions about man’s social behaviour: fetishism, possession desire, accumulation, transgression. The experience offered by this work is strictly connected to the museum context, to the museum guard’s presence, and most of all to the presence of the other spectators. The artist himself, in an interview of Maurizio Cattelan, recognizes its importance:
For most of the work I do, I need the public to become responsible and activate the work. Otherwise it’s just a formalist exercise.3
He goes on defining the role his work wants to have inside society also explaining why his first refusal to take part in Biennale changed:
At this point I don’t wont to be outside the structure of power, I don’t want to be the opposition, the alternative. Alternative to what, to power? No, I want to have power. It’s effective in terms of chance. I want to be like a virus that belongs to the institution.4
His only possibility is to include his work in the capitalistic process so as to exploit its reproduction speed, and to stay within society, the only place where change can take place. Relational art is basically democratic: it is interested in the everyday, in the sense of not going beyond everyday worries, it confronts us with reality through fiction, the peculiarity of the world representation. As Bourriaud writes these works choose a formula that does not establish a priori a presence of the artist over the spectator but negotiate with him open relations, permeated by chance, not solved. The public then lies between the state of a passive consumer and that of witness, client, guest, coproducer until he becomes protagonist. The artist tries to create modus vivendi that allow fairer social relationships, more intense, more fruitful relations. It’s important to emphasize that Bourriaud doesn’t think his theory can be applied only to art. He thinks it is a cultural trend peculiar to our period; virtual relations and globalization have produced this need to go back to face to face communication, as, at the same time, a do-it-yourself culture is born in the attempt to revaluate a relationship with the artefact. The research field is human relationships but also a revision of the relation with the object not the consumption object, and with local environment, in contrast with the levelling due to globalization.
This theme has brought some interesting debates also in the field of visual communication. In an article on the magazine Eye in 2006 Monika Parrinder and Colin Davies are the first who investigate relational aesthetics by analysing some visual communication and design works, with various examples. The experimental aspect of these projects is not of formal interest but social, a social interest different from that typical of social design or production about political activism. The designer is not the starting or ending point of a finished product but he is asemionaut who connects different spaces, times and narrations, creating their interrelations. Parrinder and Davies assert that the reflexion induced by relational aesthetics can be seen as an approach of the communication world to the immediate effects it has on the real world.5 Andrew Blauvelt is another design critic who has drawn attention on the production of participative and relational artefacts in graphic design. In his recent article published on Design Observer, Towards relational design, without referring to Bourriaud’s text he elaborates a vision that divides design in three main eras.6 The first, the ism phase, from the early 20th century to the 1960s, is a search for a specific discipline language and follows the principles of rationality, simplification and universality; the second phase, from the 1960s to the early 1990s is a period of exploration of design potentiality, it brings about the authorship issues and fills the form created in the first phase of contents. The third phase described by Blauvelt is the contemporary era, that of rationally-based and contextually-specific design. This new practice based on rational design includes performative, pragmatic, process-oriented and participatory elements. In the parlance of semiotics one passed from a first syntactic design to a semantic one and finally to pragmatic design. Blauvelt, as Rick Poynor pointed out, makes a mistake in not quoting the French critic he often draws from in formulating his theory; he asserts that he choose not to quoteEstetique relationelle, because it doesn’t offer a comprehensive theory that could possibly bridge the interdisciplinary gap between contemporary art culture and design practice. How can we speak about relational design starting from denying a profitable dialogue with the theories of contemporary art? The error that led Blauvelt to omit quoting Bourriaud is that he undervaluates the importance of a text that has influenced cultural debates for the last ten years, as few others could do, in particular a theory whose aim was to embrace a wider field than that of contemporary art. In an article, written in 2000, where he describes the new participatory aspects of graphic design without using the term relational, he is more intuitive. In Towards a complex simplicity Blauvelt brings self expression sublimation, typical of some works of Paul Elliman, Anne Burdick and Daniel Eatock, closer to that of the minimalist movement. In their work one often assists to a suspension of the designer’s decisional task, he leaves his work open to the intervention of the spectator and of chance.7 The process becomes concept, the systematic nature of a predetermined process generates the project forms. Blauvelt himself refers to the poetics of Sol Le Witt, conceptual artist, who saw the idea as a machine that produces art. Le Witt’s works are guidelines that become works only by the work of others, not by the artist. Graphic design projects are complete only with the spectator’s intervention, the definitive artefact is outside the designer’s control. The casualness in the process is expression of a reconsideration of the everyday; Blauvelt himself asks if this attempt to pay attention to life, to activate the spectator, to eliminate the extraordinary can cause the end of the society of the spectacle but he comes to the conclusion that this everyday will probably be absorbed by the spectacle itself, until one does not recognize it any more. Rick Poynor instead is skeptic about the matter, he believes there are few projects promoting social relations and they are not those identified in the above articles; he uses Claire Bishop’s thesis, a curator who believes that aesthetics is now being sacrificed on the altar of social change. Claire Bishop creates the term relational ‘antagonism’ opposed to Bourriaud’s aesthetics, stating that it is more important to show everything that is restrained when trying to support relational harmony. Poynor, in proposing the critics’ point of view again, points out that it is not enough to define democratic every kind of social relation, but it is necessary to show how these encounters produce cultural value. The open question iswhat type of relations, for whom and why are they produced? 8Poynor’s point of view starts from the assumption that participation is an illusion. Refusing the participative objective in art and communication means abandoning the attempt of giving back the spectator an active dimension. As the artist Paolo Rosa asserts:
This is what often occurs in reality, whose complexity, whose difficult penetrability reduces many people to become spectators of a fiction world that revolves around them.9
If one tries to eliminate participation from communication we will go back to a kind of unidirectional imposed culture. One speaks about participation not only in the sense of spectator’s involvement but also as collaboration among disciplines: if modern art participates to the cultural communicative process it will be to the benefit of visual communication and culture itself. Arts take part in the construction and transmission of new communication languages; if global and democratic communication can be seen as utopian, its fragmentation into thousand small micro utopias can be instead a method for its achievement, or at least an attempt. The method of interstitial invasion of relational aesthetics reality tries to give an opportunity to create these moments of real communication to which both interlocutors take part. Creating an experience in the public and among the public is the aim of a communication that wants to move the spectator out of the seat in the world of the spectacle.

1. Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, Les presses du réel, Paris 2002.

2. Edmondo Berselli, Il falso mito della democrazia elettronica, in “La Repubblica”, 24 marzo 2009.

3. Félix Gonzalez-Torres, interview by Maurizio Cattellan in “Mousse”, n. 9, june – august 2007.

4. Ibid.

5. Cfr. Monika Parrinder, Colin Davies, Nicolas Bourriaud’s concept of ‘relational aesthetics’ may give designers a new set of tools in “Eye” n. 59, Spring 2006.
6. Cfr. Andrew Blauvelt, Towards relational design, in “Design Observer”, December 2008.
7. Cfr. Andrew Blauvelt, Towards a complex simplicity, in “Eye”, n. 35, Spring 2000.
8. Cfr. Rick Poynor, Strained Relations, “Print”, April 2009.
9. Lucilla Meloni, L’opera partecipata. L’osservatore tra contemplazione e azione, Rubettino Editore, Catanzaro 2000.



Hi, I am Morag Myerscough, Studio Myerscough & Supergrouplondon, over the years I have designed and made many things from books, posters, brochures, exhibitions, installations, some products. I even opened my own shop Her House and made and sold our own products. I am looking forward to the web chat today and I hope I will be able to answer some of your questions.

My top tips are:

1. Your team is very important, working together should not be a compromise it should make for a stronger design outcome. It is important within your team that you bring out the strengths of each individual, don’t try and all do the same aspect of the design process. Enjoy working together it gets the best results.

2. Design ideas can come at any time and from any where. Don’t think if you sit at a desk at a particular time it is miraculously going to come to you, you need to look around you, discuss, share experiences. Maybe, see what makes you annoyed that you might think needs changing or improved. Collect ideas, images thoughts and stick up on walls around you so you start living with your thoughts and ideas together.

3. Who are you designing for? Think carefully about who will buy your product. Test your prototypes on your friends, family etc and listen to what they have to say. Some of the responses you will probably dismiss but there might be a few things people who are not involved in the process will be very worth while listening to and will improve on the final outcome.


Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Kenneth Goldsmith

Uncreative Writing PDF

Why Appropriation?

The greatest book of uncreative writing has already been written. From 1927 to 1940, Walter Benjamin synthesized many ideas he’d been working with throughout his career into a singular work that came to be called The Arcades Project. Many have argued that it’s nothing more than hundreds of pages of notes for an unrealized work of coherent thought, merely a pile of shards and sketches. But others have claimed it to be a groundbreaking one-thousand-page work of appropriation and citation, so radical in its undigested form that it’s impossible to think of another work in the history of literature that takes such an approach. It’s a massive effort: most of what is in the book was not written by Benjamin, rather he simply copied texts written by others from stack of library books, with some passages spanning several pages. Yet conventions remain: each entry is properly cited, and Benjamin’s own “voice” inserts itself with brilliant gloss and commentary on what’s being copied.



In Praise of Copying… Go Ahead, Take a Copy

« Back to the book main page | Marcus Boon’s In Praise of Copying blog »

A Message from the Author

Cover: In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon

“Given the topic and stance of In Praise of Copying, I wanted the text to participate openly in the circulation of copies that we see flourishing all around us. I approached Harvard to discuss options and they agreed to make the book available as a PDF online. The PDF is freely available to anyone who wants to download it, but it does come with a Creative Commons License that sets some intelligent restrictions on what you can do with it. Although generosity is a wonderful thing, this isn’t especially intended as a utopian gesture towards a world in which everything is free. It’s recognition of the way in which copies of texts circulate today, a circulation in which the physical object known as the book that is for sale in the marketplace has an important but hardly exclusive role. A PDF of a book is not an illegitimate copy of a legitimate original but participates in other kinds of circulation that have long flourished around the book-commodity: the library book; the photocopy or hand-written copy; the book browsed, borrowed or shared. We all know these modes of circulation exist, as they continue to do today with online text archives.

Perhaps these online archives just make visible and more ‘at hand’ something that was happening invisibly, more distantly, but continuously before. At the same time, something new is going on. The physical book today is one copy, one iteration of a text among others. What that means for publishers, writers, readers and other interested parties is something that we are working out—on this webpage and elsewhere.”—Marcus Boon



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