‘Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin…Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.‘
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics
I have come to the conclusion that what interests me most is the visual layering of (cultural, social, visual) artefacts both in two and three dimensions upon each other.
Some of these examples are foundations or building blocks for successive work, others providing merely an involuntary canvas for the next incarnation or application.
Then there are intentional versions of layering. This is a common occurrence in (not only) Los Angeles, adaptive reuse being the term used in relation to real estate, but it can also be seen in ghost signs, or merely in the conscious, yet accidental outcomes of billboards and posters overlapping.
There is almost a natural storytelling at work, strata of different unintentionally related information dynamic evolutionary visual poetry.
In addition, there is something about the ephemera of everyday life that by definition seems to more honestly capture a moment, place, and culture than the extraordinary.
‘Everyday things represent the most overlooked knowledge… Quotidian things. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t use such a gorgeous Latinate word. … An extraordinary word that suggests the depth and reach of the commonplace.‘ Father Paulus in Don Delillo’s Underworld
Graffiti falls within this, a medium of which I know not much, but appreciate greatly as a form of expression, as does collage to an extent, which seems more controlled and considered, and while there is certainly plenty of graphic design that uses lots of layers of images, it is often used by artists to more striking effect – using ephemera as a part of their story. Titus Kaphar, Mark Bradford, Kurt Schwitters, Rauschenberg
Isn’t the history of most human output essentially a virtual layering of artefacts upon preceding ones? Whether curatorial designers or originators, aren’t we all influenced by the work that came before us? Newton’s shoulders of giants, and even in some way Barthes’s dead author.
My interest is in artists who understand and rewrite history, who think about themselves within the narrative of the larger world of art, but who have created new places for us to see and understand. I was interested in the idea of why and how I could create a new story, a new narrative in art history and a new narrative in the world. And to do this, I knew that I had to see the way in which artists work, understand the artist’s studio as a laboratory, imagine, then, reinventing the museum as a think tank and looking at the exhibition as the ultimate white paper — asking questions, providing the space to look and to think about answers.
— Thelma Golden
How can graphic design be used to capture and elevate the quotidian to more inclusively create cultural artefacts that are more honest representations of time and place?