“One enters into conversation in order to become an other for the other.”
– Alphonso Lingis, The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common
A line of poetry spreads across the page echoing the infectious virus it describes (Neves Marques). A gesture serves as the fundamental key to unlocking a forgotten language (Mateus). A cliché emerges as a noble mode of expression (Raskin). A dormant surface is activated by an inquisitive subject (Jamison). A visual language is offered up directly, its effects rendered tangible for those eager to take up its vocabulary (Auerbach).
The traditional modernist distinction between art and design is that art has no inherent function or intention to communicate. However, as art has more and more engaged questions of design, the two fields have become increasingly imbricated. Questions of translation and communication with the world have become, therefore, legitimate areas of exploration for art. Designers, as translators of concepts and information, rely on input from their particular clients to refine and communicate their solutions. These conceptual feedback loops are a seldom discussed actuality; they remain opaque for art. The artist suspends the goal of reaching an audience. The effects enacted on people are the sole byproduct of the inner workings of the art object.
Further, the fluidity of identities as cultural producers of the artists and designers brought together in this exhibition is palpable in the very works on display. Only objects with clear definition and contours can be freely apprehended by the viewer. As it blurs the lines of demarcation between art, design, poetry and cinema, the show invites visitors to build their own image of the world.
Design scholar Audrey Bennett’s model of interactive aesthetics – which aims to democratize control of images in society – provides the starting point for considering the problem of translation and the shift from tribe-specific communication systems to the adoption of predominantly visual tools.
Audrey G. Bennett is a tenured Professor of Art and Design at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She studies the design of transformative images that through interactive aesthetics can permeate cultural boundaries and impact the way we think and behave.
Diagonal Press is an imprint founded by Tauba Auerbach, a New York-based artist who engages a range of mediums, among them painting, sculpture, photography, books, and jewelry, to address the nature of color, language, logic, and dimensionality.
Aaron Flint Jamison is an artist working with sculpture, digital media, publication, and performance. He is the Co-founder of the art center Yale Union in Portland, Oregon, Editor of Veneer Magazine, and Co-founder of the artist-run center Department of Safety.
Marta Mateus is a filmmaker who studied philosophy at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, drawing and photography at Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual. She worked as an actress before dedicating herself to directing.
Pedro Neves Marques is an artist and writer currently living in Lisbon who examines clashes among competing anthropologies, politics of nature, technology, and gender. He employs science fiction and speculative storytelling as key tools to produce works that range from fictional dramas to theoretical films and writings.
Jimmy Raskin lives and works in New York. A graduate of CalArts, he has devoted himself entirely to exploring and manifesting the expressive conditions under which what he calls “the Poem” might remain an achievable possibility in this day and age. He has exhibited his work and staged “lectureperformances” in institutions, art galleries and other non-traditional gathering places internationally since the mid-1990s.
Martha Stutteregger is a graphic designer based in Vienna. She works in close collaboration with a range of institutions, artists, architects and authors to create corporate designs, websites, books and editions.
Photography: kunst-dokumentation.com (except fig.253)