avant / garde / under / net / conditions (vormals: perspektive | issue 43 | 2002 )

code.poetry.loop | dada.lodge | experimental.bungees | mail.art.ocular | post.dogmatism | surreal.sheets | theory.proxy | < visual.tray >
- - - - - - - -< data sheet >- - - - - - - - - |

[/] interview (deutsch)
[/] interview (english)


[/] Disrepresentationism (page 1) (32.07 kb, jpg)
[/] Disrepresentationism (page 2) (69.98 kb, jpg)

- - - - - - - -< data holders >- - - - - - - - |
> nick churchhill - [australia]
> mark ehling - [USA]
> experimental jetset - [netherlands]
> spencer selby - [USA]
> derek white - [USA]
| - - -< experimental jetset >- - - |

/->/ grafikdesigner in den niederlanden // experimental jetset sind: Danny van den Dungen / Marieke Stolk / Erwin Brinkers

>> Utopia IN design, not THROUGH design
>> / interview /
[question-1] :v: [question-2] :v: [question-3]

> [question-1//perspektive]
Eric Kluitenberg defines avant-garde working today as to smash the surface of hegemonial structure in/of society. Encoding and decoding are "traditional" techniques to disrupt or discontinue coding. In your video "Revolte!" you dismiss opposition as being always in between a combination of form and content. For Experimental Jetset is no room left to loose and the target audience is just a charming Che adventure game?

>> [question-1//response]=[experimental jetset:]

Before we start answering the questions, we would like to provide some
background information.

First of all, we want to make clear that we aren't writers. We have no background in philosophy or cultural theory. We would never label ourselves as proper intellectuals. Our ideas are highly inconsistent, in some cases even contradictory. There are a lot of weak spots to be found in our writings. Sorry about that.

Our texts are written primarily to explain our daily graphic design practice to those who are interested in our work. Of course we like to believe that our work speaks quite clearly for itself, but now and then we are forced to explain, or even defend, our views on graphic design.

However, it is important for us to make clear that our main message is in the graphic design itself. Our writing follows our design, not the other way around.
It is a rather awkward form of self-reflection, or self-analysis if you want.
Luckily, we notice the better we learn to formulate our thoughts, and the clearer our views on graphic design, the more these tiresome texts become superfluous.

Secondly, we like to say something about some of the manifesto's that are mentioned in the questions, namely "Revolte!" and "Disrepresenationism Now!".

"Revolte!" was a short bi-lingual movie we made when we were asked to come up with a three-minute contribution for the "Idealism Sample Show", a convention on graphic design and idealism, that took place in 1999 at De Balie in Amsterdam.
Around then, we were primarily focused on the relationship between "form" and "content". We thought of the existing status-quo as a fixed combination of form and content, and the only way to make a progressive change (to "revolt") was to create entities that defied that fixed combination.

For example, the fact that a poster carries a communist slogan does not make this poster revolutionary. As long as this poster actually looks like a communist poster it will just play its role in the existing status-quo of form and content.

In retrospect, some of the formulations we used in this movie are rather clumsy.
For example, halfway in the movie, we use the term "bourgeoisie"; ridiculous, since our model of form and content had nothing to do with class awareness. We probably meant "the existing status-quo of form and content", but "bourgeoisie" sounded so much better.

"Disrepresentationism Now!" is a completely other story; a while ago we were asked to speak at the Washington AIGA Voice conference that was scheduled to take place in September last year. Our idea was to use this opportunity to come up with something that would function as a work IN ITSELF, instead of doing something that would be ABOUT our work.
More a site-specific project than an actual lecture, our plan was to introduce a set of conference paraphenalia during the convention, designed especially for this occasion. The usual formats of conventions (nametags, buttons, bumperstickers) abstracted to colourfields. We planned to distribute these sets during short and sudden hand-out sessions. And since the conference itself would be about the social and political role of graphic design, this project also included a manifesto we wrote especially for the conference, entitled "Disrepresentationism Now!". With this manifesto, we left our previous model based on form and content, and adapted a more refined model based on presentation
and representation.

Right now, a few months after "Disrepresentationism Now!", we feel we are actually moving towards a third model; a model based on objective matter versus subjective matter. But since our views are already incomprehensible enough as they are right now, we will spare you the details of this latest model.

And that concludes our introduction.

A random thought, that might, or might not, answer your first question: Avant-garde, rebellion and subversion are often associated with a rather romantic flirtation with imperfection, irrationality, inconsistency and destruction. The reactive desire to "smash the system", whatever that system might be.
Now consider this. Perfection, rationality, consistency and construction as the ultimate form of rebellion. The rebellion of man against destiny. The constant struggle against the chaotic forces of nature, against the nauseating sloppiness of faith, against the gods, against all odds, and ultimately against death.
Every man-made entity, every man-made totality that is organized as a systematic whole, is a subversive reality in itself. The system IS the revolution.

Just a thought. And a rather pompous one as well.

(By the way, when we write "man", we mean "human" in a non-specific gender kind of way. But that goes without saying.)

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> [question-2//perspektive]
Debord's society of spectacle depends on the mirroring of society as a Platonic entertainment cave. For Bilwet Hakim Beys, TAZ zones are lost in autonomous amusement park slot for rebel nerds called TEZ (temporary entertainment zones) and spectacle has ended into debacle. For Experimental Jetset the typical form-and-content rebel is conservative and needs the bourgeoisie like hot chilli pepper. Is there a way out of the representative (counter-)culture and is Plato's idealism really an amoral heaven?

>> [question-2//response]=[experimental jetset]
For us it's not really important if there is indeed a way out. The effort of searching for a way out is in itself more of a goal than the actual way out. To speak with Bernstein (the German neo-Kantian Marxist, not the popular composer of hit musicals such as The Westside Story): "The movement is everything; the final aim is nothing".

Subconsequently, we don't see our designs as possible means to achieve a perfect future society. We'd rather look for perfection in the material reality of the design itself. Utopia IN design, not THROUGH design.

By the way, we never said that the rebel needs the bourgeoisie "like hot chilli pepper", as is suggested in the question. In "Revolte!", we meant quite the opposite; the bourgeoisie needs the rebel like hot chilli pepper.

We did mention amorality in our "Disrepresentationism Now!" manifesto, but in retrospect we have admit we used it more or less as a childish provocation. It was pure bluff.
Truth is, there is no such thing as amoral graphic design, because all design decisions, even those concerning purely aesthetic matters, are inherently moral.
For example, the concept of achieving balance in an asymmetrical composition is a matter of both aesthetical and ethical nature.

But apart from that, even the wish to achieve amorality is in itself a moral decision; as one who favours amorality over morality is obviously making a moral choice. So amoral design is in fact an impossibility.

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> [question-3//perspektive]
Disrepresentationism - as you proclaim - is the amoral graphic flaneurism between representation and presentation. Is Experimental Jetset the "third man" - a kind of "ingenieur" like in De Certeaus' work - in a kind of graphical black series?

>> [question-3//response]=[experimental jetset]
We have to admit we're not that familiar with De Certeaus' work. If by "third man" and "ingenieur" you refer to some kind of seemingly neutral and objective agent, then we think the answer to your question is "yes". Let us explain why.

It is very well possible to divide the world in subjective and objective matter. In "Being and Nothingness", Sartre describes a similar model: the existence of two kinds of entity, the conscious "beings-for-themselves", and the non-conscious "being -in-themselves". It is our believe that by underlining the objectivity of the object, one is in fact increasing the subjective quality of the experience caused by that object.

In other words, in the same way that we believe static objects trigger dynamic actions, we also believe objectivity amplifies subjectivity.

There is also a Hegelian way of looking at this model: when an (objective) piece of design is (subjectively) perceived and interpreted, the subjective and the objective meet each other in a perfect synthesis.

As a consequence, we think it is absurd to try to directly design an "experience', for it is impossible to skip the material reality of design. A subjective experience is only achieved through objective matter.

Experimental Jetset

/ Danny van den Dungen
/ Marieke Stolk
/ Erwin Brinkers

Amsterdam 31.12.2001

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