Graphic Design in the White Cube
Luna Maurer and I were invited by Peter Bil'ak to contribute to a poster exhibition that would run during the 22nd International Biennale of Graphic Design Brno 2006.
The exhibition would show posters designed by different graphic designers specifically to announce the very exhibition that they would be hung in.
Since the poster would only be printed in an edition of 2 and would be shown in a gallery context, we felt it would be strange to approach it as if it were any other poster design.
In 2005 we designed a poster together for an interior design exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum that used the idea of manual code. We iterated through a set of rules thousands of times, each time performing a small design task on the poster.
We revisited this idea, but this time decided to make some big changes to our approach. The posters would be created by hand instead of on the computer and they would be designed by a group of people instead of us.
The poster factory
At roughly the same time as this, Luna was invited to give a small workshop at the St. Joost art academy in Breda. We decided to use this opportunity to have our posters manufactured.
Each student received a design kit containing material to design the poster with. The kit contained different colors of tape, text, stickers and the rules that determined the design tasks of the workers.
The rules are meant to systematize the design process. Within the strictly formulated rules a small bit of freedom is left over for the workers. Since everything else has been decided, these freedoms become very important.
The students sat in a circle in front of the posters and executed the design code every 30 seconds. This time limitation meant that the students had to work as quick as possible, basing their decisions on gut feelings.
After each iteration the posters had to be moved to their neighbours. This way none of the students had much control over the design process, they could only react to what had been done before or initiate something new.
We don't know who actually designed the posters: the factory designers, the factory, or the factory workers.