My arm and the back of John’s head at last year’s May 22 manif
I’m surprised I haven’t posted about my friend and collaborator Thien V‘s work on here before now. Thien is a talented young photographer who has established himself as one of the preeminent documentarians of the unprecedented social uprisings in Montreal over the last few years.
I’ve worked with him as a fellow collective member of both Artivistic and Howl, and I wanted to give him a quick, but deeply-felt shoutout as I’ve been thinking a lot about photography, memory and the student strike lately. Working towards the next issue of Four Minutes to Midnight, I realise I want to use it as a way of documenting and translating my own experience of the last few years. Thien has been along for most every step of the ride, at shows, protests, meetings, and meals, so who better to collaborate with on this. Now I just need to scour through the thousands of images he has shot!
What I particularly like about Thien’s photos is not necessarily the strength of individual images, nor the politically-charged subject matter, but how the numerous small moments he captures add up to an authentic and intimate representation of experience, not so much a narrative, but a very specific “vibe”. It’s this vibe I want to work with, and explore ways to treat the images graphically (through design and printing) to bring it out even further.
Following a certain line of thinking from my Ugliness article, I recently discovered the work of Michèle Champagne, designer and editor of the critical design magazine That New Design Smell. Michele is doing some really interesting work (out of Toronto!) that seems to share a lot of my current interests, though her expression of them is quite different (she’s far funnier/more optimistic than I am).
PS. On a slightly related note, here’s a refreshing article by Michael Bierut on the sad state of design criticism (and a heated comments thread, though a lot of the comments are logocentric and missing the fine point at the end of Bierut’s article calling for a reengagement with critical design writing) .
In yesterday’s lengthy post I touched on notions of trend cycles in graphic design. And then I discovered Trend List, an amazing and overwhelming catalogue documenting current stylistic tendencies in graphic design.
At the root of what I’m thinking about, and what I assume most graphic designers think about, is how cultural/political currents become embedded into the formal structures of design, and vice versa. Maybe staring at this site for a few hours will help…
I honestly didn’t think it would come to this, especially with all the social/bookmarking networks I’m already on, but I’ve finally started using Pinterest, and I’m actually finding it pretty useful and fun! Not so much as a way of discovering, but more as a way of keeping track of various and often ephemeral inspirations.
This year’s Expozine weekend was another smashing success, with an especially impressive roster of exhibitors, including many new artists and publishers, and a great vibe all around. It seemed slightly less crowded and chaotic than usual, which was nice, allowing people to engage more with the exhibitors. For this year’s edition, in addition to my normal organising duties, I also helped to redesign the website (code by Hello Everyone, full implementation still in progress…), and got to see my new logo silkscreened onto tote bags and t-shirts!
It was so nice to get to see all our self-publishing friends again (like seeing fam for the holidays without the emotional turmoil), and table alongside Billy Mavreas and Larissa from the Concordia Co-op Bookstore. An entertaining (to say the least) set of neighbours!
Though we didn’t have a new issue of Four Minutes to Midnight out for the fair, we had plenty of fun stuff available (pictured above). The Wu-Tang prints were incredibly popular, as was our new set of poems. We completely sold out of Riot and Capitalism Kills Love prints, which makes me feel that all is all right in the world (despite the current news headlines). We didn’t sell a ton of back issues (the Expozine Issue and Happy Hour), but I was really happy to share their stories with those that were interested. John’s Hard Mouse Best Mouse, an EP of quickly written and recorded song sketches, was also a really nice treat.
I’ve been sick for a week now, and I’m feeling like if I don’t start making something beautiful soon, I’m just gonna die (melodramatic, I know, but true in this feverish state). I recently rediscovered WU LYF thanks to a smart tip from John. Their debut album from last year, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, is a brilliant work, drenched in beauty, an almost over-the-top sincerity of expression.
I want to make art that looks like this sounds.
Also worth watching in these times, their insane revolution/riot video for DIRT.
I’m a little late posting this, but the results for this year’s Memefest on the theme of Debt are in! I was invited to act as a curator for the visual communication and beyond… categories, and it was a challenging process, with a lot of work to go through, and to be honest, many projects that I felt missed the mark.
The topic, from a communications perspective, was certainly a difficult one, but I was surprised to see so many projects that focused on literal or superficial interpretations of debt, given that David Graeber’s excellent text was central to the festival outlines. I felt many projects subjectivised debt as an individual problem/responsibility related to consumption, ignoring the systemic nature of debt as social relation that was central to the outlines, where it was asked “can we imagine a different relationship to Debt?”
Leaving town for a little bit with a new camera in hand. Here are a couple test snaps of the neighbourhood taken while strolling tonight, featuring pieces by two of my favourite Montreal street artists.