Issue 13 now in production
The long awaited (in my mind at least) thirteenth issue of Four Minutes to Midnight is in the final stages of production. The screen-printed covers have been delivered to the printers, Kata Soho, and they’ve just finished the interior printing on their end. Next steps; cutting down the sheets, collating the pages, binding, and trimming to the final book block. Exciting stuff!
I’ll be posting the details of the issue itself when it’s ready, but for now I wanted to share some in process images and announce the upcoming launch party. We’re excited to be launching the issue as part of the Howl Arts Festival, Tuesday, April 29th at le Cagibi, with musical performances by Loosestrife, Stefan Christoff and our own John “Triangles” Stuart. An inaugural festival of art and revolution seems to be the perfect context to bring this zine/book into the world, especially considering how Four Minutes to Midnight acted as a touchstone to Stefan and I forming the Howl Arts Collective all those years ago. This has been a very long time coming, so we’re hoping you can make it out to celebrate with us.
RSVP on Facebook here.
Contre la Charte des valeurs
Working with the FARD (Féministes anti-racistes détonant.e.s) collective, I designed a series of typographic posters in opposition to the proposed Quebec Charter of Values and its inherent racist agenda. Produced as part of the latest issue of the .dpi journal, the goal of the series is to render public opposition more visible within the city’s cultural venues and in the streets.
Come Worry With Us!
I was honoured to work on the poster and title designs for Helene Klodawsky’s film Come Worry With Us! The documentary tells the story of one of my favourite bands, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, focusing on the struggles of balancing parenthood with the life of touring musicians. It raises very timely questions around the pervasiveness of traditional gender roles, and the challenges of artists living within a precarious economy. It’s a beautiful, intimate portrait, blending the political and the personal, and I’m really pleased to have been a part of it.
Visit the film’s website here.
Interviewed by Papirmass
Papirmass is an amazing art subscription project run by the talented Kirsten McCrea. I was honoured to have Kirsten invite me to contribute to the upcoming issue, as both writer and designer (with art by former Four Minutes contributor Kevin Ledo on the flip side). In lead-up to the issue, Papirmass has just posted an image-rich interview with yours truly, and I couldn’t be more chuffed to share some thoughts on design, typography and activism!
Read the interview here.
P.S. For those that make it all the way to the end, there’s a little surprise in store on the studio front. More on that very soon…
WU-TANG Letterpress Prints
For Expozine this year, I’ve reissued a run of my WU-TANG C.R.E.A.M. diptych, letterpress printed in gold ink on thick black cardstock by Kiva Stimac at Popolo Press. This edition is printed on her new letterpress, and the imprint is slightly deeper, giving it more relief and emphasizing the epitaph metaphor of the design.
Issue 13 WIP
Things are coming along slowly, but surely, with the next issue (13) of Four Minutes to Midnight and I wanted to share some work in progress images. Alongside a much tighter conception of what we want to do with the issue, I’m very excited to announce that Howl Arts will be officially supporting the project with production and distribution. With this support, we’ve decided to print an offset run in colour for the first time ever! We also plan to engage the talents of local craft printers, and employ letterpress, silkscreen and risograph printing for covers and inserts.
Neptune’s Moons Poster
Show poster designed for the upcoming Neptune’s Moons concert presented by the Howl Arts Collective. Though the central graphic acts as a literal interpretation of the title, the poster also makes subtle reference to Afro-futurist aesthetics and sci-fi 70s funk in the digitally-lettered title treatment. It’s too bad we won’t be printing this with glow-in-the-dark ink!
In conceiving of the show, Kaie highlighted this quote by Marc Dery:
“Hack this: Why do so few African-Americans write science fiction, a genre whose close encounters with the Other — the stranger in a strange land — would seem uniquely suited to the concerns of African-American novelists? Yet, to this writer’s knowledge, only Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler,Steve Barnes, and Charles Saunders have chosen to write within the genre conventions of SF. This is especially perplexing in light of the fact that African-Americans are, in a very real sense, the descendants of alien abductees. They inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done to them; and technology, be it branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment, or tasers, is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”
– Mark Dery, Black to the Future
Neptune’s Moons event page here.
I recently stumbled across this fascinating article from the Walker Art blog describing designer Sang Mun’s degree project at RISD: ZXX. ZXX is a type design project that attempts to “articulate our unfreedom” through the design of a typeface that cannot be decoded by OCR technologies. In light of the recent revelations about the NSA Prism program , this project is particularly relevant.
What’s interesting to me is how this project seems to bring together inherent aesthetic cues of the “ugly” trend (I really need to come up with a better term for my understanding of this) that I’ve been discussing here (the distortion/layering of type elements and placement, the concept of default/open-source design, issues of illegibility/accessibility, through to the presentation of the project) with a critical social commentary of the surveillance state and privacy concerns. It makes me wonder whether this “state of anxiety” may be at the root of the aesthetic currents running through graphic design practice.
What’s also really encouraging is that ZXX might be a representation of a re-engagement with design language, and typography/type design specifically, as a form of critical engagement and aesthetic experimentation, much like Neville Brody’s FUSE project from the 90s. Hopefully it’s not just closing a loop, but a “sign” (pun intended) of things to come. I’ll certainly be taking some of these cues into, and using the typeface within, the next issue of Four Minutes to Midnight.
See more of the project, and download the typeface, here.
Illegibility, Ugliness and Counter-Hegemony
A contentious spread from 032c issue #13
In my current phase of design research, I’ve been enjoying a wealth of ecclectic readings. My friend and craft theorist extraordinaire Nicole Burisch pointed me in the direction of Judith (or rather, Jack) Halberstam‘s excellent introduction to The Queer Art of Failure. In referencing James C. Scott’s Seeing Like A State, he writes:
For Scott, to “see like a state” means to accept the order of things and to internalize them; it means that we begin to deploy and think with the logic of the superiority of orderliness and that we erase and indeed sacrifice other, more local practices of knowledge, practices that may be less efficient, may yield less marketable results, but may also, in the long term, be more sustaining. What is at stake in arguing for the trees and against the forest? Scott identifies “legibility” as the favored technique of high moderism for sorting, organizing and profiting from land and people and for abstracting systems of knowledge from local knowledge pratices. (…) “Legibility,” writes scott, “is a condition of manipulation”. He favors instead, borrowing from European anarchist thought, more practical forms of knowledge that he calls metis and that empahsize mutuality, collectivity, plasticity, diversity, and adaptability. Illegibility may in fact be one way of escaping the political manipulation to which all university fields and disciplines are subject.
Albeit largely due to the use of the term “legibility”, this section sparked some interesting ideas in relation to the material practice of graphic design and typography. Translating the argument literally (pun intended) to design practice, I can’t help but think of the so-called “legibility wars” of the 90s, and to a lesser extent the ideas of vernacular design put forth by the practice of Tibor Kalman. I’ve always felt the deconstructionist work being done by this generation of designers was abandoned too soon (or at least the theory was), as discourse shifted towards “new media” (with a brief moment of introspection on the political potential of design) and aesthetics shifted towards a nostalgic, serious, and safe, faux-modernist/classicist current (largely due, imho, to the events on 9/11 and Dave Eggers).