Author Archives: Eye contributor

Exposure. Michael Light’s photographs give human endeavour a new perspective

 

Given that Michael Light’s most famous photographic works deal with atomic bombs and rockets to the moon, it seems appropriate to ask why he is drawn to themes so epic in scale and dramatic in their implications, writes David Thompson in Eye 51. ‘Certainly I love high drama,’ he replies, ‘but I think it’s more accurate to say that I’m drawn to the aesthetic of largeness, of all that is beyond ourselves, precisely because we’d be better off if we didn’t go around feeling like we were the biggest and most important things. Artistically, I’m concerned with power and landscape, and how we as humans relate to vastness – to that point at which our ego and sense of efficaciousness crumbles …’

 

Archive003

Archive004

‘In my opinion, serious contemporary artistic production dealing with landscape must deal with politics and violence in some way, whether explicit or implied. Otherwise it’s just fluff, decoration for those wanting false comfort and a delusionally ahistorical and apolitical world.’

Archive005

Archive006

This is an extract from Exposure by David Thompson in Eye 51 (Spring 2004). For more posts from our archive, click here.

See also ‘Above the clouds’ on the Eye blog about the current exhibition at Daniel Blau.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Mapping it up. Embrace the inner cartographer of artists and graphic designers

I’ve yet to meet a designer who doesn’t harbour a fondness for maps, writes Alexander Ecob. Perhaps it’s the vaguely retentive appeal of putting everything in its rightful place, or the pedigree of one of the oldest forms of data visualisation. Whatever the reason, many artists and designers have something of the cartographer about them, and a handful of these put it to good use.

Top: Alan Kitching – Clerkenwell map. See Video Thrills – the letterpress star, Fine words for Kitching / Stothard on the Eye blog and The show must go on in Eye 74.

diorama_hiroshima

Above: Diorama Map by Sohei Nishino.

Shown recently at London’s Michael Hoppen Contemporary gallery, Sohei Nishino’s Diorama Maps are painstakingly created photomontages, made up of thousands of images taken and developed by the artist, then cut and spliced together to construct maps that are at once familiar and disorientating.

FINAL_ARTWORK
Above: London’s Kerning by NB: Studio

To really appreciate its scale and detail, the typographic obsession that is NB: Studio’s London’s Kerning needs to be seen up close. It is available for purchase on Blanka. See Calling Cards on the Eye blog for more from NB:

Solnit_Phrenological_070610

Above: Phrenological San Francisco (Sarah Stern, Ben Pease and Paz de la Calzada) from Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit.

Four years in the making, the work of a cooperative of artists, writers, historians, researchers and cartographers from the Bay Area, Infinite City takes the form of 22 inventive maps of San Francisco and its environs, each with an accompanying essay. The whimsical approach and surrealism of its correlations put this book more in the realm of Italo Calvino than the Collins World Atlas, and it is all the better for it.

sw_28-north-east-detail_d

Above: The Island by Stephen Walter.

London-born artist Stephen Walter’s The Island satirises the London-centric view of the English capital and its commuter towns as independent from the rest of the country. With maps of each of the city’s boroughs pencil-drawn in meticulous detail showing a wealth of local information, The Island was shown in the British Library’s ‘Magnificent Maps’ exhibition in 2010 (see review in Eye 76).

atlasofremote

Above: spread from Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.

Schalansky’s award-winning Atlas – conceived, written and designed by the German designer – is a triumph of charm and single-minded vision. Her delicate illustrations are juxtaposed with effusive vignettes that detail the islands’ known histories, bountiful and brutal alike. See review of Atlas of Remote Islands in Eye 78.

Scher

Above: Map of Florida by Paula Scher.

In the early 1990s, renowned graphic designer Paula Scher began painting small, opinionated maps – colorful depictions of continents and regions, covered from top to bottom by a scrawl of words. ‘They’re all wrong,’ Scher says. ‘I mean, nothing’s in the right spot. I put in what I feel like. It’s my comment on information in general. We receive a lot of information all the time and mostly it’s lies or slight mistruths.’

See Bigger is Better on the Eye blog and the Reputations interview with Scher in Eye 77.

See also: next week’s ‘Hand-drawn London’ exhibition at the Museum of London, 21 Apr–11 Sep 2011.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. The latest issue is Eye 79, a type special.

Out of space. Charting the pervasive visual language of science fiction

A forthcoming exhibition about science fiction at the British Library will be full of amazing images as well as stories. We spoke to Katya Rogatchevskaia, co-curator of the British Library’s exhibition, opening on 20 May 2011 and titled: ‘Out of This World: Science Fiction but not as you know it.’

Top: Frank R Paul, April 1928 ‘Eye’ cover for Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine.

Below: Polish samizdat edition of Evgeny Zamyatin’s My (We), published in Warsaw, 1985.

Evgeny Zamiatin - My

EYE The exhibition looks at what distinguishes science fiction from related genres like fantasy and horror. Is there anything distinct about the visual language?

KR Science fiction is about imagination, speculations and vision. It’s a genre that both invites and defies accurate interpretation through illustration. The exhibition will explore the full spectrum of visualised science fiction, from science fiction that is theoretically possible and based on ‘real science’, designed to instruct as well as entertain – such as the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne – to the more imaginative and speculative science fiction of virtual worlds, where dreams can play as big a role as digital realities.

The visual language of science fiction is something that we readily understand and return to constantly. If you asked a selection of people to draw an extraterrestrial life form, it is highly likely that you would be presented with at least a few domed-headed, boggle-eyed beings. This representation of aliens is not based on any real science, but it has entered our visual culture and become iconic.

The same motifs appear again and again in science fiction, often straying into mainstream fiction. Obviously there is some cross-over with fantasy and horror, and looking at science fiction in a vacuum would not be helpful, but we aim to show that science fiction has been incredibly inspirational in its own right – to popular culture, literature and art.

Below: Francis Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales trained a flock of ganzas to transport him in The Man in the Moone. From the first edition, 1638.

The Man in the Moone. From the first edition, 1638

Raymond Taylor’s composition, A Signal from Mars, 1901

Above: Raymond Taylor’s composition, A Signal from Mars, 1901.

EYE Can you comment upon the relationship between science fiction literature and illustration?

KR From the end of the nineteenth century, popular fiction became more and more linked to illustration, and illustrators and graphic artists started exploiting science fiction as a source of inspiration. Science fiction from this period plays an important role in the history of book cover design, with the automation of book production making illustrated covers a marketing tool – and we have some fantastic early examples of this phenomenon in the exhibition. We also have a number of artists’ books, which are some of my favourite items – for example, William Morris, Barlowe’s, guide to extraterrestrials, Barry Moser’s visualisation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1983), and especially – Lem Mróz.

Below: Bovril advertisement, ca.1890.

Bovril advertisement, c1890

Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland, 1980

Visitors will be able to see a 30ft long concertina book version of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, published in 1980 by the Arion Press (above). Flatland is a satire on Victorian society, representing the class system through the metaphor of geometry, and this edition goes one step further, reimagining the book itself as a geometrical form. We are also showing the artist Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus (1981), an encyclopedia of an imaginary world, written in an imaginary language; as well as Paul Scheerbart’s portfolio of illustrations, Gallery of the Beyond from 1907, which is a visualisation of aliens from ‘beyond the Orbit of Neptune’.

Cover of Gaspar’s Novelas (1887)

Above: Cover of Gaspar’s Novelas (1887) for ‘El Anacronópete’ depicting the earliest known portrayal of a time machine.

Below: The Martians from H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds; as depicted by Alvim-Correa in the Belgian edition, La Guerre des mondes (Brussels, 1906).

The Martians from H G Wells’s The War of the Worlds

The exhibition will also show various other approaches to illustrating. H. G. Wells’ famous The War of the Worlds is shown in three editions. Tripod aliens are exhibited side by side as visualised by three prominent book illustrators: Warwick Goble, Jacobus Speenhoff and Alvim Corrêa – in this way we can see how the same work was interpreted entirely differently, whilst still having a powerful impact.

EYE In what ways will visitors be able to engage with the visual language of science fiction during this exhibition?

KR Visitors will be able to see the whole spectrum of the visual language of science fiction. They will have a chance to compare different techniques, styles and forms of illustrations and enjoy the visual side of imaginary worlds. They can see original artwork by contemporary artists (David Hardy, Bryan Talbot, Les Edwards, James Richardson-Brown). They will be able to take part in our interactive exhibits, by designing their own alien to be part of the exhibition, and sending a postcard from a science fiction landscape. I hope also that the exhibition will inspire artists and designers to create new work, and perhaps make people think again about the ways in which science fiction speaks to our imaginations.

20 May > 25 Sep 2011
Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it
PACCAR Gallery
British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB UK
www.bl.uk

Below: Lucian of Samosata, True History, Dutch edition, 1647.

Lucian of Samosata, True History

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For an extensive (if so far incomplete), text-only archive of articles (going back to Eye no. 1 in 1990) visit eyemagazine.com. For a visual sample of the latest issue, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Type Tuesday. Matthew Carter explains how he came to design his first wood type

The positive / negative aspect of type is always in a type designer’s mind, writes Matthew Carter in Eye 76. This may be particularly true for a designer who has been trained, as I was, in punchcutting, a technique that works on the space – the letter is what is left over at the end. When I spent time at the Deberny Peignot foundry in the early 1960s, Adrian Frutiger showed me that he sometimes began a design by drawing with white paint on black paper: drawing the space, in other words, not the letter.

I followed Adrian’s example and enjoyed the obvious affinity with punchcutting. From those days I also remember buying Willem Sandberg’s Experimenta Typographica 11 (see ‘Warm printing’ in Eye 25) and loving the page of ‘the inner LIFE principle’, in which the word LIFE is turned inside out to show its inner forms. ‘Glyph space,’ as Cyrus Highsmith says, ‘is the mechanism that makes movable type possible.’

4147843080_f90ec38c83_o

I’m not a printer, least of all a letterpress printer, but I have tried to think like one. So when the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Wisconsin commissioned me to design a new wood face earlier this decade, I could imagine that the interaction of dual forms might provide interesting effects at the poster sizes typical of wood type.

First I made a titling font of Latin capitals and figures (no lowercase) in PostScript, then duplicated it and reversed all the characters to make a pair of fonts, positive and negative, night and day, yin and yang. The set-widths are exactly the same in both fonts. I had no specific models for my Latin letters, except for the ampersand, which occurs on gravestones around Boston.

HAMILTON WOOD TYPE_B_Eye_7 copy

I sent my digital fonts and proofs to the Hamilton museum, which cut a few trial characters by the traditional method: Norb Brylski used a fretsaw to cut enlarged plywood pattern letters to guide a pantographic router that cut the face in type-high maplewood blanks.

Norb then hand-finished them, using a knife to sharpen corners rounded by the router bit. We took them to TypeCon in Minneapolis in 2003, where Richard Zauft and I gave a talk about the project that got an encouraging response from letterpress printers in the audience.

EYE 76_LETTERPRESS_00003

Despite this promising beginning, the project languished until 2009, when Jim Moran and his brother Bill joined the museum. They found a local sign-manufacturer with a CNC router that could work directly from my digital data, and produce razor-sharp corners.

Carter_01

By November 2009, when the Morans organised their Weekend Wayzgoose at the Hamilton museum, we had wooden fonts of both the positive and negative versions of the type at 12-line (2in) size. When the printers arrived, we had alphabets of both versions set up on Vandercook presses, with the positive letters inked in red and the negative in black, for them to try printing from.

I was quite unprepared for the inventiveness of the first results with this two-faced type (which was then provisionally named Carter Latin). All manner of pages emerged from the presses: one-colour, two-colour, multiple impressions, in register, out of register, right way up, sideways and upside down …

4126226764_47c370e86b_b

The new typeface has now been named after Jim Van Lanen, the driving force behind the museum for a long time. Both wood fonts, Van Lanen and Van Lanen Streamer (the reversed version), can be bought from the museum, which also licenses digital versions to help plan work to be printed from the wood type. At 144pt, the digital letterforms should exactly match their wooden counterparts.

It was a pleasure and privilege to see my design come to fruition under the same roof as the astonishing collection of historical wood types that Hamilton possesses. On the day I arrived at Hamilton I picked up a piece of maplewood type and realised that it was exactly 50 years since a type of my design had been in a physical form that I could hold in my hand.

HAMILTON WOOD TYPE_A_Eye_7 copy

Type Tuesday is our new weekly column on typography and type design, featuring a mixture of brand new articles and material from the extensive Eye archive. For more Type Tuesday articles, click here.

Yin and yang’ by Matthew Carter was commissioned for Eye 76, Summer 2010.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample of Eye 76, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. The latest issue is Eye 79, a type special.

Power of the ruling pen. David Gentleman’s graphic poster campaign for Stop the War

Placards have always been a powerful visual medium for demonstration and protest. A team from Goldsmiths, University of London, asked anti-cuts demonstrators at the recent London march to donate theirs for preservation in the Museum of London’s collections (see the group’s Facebook page for images and more information)

For Eye 78’s Reputations article, editor John L. Walters interviewed designer-illustrator David Gentleman. His graphic work for the ‘Stop the War’ campaign is possibly his most widely known work from recent years – and, as Gentleman told Eye in conversation, ‘it was also a surprise for people who associated me with rather staid spheres!’

Top: Placards and posters from various marches. The lower one was flyposted to announce the first march in Feb 2003. ‘It would have been the final placard,’ says Gentleman, ‘but for technical reasons the printer would have had to leave a white border round it, so it was changed to black type on white and made in upright format in case it rained – the horizontal one would have flopped about.’

Below: The ‘Bliar’ anagram was Gentleman’s idea. ‘It took me a while to dare to use it,’ he says, ‘because Blair was still prime minister at the time, and I thought: “is this really a good career move?”’

IMG_0373

The job came about through his book A Special Relationship, made around 25 years ago. His wife Sue Gentleman remembers the controversy that work caused: ‘The Evening Standard or someone published a headline “No longer a gentleman”!’ As Gentleman explains, the Iraq war reawakened his political drive:

‘I’d inherited my Dad’s automatic leftiness but I’ve never committed like the people I’ve met in Stop the War, whose lives seem wholly dedicated to the cause. At the back of A Special Relationship there are people carrying “NO” placards. When it began to look as if the war in Iraq was imminent, I made a simple “NO” and stuck it over press photos of people on a march, so that it looked very legible.’

‘I sent it to CND a week before the march saying would you like to use this? Not surprisingly, I never heard anything back! After another march, six months later, I saw Tony Benn and asked him who should I send such an idea to, and he told me about the Stop the War Coalition. They got the designs printed fantastically quickly. They used East End Offset, which had been Private Eye’s printer. Phil Whaite, an excellent freelance typographer / designer, helped me with the computer side.’

Below: Posters and banners for Stop the War Coalition, 2003-present. ‘The blood splat was made with red watercolour dripped from a ruling pen held at shoulder height on to good, hand-made watercolour paper,’ says Gentleman.

jj060331

IMG_9746

See full text of Reputations interview with David Gentleman in Eye 78.

See also ‘Fixed compass’, about Gentleman’s identity for British Steel on the Eye blog.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 78, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79, Spring 2011, is out now.

Above the clouds. New photo exhibition explores the visual fall-out of the early nuclear age

Thursday 7 March saw the opening of a new photography space, the London arm of Munich gallery Daniel Blau Ltd.

Sandwiched in a narrow space, the gallery has a surprisingly generous floorplan, and its walls now play host to A-Bomb: Pictures of disaster. Photographs of atomic bomb explosions, including tests from America and the Pacific and George R. Caron’s shots from a military plane above Hiroshima, span the early cold war period of 1945-70. Some photos are juxtaposed with fragments of written matter, often no more than a scrawled or typewritten label.

IMG_1950

The exhibition is accompanied by a 48-page tabloid (to add to Eye’s teetering pile of newsprint) that acts as a substantial exhibition catalogue – and a morbid keepsake.

IMG_1948

By the time of last night’s private view, every print bore a red dot, and the prices (which ranged from around £500 to at least £16,000) were being hurriedly covered up (using stickers or marker pens) by the gallery staff. A single private buyer had snapped up the entire collection.

IMG_1946

7 April > 7 May 2011
A-Bomb: Pictures of disaster
Daniel Blau Gallery
51 Hoxton Square
London N1 6PB UK

See also David Thompson’s article about Michael Light’s work in Eye 51, to be republished on the Eye blog next week.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Get real. Go! Steven McCarthy wonders why US graphic designers don’t get out much

Where are the Americans? Why do international design conferences have such a low turn-out from United States scholars and educators? Our presence is enormous in other global realms – 50 percent of the world’s defence budget, US corporations larger than many national economies, ubiquitous Hollywood culture, and so on, writes Steven McCarthy.

Connected Sydney

Images: conference name badges and maps from McCarthy’s travels.

According to Professor Sharon Poggenpohl, editor of the journal Visible Language, ‘Organisers of the 2007 conference of the International Association of Societies of Design Research reported that only ten per cent of the paper submissions came from Americans, demonstrating that the US is behind other countries in the generation of new knowledge. 1

This passage was published under the heading ‘Design Research: Building a Culture from Scratch’ on the website of New Contexts / New Practices, an AIGA design educators conference held at North Carolina State University in 2010. Do they mean an ‘American’ culture from scratch, as more mature design research cultures exist elsewhere, and of which many US educators are semi-aware?

Design+Craft Brussels

I believe that there are two main reasons for this inward-looking approach.

One, the US definition of design research, and its tangible products, often differs from that of other countries’ design scholars, and not in a way that favours many of the US field’s most persistent voices. Still, we have a vibrant and influential design culture, one that deserves a more theorised discourse – beyond the profession’s trade associations, magazines and blogs.

Two, we’ve come to think that the ‘use of both synchronous and asynchronous forms of visual conferencing is central to the experience of global design education. 2 This is a bit like freeze-dried astronaut food – it’s better than nothing, but falls far short of the transformative experience that an actual international exchange can provide. ‘Central to the experience of global design education’ is getting out of one’s pyjamas, logging out of Skype and Google, and crossing the border.

Imagine if our academic institutions defined a learning abroad experience for students as one in which they solely surfed the internet for design sites ending in de, jp, fr, uk, etc.? When the virtual is preferred to the real for the sake of efficiency and ease, immersion is compromised. Haptic and heuristic learning become abstractions, not accomplishments.

Physically being there is required. Besides enriching both the presenter and the audience (generally one’s peers in design education and practice, but also students), attending international conferences and symposia causes Americans to be in the minority. I refer to a national minority of course, but sometimes one of ideology, which provides a healthy dose of global reality. One’s Weltanschauung [worldview] inevitably shifts.

While virtual reality has its place (advantages of cost, convenience, geographic transcendence), it’s no substitute for the sights, smells and tastes, and the challenges, surprises and dislocations, that await us when we literally step out of our comfort zones. This forces us to re-examine our closely held convictions, which is exactly what research does.

Almost all international design conferences are conducted, in whole or in part, in English. If the lectures I’ve given in Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Turkey weren’t in my native tongue, the lingua franca of higher education, I would have been in big trouble! If this doesn’t make it welcoming for North Americans, what else would?

Yes, international travel is expensive, and takes time. If scholars from New Zealand, China, Denmark, South Africa and Brazil show up (with their own limited budgets), why not more Americans? Unlike appearing at a national conference, with fewer time zones to traverse, overseas travel is demanding. I usually arrive a couple days before my presentation to get over jet-lag, and to allow time for exploring. A nice benefit upon returning is the stuff I’ve collected to share with my students: photographs of vernacular signage, printed graphic design samples, a box of uniquely packaged candy, and stories from the frontlines.

Responsibility Poland

Some of these stories have become short essays about my travel experiences that have been published as conference reviews, on Speak Up, on the Eye blog and on the University of Minnesota’s Design Institute’s Knowledge Circuit website. As I hope that my presentations have an impact on the audience, I am transformed by each new venue. Ultimately, scholarship is about sharing.

I would like to return to my assertion about an American definition of design research, which I believe is fraught with internal conflict. I’ve performed over twenty external reviews for faculty tenure and promotion, mostly of American graphic design professors, but a couple of foreign ones too. The recurring entry that persists on many American curricula vita is the notion that having one’s designs published in a commercial magazine’s or professional organisation’s annual competition is comparable to research. (All American designers are ‘award-winning’!) A second is that journalistic writing, while often meritorious in its own right, equals research. Although the result of a highly selective jury on one hand, or the prestige of a notable editor’s invitation on the other, both are flawed definitions. And both get met with quizzically arched eye-brows on the international design research stage.

As most British, Dutch and Australian design educators – in particular – know, one must use a research methodology to do research. Then, one’s findings, or observations, or outcomes (and this certainly includes praxis), must be disseminated through a process of peer review, like (but not exactly like), that used by the sciences and humanities. An expansive definition of design research includes qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic methods, etc. as well as design authorship, ‘critical design,’ speculative and curatorial projects.

Although many non-American design researchers have doctoral degrees, I don’t believe that the PhD is a prerequisite to doing research. I have an MFA, as do many other capable scholars. Furthermore, a growing number of foreign doctorates are in ‘design practice,’ which bridges thinking and making – design as both noun and verb. American design education can only improve by synthesising the propositions of others, and we should reciprocate with our own successes.

International design conferences are a terrific opportunity for sharing, learning and growing as a discipline. They can also be polemical, and perhaps they should be. I often start my presentations with a couple images of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where I’m from, to provide a geographic connection (one favourite is an ice-covered building, and the shocking news of how cold our winters are). But another reason is to serve as a kind of American design education ambassador, with the hopes that as I attend conferences stretching from Sydney to Belfast, global representation will populate our own national events, which fortunately, are held in English.

American design research culture will only be built from scratch once it acknowledges its international itch.

Footnotes

1. New Contexts / New Practices website.

2. Moldenhauer, J. (May 2010) Virtual Conferencing in Global Design Education: Dreams and Realities abstract. Global Interaction in Design, Visible Language 44.2. Guest editor: Audrey Grace Bennett.

Steven McCarthy is Professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. McCarthy has presented, published and exhibited in over a dozen countries.

Map Istanbul

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues (including single copies of the latest issue). For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79 is out any moment.

Surface to space. Maths, computers and the internet bring new life to the art of origami

Most of us are familiar with the art of paper folding, perhaps as an amusing pastime with brightly coloured paper, writes Marian Bantjes, a kind of parlour trick or children’s game. To those a bit more aware, origami has intersected with graphic design mostly as a form of three-dimensional illustration – which is one of the ways that paper folders are able to make a living. But a little investigation into the process of construction, and the developments that have occurred over the past quarter-century promise something more intriguing than a delightful puzzle. As with graphic design there is beauty in simplicity, as well as surprising complexity below the surface.

Ban_02_rt

What most properly defines origami is the linear fold – a complex mental exercise in compaction and extrusion.

Ban_01_rt

The most whimsical forms reveal gridwork similar to architecture or engineering design, restraints that give origami its allure.

Ban_08_rt

This is an extract from Marian Bantjes’ ‘Surface to Space’ in Eye 67 (Spring 2008). Read the full text of the article here.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.