Steve Jobs, creator of Apple computers and Pixar, the largest animation company in the world, died today at 56. A college dropout, Jobs gave the Commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.
“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs
“One day I came to work to find that part of a city block had been demolished. Hills of dirt were trucked away and plywood forms appeared. Foundations took shape, walls arose, and a new building began to emerge. Space, everyone’s space, was being reconfigured. The event of building reveals the essential plasticity of space: the way we divide it up, build structures into it, and sweep it clean again. Building and growth, demolition and decay are strangely commingled. Architecture, that most enduring of cultural forms, is reassigned to natural processes. You may try to expel nature with a pitchfork, said Horace, but it will come back running.
Like a building site, collage, for me, is exhilarating. It encourages swift, decisive modifications; it is constructive and destructive almost simultaneously. Structures come into being, and turn away from what they had been. Disparate spaces are sampled, juxtaposed, and reconfigured. Unlike working from plans, collage is open and improvisatory. It establishes a site for the reception of unforeseen changes. It invites and responds to the unplanned.
As an artist, I try to situate myself at the center of form- and meaning-complexes that seem most capable of producing these sorts of symbols: landscape, excavation, foundation, house, room, annex, well. A true symbol, C.G. Jung tells us, is inexhaustible; it is a living, regenerative thing. The generative activity of the studio is vital in this regard: the rhythmic, almost ritual process of collage, the surprise discoveries that occur when unlike pieces meet and mate. I seek a poetics of construction. I do so through an interplay of geometric structure and expressive abstraction, a syntax of interruption and relocation, and a language of color interaction and boundaries.
Like art itself, collage is a layered, cumulative thing, a site at which the boundary between cultural achievement and natural occurrence is sometimes, mysteriously, dissolved.”
Kevin Brady, 2006
What is given is incomparably richer than what we can invent.
Aldous Huxley, “Variations on El Greco,” On Art and Artists
These fragments I have shored against my ruins.
T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”
“I like the deliberative processes of collage – the heightened awareness of elements in play, and surprises that occur when unlike pieces meet and mate. Like drawing, collage is a very direct form of visualizing onto a surface. It is not just a language of accumulation – of stuff added to stuff – but a restless exchange of figure and ground. Structures come into being, and turn away from what they had been. Boundaries are fixed and erode. Identities appear and shift shape. A collage can go through hundreds of adjustments before it arrives at its final state, and even then, it is – to quote Wallace Stevens – “form gulping after formlessness.” The destructive and constructive principles exist side by side in the most intimate kinds of decisions here. Found materials, for me, impose a discipline of responding to what is given. To some extent, I have to resist the impulse to design and control, even as this may be what is most needed. In the end, the collages are aimed at producing a symbolic, if provisional, unity.”
Kevin Brady, December 2007
Found Texture: Collage, Frottage, and Assemblage
“To confront a crazy world with its own image…” From Marjorie Perloff’s essay, Dada Without Duchamp/Duchamp Without Dada
I first encountered Flatland, an imaginary world of only two dimensions, in my eighth-grade math class. (Cool teacher, Mrs. Peek; we also watched a film on the geometry of the game of billiards.) I often think of Flatland when talking to students about design, drawing, and painting, which are, by nature, essentially flat. To design with two-dimensions entails a different way of thinking, a different way of seeing. The design space is a place where overlapping volumes don’t really go back in space. With that third dimension missing they become shapes that abut. They can still appear to go back in space. This contradiction between virtual appearance and actual fact is the fundamental tension and dynamic in two-dimensional art. The designer is one who can hold these two contradictory perceptions in mind at the same time and draw from them whatever is needed to make the design “work.”
The original text of Flatland, by Edwin Abbott (1838-1926.)
Logos are perhaps the most familiar and ubiquitous form of applied 2-D design. The best logos encode and convey the identity, purpose, and spirit of a company through an astute manipulation of visual forms and type. Here’s an interview with the designer of the award-winning FedEx logo, Lindon Leader, on the evolution of his design, from the blog, The Sneeze.