J’ai toujours aimé réaliser des œuvres qui nécessitaient un minimum d’interventions, j’ai dû hériter ça de Duchamp. Dans les années 1960, j’ai réalisé un petit collage autour du logo de “Braun”, que j’avais simplement transformé en “Brown”, une traduction phonétique de Braun en anglais. C’était une intervention minimale. » Richard Hamilton
We’ve stumbled upon the latest article, this time on Scotsman.com, to elaborate on the increasingly myopic non-discussion around the demise of Creative Scotland and the cultural life and identity of Scotland. To me, the native/non-native argument seems so ridiculous as to not be worth bothering with, and has been dismantled by others elsewhere, meanwhile the political brand-wagon of the ‘Year of Creative Scotland’, coming as it does on the heels of the equally depressing, (and mismanaged) ‘Homecoming‘, gets away lightly.
Meanwhile, we’re working on getting inter-nation-all.org, the app of the Voluntary National Assignment Agency, up and running. (You can read a bit more about it in Junk Jet no. 6). And once that’s running, all of the above seems irrelevant.
Not pulling its punches, with sideswipes at New Labours ‘criminal folly’ and a sardonic eye for every vanity of a modern architecture and politics in thrall to the ‘brand’, Jonathan Meades ‘on the brandwagon’ provided a really useful (and thoroughly enjoyable) watch prior to a discussion on the ‘regeneration’ of the East End of Glasgow in connection to the Commonwealth Games. Thanks to the excellent YouTube channel meadesshrine, you can watch this, and many other Meades programmes, in their entirety. With a great sound-track and withering bon-mots (“Are we looking at a monument to Frank Gehry’s limitless self-regard?”) it’s worth watching in relation to what’s going on in Glasgow, (thinking about the new transport museum in the context of ‘sight-bites’ and ‘three dimensional logo(s)’), the V&A landing on Dundee’s waterfront, and the following post (coming sometime soon) about the new Stedelijk.
With the Olympics in full swing, it’s a chance for the design community to re-heat some of the many arguments that have circulated about the brand design and identity of the 2012 Games. This recent easy-ride interview for Fast Company gives Wolff Olins a chance to say ‘told-you so’, and come out with some vivid brand double-speak in the process (the favourite of which has to be; “I don’t think dissonance means discord. It means an ability to be slightly off-center and still be cool – and actually means you’re cool because you’re slightly off center.”)
Elsewhere there have been overviews of the entire ‘branding package’, and there are still the myopic arguments being aired that this is not (and in fact nothing in the entire designed universe ever has been) as good as Munich ’72.
It seems that the most apparent issue is that in the contemporary games, speaking as someone who lives near to an olympic venue, there is so much branding of stuff – every ‘touch-point’ they would no doubt tell us, from the station signage, to the track numbers, to the incredible volume of advertising – that ‘design’ gets squeezed out at every turn, in favour of ‘roll-out’ (I don’t, to be clear, think these things are mutually exclusive, but they aren’t exactly the same either.) It also neglects that fact that this kind of thing (note this type of material is often missing from the fan-boy ’72 nostalgia-fests) could happen then (in 72), in a way that seems difficult to conceive of now, unless part of some kind of heavily strategised brand narrative. To wrap up, perhaps a word on the man who gave his name to that erstwhile branding establishment responsible for 2012, (a man who, in the words of Terry Eagleton, “one suspects would brand his own kneecaps if there was profit to be squeezed from it…”) – I think it would be a good time to revisit this analysis of OnBrand by Wally Olins.
I was contacted recently by Alexander Negrelli, a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie, who is about to publish a book called Kommando Otl Aicher, looking at terrorism, politics, sport and design through the lens of visual identity. I’m really interested in what connections or parallels may be made between the corporate design for the Munich ’72 Olympics (which graphic designers can sometimes tend to fetishise to the point of cliché) and the broader issues of the political context of the time, and its impact on the games. I look forward to its publication, however due to funding issues within the Dutch arts, this has been delayed until later this summer. A trailer can be viewed below.