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Emigre 66 › No More Rules

In Emigre 66 Rick Poynor’s book No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism (previously reviewed here) is addressed twice in decidedly different fashions. First is (former Speak Up author) Sam PottsPostmodern Postmortem followed by Lorraine Wild’s Castles Made of Sand.

Poynor’s book, in the most basic of nutshells and dryest of descriptions, is a compendium of Postmodern work, not packaged in a Postmodern language, neither visual nor linguistical — a good thing in my opinion. Or as Potts asserts “No More Rules is not a highly theoretical treatment (read: it’s readable) of either design or postmodernism.”

Pott’s initial description of No More Rules, exemplifies what is to come for the rest of the review: “Rick Poynor’s new book [comes] to draw some kind of chalk outline around all that crazy pomo stuff that freaked everyone out back in the 80s.” Potts’ review, featuring tightly audited critiques of Poynor’s words, is sharp, acerbic and — contrary to Wild’s — objective in its rendering of the facts presented by Poynor. Where Wild is more concerned, and rightly so, with what is missing from No More Rules, Potts focuses on the material portrayed in the book.

About the work in No More Rules, he ultimately concludes: “[This] work now seems, upon review, to be polemical almost entirely about style and technique.” And about the book itself: “[We] might expect Poynor to close No More Rules with some thoughts on whether we are now beyond postmodern problems and concerns, or whether today’s designers are working on questions that belong to a kind of second-generation postmodernism […]. Such conclusions are not forthcoming, which leaves the reader at the the end of No More Rules with more than a little feeling of indeterminancy, which in itself is very postmodern.”

Wild’s review on the other hand, coming from an avid participant of Postmodernism, deeply challenges Poynor’s portrayal of Postmodernism in No More Rules. Most noteably is the emphasis placed on Postmodernism as a theoretically-inclined ism: “One of the problems with the themes of No More Rules and Poynor’s insistence that they all be viewed through the scrim of theory is that he imposes an artificial order where there really wasn’t much. This results in the work seeming more programmed and way more dependent upon the influence of theory than it really was.” Wild then adds “Without a fuller explanation of what was behind the formal experimentation, the admittedly challenging design and typography of this period can appear to be pedantic and/or pretentious.”

The review is filled with footnotes (most of them dating to the 80s and early 90s), personal experiences and opinionated jabs. Of the book itself, Wild concludes: “I just wish that No More Rules had supplied denser, richer, and more informed evidence of what transpired during the last 25 years, so that those who were not there to experience it firsthand might be able to make some sense of it.”

After reading Castles Made of Sand I got the sense that — to keep in Postmodernist fashion — no one will ever be able to portray it accurately. The you had to be there to understand it train of thought seems awfully evasive, but at the same time understandable. It’s as if anything that is written about Postmodernism will be wrong which, as Potts would say, is very Postmodernistic in itself. I was not around for Postmodernism — although I would have loved to be — so any assertion I have about Postmodernism by default could be wrong. Not to mention that I sometimes still don’t exactly get what Postmodernism is — I objectively understand what it is, but subjectively is where I have a problem. Again, all very Postmodern.

Both reviews succeed in that they are reflecting on Postmodernism after the fact and are devoid of the stubbornness and insistence on proving those modernists wrong of earlier tracts on Postmodernism. Now that we can all (Poynor, Potts, Wild, me and you) look back on Postmodernism perhaps we can make some sense out of it. Or not.

Probably not.

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PUBLISHED ON Jun.13.2004 BY Armin
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

Postmodernism after the fact????

though I'd really like to think so, I'm really not quite so sure Armin.

From cut-up sheep, to iPod détournements, to your own pixellated ornamental goodness, what makes you think we've moved on?

On Jun.13.2004 at 07:29 PM
Matt’s comment is:

To suggest that there has ever been an all encompassing ideological history amongst graphic designers is a tad grandiose and only hinders the understanding of any specific time period of design. Ideological approaches, aesthetic practices, political desires, individualistic values, and so forth, were all very different amongst each and every practitioner. I look at these terms as an extremely vague umbrella that might characterize the accessibiliy of the end products during those time periods. I think that as technology, markets, and economies continue to change, expand, appear, and fall apart...being such a desposable service based commodity, graphic design will never be able to be historically categorized with a singular -ism.

On Jun.13.2004 at 09:09 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

Kevin's right. Postmodernism is alive and well.

Then again it depends on what you mean by it.

Matt, history traditionally records whatever is authentically new or important in a particular time period. That the practice of "postmodernism" is not all-encompassing doesn't matter very much. Poynor is interpreting the avant-garde in design, who happen to wrestle explicitly with the problems that are apparent to anyone if you have your finger on the zeitgeist.

On Jun.13.2004 at 10:35 PM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

My first-ever college art class was taught by three teachers, who would rotate lectures week to week: one taught about "Modernism," from Impressionism on; another was involved in art from the 1980's LA video scene (who might be called "postmodern"); the third was a linguist and anthropologist who made her career studying pre-modern art and culture in Tonga. The only thing we heard about postmodernism per se was that it was not "anti" modernism, it was just "after", that it was an extension of the same ideas and traditions.

That was all they told us, then: I think it's probably healthy not to look at "postmodernism" too directly, because it's too easy to get trapped between the finer (or more pedantic) points of the literature that fueled it, and the rush of new work that comes from traditions you might not recognize (foreign cultures, micro-communities, or what have you.)

It's also dangerous to behold postmodernism because a lot of people simply draw a line in the sand and point at the other side as being evil, uniformed, wrong. (We get blinded by the sun as well: I was certainly dazzled by that era of work, but now I've learned to stop worrying and love the Modern, too.) I definitely get the sense from your review that postmodernism is confusion itself, but fair warning: once you've written a review of reviews of a critical survey, I wouldn't call you postmodern, I'd call you an intellectual, which means that the bar is probably set a bit higher for your criticism.

My quick take on the real sin of Poynor's book is that it's more explicitly "curated" than what we're accustomed to in graphic design, and he's making a point from a choice selection of work: it might not have been a genre before, but it is now that this book is out. For what it's worth (and trying to keep my speakup wordcount down), having read a couple of interviews with Poynor, he considers himself neither strictly Modern nor strictly Postmodern – I personally think his book is meant more as looking forward than looking back.

Also, as a recent student of hers, I can assure you there are precious few designers more concerned or aware of the living legacy of Modernism than Lorraine Wild. 'Nuff said.

On Jun.13.2004 at 11:50 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I'd call you an intellectual

Oh, please no.

So, is the consensus that postmodernism is still going? Or — just to throw an inflammatory, misguided question out there — because it is not a current design-style trend, is it dead?

I can't remember which magazine it was, I think it was STEP, I was reading about an exhbition of Elliot Earls' work and reading about it seemed passé. Disclaimer: I do not think Earls' work is passé at all. Reading about it in a design "mainstream" magazine is what seemed so. Not sure why, it just did.

On Jun.14.2004 at 08:32 AM
marian’s comment is:

no one will ever be able to portray it accurately. The you had to be there to understand it train of thought seems awfully evasive, but at the same time understandable.

Perhaps no one, but certainly a collection of people could portray it accurately. It may not be a work of critical theory, but a collection of conversations, anecdotes and tall tales by those people who were there (including Wild), combined ith the work they created and in-their-own-words descriptions of the work would surely be a fascinating read.

It seems that too often in our attempts to elevate design in the context of academia we leave behind the living, breathing humans who created the work--or, as Bruce Sterling said, "What we tend to forget about the Future is that there are people there."

On Jun.14.2004 at 08:44 AM
marian’s comment is:

ALSO, slightly off topic, but there's something that's been bothering me of late--from Steven Heller's article on blogs in Print, to Lorraine Wild's (dismissive) comments on blogs in this Emigre article. Both site the lack of documentation, annotation and point to a certain uninformed and (implied) irresponsible writing style.

While that is certainly, at times, true what they don't seem to get is that a weblog is not a publication, literary, academic or otherwise. It is a meeting place, more like a bar or coffee house. We do not bring our dissertations complete with footnotes and bibliographies any more than we would take them to the bar. The point is to discuss, yell, get cantankerous, and yes, to share our uninformed opinions and thoughts.

Wild says, "and now we have blogs, and we do not have to worry about anyone coming up with new or original ideas about graphic design ..." --basically saying that anything we say here has already been said before (a thoroughly presumptious and, frankly, bizarre statement).

There is the implication that if you don't know what you're talking about, shut up. But really ... can those who "know" learn nothing from those who don't? Is it impossible to generate new ideas without a wealth of knowledge, history and footnotes? And further, is there no value in fun?

In a way, this goes back to my earlier post ... "there are people there." You can't separate the work from the people or the people from the discussions. When Heller and Wild trivialize this digital forum they completely dismiss the people who make the work -- and possibly make the neo-post-digital movement -- which they or someone like them will one day critique.

So we can lament the fact we weren't there for the heyday of postmodernism, or the fact that it hasn't yet been documented properly, but in the meantime we are here, and I maintain that the generation of ideas, the hashing of opinions no matter how uninformed (OK, within limits) is part of whatever is happening now or may happen in the future in design.

On Jun.14.2004 at 09:16 AM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

well said marian. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Doing my MA, I would like to think I am well-informed, but there will always be others who know more, so does that mean I should just not say anything and faithfully read all those that do know more until I can discuss things at "their" level (which would seem impossible considering the linearity of time)?

Let's just say, for example, that I wanted to start a new movement, that would move me past my own understanding of post-modernism. Would I need to read everything that has been written on pomo theory, or could I just say, "to Hell with it!" and start a movement, right here and right now...

On Jun.14.2004 at 09:24 AM
Matt Wright’s comment is:

Hmm...I like the suggestion you've made Marian. That sounds more like an appropriate desciption of the encompassing -isms we like to try and explain. Its interesting to me to evaluate the social, political, and economic climates of those time periods and look at how designers either reacted in response to or were possibly detrimented by those climates. Not to mention the influence of their own personal values on their solutions.

So perhaps my inclined view that these -isms are all encompassing is a tad bit false. In that case, in the context of our current times and taking into account the conversations that I have been exposed to, I wouldn't say we have moved on from postmodernism per say, but perhaps in a post-postmodernism stage. A refinement stage maybe?

On Jun.14.2004 at 10:37 AM
marian’s comment is:

just not say anything and faithfully read all those that do know more until I can discuss things at "their" level (which would seem impossible considering the linearity of time)?

Yeah, this is what freaks me out. I have so much learning to do, and where do i start? At the beginning? Or closer to the end so I'm not continually behind? Or should I just delve into the present so my knowledge of the current is current, and hope that the past falls into place as I go along?

but perhaps in a post-postmodernism stage.

Indeed. And most likely a pre-somethingyettobedetermined as well. Here we are! (Where are we?)

On Jun.14.2004 at 10:49 AM
Jerry’s comment is:

Kevin: I think as long as you have a good understanding of past movements, you have enough to know where your potential movement fits in a larger context. Just the same as an art history class would — to inform future artists about where their art will fit in and measure up — to introduce them to the movements, and if someone feels inclined to, they can read everything concerning a given movement, group or artist. That is where design education falls short, the number of art history classes far outnumber the amount of design history seminars.

Marian nailed it. It seems that most of these established writers feel some kind of threat regarding web logs. It’s safe to say that most of them are older, so are they resisting new avenues for dialog? Are they afraid that their career is in some kind of danger and won’t be long before people stop buying printed material? I think not. Publications have their place and won’t go the way of the dodo and web logs have theirs — each with their own conventions and customs. Only a nut would publish an essay with footnotes in a post on a web log. Also, one can’t write an eight-sentence rant and expect to get published.

On Jun.14.2004 at 10:55 AM
Paul’s comment is:

Sure one can!

On Jun.14.2004 at 11:26 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> (Where are we?)

Man, you have no idea how much I would like to know the answer to that.

Is anything going on that people 10-20 years from now will be discussing with such fervor as postmodernism?

On Jun.14.2004 at 12:14 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>Is anything going on that people 10-20 years from now will be discussing with such fervor as postmodernism?

Your'e soaking in it.

On Jun.14.2004 at 12:19 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I hope so Mark…

How about visually/stylistically/trendily?

On Jun.14.2004 at 04:32 PM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

maybe I am simple minded but:

isn't modernism like using only primary colors..isn't postmodernism like using all of the colors in between the primaries--thus virtually anything is possible?

Anyhow doesn't it seem like all these "isms" perpetuate some sort of philosophical discussion that nobody can ever win?

Today in 2004: looking back: movements of the past can be compared to stages a teenager may go thru--"shy stage", "punk stage", "preppy stage" -- just like how cubism, dadism, futurism, de stijl were stages in art. Is such an assesment agreeable?

I am not sure we need movements today. What we do now may be classified as something by those in the future...but why should we worry about it?

On Jun.14.2004 at 09:42 PM
Rudy’s comment is:

Is anything going on that people 10-20 years from now will be discussing with such fervor as postmodernism?

They'll wonder why writing about design became more interesting than design itself.

On Jun.14.2004 at 11:31 PM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

Armin > > because it is not a current design-style trend, is it dead?

It's like the Matrix: in the 80's it was all acute triangles and mixed typefaces, in the 90's it was out of control, and now it controls your body, your mouse clicking hand, your font menu... Resistance is futile! Or, um... None shall pass! Or, or...

Actually, Kevin Lo's got the winning ticket, I'd say. What's up with the bitmapped Victorian ornamentation round these parts? Don't get me wrong, it looks nice (especially with the sign-painter logotype)—just what was your thought process in putting this together? It's like an Authentic Canadian Falafel Taco. Tasty, but wow, what a wacky idea!

On Jun.15.2004 at 01:50 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Is anything going on that people 10-20 years from now will be discussing with such fervor as postmodernism?

hmmmm...well...see the Hell, Maybe thread.

(but please, keep that discussion there)

(sorry, Armin, I couldn't help myself)

On Jun.15.2004 at 07:33 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> just what was your thought process in putting this together? It's like an Authentic Canadian Falafel Taco. Tasty, but wow, what a wacky idea!

Canadian Falafel Taco… not a bad idea.

Well, the "Baroque Bitmapness" — as Stephen Coles once put it on Typographica — is a style I had never ever done nor imagined I'd do. It comes from my fascination with old, ornate borders and a then-rising interest in bitmap and aliased graphics. So I literally started pushing pixels around and this is what came out. There is no big theory behind it really.

> They'll wonder why writing about design became more interesting than design itself.

Hopefully we'll all be able to sustain it for some more time. The interesting writing that is.

On Jun.15.2004 at 08:40 AM
Pajul’s comment is:

Well, Postmodernism in the fine arts came along way before it showed up in graphic design. What came after pomo in the fine arts realm?

On Jun.15.2004 at 10:05 AM
Sebastian’s comment is:

to see the words post-modern and avant garde in the same sentence is kind of odd. one of the very things that pomo theory puts forward as one of the effects/signs of the so-called "post-modern condition" is the disappearance of the phenomena of the avant garde which is considered the prime example of "the tradition of the new", a notion which central to modernist thinking (progress, the new replaces the old [and is always better], teleology [the new is the logical progression of the the old]). to speak of "what comes after post-modernism is to suggest that it was only another "modern" avant garde which will now be superseded by the next upgrade. if something comes "after" post-moderrnism then nothing has really changed, and we are really modern and enlightened westerners.

On Jun.15.2004 at 10:31 AM
Pajul’s comment is:

So Postmodernism is here to stay? At least it's supposed to, ideally?

On Jun.15.2004 at 11:03 AM
Lorraine Wild’s comment is:

(maybe off-topic, but a response to some posts of 6/14):

OK, so let’s say that in the year 2030 some enterprising young design historian (there will be piles of them by then, right?) wants to track down the debates that raged about, say, graphic design education in the early 00s. And some grizzled old design professor of theirs tells them that they were really moved by the words of one Marian Bantjes, or Tom Gleason, and that their project will be incomplete if they cannot account for those ideas and arguments.

Oh, I already know the answer: technology will take care of it! How could I have forgotten?

We must have faith, though no answer exists at this moment. Because if I do a search for the voluminous writings of any of the authors I list above, I will only find whatever they have posted on their own websites, or committed to print. I can find out what Tom Gleason looks like, but I cannot find the yards and yards of writing that he has contributed to design discourse across several blogs in one coherent place. I might be able to find out what he had to say on whichever threads I find, but I cannot access his complete writings to be able to comprehend his point of view played out across his writings and practice.

Now, I enjoy walking into a bar or a Starbucks and entering into a conversation with the instantaneous community created by that place as much as anyone else. And if that’s all that we expect from the blogs, well, then, great. “Cheers” was supposed to be a fun TV show, right? (Never watched it myself, but...) Wasn’t there some line in their song about Cheers being the place where “everybody knows your name”?

And speaking of that: maybe I’m the last person in North America to not know who Design Maven is, but isn’t it just a little strange that this person, who obviously has a reverence for designers of yore, will not share his identity, not only with his current audience, but those in the future who might encounter his archived ramblings? What is he afraid of? That someone might challenge him on his pronouncements, which besides being unsubstantiatable, are delivered with the sort of authorlessness that seems designed to intimidate (in the same way that certain religious tracts are also delivered as if from above, with no signature)?

The fact that I give a shit what people have to say about design, and that it will have a life beyond the moment we live in, and might be of use to some designer in the future not yet born, or might contribute to the development of a design culture: why does that make me some sort of blue-haired, luddite fun hater? Far be it from me to bum anyone’s stone! I pledge allegiance to the blogs...for what they are, OK?

I think it’s hilarious (in a bleak sort of way) that there are certain people so invested in the format of the blog, or maybe just the sound of their own voice on that particular day, that they cannot stand the simple expression—based on my own experience as a person who has dug through the paltry archives of graphic design, who has faced directly how much of the practice and the thought of the daily work of designers is lost, uncoverable—of a bit of regret. Regret that so much interesting thought and exchange is being invested by so many people into a format that, for the time being, is inaccessible to anything but the thread of the moment. I don’t even care about the footnotes anymore.

Mea culpa for actually thinking that the stuff designers say and do is of value. All those posts in this thread worrying abut 10 to 20 years from now, well, lots of luck! Be here now!

On Jun.17.2004 at 01:07 PM
Sebastian’s comment is:


blogging is a collective and networked writing mode. blogs are interesting because they are immediate, decentralised and ephemeral. blogs are not interesting because they are immediate, decentralised and ephemeral. if our hypothetical professor has any ideas of what he (or she) is talking about he won't point our hypothetical historian to a set of names, but more likely to a set of dates (google syntax IS a form of art) and the ideas would be there for all to see. blogs are also encouraging a lot of people to put their thoughts in writing as a matter of course, and at least a few of these people will eventually engage with more "rigorous" modes of writing if they feel their ideas require them. we should know by now that different modes and different formal registers produce different kinds of thinking which where not possible before. we should also know that when a new medium/format/idea does not achieve relevance whitin a cultural formation (and define 'relevance' as you please) it quickly disappears and it is forgotten. blogs will not replace other modes of writing; they will complement them and transform them. right now they're are an experiment, they need time to grow, to mature, to evolve. maybe designers should take them a bit more seriously as a design situation and go beyond just customising templates?

On Jun.17.2004 at 03:41 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

Check me if I'm wrong, Scotty, but if we kill all the gophers...

Wait. This blog thang ain't nothin' new is it? Really?

Ask some old timers over at The Well.

Hang around Usenet for a while... man.

Used to call 'em Bulletin Boards.

Blog is the new brand now, right?

I think what's making it all seem different is good design. Places look great and work well. More power to 'em.

I love ephemera. It's always a surprise to see collections of things that were never intended to be collected.


On Jun.17.2004 at 04:25 PM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

I am convinced that the decisions we make in our work represent the tectonic shifts of values beneath our culture. I think of places like this – outside the work – as the petri dish: how do trends in politics, economics, or whatever else interact with design? What words do we use to describe what we do? The sad truth is that these questions are by and large (to use a much-maligned term) academic, and while blogs are susceptible to many of the same problems as trade journals – an unspoken editorial agenda, thoughtless hero worship, self-congratulatory attitudes – there's at least space to discuss those things explicitly.

The anonymity is a bit odd, but these are opinions, not scientific discoveries. And if someone wants to opt out of promoting themselves, then hey, why not? Many women use gender-neutral names because, for whatever reason, blogs seem to have about a 2:1 male to female ratio. The psuedonym, especially for women, has a long precedent across disciplines—it's disappointing to see that particular publishing tradition carried over, but so it goes. (My mom goes by "William" online, incidentally.)

So far as distribution and archiving goes, I think that the best, or most significant, will get picked up and saved somewhere. Only 10 people responded to Eye when "The Cult of the Ugly" was published, but the response was nonetheless heard around the world (god, I was only 12 when that thing came out!) Forty years on, the letters between Max Bill and Jan Tschichold were published by University of Reading. So far as we have an elite of critics and historians, they're paying attention right now—if there are any gold nuggets nestled in this blog silt, I'm sure they'll get passed down to future generations. Case in point is Poynor's "Postmodernism" book: hard to find artifacts collected into a canon for future reference. Your c.2030 researcher might go crazy looking for, say, either Keedy's LACE brochures or some debate about design and socially responsible investing, but at least there'll be something to keep all those future researchers busy!

As Eno said, "Only 5,000 people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every one of them started a band." Whether it's writing a blog post, making visiting artist posters, or publishing a limited-distribution zine, everything we make is a statement about where (and who) we are. Maybe it's sad that the greatest manifestoes have a low circulation and are difficult to preserve, but it's been that way for ages. As you say, be here now!

On Jun.17.2004 at 05:48 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Lorraine, all very good and valid points, and as a spur-ot-the-moment-self-proclaimed Master Blogger (being nefarious just for the sake of it) I would just like to say: give it time.

> I pledge allegiance to the blogs...for what they are, OK?

There is certainly a sense of skepticism and untrustfulness to the blog in that comment. It's not like I'm taking it personal or anything at all — and I am quick to admit that blogs will run out of steam in 2-3 years — but like any new medium of communication (in the case of graphic design you could use our own blip in the continuum as an example: Emigre) there is uncertainty about it. When I'm flithy rich with nothing to do, nothing is to stop me from creating a resourceful archive of the writing that took place in the glory years of Speak Up and organize it by author, topic, relevance, stupidity, et al.

Again, it's a matter of giving it time. It is way too early to determine if this will be helpful or not.

I can't speak for the rest of the world bloggers (which in some cases is some lonely twenty-something speaking to a crowd of none) but the "chatter" that takes place in blogs is important. Not more or less important than traditional publishing nor more or less relevant. Different important.

> I think it’s hilarious (in a bleak sort of way) that there are certain people so invested in the format of the blog, or maybe just the sound of their own voice on that particular day,

Again, skepticism. Yes, some people might like to strut and parade here, but I can safely say that is no more than 5% of the posters — if that even. I think people are invested because they care about what they do and 'round here we all care about what we do. Which happens to be the same thing for everybody.

This whole comment might seem defensive, but it's really not. I acknowledge, and grapple with, all the limitations and idiocies (such as anonymity) of the blog just like I akcnowledge the limitations and idiocies of traditional publishing. Those who are interested, intrigued and invested will be able to look past the petty concerns of the blog format and I'm certain that in ten years, if it is up to me (meaning if I'm still of sane mind), the relevant percentage of the Speak Up chatter is what will remain for future generations researching the words of Tom Gleason and Marian Bantjes.

> Blog is the new brand now, right?

Steve, you hit on a good point. Blogs are different from bulletin boards and forums because you can inject a lot of personality in them, thus creating a "light brand". Anybody can customize their blog to reflect their personality and that gives each blogger a sense of ownership and propriety that the old boards don't. That's why blogs are the latest fashionable item.

On Jun.18.2004 at 08:56 AM
Sebastian’s comment is:

[something we put together recently about the blogs and what they could be, a bit ranty, a bit unclear, but maybe interesting]

Feeling lucky ... searching for exactly what I can’t recall, perhaps, organ donors, translucent foliage, Arthur Doyle or maybe just plain old free sex, it doesn’t matter. What matters, in this case, is the blog. There it was. Curious. Somehow exotically revealing but bound within tightly defined parameters. Gloriously pugnacious yet at the same time, humble. Very human. And what was better? I was reading someone else’s diary ... mmm, it felt good.

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text by Constance F Iker & Aficionado

That guilty vouyeuristic pleasure placated. I was �in’. And from here there was no return, I needed more and intuition told me there was plenty, especially as I was looking at the �links’. One of those arcane net terms that somehow now had acquired legitimacy and with good reason, for this was the first �key’ if you will, to the blog. And like all good net phenomena, it was bound with a simplistic ease of systemic principles. Archives. Permalinks. Time stamps. Date Headers. And off down the proverbial rabbit hole I did hop … But what maybe got my attention more than anything were the blog titles.

I think it simply best to let all names speak for themselves. Suburban Blight. Jumping out of Windows in Expensive Clothes. Long Story; Short Pier. The Great Separation. God’s Ex-Boyfriend. Perverse Access Memory. How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons. Merde in France. You Live Your Life As If It’s Real. Two Tears in a Bucket … To any writer or discerning reader, this is but surely manna and my weary eyes did feast long into the light of dawn. You’re probably now thinking that I’m about to disappear within a torrent of slavishly curried fervour. Alas, I disappoint, for as soon as it had begun, the affair was but another fading memory. Perhaps, I have a short attention span or maybe it’s just wilful fickleness. But the allure of the voyeur had turned to the mundane. As if watching CCTV, the familiar hypnotic patterns soon emerged and I switched off. Or so I thought, for within weeks my self-imposed exile was revoked and I was back. Hungry for more but what? I wasn’t quite sure. The seating arrangements were still the same, only the dinner guests had changed. Teen bedroom terrors and belittling office angst. The vitriolic swirl of the political and the desire enflamed risqué. Sport fans jargon next to up and coming artist’s bios with free downloads. Yes, still there for all. No, something else had gotten hold of my senses and it refused to let go. Okay, I thought, an installation will suffice. Without further ado, an installation it was, or so I thought.

With the help of S and P, I went about the business of putting together the installation, which was to take place the following month in a project space in East London. The piece was a �multi-media mecca’ of sorts, dedicated to the world of blogging. Again, I was foolish enough to think that this was the end of my obsession (I don’t even own a blog for goodness sake!) and, you’re right, I was back to square one, only now, somewhat weary and with more questions … What makes blogging interesting? Is it just more over-zealous technocratic cheerleading when referred to as the �revolution in democratic publishing’? Are we really witness to the unleashing of the �public intellectual’, here to speak with us as we’ve never been spoken with before? Yes, it was time to get out of the house … only now I had been asked to write an article for this magazine upon the very subject that was driving me out of the house … I dialled S for help and we met at a nearby café.

Okay, so Belle du Jour (Diary of a Call-Girl) was all the rage, if only in terms of s/he’s identity. This formed a starting point for the discussion: the truth and falsehood inherent within all aspects of media, perhaps none more so than the online extension of our identities. Can we ever know who is behind these pages? Ergo, they are perhaps a cathartic confessional; liberating in the sense that our inner selves are there for all to chew upon, and yet the reader is always aware that they’re possibly being fooled. This seemed like a usable angle and branched into this article becoming the fictionalised last entry of a 40 year old hermaphrodite blogger in the year 2024, reflecting upon s/he’s experiences of blogging, replete with a brief world history; internet crash 2009, international blogging council 2014, etc … good for a book, but not enough. So, if not a fictionalised account, what then? A manifesto … Yes, that’s it! A Statement of Intent. A Media Carta. A constitution declaring the rights and privileges of all bloggers, whereby let it be known that one and all are free to carry forth with their … uh-huh? It was obviously time for a walk in the park …

Springtime, London, late afternoon and the all-knowing sun reigned supreme. S and myself agreed upon three �I’s’ - Inclusiveness, Immediacy and I. Three words at the heart of every blog. Inclusive because all and sundry can usually interact with the author. Immediate because it’s up-to-date and time dependent, rather like a diary. And I because three I’s sound better than two and Individual is much too formal. We had a mantra but we were still missing the crazy dance. Something else? We’ve had the book for 100s of years and newspapers and mail, all conjoined via a network of interdependent stimuli. A multitude of networks held together by the written word. We decided to hazard a guess; perhaps, blogging is the natural language of the network, the network that is the internet. From it’s earliest incarnations, through the user boom of the late twentieth century, the net has had many costume changes but quite possibly the blog is, like most good sci-fi movies always pertain, the one-size-fits-all-silver-jumpsuit-of-the-future; the natural expression of a mutually interdependent network. English cannot be the default language of the internet. No, the language of the net must be something different. Because writing on the net is a collective affair. Because no matter how seemingly singular, a text on the network can only ever be an addition, a reference, a comment which in turn will always be open to further commentary, reference and addition … The net needed a language that is at once vulnerable and yet highly articulate. Maybe, perhaps, who knows … the blog.

Where are we now? Well, that’s another story, but as for blogging, it continues to multiply on a daily basis throughout the net (the word �blog’ will get you 37,500,000 hits on a google search at the time of writing) So, if all the net-world is a stage, we now have a script, and everyone’s a player. Maybe next time you’re googling the net, try a search for �blog’ and who knows where you may end up. Anyway, I’m feeling lucky …

* * *

Constance F Iker is an artist & sometimes a writer.

He lives and works in London.





On Jun.18.2004 at 09:41 AM
Jerry’s comment is:

So I guess this thread is a metadiscourse.

What we need in graphic design is more metadiscourse.

Not that’s a smart idea.

On Jun.19.2004 at 07:30 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

What we need in post-post-meta graphic design are more crazy fonts!

On Jun.21.2004 at 09:21 PM