REVIEW: MAGNITUDE ABSOLUTE: Thoughts on MAN-Size; the exhibition
DIGITAL PHOTO ESSAY
THE DESIGNER WITH A THOUSAND FACES
MAN-Size; the exhibition
by Harold Alegria Ortiz
"As one enters,
a position becomes situation, becomes subject, becomes playground, becomes
oneself. " Maurice Marleau-Ponty.
The projections that have occupied the rational subject since the Greeks, point in the direction of total abstraction, a quest for absolutism that has only recently abandoned its claims to an authoritative encapsulation of the noumenal into some equivalent magnitude signifying or encompassing infinity.
Be it through the
proportions of a mountain-mausoleum or the erection of a corporate cliff,
there has always been in the Building Arts an attempt to bleed human potentiality
beyond the boundaries of the bodily and project the will onto the larger
scale of numerical power. But No matter how clever the escape artist,
or how deep the probe sails emptiness; man's blue prints „his maps of
transcendence„ only materialize in sofar as the subject gears its self
within the machinery of progress. Having set foot on the techno-hierarchical
echelon of time, man scales up his built environment exponentially. The
technological adroitness this absolutism has produced, is more evident
when modernity and its progeny sign up to the exhilarating ride -In Roland
Barthes words to a: "prestigious freewheeling through nature" ethical
and environmental trespasses notwithstanding.
Man-Size is about the fluctuating magnitude of man's physical "built" space, and this space's potential of becoming the hyper dance floor with the bigger disco ball, where the radiance of reflextions becomes one with our pupils „ and the fantasmagoria of phenomena merges with the mind. In more mundane terms, Man Size presents a site for dealing with [archi]tectonics as Playground. A space to inhabit for a while where structures are built to scales that go up or down as lightweight pieces„ legos to ply or fit together not to measure one up or against. but then that's only an idea; and what the projection is, the built object denies. Man -Size represents a dialogue or rather an eulogy about the absence of reason-able spaces in the disproportionate erections the architectonic tradition has left us, its multiplicity of view points vanishing out of any humanist perspective and the frail human body enduring it all passively.
Archive has arrived in Toronto and the arts community seems to be enthusiastic about this eclectic, enervating digital art library. Unlike a more traditional gallery setting, Archive provides an outlet for artists to expose their work in a digital format to sale or rental to designers, film companies, corporate collections, and individual patrons. There are over 4000 works of art in the Archive library with additions continuing as awareness of Archive spreads. With so many artists represented in Archive, the variety of works is extensive. Monthly exhibits feature the works of established artists along side young artists, perhaps exhibiting for the first time. This is an immensely healthy aspect of these exhibitions.
Expression and intelligence
are well matched at Archive, not only by the artists who created the works
but also by Patricia Christie and Johnson Chou who are the partners behind
this enterprise. These are times in which diverse activities, media and
styles are central to the visual arts. New ways of exhibiting works of
art are part of this diversity. Group shows in rented warehouse space,
store fronts, restaurants and even on street corners are becoming more
reflective of the contemporary art scene. Certainly a concept such as
Archive is very timely and provides a new potentially important format
in the exhibiting of contemporary art.
For almost five hundred years typography was considered a learned trade whose arduous training and skills could be compared to that of the watchmaker and the goldsmith. Like no other technological achievement, typography advanced the project of the Enlightenment and its sequel of successes in all fields of human experience.
The end of the twentieth century has ushered in the era of digital information. Thanks to the personal computer, convenient storing and retrieving devices and -most influential of all- the world wide web, typography's very raison d'*tre is being reconsidered within the context of digital information and the new paradigms that cognitive tools present to the interpreting of the printed text.
Eurythmics and legibility are only two of the qualities at stake that since the advent of digital typography are being compromised for the sake of novelty and shock value. The former is a classically-inspired notion of proportion, one that was first applied in Architecture but then extended to the aesthetic of most design products. Originally typography sought the harmonic proportions characteristic of the shapes of Roman monumental carved letter forms whose design and spacing was customized to make them pleasing to the eye. As for legibility, one can only verify the bit-mapped characters of poor resolution fonts on the pages of Emigre to understand what this absence of eurythmia has produced. A total absence of clarity and grace, two formal attributes which would make the experience of reading a profitable, meaningful and intelligible one.
At the click of a button on our friendly electronic interface, ideas become information, become sensation, become saturation, become pass*. And with every click of the mouse or the keying of a new URL, the module of time and duration, Telos, the lapse between symbol and concept find each other in the mind, becomes a subliminal operation of reflexive recognition of self conscious typography. Reading becomes scanning; duration subservient to style.
Long before the most
venerable foundries such as monotype and bitstream, turned their specimes
digital, there were already signs of the impending extinction of stereotype
fonts and that even phototypesetting would not last a century. No one
anticipated the advent of a new information tool so advanced, and yet
so vernacular in matters of design, that would only allow you the option
between Courier and Times for everything. The prospect that the venerable
custodians of typography be heard are as slim as one's attempt to decipher
the digital grafitti on the hippest site of our electronic Babel.
Communication is not an idea subject to style but the marriage of content and form, message and type. How many would listen? Typography as a silent art has a long battle ahead to win back the anonymity and status its noble origins once bestowed upon her. Until then, the content of our messages will be as loud as it is illegible.
was written by Harold Alegria Ortiz - artist in residence at Year Zero