Friday, March 19, 2010

Milton Glaser, interview

Climbing up the stairs on the way to Mirko Ilić’s studio on 32nd street, I always pass next to Milton Glaser’s studio (same building, two floors between). From the curiosity I had to step in few times. Kind senior gentleman sits by his ancient petite drawing table surrounded by his collaborates, mostly young and attractive girls. Quite communicative and unpretentious.

Last year, I had chance to visit to events in his honor. SVA (School of Visual Arts) organised his retrospective (curated by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić) at Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea. Secondly, it was the opening of new SVA Theatre, Glaser did design for it and main part was Tatlin like rotating sculpture at the entrance. During the opening various people spoke, short movies (Avant-Garde between wars) that served as ideals for creation of sculpture were presented. At the end, Milton spoke referring to Leger’s film “Ballet Mécanique”. “I am glad that I have finally saw this movie and that I don’t have to see it ever again.”

Again I am in front of the building in 32nd street, by the entrance there is a sign “Art is Work” and this time studio at the first floor is main destination, not a pass by attraction.

How a process of drawing is thinking?
I tell this anecdote, I was sixteen or seventeen sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and looking at her, and deciding I would draw her portrait. I’ve never done that before. And with that decision the mind shifts because you become attentive to what’s in front of you. And I realized at that moment that I had no idea what she looked like, that her face became invisible. As you know, all familiar experiences become invisible. So, everything that happens in your life that you repeat frequently enough you are no longer conscious of. And I realized the shift that I made in the mind alone was that I restored my capacity to see what’s in front of me. Momentarily. Most of human experience is about becoming ultimately unconscious of what’s in front of you. The whole question of what is real emerges then as an idea. And how reality is defined by the experience of the human brain. We can say that nothing is out there except in fact what is processed by the brain and made understandable. So, there is this odd correlation between what I believe to be thought and drawing. Act of drawing is a device to promote attentiveness. Attentiveness is a device for human survival. Drawing is one of the instrumentalities of attentiveness. For me that has been its fundamental purpose. It is a way by which I can test my idea of reality and the existing condition of my mind in terms of what is real against paying attention to something and trying to see it as it is. As a result of that it is for me an extraordinarily important element not only in the education of an artist, but also for anybody who is interested in the question of reality. You can say nothing exists until is processed by the brain, by expectation, by experience, by delusion... Abstraction assumes that there is something to abstract from. So that’s a starting point of physical reality in any case. Abstraction without reference is meaningless.

What about the relation between what you see and what you draw?
Any drawing is an abstraction to begin with. What you are talking about is likeness. What is it that creates likeness. How can we recognize a person from series of marks on a piece of paper. That is almost a miracle. The idea where you can represent a three dimensional object by series of lines on a sheet of paper is almost beyond understanding. It makes you realize that the capacity of the brain, even the most rudimentary brain, is totally miraculous. This whole question of relationship between a representation of something and the actual thing is one of most complex and interesting subjects for anybody concerned with the visual or philosophy or religion or metaphysics.

Your definition of art?
Draftsman is an idea to exclude the idea of art out of the process. What is art and what is not art. Paintings could be not art, and drawings could be not art. The question is when do we decide if the work is art. What is distinction between what is art and what is not art. For me the distinction is when the work makes you attentive, it is art. When it doesn’t make you attentive, it is not art. That simplifies the problem enormously for me. It means that all the work that I created inadvertently without the intention of being art, such as a drawing of a chair for carpenter to make it, can in fact be art if they are done in a certain way. They produce the effect of arousing attentiveness. I was looking for this definition since I was a child. That has finally clarified this distinction of what falls into category of art and those things that are outside of that category. For the first time it makes a very simple definition. If we can agree what attentiveness is.

Can we?
Awareness of what is real. Or an attempt of becoming aware of what is real.

You don’t paint and a lot of your work is done on paper. It’s a very unstable medium.
Why did you choose it?
That’s an interesting question because my life was always been towards fugitive materials. Although, I am not sure that pen and ink, printmaking, watercolors, pencil drawing, are entirely fugitive. We still have pencil drawings from the Renaissance. The characteristics that they all share in terms of my own sensibility is that by and large they are not opaque. This is a much of a question of a physical preference, like why do you like silk shirts as opposed to cotton ones. You don’t exactly know why. I don’t know why. I never felt an affinity for tempera paint or for oil paint as a medium. And I think it has to do with opacity. What I always liked is transparency of materials where you can overlay and erase. And I always liked working with cheap materials. For good part of my life I used newsprint paper, a lot of which totally has disintegrated and disappeared, because I was never liked the idea of spoiling a piece of $10 watercolor paper. And I think early in life there was a big fact, you know, growing up as a student during the depression where money was really important. The idea of taking a 6 or 7 dollar piece of paper and ruining was incomprehensible. So, the secret way to get around it is to use materials that if you spoil them there was no financial consequence. And than I’ve got used to the surface quality of newsprint and I found out that I could do my best work on it, because it was so fugitive.

How someone develops drawing as a communication skill?
You start basically by learning to communicate to yourself. By saying “I see this object, and this mark I made is a good representation of that object. But I’d like to make it stronger...” The initial conversation is personal one. With the self. It has some references to the use of spoken language. How do you learn to talk. First you make sounds and you are delighted by the sounds, and the knowledge that you made those sounds. Then you discover that those sounds can affect others, and then you try to refine them so others can receive what you are trying to convey etc.

Do you do a lot of sketches?
I do when I’m drawing from observation. When I’m trying to solve a problem for a specific purpose, like a book jacket or an illustration or a design for a table, I do sketches. I work at both extremes. I will spend weeks doing studies on a single thing and I will do something within moments of getting an assignment and finish it. It depends very much on the context of the work.

Difference in approach if there is any when you work for a supermarket or a stage play?
My approach is always the same and that is to let my unconscious mind, which is smarter than I am, make the associations and link the imagery. But that is the same if it is a package of soup or if it is an illustration. Everything is connected, and what you need is, and you get that through experience, the sense of appropriateness. It’s like making a sandwich for lunch or preparing a meal for your guests.

There is a lot of variations of your I
NY. Do you remember some of them that you particularly like or dislike?
They have collected around 5000 variations of INY that was kept in the closet of the Department of Commerce. They finally decided that there were too many to track, so they threw them all out. There have been so many variations that it has become generic. It is very odd that this one thing, this very simplistic idea turned out to be the thing the world have been waiting for. At that moment. And continually. It has not stopped. It is totally weird. It must have been something people were looking for. I like the one I put in my book “Graphic Design”, "Irhinoceroses", from Africa. There are hundreds of them that are stupid and hundreds of them that are clever.

Your relationship with New York?
You love it and you hate it. It’s like a relationship you have with your parents. You love them, you hate them, they are part of your structure. You would not be what you are. I said this and I think it’s true: New York is not a place it is a projection screen. It is so complex that it encompasses everything. The worst and the best. The worst people, the best people, the cleverest, the stupidest... The most pleasant and the least pleasant experience... It is truly the most complex system that you could imagine or create. In fact you could not imagine or create it, it has to be an evolutionary process. So when people talk about New York, it’s a place that doesn’t exist except in their mind. Anything you want. We can go back to our subject, the nature of reality. What is real?

If I am not mistaken you don’t like the notion of style?
You know what I detest? Stupidity. Things are explained stupidly and superficially. People elevate something like a momentary style into truth. Wake up, I mean, find out what happened before.

Let’s go back to the issue of what is art (and what is not), and what is design. Your book “Drawing is Thinking” seems to deal with this question?
That’s one of those distinctions that people get confused about. I don’t know if any of those drawings individually are art or not. But by my own definition of the experience of looking at the book is involved with the idea of memory and the relationship of imagery over period of time. That’s what this book is about. There is a relationship, because there always is, between everything on every page. And when you turn the page, there is a relationship between what is past and what is coming. Everything in the book is linked, let me show you... My assumptions about the nature of relationships. There are two drawings of musicians here, the relationship is that they are both black musicians, but this yellow (pointing at the yellow field on one page) is cast from this page (pointing at the yellow background on the opposing page). The relationship between these two is that if you look at this as a sort of light, this figure is illuminated by that light. So yellow moves from here to here. There is no reason for you to understand that intellectually, but experientially you might have. If you’re looking through the book, you could infer that there was something about these two pages, because I have made you attentive to the fact that yellow exists and that it moves from one surface to another. That idea of attentiveness is what I am trying to do in this book. So what I am not interested in is that if the individual drawings are art, but whether the experience of looking at the book is an artistic experience. Because the experience of looking at it has made you attentive. But again, my definition of art is to provoke attentiveness. If it has, by my definition, it is art. What is the distinction between design and art? If design makes you attentive it’s art, if art does not make you attentive, it’s not art. You have to look at it case by case. There is no general description whether design is art or not. We know that, experientially, when you look at the design by Leonardo you say “Hey, that’s art”. Even though what it was, was a drawing of a cannon. Something about the drawing has convinced you to pay attention.

Printed magazines are dying out. Do you see any perspective for that form of communication and information?
I don’t know what’s going to happen. As an economic form they may be dying out, but as an artistic form and a medium that communicates other kinds of ideas, it still has some merit. I think there always will be printed material, probably in smaller amount, for the joy of experiencing a real object and tactility of it. What bothers me more than that is the whole issue of a virtual life. Of a life that you basically experience only on screen. Instead of articulating your sense of what is real you diminish it. Increasingly. So at a certain point you stop having any connection with reality. How that translates into political manifestations or a sense of community? Those are the questions that are toughest. Whether a magazine exists or not is basically irrelevant. But whether your consciousness is so transformed that people become less aware of each other and of the deepest parts of human experience. Then I’m worried. The question is virtuality moves in that direction.

You go against the stream in a very constructive and positive way.
Any current or the prevailing way of thinking always has to be wrong. Which is to say that at a certain point everything that is believed becomes a limitation. You can say that a belief is a closure of the mind. Anything ardently believed is the closure of the mind. So then it’s always useful to disagree with everything. I think you always have to disagree with yourself, with your own convictions. Anything held too tightly becomes suffocated.

If you disagree with yourself all the time, you will not make anything.
On the contrary, you will make something else. You leave your history behind. You keep pursuing other things than what you already know. You already know, you already believe? Give it up! Incidentally it is not easy to do, and not everybody is capable of doing it, and not everybody wants to do it, but as an objective it is highly desirable.

You are inclined towards leftist ideas?
Yeah. But what do we mean by the liberal thought? What do we mean by the distinction between right and left? The right is always firm in their convictions. The left, ultimately, the real left is uncertain. And that is why the right is often more powerful because they have this unassailable belief that they are right. The best characteristic of the left is that it questions its own motivation. Not always, not the hard left. The hard left becomes very much like the right.

I caught a glimpse of movie “Gandhi” this morning and, take it as you like, for some reason it reminded me of you. You have very calm, persistent and peaceful approach towards activist issues. Don’t you think people are estranged from this idea?
I think you discovered those things, that violence begets violence, anger begets anger. If you are married long enough you know that if you yell at your wife it will have tragic consequences. You yell, she yells... To get what you want you have to be persuasive and consider the other. Unless you’re at war. When you are decent and polite, potentially the other will be decent and polite to you.

Are they?
Most of the time, yes. There are a lot of jerks in the world, and you encounter people who are stupid all the time that you are trying to overcome, but then you realize that they cannot be overcome... certainly not violently and certainly not by aggression. People you cannot convert, you have to accept them as a fact. And not attempt to do it through violence.

But it is so tempting.
It is. I cannot control myself sometimes. You get in rage, but you know that the consequences are not going to be the ones you want. And sometimes you have to express that anger. There is evil in the world. And there are times when you basically cannot be pacific about it. You have to kill the enemy when it is life threatening. But that is not an operating principle of the civilization. It happens and I’m always sad when it happens.

There is a quote by Tony Kushner from the foreword of the book “The Design of Dissent” that I really like: “Art can’t change anything except people - but art changes people, and people can make everything change.”
I absolutely agree with that and I believe that’s true. There is this human urge to make things. That represents us best, the urge to make things, and it is also an activity that binds people in a sense of commonality. All people who make things, whether you write music or bake bread, have something in common. That commonality is the great possibility of human experience. Because we have plenty of differences of every kind. But the desire to make things needs to be so fundamental to the human experience. That is why people who make things tend to be on the left and more liberal and more concerned. They are bound in this thing that is deeply satisfying and important. Why is it that the artist always strike first, protest first. Because they know that this common consciousness of joy and importance of making things binds them together. It is something that goes beyond skin color and nationality, origin and money. Good idea is to have everyone in the world make something before they do anything else.

Do you remember Mirko Ilic’s first arrival to New York?
Mirko is enormously energetic man. You see his energy and vitality. He showed me what he did and I thought “This guy is very talented.” And I offered him a place to sit in the office the first time I met him, because I knew he didn’t have a place to sit. We’ve grown to be friends.

Another New York based designer, Stefan Sagmeister, said that being famous designer is like being famous plumber. How do you deal with fame?
I think designers who have become famous, by and large have pursued their fame. It’s nice to have it. But anybody whose name you know has done something to make sure that their name was known. Part of that is just a professional requirement, because in this field in order to get some significant work to do you have to have public visibility. The question is more than anything else not whether you are pursuing fame or not, but whether the pursuit of fame is the central act of your life or whether it’s really a byproduct of trying to do good and significant work. And you can see a lot of designers who care more about whether they are famous than whether their work is significant. But the world we live in, commercial world, capitalist world, pays people in accordance to their fame and enables them to survive because of the fame. You have to pay some attention to that. You cannot pretend that it is of no consequence.

You, very obviously, do not believe in retirement?
If I believed in it I wouldn’t have been here today. The great gift that I’ve been given is the fact that I am still able to do my work and that I come to work every day. And I have wonderful time with people here. And I look forward to the idea that I maybe able to do something today that I didn’t know about yesterday. And that, although I’m not a religious man, that is a blessing.

Recipe for vitality?
I don’t know. Beats the hell out of me. It may be genetic, but... I think mind must remain engaged. One other thing is that you can keep on working if you keep on working. I remember a man who opened a new restaurant. And he said “You know, we’ll have more business if we have more business.” What he was saying was, it sounds absurd, when people see a restaurant that’s full they want to go to it. Activity itself breeds activity. Moving the mind makes the mind more capable of moving. These are simplistic ideas, but they have to be true.

Finally we come to the issue of happiness.
There was a funny article in The New York Times about scientific research of happiness. Why people are happy? Is it genetic, is it money, is it related to ethnicity...? In the end the conclusion was if your life turned out to be better that you thought it was, you’re happy. If your life turned out worse than you thought that is going to be, you’re unhappy. That was the sum of all the knowledge after all this scientific investigation. (laughs) You are asking me about the greatest mysteries of human existence.

Well, I’ve come to speak with the old and wise man on the mountain.
That’s... me? (laughs)

text: Aleksandar Maćašev
photos: Milton Glaser's archive
Published in KVART magazine, no.16
, March 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Milton Glaser, intervju

Penjući se stepenicama ka studiju Mirka Ilića u 32. ulici, uvek prođem i pored studija Miltona Glejzera (ista zgrada, dva sprata razlike). Iz radoznalosti sam morao da svratim nekoliko puta. Gostoprimljivi stariji gospodin sedi za svojim prastarim, malim, crtaćim stolom, okružen saradnicima, uglavnom mladim i lepim devojkama. Prilično dostupan i nepretenciozan. Prošle godine sam imao prilike da posetim i dva događaja u njegovu čast. SVA (School of Visual Arts) je organizovao njegovu retrospektivu (kuratori: Stiven Heler (Steven Heller) i Mirko Ilić) u Starrett-Lehigh zgradi u Čelsiju. Drugi put je bilo u pitanju otvaranje novog SVA teatra, za koji je Glejzer radio dizajn, a čiji je glavni deo tatljinovska rotirajuća skulptura na ulazu. Prilikom otvaranja teatra izređali su se razni govornici, a pušteni su i kratki filmovi (međuratna avangarda) koji su bili uzor za kreiranje skulpture. Poslednji je dobio reč i sam Glejzer, koji je svoj govor započeo referirajući na Ležeov (Léger) film Ballet Mécanique: „Drago mi je da sam konačno video ovaj film i da više nikada neću morati da ga gledam.“

Opet sam ispred zgrade u 32. ulici na čijem ulazu piše Art is Work, i ovog puta je studio na prvom spratu glavna destinacija, a ne usputna atrakcija.

Kako je proces crtanja povezan sa mišljenjem?
Ispričaću vam ovu anegdotu. Bilo mi je šesnaest ili sedamnaest godina, sedeo sam za kuhinjskim stolom sa majkom i gledao je kada sam odlučio da nacrtam njen portret. Nikada je ranije nisam crtao. I tom odlukom um se pokreće jer postajete usredsređeni na ono što je ispred vas. Ali u tom trenutku shvatam da nisam imao pojma kako ona izgleda i da njeno lice postaje nevidljivo. Kao što znate, sva poznata iskustva postaju nevidljiva. Tako, vi niste više svesni svega onoga što se događa u vašem životu i onoga što dovoljno često ponavljate. I shvatio sam da je pomak u samom umu povratio moju sposobnost da vidim ono što je ispred mene. Istog trenutka. Kod velikog dela ljudskog iskustva se radi o potpunom odsustvu svesti o onome što je ispred nas. Celokupno pitanje o tome šta je stvarno izranja onda kao ideja. I kako se stvarnost definiše iskustvom ljudskog mozga. Možemo da kažemo da tamo nema ništa osim onoga što mozak procesuira i čini ga razumljivim. Dakle, postoji ta čudna korelacija između onoga što verujem da je misao i crteža. Čin crtanja je sredstvo da se promoviše pažnja. Pažnja je sredstvo za ljudski opstanak. Crtež je jedan od instrumenata pažnje. Za mene to je njegova osnovna namera. To je način pomoću koga mogu da proveravam moje poimanje stvarnosti i postojećeg stanja svog uma, što se tiče onoga što je stvarno nasuprot obraćanja pažnje na nešto i pokušaja da se sagleda onakvim kakvo jeste. Kao rezultat toga, to je za mene jedan izuzetno važan element, ne samo u obrazovanju umetnika već za svakoga koga zanima pitanje realnosti. Možemo da kažemo da ne postoji ništa dok mozak to ne obradi, očekivanjem, iskustvom, i obmanom... Apstrakcija podrazumeva da postoji nešto iz čega se apstrahuje. Tako, to je početna tačka za fizičku realnost u svakom slučaju. Apstrakcija bez određenog odnosa je besmislena.

A šta je sa odnosom između onoga što vidite i onoga što crtate?
Svaki crtež je apstrakcija za početak. Ono o čemu vi govorite je dopadanje. Šta je to što dovodi do dopadanja? Kako možemo da prepoznamo osobu u mnoštvu znakova na parčetu papira? To je skoro čudo. Ideja kada možete da predstavite trodimenzionalni predmet nizom linija na listu papira je skoro nezamisliva. To vas navodi da shvatite da su mogućnosti mozga, čak i rudimentarnog mozga, apsolutno začuđujuće. Pitanje odnosa između prikazivanja nečega i stvarnog predmeta je jedno od najsloženijh i najzanimljivijih tema za svakoga ko se bavi vizuelnim, ili filosofijom, religijom ili metafizikom.

Vaša definicija umetnosti?
Crtač je ideja da se isključi ideja umetnosti iz tog procesa. Šta je umetnost, a šta nije. Slike bi mogle da ne budu umetnost, kao i crteži. Pitanje je kada mi odlučujemo da li je delo umetničko. Koja je razlika između onoga što je umetnost, a šta nije. Umetnost je za mene kada vam delo privlači pažnju. Kada vam ne privlači pažnju, to nije umetnost. To mi u velikoj meri pojednostavlja problem. To znači da sva dela koja sam stvorio nehotice, bez namere da to bude umetnost, kao crtež stolice za stolara da je napravi, mogu, u stvari, biti umetnost ukoliko su stvarani na određeni način. Ona dovode do efekta buđenja pažnje. Tragao sam za ovom definicijom od kako sam bio dete. To je konačno pojasnilo distikciju onoga što spada u kategoriju umetnosti i onih stvari koje su van te kategorije. Prvi put dolazi se do veoma jednostavne definicije. Ako se možemo saglasiti oko toga šta je to pažnja.

Možemo li?
Svest o tome što je stvarno. Ili pokušaj da se bude svestan onog što je stvarno.

Vi ne slikate, a većina vaših dela je rađena na papiru. To je nepostojan medij. Zašto ste ga izabrali?
To je zanimljivo pitanje, jer je moj život uvek bio okrenut nepostojanim materijalima. Mada nisam siguran da su pero i tuš, grafika, akvarel, crteži u olovci u potpunosti nepostojani. Još uvek imamo crteže u olovci iz Renesanse. Osobine koje su im zajedničke, a odgovaraju mom senzibilitetu je što uglavnom nisu neprovidne. Ovo je uglavnom pitanje fizičke dopadljivosti, kao zašto vam se više dopadaju svilene košulje od pamučnih. Vi, u stvari, ne znate zašto. Ja ne znam zašto. Nikad nisam imao afinitet prema slikanju temperama ili uljanim bojama kao medijumu. A mislim da se tu radi o prozirnosti. Ono što mi se uvek dopadalo, to je transparentnost materijala kod kojih možete da nanosite slojeve i brišete. I uvek sam voleo da radim sa jeftinim materijalima. U svom životu dosta sam koristio novinsku hartiju, od koje se veći deo raspao ili nestao, jer mi se nikada nije dopadala ideja da uništim akvarelni papir od 10$. A mislim da je u mladosti značajno uticalo, znate, odrastanje kao studenta u vreme krize, kada je novac zaista bio važan. Ideja da se uzme papir od 6 ili 7$ i uništi, bila je nezamisliva. Tako, tajni način da se to prevaziđe je da se koriste materijali koje i ako uništite, nema finansiskih posledica. I onda sam se navikao na kvalitet novinske štampe, tako sam shvatio da mogu da najbolje radim na njoj jer je nepostojana.

Kako se crtež razvija kao komunikacijska veština?
Osnovno je da počnete da komunicirate sa samim sobom. Govoreći ” Vidim ovaj predmet i ovo što sam uradio je dobro prezentovalo predmet. Ali bih želeo da ga učinim snažnijim…” Početni razgovor je lične prirode. Sa samim sobom. On se odnosi na korišćenje govornog jezika. Kako učimo da govorimo. Prvo proizvodimo zvuke i oduševljeni smo njima, a i samim saznanjem da smo proizveli te zvuke. Onda otkrijete da ti zvuci mogu da utiču na druge, pa onda pokušavate da ih oplemenite tako da drugi mogu da shvate ono što pokušavate da izrazite itd.

Da li pravite mnogo skica?
Da, kada posmatram i crtam. Kada pokušavam da rešim problem za određenu namenu, kao korice za knjigu ili ilustraciju ili dizajn za sto, tada pravim skice. Radim do krajnosti. Provešću nedelje da uradim studiju jedne jedine stvari, nešto ću završiti onog trenutka kada dobijem zadatak. U mnogome zavisi od konteksta onog na čemu radim.

Koja je razlika u pristupu, ako je ima, kada radite za samoposlugu ili pozorišni komad?
Moj pristup je uvek isti, a to je da dozvolim da nesvesni deo moga uma, koji je pametniji od mene, stvara asocijacije i povezuje sliku. Ali to je isto i ako se radi o ambalaži, ili ukoliko je to ilustracija. Sve je povezano, a ono što vam je potrebno, a to dobijate putem iskustva, je smisao za prikladnost. To je kao da praviš sendvič ili pripremaš obrok za goste.

Ima puno varijanti I❤NY. Da li sećate nekih od njih koje vam se posebno dopadaju ili ne dopadaju?
Sakupljeno je oko 5000 varijanti INY, što se čuva u ormanima Ministarstva trgovine. Konačno su shvatili da ih ima previše da ih popisuju, pa su ih sve izbacili. Postoji toliko mnogo varijanti da je to postalo generisano. Veoma je čudno da se ispostavilo da ceo svet čeka baš ovu stvar, tu veoma pojednostavljenu ideju. U ovom trenutku. I neprestano. To ne prestaje. To je zaista neobično. Mora da je to bilo nešto što su ljudi tražili. Sviđa mi se onaj koji sam stavio u moju knjigu “Grafički dizajn”, "Ja nosoroge" iz Afrike. Ima ih na stotine koji su glupi i stotine njih koji su pametno osmišljeni.

Kakav je vaš odnos prema Njujorku?
Volite ga ili mrzite. To je kao odnos koji imate sa roditeljima. Volite ih, mrzite ih. Oni su deo vaše strukture. Ne biste bili to što jeste. Izgovaram to i mislim da je to istina: Njujork nije mesto, on je projekciono platno. Toliko je komleksan da obuhvata sve. Najgore i najbolje. Najgore ljude, najbolje ljude, najpametnije, najgluplje… Najprijatnija i najneprijatnija iskustva… To je zaista najsloženiji sistem koji se može zamisliti ili stvoriti. U stvari, ne biste mogli da ga zamislite ili stvorite, to mora da bude jedan evolucioni proces. Tako, kada ljudi pričaju o Njujorku, to je mesto koje ne postoji, izuzev u njihovoj svesti. Sve što poželite. Možemo da se vratimo na našu temu, prirodu realnosti. Šta je stvarno?

Ukoliko ne grešim, vi ne volite pojam stil?
Znate li šta ja mrzim? Glupost. Stvari se objašnjavaju glupavo i izveštačeno. Ljudi pretvaraju nešto što je trenutni stil u istinu. Probudite se, pomislim, otkrijte šta je bilo pre. Hajde da se vratimo na pitanje šta je umetnost (a šta nije), a šta je dizajn.

Čini se da se Vaša knjiga “Crtanje je mišljanje” bavi ovim pitanjem?
To je jedna od distinkcija koja zbunjuje ljude. Ne znam da li bilo koji od tih crteža pripada umetnosti ili ne. Ali moja vlastita definicija iskustva gledajući u knjigu, uključuju ideju sećanja i odnosa slike u određenom vremenskom periodu. O tome je ova knjiga. Postoji odnos, jer je on uvek prisutan, između svega što je na svakoj strani. A kada okrećete strane, postoji odnos između onog što je prošlo i onoga što sledi. Sve je u knjizi povezano, dozvolite da vam pokažem… Moje pretpostavke o prirodi odnosa. Ovde su dva crteža muzičara, odnos je da su obojica crni muzičari, ali ova žuta (pokazuje na žuto polje na jednoj strani) je obojena sa ove strane (pokazuje na žutu pozadinu suprotne strane). Odnos između ove dve je takav, da ako gledate na ovo kao neku vrstu svetlosti, ova figura je osvetljena tom svetlošću. Tako se žuta kreće odavde dovde. Nema razloga da vi to razumete pomoću intelekta, ali po iskustvu mogli ste. Ako pregledate knjigu, mogli biste zaključiti da postoji nešto oko ove dve stranice, zato što sam vam skrenuo pažnju na činjenicu da postoji žuta i da se kreće sa jedne na drugu površinu. Ta ideja pažnje je ono što ja pokušavam da uradim u ovoj knjizi. Tako, ono što mene zanima je to, ako su individualni crteži umetnost, da li je iskustvo gledanja knjige umetničko iskustvo. Zato što je gledanje knjige privuklo vašu pažnju. Pa opet, moja definicija umetnosti je da se provocira pažnja. Ako jeste, po mojoj definiciji, to je umetnost. Koja je razlika između dizajna i umetnosti? Ako vam dizajn privuče pažnju, to je umetnost, ako vam ne privuče pažnju, to nije umetnost. To morate da posmatrate od slučaja do slučaja. Ne postoji opšta definicija, da li je dizajn umetnost ili nije. To znamo, iz iskustva, kada gledamo Leonardov dizajn kažemo „E, to je umetnost“. Čak, iako je to bio crtež topa. Nešto na tom crtežu vas je navelo da obratite pažnju.

Štampani časopisi nestaju. Da li vidite neku perspektivu za taj oblik komunikacije i informacije?
Ne znam šta će se dogoditi. Sa ekonomskog aspekta možda nestaju, ali kao umetnički oblik i medij koji komunicira druge vrste ideje, još uvek imaju zaslugu. Mislim da će uvek biti štampanog materijala, verovatno u manjem obimu, zbog radosti da iskusimo pravu stvar i njenu opipljivost. Ono što me više brine od toga, je celokupno pitanje virtuelnog života. Život koji uglavnom doživljavate samo na ekranu. Umesto da artikulišete vaš smisao o onome šta je stvarno, vi ga umanjujete. Sve više i više. Tako, u određenom trenutku gubite svaku vezu sa realnošću. Kako se to prenosi na političke manifestacije ili osećaj za zajednicu? To su najteža pitanja. Da li magazin postoji ili ne, suštinski je nevažno. Ali, da li je vaša svest toliko transformisana da ljudi postaju manje obzirni jedni prema drugima i najznačajnim delovima ljudskog iskustva. Tada sam zabrinut. Pitanje je da li virtualnost vodi u tom pravcu.

Vi se suprostavljate tom pravcu na veoma konstruktivan i pozitivan način.

Svaka aktuelna ili dominantna misao mora uvek da bude pogrešna. Što će reći, da u određenom trenutku sve što se verovalo postaje limitirano. Može se reći da verovanje koči um. Tako je onda uvek korisno biti protiv svega. Mislim, da uvek morate da se ne saglasite sa samim sobom, sa vašim vlastitim ubeđenjima. Sve ono što se drži stegnuto, počinje da se guši.

Ako ste u stalnom nesaglasju sa samim sobom, nećete ništa uraditi.
Naprotiv, uradićete nešto drugo. Zanemarite svoju istoriju. Neprestano težite ka drugim stvarima od onih koje su vam već poznate. Ono što već znate u to verujete? Prekinite s tim! To nije lako postići odmah, i nije svako sposoban da to učini, a ne želi svako to da uradi, ali kao cilj je krajnje poželjno.

Okrenuti ste levičarskim idejama?
Da. Ali šta podrazumevamo pod liberalnom mišlju? Šta podrazumevamo pod razlikom između desnice i levice? Desnica je uvek čvrsta u svojim ubeđenjima. Levica, na kraju krajeva, prava levica je nesigurna. I zato je desnica često moćnija jer oni poseduju to nepobitno verovanje da su u pravu. Najbolja osobina levice je u tome što ona preispituje svoju vlastitu motivaciju. Ne uvek, ne tvrda levica. Tvrda levica postaje veoma slična desnici.

Bacio sam pogled na film “Gandi” jutros, i shvatite kako želite, iz nekog razloga podsetio me je na Vas. Vi imate veoma staložen, dosledan i miran pristup prema pitanjima aktivista. Zar ne mislite da je ljudima ova ideja postala strana?
Mislim da ste shvatili te stvari, da nasilje budi nasilje, ljutnja dovodi do ljutnje. Ako ste dovoljno dugo u braku, znate da ako vičete na svoju ženu, to će dovesti do tragičnih posledica. Vi vičete, ona viče… Da dobijete ono što želite, morate biti ubedljivi i misliti na druge. Ukoliko niste u ratu. Kada ste pristojni i učtivi, verovatno će i drugi biti pristojni i učtivi prema vama.

Jesu li?
Uglavnom, jesu. Ima mnogo budala na svetu, i srećete ljude koji su glupi sve vreme tako da pokušavate da to nadjačate, ali onda shvatite da ne možete da ih nadjačate… Sigurno ne nasilno i svakako ne agresivno. Ljude koje ne možete da promenite, morate da prihvatite kao činjenicu. I da ne pokušavate da to činite nasiljem.

Ali to je tako izazovno.
Jeste. Ponekad ne mogu da se kontrolišem. Razbesnite se, ali znate da će doći do posledica koje niste želeli. A ponekada morate da izrazite ljutnju. Postoji zlo na svetu. I dođe vreme kada stvarno ne možete da budete miroljubivi zbog nečega. Morate da ubijete neprijatelja kada vam je život u pitanju. Ali, to nije operativni princip civilizacije. To se desi i uvek sam tužan kada se to dogodi.

Postoji citat Tonija Kušnera u predgovoru knjige “The Design of Dissent” koji mi se dopada “Umetnost ne može da promeni ništa osim ljudi – ali umetnost menja ljude, a ljudi mogu da učine da se promeni sve”.
U potpunosti se slažem sa tim i verujem da je to istina. Postoji taj ljudski podsticaj da se stvara, a to je takođe aktivnost koja vezuje ljude smislom zajedništva. Svi ljudi koji stvaraju, bilo da komponuju muziku ili prave hleb, imaju nešto zajedničko. To zajedništvo je veliki potencijal ljudskog iskustva. Zato što postoji mnogo razlika svake vrste. Ali želja da se nešto napravi trebalo bi da bude fundamentalna ljudskom iskustvu. Zbog toga ljudi koji nešto stvaraju inkliniraju levici, liberalniji su i posvećeniji. Oni su udubljeni u ovu stvar, što je veoma ubedljivo i značajno. Zašto je to uvek tako da umetnik štrajkuje prvi, protestuje prvi. Zato što oni znaju da ih ova opšta svest radosti i važnost stvaranja vezuje. To je nešto što je izvan boje kože i narodnosti, porekla i novca. Dobra ideja je da svako na svetu stvori nešto, pre nego što učini bilo šta drugo.

Da li se sećate kada je Mirko Ilić prvi put došao u Njujork?
Mirko je izuzetno energičan čovek. Njegova energija i vitalnost se vide. Pokazao mi je šta radi i ja sam pomislio “Ovaj čovek je veoma talentovan”. I ponudio sam mu mesto u kancelariji čim sam ga upoznao, jer sam znao da nema gde da sedi. Postali smo prijatelji.

Drugi dizajner iz Njujorka, Stefan Sagmaister, rekao je da je biti poznati dizajner isto što i biti poznati vodoinstalater. Kako se nosite sa slavom?
Mislim da su dizajneri koji su postali slavni, uglavnom težili ka slavi. Lepo je biti slavan. Ali svako čije ime znate, učinio je nešto da bi njegovo ime bilo poznato. Deo toga je samo potreba profesije, jer u ovom domenu da bi se dobio neki značajan posao da se uradi, morate biti prisutni u javnosti. Pre svega, ne postavlja se pitanje da li težite slavi, nego da li je težnja ka slavi okosnica vašeg života ili je nusproizvod pokušavanja da se uradi dobar i značajan posao. A upoznaćete mnoge dizajnere kojima je više stalo da budu slavni, nego da li je njihov rad značajan. Ali svet u kome živimo, komercijalan svet, kapitalistički svet, plaća ljude u skladu sa njihovom slavom i omogućava im da prežive zbog slave. Morate obratiti pažnju na to. Ne možete da se pretvarate da to nije posledično.

Vi, sasvim očigledno, ne verujete u odlazak u penziju?
Kada bih verovao u to, ne bih bio ovde danas. Veliki dar, koji mi je dat, je činjenica da sam još uvek u stanju da obavljam svoj posao i da dolazim na posao svakog dana. A ovde mi je lepo sa ljudima. I čini me srećnim pomisao da ću možda danas moći da uradim nešto o čemu nisam znao juče. A to je, mada ja nisam religiozan čovek, blagoslov.

Recept za vitalnost?
Ne znam. Da me ubiješ. Možda je genetika, ali mislim da mozak mora da ostane aktivan. Druga stvar je da možeš da nastaviš sa radom ako nastaviš da radiš. Sećam se čoveka koji je otvorio restoran. I rekao je “Znate, imaćemo više posla, ako imamo više posla.” Ono što je hteo da kaže, zvuči apsurdno, ali kada ljudi vide da je restoran pun, žele da idu u njega. Aktivnost sama po sebi razvija aktivnost. Pokretanje uma čini da um postaje sposobniji da se pokrene. Ovo su pojednostavljene ideje, ali moraju biti istinite.

Konačno smo stigli do pitanja sreće.
Bio je jedan smešan članak u Njujork Tajmsu o naučnom istraživanju o sreći. Zašto su ljudi srećni? Da li je to genetski, je li to novac, ili je to povezano sa etnicitetom…? Na kraju, zaključak je bio da ukoliko se ispostavi da vam je život bolji nego što ste zamišljali da će biti, vi ste srećni. Ako se ispostavi da vam je život gori nego što ste mislili da će biti, vi ste nesrećni. Tako su sumirali svo znanje posle tih naučnih istraživanja. (smeje se) Pitate me o najvećim misterijama ljudske egzistencije.

Pa, došao sam da razgovaram da starim i mudrim čovekom na planini.
To sam...ja? (smeje se)

tekst: Aleksandar Maćašev
prevod na srpski: Jana Nikolić
fotografije: arhiva Miltona Glasera
objavljeno u magazinu KVART, br. 16
, mart 2010.

Steven Heller, interview

Steven Heller spent 33 years working as an Art Director of The New York Times and more than two decades as a contributing editor of The Print, Baseline, Eye and ID magazine. He is now an editor of AIGA Voice: Online Journal of Design. As an author, co-author and editor he published more than a hundred books on graphic design and popular culture. With his wife, a well-known designer Louise Fili he wrote about twenty books for Chronicle Books publishing house. He teaches History of Design at The School of Visual Arts in New York. He is the author of numerous influential exhibitions and has won a number of prestigious awards: AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement, Herschel Levitt Award, Richard Gangel Award, Art Directors Club Hall of Fame etc. He is one of the leading authorities in the field of critical thinking in graphic design.

What’s the impact of graphic design (compared to TV appearances, rallies and spoken word) in U.S. political campaigns?
With the notable exception of the Obama campaign for the presidency, I’d say it was pretty insignificant. And in the aftermath of the election and the current economic crises, it doesn’t mean much more than a form of branding in the big scheme of things.

How much do they tip the scales? I’m thinking about the latest U.S. presidential election and visual representations of both parties compared to the history of US political campaign imagery.

I am honestly not certain how it tipped scales. BUT I am totally convinced that the graphic output in favor of Obama and the identity that stemmed from the Obama camp had a positive effect. It made constituents proud to be part of the grassroots effort to elect the first black president. Sender’s logo and Shepard Fairey’s poster for Barack Obama (Fairey’s poster was not an official part of the campaign, if I’m not mistaken) are visual staples of his campaign that transcended US borders, and became contemporary symbols of hope and change.

How much did the actual images contribute?
Sender’s logo was official. It was commissioned by the campaign. Fairey’s poster was not, but ultimately was embraced by the campaign. Yes, they were symbols of hope. But the entire campaign was a manifestation of hope.

Would you mind giving a comment on the Fairey “controversy” (using AP photo, tampering with evidence...)? Seems to me like it casts some bad light on this image of hope and change. Usual designers clumsiness or something else?
I know that Mirko feels otherwise, but I am not too exorcized about the Fairey controversy. I think his biggest error was lying. But legally he came clean before it was too late (for him). Overall, I think the poster was a great piece of visual propaganda. It lionized the lion. That there was so much buzz helped. That there was so many parodies, only goes to show how important images can be. I still love some of the parodies more than the original. But without the original, there’d be not parodies. Should he have used the photo? Well, I’m of two minds. He altered it plenty and that’s the nature of art. And certainly the nature of street art. I believe the image doesn’t belong to Manny Garcia or Fairey. It belongs to Obama. It's his face and if anyone should be upset by its usage, it is he. But he wasn’t. Although in a later iteration I understand the campaign asked Fairey to give him more of a smile.

I have read some analyses of Fairey’s appropriation method that implied he randomly used politically charged images stripped of their context to create consumer goods (and earned big bucks for it). Would you agree that capitalism swallows former revolutionary images, such as Fairey’s images, and spits them out as sterile products of mass consumption? (Some political images such as Soviet posters or Che Guevara have already lost their power, but some of them are still pretty potent.)
Yes, of course, everything that has some popular culture value will be co-opted and Che is the prime example. And then there’s the peace symbol. Then, wait, Jesus Christ is the prime example. Look how many iterations there are of him. But fame has its downside. A face or symbol, unless protected by draconian law, is free to be done with as any artist or marketeer will. Jospeh Goebbels understood that, so he enacted the law for the protection of national symbols. I think most things on the planet can benefit by being neutralized through commerce. Although I will bite my tongue now. I don’t think the swastika or the holocaust should be so trivialized. Sometimes the appropriation is obvious, but very often the audience is not aware of what it is buying or looking at.

Is there a proper way to use such a method?
Time has a way of making cultures forget. The peace symbol is also a sign of death. Who knew? It was embraced by the young and repurposed. Appropriation without contextualization can be stupid, but I don’t think there is a proper method. I think that everything rises to its acceptable or unacceptable level. Designers’ responsibility is a widely discussed topic from a variety of angles (how you can change the world, can/must you affect social issues, educating the audience, what does it all mean in the corporate world...).

To what extent is that taught in schools, if at all?
It is addressed in more schools than ever before. I think global warming, sustainability, greening are all buzzwords, but the efforts behind them are integral to design and the future of all. I have a program starting this summer called “Impact: Design for Social Change” at SVA that will be a six week course in social entrepreneurism and culminate with students doing something worthy for New York City.

I find Cameron’s movie “Avatar” to be very flat both politically and visually, for a movie made for viewing in 3D. The most annoying aspects for me are a very sketchy fictional world and a celebration of sheer production excess. However, it seems to have found an audience, and in fact it turns out to be one of the highest grossing movies ever. Do you see a problem there? (Reading your blog I realized that you are not fond of the movie either.)
Right. I am not fond of it. Boring in many creative ways. Fascinating in others. But like all film in times of stress, it seems to take the mind off real problems. I guess that’s good. But this is the year for all these apocalyptic films. I used to love them when I was a kid, because we were told things like that couldn’t happen. Ha Ha Ha! Now they can. And thanks to CGI and other technologies we really can see them happening in real time.

Do you think having so many capabilities, options and shortcuts in the digital world makes designers lazy? (I’m actually targeting the difference between some very fine examples of “analog” movie effects/design and digital mannerism).
Lazy is not the word I’d use. I think the more options means the more need to come up to speed. I think certain things are perhaps easier to do in film. But technology has always made some things easier and others harder. Lazy is not an issue. Ignorance may be more of a concern. With so much media we become stupider about the world, not smarter.

Laetitia Wolff told me once that while working on the Massin book she found out that his unusual visual language for that time period was heavily influenced by a Dada exhibition held in France at the time. Recently we were able to see the biggest Bauhaus exhibition in MoMA since 1938. Do you expect that exhibition had some influence on the design scene?
Actually no. I don’t know how many people saw the exhibit. But the days when a great historical retrospective sweep was that influential is over - I think. That could be wrong, given the context. But the Bauhaus will continual to be the spiritual god of modernism, but it will be kept in perspective.

Briefly, do you find (graphic design) images to be a symptom or a cause nowadays? And to what extent one or the other?

I’m not sure what you mean. Graphic design is but another form of communication along with video, painting, sculpture, video games, etc. etc. It is, I guess, a reflection and a motivator of culture. Its all things depending on who is making it and what’s being made.

text: Aleksandar Maćašev
photos: Steven Heller's archive
Published in KVART magazine, no.16
, March 2010.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Steven Heller, intervju

Stiven Heler (Steven Heller) proveo je 33 godine radeći kao art direktor New York Timesa, a preko dve decenije kao gostujući urednik magazina Print, Baseline, Eye i I.D. Trenutno je urednik Aiga Voice: Online Journal of Design. Kao autor, koautor ili urednik izdao je više od sto knjiga o grafičkom dizajnu i popularnoj kulturi. Od toga je sa svojom suprugom i poznatom dizajnerkom Luizom Fili (Louise Fili) napisao oko dvadesetak knjiga za Chronicle Books. Predaje istoriju dizajna na School of Visual Arts u Njujorku. Autor je brojnih uticajnih izložbi i dobitnik prestižnih nagrada AIGA medal for Lifetime Achievement, Herschel Levitt Award, Richard Gangel Award, Art Directors Club Hall of Fame… Jedan je od vodećih autoriteta u oblasti kritičke misli o grafičkom dizajnu.

Koliki udeo u američkim političkim kampanjama ima grafički dizajn, a koliki TV nastupi, govori i skupovi pristalica?
Uz izuzetak Obamine predsedničke kampanje, rekao bih da je uticaj grafičkog dizajna zanemarljiv. U svetlu predsedničkih izbora i trenutne ekonomske krize, a postavljeno u širi kontekst, sve to ne znači mnogo više od običnog brendiranja.

Kad smo već kod poslednjih predsedničkih izbora, koliko kreirane slike mogu da budu odlučujući faktor u izboru jednog ili drugog kandidata?
Da budem iskren, ne znam šta je tačno prevagnulo u Obaminom slučaju, ali sam ubeđen da su grafička rešenja i grafički identitet koji je stvorio Obamin tabor imali snažan pozitivan efekat. Kod birača je probuđen osećaj ponosa što su deo jedne lokalne i spontane inicijative da se izabere prvi crni predsednik. Senderov logo (Sol Sender) i poster Šeparda Fejrija (Shepard Fairey), koji nije bio zvaničan deo kampanje, glavni su vizuelni nosači Obamine kampanje. Prevazišli su granice SAD i postali savremeni simboli nade i promene.

Koliko su sama grafička rešenja doprinela tome?
Senderov logo je zvaničan logo, naručio ga je Obamin izborni štab, dok Fejrijev poster nije naručen, ali je prihvaćen kao deo kampanje. Oba rešenja su simboli nade, a čitava kampanja i jeste bila jedno veliko slavljenje nade.

Možete li da prokomentarišete kontroverzu vezanu za Fejrija, koji je koristio fotografiju Associated Pressa bez dozvole, a posle i lažirao dokaze u sudskom procesu?
Znam da Mirko Ilić misli drugačije, ali ja nisam toliko potresen čitavom kontroverzom. Mislim da mu je najveća greška bila što je lagao. Pravno gledajući, priznao je sve pre nego što je bilo prekasno. U svakom slučaju, mislim da je poster odlično delo vizuelne propagande. Veličao je veličinu, a i sveukupni duh kampanje mu je pomogao. Činjenica da se pojavilo toliko parodija tog postera samo dokazuje koliko slike mogu biti moćne. Ja i dalje više volim neke parodije nego originale, ali bez originala ne bi bilo ni parodije. Da li je trebalo da upotrebi fotografiju u dizajnu postera? U vezi s tim sam prilično ambivalentan. Izmenio ju je dovoljno, i to je negde priroda umetnosti, posebno ulične. Verujem da slika ne pripada ni Meniju Garsiji (Mannie Garcia) ni Fejriju. Ona pripada Obami. U pitanju je njegovo lice i, ako neko treba da se uznemiri, to je onda on. A on se nije uznemirio. Ipak, iz Obaminog izbornog štaba su kasnije tražili da mu se doda osmeh na posteru.

Našao sam jednu analizu na internetu o metodu aproprijacije Šeparda Fejrija, prema kojoj ispada da je on nasumično preuzimao jake političke postere, izvlačio ih iz konteksta, od njih pravio potrošačku robu i na tome zaradio dobre pare. Slažete li se da kapitalizam ume da proguta nekadašnje revolucionarne slike i ispljune ih nazad kao sterilne proizvode masovne potrošnje? (Neke političke slike kao što su sovjetski posteri ili slika Če Gevare odavno su izgubile moć, ali neke su i dalje prilično jake.)
Da, naravno da se slažem. Sve što ima neki pop kulturni potencijal biće upotrebljeno, i Če je najbolji primer. A onda imamo i znak peace. U stvari, Isus Hristos je najbolji primer. Gledaj samo koliko varijacija ima na tu temu. Ali slava tog tipa ima i drugu stranu. Ukoliko lice ili simbol nisu zaštićeni vrlo čvrstim zakonom, dizajneri i trgovci mogu slobodno da ih upotrebe. Znaš i sam da je Gebels (Joseph Goebbels) to najbolje shvatio kada je uveo zakon o zaštiti nacionalnih simbola. Mislim da većina stvari na ovoj planeti može da profitira od toga što je neutralizovana komercijalizacijom. Dobro, ugrišću se malo za jezik. Ne mislim da bi kukasti krst ili holokaust trebalo da budu trivijalizovani.

Nekada je aproprijacija očigledna, ali vrlo često publika ne zna šta zapravo gleda ili kupuje. Ima li pravilnog načina upotrebe takvog metoda?
Vreme čini svoje i kulture su sklone zaboravljanju. Peace je i simbol smrti, a mladi su ga prihvatili. Ko bi to znao?! Prisvajanje bez konteksta može biti prilično glupo, ali ne mislim da postoji neki tačan recept. Mislim da sve mora da prođe test. Ili će biti prihvatljivo ili neće. O odgovornosti dizajnera naširoko se diskutuje − koliko dizajner menja svet, može li i mora li da se bavi socijalnim pitanjima, šta to sve znači u korporativnom svetu, pa pitanje edukacije publike...

Do koje se mere to uči u školi, ako se uopšte uči?
Uči se u školama više nego ikad. Mislim da su globalno zagrevanje, održivost, ozelenjavanje samo fraze, ali trud koji stoji iza njih je neodvojivi deo dizajnerske prakse i utiče na budućnost svih nas. Ovog leta počinjem sa školskim programom Uticaj: Dizajn za društvene promene u SVA (School of Visual Arts). U pitanju je šestonedeljni program o društvenom preduzetništvu, a rezultat će biti da studenti urade nešto vredno za Nјujork.

Nalazim da je Kameronov (James Cameron) film Avatar snimljen za gledanje u 3D, jedan od najdvodimenzionalnijih filmova, i politički i vizuelno. Pada mi u oči nedorađen fiktivni svet i slavljenje čiste preproduciranosti. Ipak, našao je svoju publiku i ispostavlja se da je to film sa najvećom zaradom u istoriji. Vidite li problem ovde?
Da, u pravu si. Nisam ljubitelj tog filma. Ako procenjujemo kreativnost, dosadan je, a fascinantan je iz potpuno drugog ugla. Kao i svaki film nastao u stresna vremena, i ovaj je napravljen da skrene pažnju sa problema. Pretpostavljam da je to dobro. Ovo je godina za razne apokaliptične filmove. Jako sam ih voleo kad sam bio mali jer su pričali priču koja je teško ostvarljiva. Ha-ha-ha! E sad može. I zahvaljujući kompjuterskim efektima i ostaloj tehnologiji, danas i vidimo da se dešavaju u stvarnom vremenu.

Mislite li da tolike opcije i prečice u digitalnom svetu čine dizajnere lenjima?
Lenjost nije baš reč koju bih upotrebio. Što više opcija imate, to više morate da se prilagodite sve većoj brzini. U filmskoj industriji se određene stvari verovatno lakše prave. Tehnologija je uvek neke stvari činila lakšima, a neke težima. Lenjost nije problem. Neznanje jeste. U tako bogatom medijskom okruženju postajemo sve gluplji, ne pametniji.

Leticija Vulf (Laetitia Wolff), bivša urednica magazina Graphis, jednom mi je rekla kako je, dok je radila na knjizi o francuskom dizajneru Masenu (Robert Massin), otkrila da je njegov vizuelni jezik, tako neuobičajen za to vreme, bio pod uticajem tadašnje izložbe dadaizma u Francuskoj. Nedavno smo imali prilike da u muzeju MoMA vidimo jednu od najvećih izložbi Bauhausa od 1938. Očekujete li da će izložba uticati na dizajnersku scenu?
Mislim da neće. Ne znam koliko je tačno ljudi videlo tu izložbu, ali prošlo je vreme kad su velike istorijske retrospektive pomerale stvari. Možda i grešim uzimajući u obzir nekakav širi kontekst. Ipak, Bauhaus će nastaviti da bude duhovno božanstvo modernizma, uz činjenicu da je sad deo jednog raznolikog kulturnog predela.

Ukratko, mislite li da su danas slike iz domena grafičkog dizajna više simptom nego uzrok i u kojoj meri su jedno, a u kojoj drugo?
Grafički dizajn je još jedna forma komunikacije uz video, slikarstvo, skulpturu, video-igre itd. Slike su, pretpostavljam, odraz i motivator kulture. Uvek zavisi od toga ko ih pravi i čemu su namenjene.

tekst: Aleksandar Maćašev
prevod na srpski: Jana Nikolić
fotografije: arhiva Stevena Hellera
objavljeno u magazinu KVART, br. 16
, mart 2010.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mirko Ilić, interview

“Art can ’t change anything except
people – but art changes people,
and people can make everything

Tony Kushner, from the preface of the book
“The Design of Dissent”

You have come back from Qatar recently. What did you do there?

About three or four years ago I was a lecturer in Germany, in Bremen. There was a group of professors from Beirut who, besides all, were fascinated by my opinion about American government at that time. One of the professors, Diane Mikhael, graduated from the University of Qatar, invited me to have a lecture. Muneera Spence, another professor saw the exhibition “The Design of Dissent’ in Boston, so they got interested in getting the works exhibited in Qatar. When the exhibition was arranged, I was invited to give a lecture on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition. I showed a new film about Milton Glaser. Milton could not come, but the film is really excellent because it speaks about designer’s responsibility to his milieu.

What was the lecture on?
Basically, it was based on responsibility of a designer. Most of the lecture was about the fact that designers are necessary for selling goods. If you want to sell something, you need a designer. That is why designers are loved either by corporations or politicians. Design is propaganda. Yet, it is very rare that some alternative group or some pro bono organization can afford good designers with high fees, because they do not have money for that. A designer, as a citizen of this society, with such a powerful tool in his hands must be obliged to the society. From time to time he has to do something that is not solely for money, but for the benefit for all.

Is there design rebellion in Qatar?
No, there isn’t. Not because it is a new and extremely rich country where everything is good for Qatar people. Maybe, it is not good for all those who work for them. There are four non-Qatar employees in local population. I do not know if they need a rebellion. It seems to me that it is crucially important for such a rich country to understand that there are people whose lives are not as good as theirs, and that they are not so rich, as well. In their own country or abroad. They should be helped. If you possess something, it does not mean that you should keep it all for yourself. The fact that they write about it in Qatar newspapers makes me think that they have understood the message. It is valuable if someone comes to that exhibition and finds it important. A slight change in consciousness is already success. We are designers, not doctors who seek a cure for cancer. Thus, some dramatically significant results are not expected.

Islam is a state religion in Qatar. What is the current attitude to figural representation in their design and art?
Their art is rather abstract. Even posters are more abstract, while advertising presents people. It is somehow similar to Japan which is evidently not Islamic country. Japanese posters began with abstract forms and calligraphy, but 50% of the posters in Japan is still the same. Both cultures have very picturesque calligraphy that is an image itself, so by adding an image we would get an image overdose.

You had workshops, didn’t you? What are the students like?
They are extremely educated. They have cutting edge technology and everything else is the best. Besides that, they really travel a lot. You cannot tell the difference except in the way they dress, while there is no difference if you are at the lecture here or there. In fact there are differences. Their classrooms are cleaner than in New York. There are more pattern designs and typography than somewhere else. But even that does not make them unique because that can be seen everywhere nowadays. Look at the contemporary English or Dutch design. Even their magazine is called The Wallpaper.

It sounds to me like a rather convenient atmosphere for any kind of rebellion?
Depends on how you feel. If you are feminine who is either bothered to be in black or not? I was joking with them and divided them into penguins and ninjas.

Posters presenting conflicts between Palestine and Israel were exhibited. What were reactions?
It is interesting that some pro-Palestine posters were done by Israeli designers. I showed them that on my first lecture a year ago, which was a slight shock. However, the world is not black and white. It is easy to protect what is ours. Here we are speaking about the Israeli who stood to the Palestinians, who do posters and question their own government. Are you aware what you are doing? Do you think it is right what you are doing? I highly respect those who do such things at their own risk. The audience made normal comment on posters.

Two opposing sides are needed for a conflict and both of them think they are right. Who to fight for?
Dissent is, if we stick to its precise meaning, against abortion in America. Abortion is legal, official position. If you think that it is that, you as a designer have a right and obligation to work in that direction. “ Do” would be a dissent of the right wing. The fact that the left wing has better designers than the right is another story. I am not telling anyone - this is that and this is not. You yourself feel or see that someone does something, and that is wrong. You must raise your voice. Either a mouse or a pen. Does that imply choosing or taking a very clear position? m_i > Probably the easiest way to choose is that what is closest to your heart. On the other hand, it is nice to choose something that is not in connection with you, but you agree with it. It is important for me to work for a gay community, although I am not a gay. If I were a gay, everyone would say - “Naturally, he works for “his””. As no one expects that you are an animal if you do a campaign against brutality on animals. No one considers you to be a pedophile if you work for institutions who deal with small children. Anyhow, it is important to support such matters.

What are you working on now?
I am preparing an honorary charter for Jewish Film Festival in Zagreb, the prize that is given to those who helped Jewish people during the World War II. There is an interesting coincidence because I am connected with the winner. Some time ago a story about the destiny of two families from Sarajevo was published in The New Yorker, one being Muslim and the other Jewish, during the World War II. Dervish Korkut, curator of the Zemaljski Museum in Sarajevo, rescued a priceless copy of the family prayer, Haggadic from the Nazi, and a young Jewish Mira Papo, too. An exceptionally moving story from various reasons presents former Yugoslavia universally. I initiated publishing of that story in the Croatian newspaper The Nacional. I found the widow Korkut in Sarajevo thanks to Bojan Hadzihalilovic .On my suggestion she will be given the charter that I am designing. Design itself is just a very tiny part there.

A country can only keep on father then when it faces its own consciousness. I see the book “Srebrenica” on your shelf.
Yes, that is a monograph by Tarik Samarah. Half of the book contains the text (turns the pages). And it lasts and lasts and lasts. Those are the names of the killed (7109 people). Photographer Tarik accompanied the UN when they were doing exhumation. During the exhumation someone left a killed doll. Probably he took it from his daughter and cut its face and throat. How dark a mind can be to cut down a doll? At the moment it is not important for me whether that darkness has been organized or spontaneous. Look, here is Tarik`s photo, and my name below it. I took a photo of him. I wanted my surname ending with ic to appear here. That is because the world is not black and white. Certainly there are Muslim surnames with ic, but mine is what they would say in Serbia Serbian surname. Unfortunately, it is the only surname of such an origin that appears among the people who worked on that book.

How do you find the process of facing in Serbia?
I cannot advise the Serbs what to do. I am going to read to you what I read once on Serbian TV. “Long lasting slavery and bad management can confuse and deform comprehension of the nation to such an extent that common sense and the right judgment become weaker and get completely distorted. Such distracted nation cannot only make difference between good and evil, but even between their own benefit from damage.” Ivo Andrić

I do not see any graphic design works on the theme of Srebrenica. Why?
Unfortunately, there are not many, particularly not from the Serbian side. It seems to me that artists, in general, have withdrawn a little, not only designers. No one has even tried to create Guernica on the occasion of the terrorist attack of September 11th. Name one painting or sculpture that represents it? There is not. Why? I do not know. There are posters and design, but fine art is not touched by it. Goya and Picasso do not exist anymore. Maybe, it is because it is not sold well at the Sotheby. Instead of art, there are blogs and spreading of information and ideas via Internet. A little bit of graphic design, and that is it. If people, who are successful in that what they do, are not engaged, then even new generations who have them as idols, will not equally be engaged.

Socially engaged works usually contain shocking and provocative images. Aren’t people getting immune on them?
There are basic symbols recognizable by everyone. Everyone will react on blood. That is in human nature. How to make something new out of three well-known elements? How to refold them to make them interesting? There is a bit of Haiku in it. It certainly depends on who you are addressing and what you are talking about. The bigger group you cover the more distinct you have to be and use more clichés. Apart from that, one should have a full understanding of the vocabulary he is using and what kind of a context it is. One has to know what hurts or offends someone in order to help him. It is quite common for designers from the Eastern Europe to use vulgar sexuality which is often considered artless in the West. Simply, you have to know a lot about the matter you are working on. The best solution is permanent education and development of your own sensitivity.

Why are you doing socially engaged projects?
Once I was asked why I had done a poster for Darfur. The poster done in England after the First World War instantly came to my mind. “What were you doing during the war Dad?” When will anyone ask you: “What about you?”

text and photos: Aleksandar Maćašev
English translation: Jana Nikolić
Published in KVART magazine, no.16
, March 2010.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mirko Ilić, intervju

“Umetnost ne može da promeni
ništa osim ljudi – ali umetnost menja
ljude , a ljudi mogu da učine da
se promeni sve.”
Toni Kušner, iz predgovora knjige “The Design of Dissent”

Nedavno si se vratio iz Katara. Šta si radio tamo?

Prije tri-četiri godine sam predavao u Njemačkoj, u Bremenu. Tamo je bila grupa profesora i studenata iz Bejruta kojima se svidjelo moje predavanje i moj odnos prema tadašnjoj američkoj vlasti. Jedna od profesorica, Dajan Mikael (Diane Mikhael), postala je profesorica na VCU Qatar (Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar) i pozvala me je da održim predavanje. Munera Spens (Muneera Spence), druga profesorica, vidjela je izložbu „The Design of Dissent“ u Bostonu, pa su bili zainteresirani da se izložba prenese u Katar. Pozvan sam da održim predavanje prilikom otvaranja izložbe. Pustio sam i novi film o Miltonu Glejzeru, pošto Milton nije mogao doći, a film je zaista izvrstan − Milton priča o odgovornosti dizajnera prema svojoj sredini.

O čemu si govorio na predavanju?
Prije svega o odgovornosti dizajnera. Predavanje je bilo o tome da su dizajneri neophodni u prodaji stvari. Da bi bilo što prodao, trebaš dizajnera. Zato dizajnere vole i korporacije i političari. Dizajn je propaganda. No vrlo rijetko si dobrog/skupog dizajnera može priuštiti nekakva alternativna grupa ili nekakva pro bono organizacija, jer nemaju novca za to. Dizajner kao građanin ovog društva, sa tako jakim oruđem u rukama, mora imati obaveze prema tom društvu. Mora raditi i nešto što nije neminovno za novac, ali za dobrobit svih.

Ima li dizajna pobune u Kataru?
Ne, zato što je to jako mlada i jako bogata zemlja, i svim Katranima je dobro. Možda gastarbajterima nije dobro. Na svakog Katranina dolazi četiri ne-Katranina koji tamo rade. Da li njima treba pobuna, ne znam. Meni se čini da je vrlo važno za tako bogatu zemlju da shvati da postoje ljudi kojima nije tako dobro, koji nisu tako bogati. I u zemlji i van zemlje. I njima treba pomoći. To što ti imaš ne znači da moraš sve zadržati. Samim tim što katarske novine pišu o izložbi, mislim da su razumeli poruku. I samim tim što neko uđe na tu izložbu i misli da je važna. Mala promjena u svijesti već je veliki uspijeh. Mi se bavimo dizajnom, nismo naučnici koji traže lek protiv raka i ne očekuješ nekakve dramatične rezultate. Mali pomaci su ono što treba izuzetno da te veseli.

Islam je državna religija u Kataru. Kakav je trenutni odnos prema figuralnoj predstavi u njihovom dizajnu i artu?
Njihov art jeste više apstraktan. I posteri jesu više apstraktni, ali advertajzing prikazuje ljude. Vrlo je to negde slično Japanu, koji očito nije islamska zemlja. Japanski posteri su počeli s apstraktnim oblicima/kaligrafijom, ali 50 odsto postera u Japanu i dalje je takvo. Obe kulture imaju veoma slikovito pismo koje je slika već samo po sebi i dodatkom slike bi dobili image overdose.

U Kataru si pre godinu dana držao i radionice. Kakvi su studenti?
Izuzetno obrazovani. Tehnologija im je vrhunska, imaju idealne uslove i jako puno putuju. Ne možeš primetiti razliku, osim u načinu oblačenja, i nema razlike kada sediš na klasi kod njih ili ovde. Zapravo ima. Učionice su im puno čistije nego u Njujorku. U dizajnu ima malo više pattern dezena nego negde drugdje, ali ni po tome više nisu jedinstveni, toga sad ima svuda. Vidi samo suvremeni engleski ili holandski dizajn. Čak im se i magazin zove Wallpaper.

Zvuči mi kao prilično udobna atmosfera za bilo kakvu pobunu?
Zavisi kako se osijećaš. Da li si ženska osoba koja, na primjer, želi da bude u crnom ili ne?

Na izložbi su postavljeni i plakati koji tretiraju konflikt između Palestine i Izraela. Kakve su reakcije?
Zanimljivo je to što su neke od propalestinskih plakata na izložbi napravili izraelski dizajneri. Ja sam im to pokazao na svom prvom predavanju pre godinu dana, što je malo bilo šokantno. Međutim, svijet nije crno-bijeli. Lako je slagati se sa svojima. Ovde govorimo o Izraelcima koji su stali na stranu Palestinaca. Koji rade plakate i preispituju svoju vlastitu vlast. Da li vi znate što radite? Da li mislite da je u redu to što radite? Skidam kapu svima koji se usude raditi takve stvari izlažući sebe riziku.

U konfliktima uvek ima najmanje dve suprotstavljene strane i obe misle da su u pravu. Za koga se boriti?
Dissent je, ako se držimo preciznog značenja reči, u Americi biti protiv prava na abortus. Abortus je legalna, zvanična pozicija. Ako si protiv abortusa, ti kao dizajner imaš prava raditi nešto u tom smijeru. To bi bio dissent desnice. To što ljevica ima bolje dizajnere nego desnica, to je sad druga priča. Ne govorim ja nikome šta je dobro, a šta zlo. Kad osijetiš da netko radi nešto što nije ispravno, moraš podignuti svoj glas. Ili miša, ili pero.

To podrazumeva biranje i zauzimanje vrlo jasne pozicije?
Verovatno je najlakše reagirati na ono što ti je najbliže srcu. S druge strane, ljepo je reagirati na nešto što nije vezano za tebe, ali se s tim slažeš. Meni je vrlo važno raditi za gej zajednicu iako nisam gej. Da sam gej, svi bi rekli pa naravno, radi za svoje. Ovako moraju misliti šta mi je motiv i to usporediti sa sopstvenim osijećanjima prema istoj stvari. To je opet taj mali, ali važan pomak. Niko ne misli da ste životinja ako radite kampanju za protiv brutalnog ponašanja prema životinjama. Niko ne misli da ste pedofil ako radite za institucije koje se bave malom decom.

Šta trenutno radiš?
Evo baš dizajniram medalju za Jewish Film Festival u Zagrebu, priznanje koje se dodeljuje za pomaganje jevrejskom narodu u Drugom svjetskom ratu. Pre izvjesnog vrijemena sam pročitao u The New Yorkeru priču o sudbinama dve sarajevske porodice, jednoj muslimanskoj i jednoj židovskoj, za vrijeme Drugog svjetskog rata. Derviš Korkut, kustos Zemaljskog muzeja u Sarajevu, spasao je pred nacistima neprocenjivi primjerak porodičnog jevrejskog molitvenika, Haggadu, kao i mladu židovku Miru Papo. Izuzetno potresna priča iz raznih razloga i oslikava čitavu povijest nekadašnjih Jugoslavija u malom. Priča je na moju inicijativu objavljena u hrvatskom listu Nacional. Stupio sam u kontakt sa Servet Korkut, udovicom pokojnog Derviša, a preko dizajnera Bojana Hadžihalilovića u Sarajevu. Na moj prijedlog se njoj sada dodeljuje medalja koju ja dizajniram. Sam dizajn je tu jedan jako mali dio.

Zemlja može da krene dalje tek kada se suoči sa sopstvenom savešću. Vidim na tvojoj polici knjigu Srebrenica.
Da, to je fotografska monografija Tarika Samaraha. Veći dio knjige su samo imena. (lista knjigu), i to traje i traje i traje. To su imena svih ubijenih ljudi − 7.109 ljudi. Fotograf Tarik je bio sa UN kada su išli otkopavati prve masovne grobnice. Noć prije otkopavanja je tamo neko preko noći ostavio zaklanu lutku. Verovatno ju je uzeo od svoje kćerke i prerezao joj lice i grlo. Kakav mrak može biti u nečijoj glavi da zakolje lutku? Evo, vidi, ovdje je fotografija Tarikova. Ja sam ga fotografirao. Htio sam da se moje ime na ić pojavi tu. Zato što svijet, opet velim, nije crno-bijeli. Ima, naravno, i muslimanskih prezimena na ić, ali moje je onako, kako bi to u Srbiji nazvali, srpsko ime. Ja sam želio da se jedno takvo ime pojavi među ljudima koji su radili na ovoj knjizi.

Kako vidiš proces suočavanja u Srbiji?
Što će Srbi raditi, to ja Srbima ne želim savjetovati. To Srbi moraju sami. Pročitaću im samo jedan citat: Dugotrajno robovanje i rđava uprava mogu toliko zbuniti i unakaziti shvatanje jednog naroda da zdrav razum i prav sud njemu otančaju i oslabe, da se potpuno izvitopere. Takav poremećen narod ne može više da razlikuje ne samo dobro od zla nego i svoju sopstvenu korist od očigledne štete, Ivo Andrić.

Ne vidim grafičke radove na temu Srebrenice. Zašto?
Nema ih, nažalost. Naročito ne sa srpske strane. Općenito, čini mi se da su se umjetnici i dizajneri malo povukli. Nitko nije ni probao napraviti Gerniku povodom napada 11. septembra. Kaži mi jedno slikarsko ili kiparsko dijelo koje se time bavi? Nema ih. Zašto? Ne znam. Ima tu plakata i dizajna, ali fine art to više ne dodiruje. Nema više Goje (Goye) i Pikasa (Picassa). Možda zato što se ne prodaje dobro u Sothebyu. Umjesto umjetnosti, tu su sad blogovi i širenje informacija i ideja preko interneta. Nešto malo grafičkog dizajna, i to je to. Ako se ljudi koji su uspješni u tome što rade ne angažuju, onda se i nove generacije, kojima su ovi uzor, isto tako neće angažovati.

U angažovanim radovima često se koriste šokantne i provokativne slike. Ne postaju li ljudi imuni na njih?
Postoje osnovni simboli koji su svima prepoznatljivi. Na krv će svi uvek reagirati. To je u ljudskoj prirodi. Kako od tri poznata elementa napraviti nešto novo? Kako ih presložiti, a da budu zanimljivi? Ima tu malo haikua. Zavisi, naravno, kome i šta govoriš. Što veću grupu pokrivaš, to moraš biti jasniji i upotrebiti više klišea. Pored toga, treba jako dobro razumjeti riječnik kojim se koristiš i u kakvom kontekstu. Moraš znati šta koga pogađa i vrijeđa da bi nekome uopšte pomogao. Dizajnerima iz Istočne Evrope je sasvim normalno upotrebiti vulgarnu seksualnost, koja je na Zapadu često neukusna. Naprosto moraš znati puno o temi kojom se baviš, i najbolji način je stalno obrazovanje i razvijanje sopstvene senzibilnosti.

Zašto radiš angažovane stvari?
Pitali su me jednom zašto sam radio poster za Darfur. Odmah mi je pao na pamet poster koji su radili u Engleskoj poslije Prvog svjetskog rata. „Šta si radio u ratu tata?“ Kad-tad će te neko pitati: „A što si ti radio?“

tekst i fotografije: Aleksandar Maćašev
objavljeno u magazinu KVART, br. 16
, mart 2010.