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Rick Poynor
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Archive: December 2010


Surrealism in the Pre-School Years

The season’s strangest gift book has to be Babylon: Surreal Babies, a set of postcards from the collection of the British art dealer James Birch. The poet Paul Eluard, like many of the Surrealists an avid collector of postcards, described these ephemeral visual greetings as a “Lilliputian hallucination of the world.” The phrase is especially apt here.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

W.G. Sebald: Writing with Pictures

W.G. Sebald’s fictions abound with photographs and other visual material. He drops these uncaptioned images into the text as a form of documentary “evidence,” convincing you that he really must have undertaken the walk or visited the building that his narrator describes. On a trip to the Czech Republic, I decided to find out how closely Sebald’s descriptions compare with reality.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (7)

Everything has Become Science Fiction

On the back of my office door I have a poster produced by product design students at the Royal College of Art in London for their degree show a couple of years ago. It consists of just two sentences: “Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the new century.”

READ MORE | COMMENTS (4)

Agency or Studio? The Dutch Design Dilemma

There was a time when Dutch graphic design led the world. It looked unequivocally Dutch because it came from a national modernist tradition of typography and montage to which it continually referred. Today, the country's graphic design is much less obviously Dutch. Instead, international conventions of advertising, marketing, branding, fashion and popular culture shape its graphic routines and styles of address. Designers offer the same rationales heard everywhere that a market-driven view of graphic design calls the shots.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (23)

The Impossibility of an Island

When we dream of escaping from frantic modern lives into another more perfect kind of existence, the image of an island often comes to mind, a refuge where time slows down, the living is easy and we can at last find inner peace. It’s a fantasy, practically a Jungian archetype now, endlessly reworked in movies, advertising and travel brochures.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (5)

On My Screen: Bill Morrison’s Decasia

I had never heard of Decasia when I chanced upon a copy of the DVD a few years ago among some carefully curated items for sale at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, Los Angeles. The title seemed to promise a fantasia of decay and the subtitle, “The State of Decay,” left no room for doubt. I knew this was going to be something special. And it was.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

Where Is Art Now?

Almost anyone who goes through a gallery door is likely to have heard about Duchamp and his urinal. The art world is less good at explaining how certain people get to be artists and decide what art is for the rest of us. It’s about power: whoever holds it gets to officiate and decide. Serious art criticism, like other kinds of criticism, might have given up on the idea of evaluation. But that doesn’t lessen the viewer’s desire to experience work that seems worthwhile or “good,” and this perception of quality in relation to a work’s properties and effects must originate somewhere.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (13)
Rick Poynor is a writer, critic, lecturer and curator, specialising in design, media, photography and visual culture. He founded Eye, co-founded Design Observer, and contributes columns to Eye and Print. His latest book is Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design.


Recent Book


Uncanny Surrealism and Graphic Design
Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design
Rick Poynor
Moravian Gallery, 2010
More books by Rick Poynor >>


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