Computer Arts - - Design Inspiration -

Hope­fully I’m go­ing to dis­ap­point some peo­ple. I usu­ally do. Icons? #wtf? De­fine icons. Full stop. What­ever they are or might be, or what­ever we think they are or want them to be, icons are good ideas stripped of their lust for life and turned to (head) stones. Be care­ful: what you see is what you wished for, drained of the po­ten­tial to be­come some­thing else. I’m not in the mood for rank­ing full stops. I like the lands at the top of my Far­away Tree to shift, to evolve and to move on.

I’m more in­ter­ested in the space ‘icons’ oc­cupy

– phys­i­cally, ab­stractly, am­bi­ently. I’m more in­clined to feast on how we can read the neg­a­tive space they in­ter­rupt

– seen or un­seen – and the ques­tions they ask like, ‘Why do we feel we even need icons to swing from any­way?’

Don’t get me wrong, I fuck­ing love mak­ing lo­gos and all that shit, me. Give me an hour or a flight read­ing be­tween the lines of a book of flags, or a train jour­ney with only kit­clas­sics.co.uk for com­pany and I’m tast­ing the feel­ing. I’m lov­ing it. I’m lov­ing work­ing, right now, on Re-UseIsm, a book on ‘iconic’ post-Yu­gosla­vian so­cial­ist ar­chi­tec­tural struc­ture. Mmm… con­crete! But, icon­i­cally, my in­ter­est wains when any form, in­tel­lec­tual or phys­i­cal, is granted icon(ic) sta­tus. I’m more in­ter­ested in ques­tions than an­swers… aren’t the best an­swers ques­tions any­way?

Is it too neb­u­lous to sug­gest a blank sheet of pa­per as be­ing iron­i­cally iconic?

The ab­sence of some­thing can be the pres­ence of ev­ery­thing – the sweet spot for me is the po­ten­tial of ev­ery­thing mul­ti­plied by ev­ery­thing else, even if I can’t feel it. I cher­ish op­tions. Can ac­ci­dents be con­sid­ered iconic?

Icons? There’s no hi­er­ar­chy of in­flu­ence... I don’t even have favourites. For­give me for be­ing for­ward, but nei­ther should you.

The dis­in­for­ma­tion of words as nar­ra­tive in de­sign, or, if you can af­ford it, art, be­yond ty­pog­ra­phy, has al­ways tick­led my balls. Words. Lists. Marks made. Spa­ces de­fined... I fuck­ing love sto­ries, me. Icon­o­clas­tic sto­ries and the des­per­ate bat­tle for the pyrrhic vic­to­ries of truth.

Even the de­lib­er­ate ab­sence of words, or the pres­ence of noth­ing, or a de­sign hap­pened upon in the ab­sence of de­sign, can speak a thousand pic­tures read in the re­flected glow of the right smart­phone –a black some­thing in a sea of noth­ing, or a black hole in a desert of ev­ery­thing... that is, if you feel the need to call a spade any­thing at all.

If we’re go­ing to build boxes, let’s build boxes to think out­side. If we’re talk­ing about putting ideas into the ‘icon’ box, I’m al­ways go­ing to be more in­ter­ested in the se­man­tics of the box than what we’re putting in­side it. Most peo­ple read­ing this shit will be drown­ing in a sea of ev­ery­thing-is-awe­some icons fight­ing for head space to broad­cast their propa-branda sto­ries, but I like stuff that isn’t what it ini­tially seems or what we ex­pect it to be. I like to be chal­lenged to make sense of any of the worlds we wear – fig­ure hug­ging or overly baggy, smart but never smart ca­sual.

I have an on­go­ing project that I ex­plore with peo­ple in­side, out­side, up, over, and around The De­sign­ers Repub­lic™ – my de­sign stu­dio based in Sh­effield. It’s called Atoms Vec­tors Pix­els Ghosts™. It can mean a lot of dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives but, if it’s eas­ier for you, it’s about the cre­ative process. Briefly – be­cause we’re all run­ning out of time and I’m run­ning out of col­umn inches – it refers to the cor­ralling of ‘the ran­dom’ into the vec­tors of or­gan­ised think­ing, the em­bel­lish­ment of nar­ra­tive and the ul­ti­mate fad­ing fate of to­mor­row’s chip pa­per. This is where ‘icons’ be­long, if any­where. Burn­ing bright, liv­ing fast and dy­ing young. Be­ing some­thing, mean­ing some­thing then fuck­ing off. They are ‘The empty shells of fuck­ing hell’ – no more he­roes, no leg­ends, no deities made to be twisted and bro­ken and re­made and re­cy­cled. Un­hinge your icons and set your in­spi­ra­tions free – put your heart in your work, not on your sleeve.

Above: Atoms Vec­tors Pix­els Ghosts™ pro­duced by The De­sign­ers Repub­lic and Detroit Un­der­ground

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