As much as the word inspiration is a cliche – Clip/Stamp/Fold was was indeed inspirational if for no other reason than it gave the viewer a lot of reasons to want to enter the world of publishing with their own ideas as opposed to sitting back and accepting what is being composed in your time. The fact that we now have the tools to compile, publish and distribute ideas easier than ever before is worth the effort. But I digress slightly. For my first show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, it didn’t disappoint. As I entered the space for the first time, opening the door not knowing what to expect I was surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the visuals and sound. The space was composed with a number of visceral elements that fit together nicely. The large plastic timeline draws you in, displayed in a scale that takes you through the years 196X – 197X. The magazines displayed were predominantly written by architects, either as students or practitioners. Each magazine had a brief summary below the image that was essentially the ideas and intentions behind the writing. Going through each of the summaries drew up a lot of ideas that could easily drive a design blog or two. Looking back to these magazines on the timeline, it’s easy to get nostalgic for a better design writing period now for magazines or blogs. In my opinion it seems that the motivation is questionable today. There’s the vanity pieces, critiques that barely dig deeper than the surface and promotion of personalities as opposed to understanding the work and why it’s relevant. Then there’s the social and political questions that seem to be all but forgotten. The intentions of the publishers of the little magazines in the Clip/Stamp/Fold exhibition seem more about sharing issues, stats and hits were not the motivation as much as getting something out on paper.
On a secondary level of the exhibition, there were plastic bubbles that contained some of the original magazines on the other side of the timeline. You couldn’t pick them up, but it made the timeline real. Not all the magazines were in pristine comic book condition, but that made it better. People read these things, they weren’t collected for archival purposes. Behind the bubbles on the other wall was an assortment of past covers from the timeline. You could get lost in the visuals – so much action represented behind each of the images. I really appreciated how all the elements came together. But there was more. On the third wall there was a number of magazines re-created digitally and printed for people to thumb through. They were all different designs, sizes, and content that was as original as each title. It wasn’t important that these things were printed from a digital printer, it had to do with the content and getting a feel for what it was and represented.
But did you catch earlier when I mentioned sound? In a number of plastic clusters there were interviews being conducted and projected through some pretty interesting looking speakers. While I usually find this type of thing inconsequential in museum environments, it fit in there. I could focus on reading text on the wall, stop to look at the visuals and float into the sound of what was being talked about. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I did find the collection inspirational. It wasn’t because of the aesthetics as much as what the visuals contained. I think we tend to confuse personality with skill, and visual fireworks confused with importance in what it offers for others to build from. In this case it’s about what some designers decided to do because they thought it was important enough to say.
Clip/Stamp/Fold is at the Storefront for Art and Architecture till January 31st, 2007 in New York. If you have a spare hour I would highly recommend stopping by. Be sure to grab one of the newsletters on the way out as it contains a number of excellent interview captions of people involved in the magazines. And besides that, it’s nicely designed.
I’ve also published a number of photos from the exhibition on my flickr site HERE.