Lizá Ramalho and Artur Rebelo curated the series of urban interventions for EXD, 2011 in Lisbon. They inv… Read More
Redundancy: The Usefulness of Repetition
Lizá Ramalho and Artur Rebelo curated the series of urban interventions for EXD, 2011 in Lisbon. They invited five communication design studios to explore the possibilities of redundancy and questioned its usefulness.
We want to reflect on the usefulness and uselessness of things. In that context, redundancy is a concept that, at first glance, refers to unnecessary excess. However, confronted with an imperfect reality where errors and severances are inevitable, communication, be it oral, visual or written, often falls back on redundancy in order to secure its effectiveness.In practice, the absence of redundancy is rare, and a design project seeks to find its right measure, determined by the designer’s position according to the contexts and contents in question.
Free from the constraints of everyday practice, five communication design studios explored the possibilities of redundancy and questioned its usefulness. Transgressing the bidimensionality to which they are usually confined, they have created urban interventions of an ephemeral nature, having the Praça da Figueira as the stage for an exploration on the possibilities of designing the message. The many meanings and angles of this notion are perceivable through the heterogeneity of the installations produced. Studios with various approaches, distinct languages, and their very own understanding of communication design were invited to participate.
Luke Morgan + Morag Myerscough (GB) celebrate excess. Fascinated by the necessity for repetition in music, they explore it visually in a vibrant installation entitled “Celebrating Excess”. In this intervention, which addresses the structural presence of redundancy in music, the dialogue between music and graphic design is literally visible. Words and sounds, when repeated, do not limit themselves to mere duplication and instead produce new meanings. However, the presence of redundancy is not exhausted in the concept but manifests itself in form, in the way graphic resources are used, in typography and color, a process that drives the result towards the British pop-rock imagery that informs the visual culture of this studio.
Frédéric Teschner (FR) has conceived a visual essay on design as a discipline, in which the overriding tool, symbolized by the stone, is represented by the object itself and its reproduction in photography and shadow. A transversal representation of the object expresses the redundancy of representation systems and, consequently, the redundancy of the object’s expression. In “Critical Tools”, we happen upon a game in which the reference – the stone – is maintained, with greater or lesser iconicity, together with its signifiers, namely the photograph, which directly portrays it, and the shadow, a mere vestige of its presence.
Lust’s (NL) proposal explores the implications of the physical perception of Praça da Figueira, using redundancy between the real and its representation. “DataSpace” presents a set of images of some perspectives of the square; the installation consists of duplicating visual fragments of the site, which integrate a local data network. Altering the system of relation, the entries in this database allow for the storage and publication of the results just a few feet way from its referent. Among other things, this data is evidence of a temporal lag when opposed to reality. In spite of being redundant, these images allow us many different readings of the space, making visible the intersection between the real, the square’s every day life and its virtual representations. We deal with these representations daily through tools like Google Maps, which create the impression that the images reproduce an unalterable space, and not a moment that has, in the meantime, vanished.
Conditional Design, Luna Maurer + Roel Wouters (NL), have made an interactive proposal that allows visitors to write and rewrite their own message. With a pen full of sand, the visitor may leave his/her message, which then becomes exposed to the square’s everyday life and experience. The context intervenes directly in the images produced, turning every testimony into an open narrative. The intervention “Sand Pen” follows the same line of the authors’ other works; here we encounter part of the Conditional Design Manifesto. According to this manifesto the designer’s work material is composed of elements that surround the work, such as the environment, its surroundings and the human relationships to which it is subject, allowing for the constant recreation of the result.
Sulki & Min (KR) have opted for an approach based on performance and have become redundant through the mechanization of their physical presence; they are duplicated by traffic automatons, which, in turn, perform repetitive tasks, thus generating a double redundancy. They reflect upon the possibility of having robots – instead of humans - performing repetitive actions, thus freeing us to more interesting tasks. The decontextualization of an object generally used in other circumstances produces a delightful strangeness, and not without some comicality. In spite of its humorous component, “Bem-Vindo/Adeus/ Bem-Vindo/Adeus” should not be perceived in an innocuous way, in that it questions machines’ efficiency, the repetition of tasks and, finally, the replacement of men by machines. We are before five solutions whose character is sometimes antagonistic. They are solutions that respond to a common problem, and demonstrate that the designer’s role goes beyond the mere ability of executing a formula. Each designer is in possession of his/her very own understanding, language and standpoint when it comes to reality; all of these aspects frame the way in which he/she responds to a given issue. What is more, it would be reductive to affirm that these installations do no more than solve a situation because, in truth, even though they appear in the form answers,they themselves put forward highly relevant questions. Far from mere executants, designers are increasingly asserting themselves as active agents who think, question and make affirmations. Perhaps it is in this practice that the singular beauty of the discipline resides. Read Less