The Designer as an author.
Andrew Slatter, who considered himself Radical Modernist according to Dan Friedman’s influential practice, lecturer of this first of several lectures hold at LCC as part of the fourth unit of Contextual and Theoretical Studies for 1st year students of the Graphic and Media Design Course.
Based on Elle Lupton’s work, curator of Contemporary Design at The National Design Museum in New York, Andrew presents authorship as a concept that should become less of an assumed defining statement about the author itself which Lupton described as “purely literary enterprise” and more of a position an author inherently takes with completely accessorial connotation attached to it.
This idea is empowered the concept of a designer as a producer rather that an author as Howard Beckett defended a couple of decades ago on his work entitled ‘Art Worlds’. He writes about creative outcomes as result of a cooperation amongst isolated individuals from distributors to audiences who together make up the “Art World” in which authorship is often build upon the collective work of its producers. This sense that authorship should be collectively owned is reinforced by the powerful tool that mass production, media ad technology have been becoming over the last century, with such a great impact on how independently practitioners develop their work, as defended by the German marxist critic Walter Benjamin, mainly because artists must to not only to create their work but also manage how it will be produced and distributed, giving them a more complete and progressive role than before as creators of form, content and meaning on, stepping away from the old romantic concept of a conceptually more elevated person.
As creators of meaning, artists must understand that their own signature is already, by itself, a meaning once the human brain will probably automatically relate what one is seeing to what one knows from the range of work of that same person. In that way authorship can also be seen as a limit to an artwork’s meaning as an author’s name often works like a definition of his own work and that same human brain becomes the ultimate creator of meaning, in other words, the audience creates its meaning which makes the spectator part of the collaborative process as consumers of meaning. Pieces such as John Cage’s soundless 4’33” or Robert Rauschenberg’s “White Painting” are both great examples on how the audience is the ultimate creator of meaning result of the author’s paradoxical position of non-intention.
The use of typewritten text as of producing a body of work is a good exemplifier of the impact that technology had on a author’s role. The traditional pen handwriting faded away and artists and writers become less authors and more producers. As if they entered the technology era and had left behind the lyricism they use to carry amongst all those pages where their work had been beautifully drafted.
Authorship can be seen as a topic which shows up its relevance mainly on a commercial level where knowing who the author is becomes imperative as a way of identifying work which has been produced as a service according to its client needs and that is when the whole concept of authorship fades away caused by its incompatibility with design as a product which aims third’s intention . On the other hand, artists as Banksy, amongst many others, have demonstrate us that great outcomes also result from passing the massage across in an attempt to react to a certain context, putting the meaning of the message clearly visible for everyone to see and leaving authorship somewhere behind it. As we all know, no one knows who the worldwide recognised graffiti artist from Bristol is but that does not matter anyway. This great importance given to the meaning has a bigger value of truth nowadays where people make up work based on other practitioners’ outcomes.
Please see Andrew’s website for more information about his practice.
Lupon, E. (1998) : The Designer as Producer. New York: Allworth Press (p. 159-62)
Beckett, H. S. (1982) : Art Worlds. USA: University of California Press