Reframe, Rehang, Reassess

It’s been a long time since I last wrote for this blog. Over the past few months I’ve been focussed on my paid work, on web design projects, and on learning again to navigate London, which every six months or so becomes a little more challenging. I’ve moved house a few times this year and each new room gives a chance to reassess how I want to present myself in response to the space, the colours, the landlord-mandated furniture—you can’t choose everything. I unpack my drawings and paintings and rehang.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how my work and the wider experience of culture online has changed over the past ten years, those which we could now identify as formative of our current circumstances. In 2007, cultural criticism meant forums, MySpace, even IRC—the iPhone had only just launched. The concept of linked identities was still largely unknown, instead, a multiplicity of handles were used. There was a relative freedom to how work was produced and read, it was rarely bound in a coherent body.

The process of joining together these disparate parts came about around 2009, when I started my Tumblr. I found Tumblr useful throughout my years in college, and I used it as many people did, incoherently; as a moodboard, to reblog photos, and to post my own design work, it helped teach me to code and focus my writing into longer pieces—something I’ve tried to continue since then.

Beginning this task of reframing, I started with how the blog is run and how this can be changed. When I started posting, cloud collaboration was the future, yet now people are now much more aware of the need for and security in keeping things offline where possible. There’s a general, and justified, sense of distrust. It’s no longer on Tumblr. I now make sure that I keep my own copies of my writing, that can be carried with me, duplicated, and kept safe where necessary.

Fundamentally my work is words and letters. I want to foreground the text, the physical mark that we so often forget inflects our understanding and reading. Formerly, when days would be spent in front of desktops rather than phones, there was a strong trend for small type, preferably light grey on lighter grey. Now, I’m emphasising the lines and the blocks, with the effect of a rectangle across the page.

The type alternates between serif and sans-serif. I’ve used Open Sans in place of adjusting size, weight, or italicisation for visual emphasis. I haven’t quite made the full flip that Jan Tschichold did, extolling sans-serif as utopian before denouncing it as fascist, but I’ve come to appreciate variety. After ten years, designers are sick of Swiss Type, gorged on a decade of Toblerone. The body text is Droid Serif which includes a great variety of glyphs, always useful. The only decoration applied to text is underlining of links, I didn’t want to break convention here.

I’ve also been inspired by John Berger’s Ways of Seeing; the wide bold type, but also by the reduced size and quality of images. I felt that eschewing the trend for huge images might be interesting, so all images used here will, for the moment, be small thumbnails. Berger’s book anticipated blogs of found imagery, to him inconsistency is a virtue, yet at times it can feel a hindrance. He ensures consistency through black and white photographs. Here, I chose to apply a colour tint to the images. This is done using code, no Photoshop needed.

Despite this work, I should be realistic—frames of reference are inherently unstable. There is no single way of viewing and representing the work, in every instance the work will be more than simply what is inside the frame, but what’s around it too. There will always be a better wall to hang it on, a better shelf to place it on. This blog will remains a work in progress, as practices shift, and ideas of presentation and cultural censorship develop this blog will react.