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The rules of the game

November 8, 2010

Some principles laid out for my approach to thesis. A sketch.

1. Choose a form or format. The essential definition of a thing or an idea: a book, magazine, shower curtain, toilet paper, poster. This is the choice that provides context. Without words this pre-defines the work. Everyone comes to the table with some understanding of what a book SHOULD be or what a newspaper is or what a shower curtain HAS ALWAYS been in the past. These expectations and understanding are what you’re playing with, subverting, working off of to be surprising, fun, insightful or whatever you want. These expectations are your currency. (READERS: Did I steal that currency line from somewhere? I am pretty sure I might have; PLEASE notify me if I have.)

2. Apply ANTI to the format.

ANTI can be a lot of things.

I define ANTI as an operation that accepts the rules of the format about what it does, what it’s used for, what its standard context is, and breaks, negates, or expands on these constrictions. Crucially, you cannot break all the rules of the format: cause then it’s boring. Then you’re not playing the game.

Robert Venturi defines Mannerism as something quite similarly to ANTI; some people call it postmodernism; some people call it a relational/contextual approach. Apart from the Venturi approach, I find these rest of these definitions either too broad (relational) or as coming with too much baggage in both design and architecture (po-mo!) to want to associate myself with them. Venturi seems the closest in articulating what I’m talking about, but it’s difficult to be associated with Venturi because he is such a polarizing figure. I will be my own polarizing figure. But yes, we love Venturi.

3. Choose an everyday topic/theme/issue as the content. Interestingly, this might also be the format. Thus, toilet paper can be content and form. A book can be content and form but is most frequently form/vessel/container and might need some sort of content. Think about what this everyday thing reveals about something deeper. Or how this everyday thing is overlooked. Or how its hiding some sort of visual language underneath its everydayness.

4. Put the content into the ANTI’d form so as to get that small revelation across.

So the ANTI of the form works to show something ignored/overlooked/of value about this everyday theme.

This is a sketch: the final thing will be an object that, crucially, makes clear that this can be approached from either the form or the content angle.

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