«Reading Forms – http://readingforms.com – is a website curated by Yotam Hadar, a young Israeli graphic designer and is meant as a «depository of hyperlinks and images of graphic design exhibitions, and of other situations that are visually, thematically or conceptually related. It tries to examine modes and forms of presentation, observation, curation and interaction in the recontextualized display of graphic design».
(Feed Tank by Studio Feed @ Atelier Punkt, Québec, 2009)
We have asked Yotam some questions about this website and project, and his opinion about the involvement of graphic designers in exhibiting and curating.
Graphic designers seem to show growing interest in participating in exhibitions, or in initiating them. What aims do you read behind these forms, this phenomenon?
YH: I think that the first and most obvious personal motives to initiate or participate in design exhibitions are distribution and exposure. Every designer which is proud of his or her work is always happy for new viewers/readers/users to appreciate it. It is the physical equivalent of being published in a popular design blog. Another reason for this need to share one’s work is the rise of what is usually referred to as the “Designer as Author” issue – i.e. designers being responsible for the content of their work, not just the shape of it – and which, for instance, can clearly be seen in the latest major graphic design exhibition held in the USA, Graphic Design: Now In Production. Beyond these motivations, there can sometimes be a case of cult of personality – the superstar designer, who uses exhibitions as another device for self promotion. Lastly, there is the eternal debate of “Design as Art, Design vs. Art”. Is graphic design art? are graphic designers artists? Design exhibitions are fertile grounds for continuing this debate.
As you say, being on show can be seen as the physical equivalent of being published. Do you see any difference from the designer’s point of view?
YH: A design exhibition is a decontextualized display, where artifacts usually lose their original function. In the design process, the designer usually has a typical viewing/usage scenario for their work, which tend to shift in an exhibition.
«Graphic design is a physical activity as well as a digital one» (Curator’s Tour of Graphic Design—Now in Production [New York, 2012])