I shouldn’t have been sitting there this morning when I ought to have been getting breakfast ready, ironing, and organising darling daughter for a holiday tennis session (*) but my pulse quickened when I followed a link from the Book_Arts Listserve – one of my favourite on-line resources for all things booky – to The Weise7 in/compatible Laboratorium Archive.
Despite my apparent obsession with surfaces and cutting, lurking in the background are two other interests: technology and information design, both of which are manifested perfectly in this fascinating book-cum-computer.
You need to follow the link to see the whole story, but what fun it is! I’ve always liked signs, and remember being entranced by a Jeffrey Smart exhibition years ago. I love the fact that he’s NOT a romantic painter and that he leaves interpretation to the viewer. His work appeals to me in the same way that Hopper’s work appeals: apart from the beautiful geometric formalism there is an underlying tension and a sense of arranged space that creates atmosphere. In that context the signs become beautiful objects as well as pointers to possible meaning, and I suppose that’s what I felt looking at the diagrams and illustrations of circuit boards in the Weise7 book.
The Weise7 in/compatible Laboratorium is an experimental space set up by artists and engineers and explores our increasing dependency on technology. I’m not a technophobe (I can almost hear my husband’s derisive snort as he reads the last statement) but I have concerns about its limits, which is why he relies on his mobile phone and computer and I rely on my memory. But it’s more cryptic than that: all sorts of aspects of our lives from transport networks to warehouse stocking to shop prices to access to our money to our communications networks to storage of our accumulated knowledge… is all reliant on computerised technology. I am neither an alarmist nor a conspiracy theorist, but I read with mingled laughter and concern writers such as Tienlon Ho’s article Dumped! By Google on The Last Word on Nothing. I find it interesting, humorous and pointed to see Weise7’s Packetbrücke project, “geo-hijacking” passing mobile phones so that they think they’re in a different location, or modelling an independent communications strategy that isn’t reliant on the Internet… and I am really captivated by the idea of engineers and artists working together in the same space. So many interesting things happen and knowledge can be stretched and shaped in new ways when engineers and scientists and artists work together. If you’re interested, take a look at the work of Eleanor Gates-Stuart, for example. I’d like to be like her once I grow up.
(*) if anyone's hackles were raised by the domesticity of these tasks, I'd like to say that I'm married to a wonderful man who does almost all the cooking and at least half of the housework, so please don't think I'm chained to the ironing board or the chores!