Max Huber, Carl Kleiner. & ideas about artistic ‘progress’ & visual language.


Max Huber image.

Carl Kleiner image visual language evolving.


I was interested in the visual work of Max Huber which predominantly is a mixture of typography and graphic design. These elements merged and created a different idea of visual language or certainly at the time they would have been questioning what the page (print) could convey in terms of a lucid message whilst also pushing creative aesthetic boundaries.

I felt Max Huber was a good example of how a developed aestheticism that alters a way of seeing or consuming information at a given point in time can then become adopted as a cultural fashion which time then dilutes through saturation or repetition. His approach is still seen today in much modern graphic design and even graphic designers such as Neville Brody who is seen as very contemporary still use elements of Huber's 'style'. To me this evidences how difficult it is to move cultural ideas about visual communication once they move into acceptance inside a commercial arena.

I feel my awareness of aspects of design and art history as this cycle of slow change and the individual artist being a fundamental key part of that, led me to want to explore other ways of seeing that could acknowledge a 'duty' to keep pushing the boundary of where things might have been yesterday and try and explore where things might instead be tomorrow.

I think my image of Curzon street station as an early architectural drawing overlaid with a 3 dimensional graphical shape illuminates the worlds between one century of ideas and another and how in order to get from one to the other people have to constantly explore new ways of conveying ideas that at first might have seemed bewildering but when the culture willingly adapted to them a 'progress' of ideas evolved. It is impossible to bridge that visual communication gap between say a Turner and a Pollock's idea of landscape without the incremental changes in cultural perceptions that take place in the intervening time periods. This as I mentioned is the art history the artist has to be familiar with in order to adequately understand their own incremental place in the evolutionary cycle of ideas. The elements of intellectual rigour and art history for me are the vital structural bonds that prevents 'art' from divesting itself of integrity.

If I jump in time to an artist such as Carl Kleiner who today is inventing a visual language that the culture has yet to formally recognise as something that is comprehensively understandable. There are elements of his work that are similar to Max Huber in that they have a commercial sheen and subsequently have a place in the advertising space or at least in the message of wider aesthetic communications. There are elements though that are challenging language and using symbols that seek to create the new out of elements of the familiar which is this imperceptible idea of cultural change in action. Artists do this with their work and that to me is their most important role. This isn't a visual form of text speak or reducing language to something less but instead about attempting to recognise the new brain, the one that engages with many different senses at once in response to our modern environment. I want to light up many parts of the brain with what I would create not just the visual pathways.

Huber and Kleiner represent a gap of 60- 70 years in their ideas of visual presentation of information and or ideas. That is a small time period in the history of artistic communications. Their work differs but the underlying process is still the same. They both are seeking for their time to create new ways of 'seeing' and communicating through a medium that requires some frame of reference to a past but creates a present that the culture finds aesthetically engaging. This then may become adopted as a process or formula usually via acceptance through a cultural conduit such as mainstream advertising or commercial use.

To me I wanted to use this notion of artistic 'duty' to take a process of communication and to place it at the edge of today in an area where we are yet to understand the message instantly as a visual process. I looked to explore symbol and aesthetic integration whilst holding on to a philosophical root that meant the message could be explained and it wasn't just pure abstraction. Pure abstraction isn't any form of progress, anymore than the random jumbling of letters is or throwing bricks at an empty space and saying that is architectural progress. I am speaking of incremental intellectual progress so that ideas are rational and explainable however visually difficult they might be currently for a culture to connect with.

In choosing Braille as a symbolic use of binary language and relating that to sound waves to create a framework for other senses and ideas of seeing or feeling of a place I felt I was being true to the idea of the artist exploring the edges of what might be communicable visually but keeping faith with an intellectual rigour about what the work meant. It means a lot to me personally as I am going blind and it also means a lot in the sense that science for example is constantly rewriting what we know about what anything actually is As I said in a previous post, 'reality' is just merely the boundary of our sense perceptions.

In my decision to use a projection of sound waves over the Braille I was continuing to push against what might be considered as the boundary or limitations of the surface I was working on. I chose a canvas for its historical association with 'art' history and again as a symbol of boundary and the artist as someone who has a duty to explore what that may be. In the process the boundary may become obliterated and at some point the ideas and associations get lost or it may just fractionally go beyond a known edge of what is known to add a new perspective. My project obviously doesn't do that but I think it useful to take the projects one is given and push against its boundaries and risk failure than to settle for ideas of familiar beauty or current cultural accepted aesthetic ideas.

Of course one has to fight very hard against human aesthetic perceptions and ones own ingrained learned ideas about taste so each project is a challenge to de -beautify first and to concentrate on creating a sound philosophical narrative for. To me the artist is an inventor and a person who is often first to notice imperceptible culture shifts and to then create a frame of reference for that, providing the visual cultural a ha moments. Of course not every piece of work is about changing the world or cultural perceptions. By having a small individual connection with boundaries and a willingness to realise what is known now we provide building blocks for how we create new visual languages of tomorrow. All I have written in this piece reflect the ideas I was engaging with during the construction of the Braille and sound wave projected canvas idea.



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