Around The Body
Action to Surface
text on performative design
Rethinking the value of surface production in terms of performance
Imagine a graphic designer who shares selfies in front of a huge Heidelberg machine printing his poster. A stage full of minimalistic typographical props inhabited by improvising actors. A design student who runs a blog about his “designer’s life” instead of posting the results of his endeavour. They all have something in common – they are garnished by performance.
We might understand the performance as a capacity to transform the situation, to activate the audience. It’s an act with a unique and unpredictable result, something that couldn’t be easily mass‑produced. A chance bringing the unknown relations and outcomes is a key aspect –the sparkle– of performance. Anything can happen. Performances, as well as graphic design, are temporary and ephemeral, they exist and disappear in their eventness.*1
A great example is the oeuvre of Guy de Cointet. He was inspired by Duchamp and Warhol, fascinated by riddles, TV soap operas, cryptography and language. He delicately mixed these ingredients into staged performances. Semi-improvising actors discussed art surrounded by beautifully designed props, such as books, large single letters, posters and strange colourful objects. His work brings a special moment, where graphic design and performance meet and work equally alongside each other to affect the audience.
Performance among other specificities means also the capacity to execute an action, to do well. Paradoxically, performance can be understood in the capitalist view as a quality of a commodity, as well as an act of performing an artistic work. It is also a way of social construction of identity. Performance works with the tension between material, bodies and the ephemeral, between unexpectedness of creation and fragility of being. The process is brought to light as a new design material. Paradoxically, this process –act of performance– is capable of creating a work of art or a design object – a fetishized material memory. Despite that, performance practice is opposed to the production of an object*2.
What is interesting that on the contrary, the graphic design discipline has “flat object” in its centre, so it presents itself as a surface‑centric practice – the way of surface production. But analysing contemporary source the value of designers labour, it seems to be disconnected from the material result. So where does the value of design come from nowadays? To answer, we have to travel back where the design meets eventness.
Are you looking for an authentic experience? You won’t find it in your books and pdfs. And please, stop googling performance artists. A little exercise is something sensual you can experience yourself. Feel free to pick one of these examples:
A)Spend three nights by designing large tapestry. When it’s been installed, walk under it wearing a yellow raincoat with your laptop in your arms pretending you are still designing something. Write notes how do you feel at the moment;
B)Mark your action space – 2×2 meters square on the floor– and cover it with green keyable fabric. Invite friends to come and be your audience or co-performers (but don’t tell them what will happen). Wear an office suit and record yourself from above performing various business tasks. Later, key out the floor and change it for at least two of the listed designs: temple marble, light beige lino floor with burning candles, dark blue carpet with a labyrinth print or unknown brown fluid.
The hegemony of art-object was disrupted in 1960’s when the attention focused back to the ignored verbality and eventness. That was immediately discovered by graphic designers. For example, during these formative years, LA-based designer, activist and nun, Sister Corita Kent, dynamically appropriated the style of emerging consumerism and combined it with happenings to passionately spread the message of love and peace. The Performative Turn of 60’s indicated not only an art‑revolt, but also the birth of a new form of labour – general performance. That is, in other words, a “quasi‑theatrical self‑presentation”*3 where everybody does his/her job by performing it. It’s a continuous activity of trying to persuade others to believe in one’s character.
By adopting that form of post-Fordist immaterial labour, besides the known roles of graphic designers as producers of millions of surfaces*4, service providers, visual translators, researchers, autonomous creators and system engineers – they have appropriated the role of performers. That means although the typical result of graphic designer’s labour is surface, designers are increasingly involved in actions, happenings and events. Contemporary craft has to be presented together with a craftsman. The notion of a person performing craftsmanship is what makes the product valuable.
From another point of view, the viewer’s action is a key element in the re‑production of active surfaces*5. Surface evolution caused the design to be defined as the management and creation of virtual qualities bound to materials – multifunctional objects, gadgets which communicate and display information. Information which is no longer trapped in books, narratives and images, it rather circulates independently in networks.
Therefore in the age when most of the information no longer exist as a static media, but only as a process, connection, interaction or option. Designers –in Deleuzian terms– re‑territorialize*6 the representation through interactions. They talk more frequently about experience and event than the image or text. Graphic design is no longer limited as an object‑centric practice. The new value is hidden in the presence of its author and its eventness.
written by Tereza Ruller, The Rodina
for Progetto Grafico, Around the Body, issue 32 curated by Jonathan Pierini and Claude Marzotto,
1 O. Klimpel: The Visual Event, 2014
2 J.‑P. Cometti: Per/Form, 2014
3 S. Lutticken, E-Flux Journal # 31, 2012
4 A. Blauvelt in Graphic Design: Now in Production, 2011
5 Metahaven, White Night Before A Manifesto, 2010
6 G. Deleuze, F. Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 1980
On Performative Design
Interviewed by Korean graphic designer Jungeun Lee, Tereza Ruller explains The Rodina’s performative approach within the graphic design.
Why do you include yourself in the designs? What does performative design offer your practice that more traditional design does not? How do you resolve the paradox between traditional design (static flatness) and performance? How important or what is the role of participation in your practice? What are the motivations that lead you to create graphic performance, both personally and politically?
Concept & Design
Tereza Ruller & Jungeun Lee
for Performative Design Conference at Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Select Your Memories
Select Your Memories turns the archive of Dutch audio-visual heritage to a personal narrative. Participants are invited to re-narrate their own experience in Dutch historical and political realm. The project connects subjective with the cultural identity.
We designed and programmed an alternative tool that explores archive as an imaginative territory and helps identify oneself with Dutch culture. Welcome to a unique media experience!
Concept, Research, Design, Code: The Rodina
Typeface: Favorit Light, Favorit Regular, Favorit Underline by Dinamo Type Foundry
Video’s: Polygoon-Profilti, CC-BY-SA licence via Openbeelden.nl
Project supported by: Creative Industries Fund NL and The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Thank you to: Eve Cornelia Dullaart
• Art (22), • Curatorship (4), • Exibition (11), • Interactive (1), • Motion (16), • Participation (8), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Social (16), • Web (8)
The Mountain of Politics
This is the time of organised control, order and constant negotiation. Citizens are responsible for delivering their vote and feeding the hungry mechanism that gives legislators the power to hold public offices. Every now and then people gather in order to secretly express opinions. To transform disgust, complaining and comparing the act of voting to landing in a gooey clot of chewing gum we may ask: what if the ballot as a device casting votes becomes transparent?
Visitors of unseen are asked to juxtapose their votes. The participative event poses an urgent question: What could the process of making decisions be? Mountain of Politics becomes the display tracing participant’s decisions. Ephemeral statistics encourage a debate among people who have otherwise no reason to share or collaborate.
icw Jonathan Castro
commissioned by: UNSEEN & Self Publish Be Happy
• Art (22), • Installation (10), • Participation (8), • Performance (13), • Research (22), • Social (16)
Abstract Portrait of the Crowd:
At the End I Became a Painter
Each of us might be seen as a walking cluster of data. Tereza grabbed textures of exhibition visitors’ faces and placed them it into a form. Different skin, eye and hair colours were mixed from more than 30 skin toned acrylics. The shape of each form was generated by 3d scan software that afterwards assembled new portrait –an abstract portrait of the crowd.
“Performing a painter as a designer gives me an opportunity to question the medium of painting.”
By being painted, each visitor became a participant of this performative act.
How does it feel to place colour into smudges, form a texture peppered with artistic vision? What is the character of the brush stroke? Is the last edge of the squirrel tail connected with the painter as a natural extension of his body? Can we see the object we are painting as a collection of data? Can painting as a medium become a tool for selective data-visualisation?
Painting is dead, let’s paint!
Ten Interventions Festival at Tique Art Space, Antwerp
curated by Welmer Keesmaat and Mr. Make-Do
typeface: Favorit by Dinamo
Visitor is Present
we are artists. We were used to painting big frescos and huge canvases for centuries. Not so long ago we discovered we are human beings with bodies. So we started to perform. Today we have large printers, we like selfies and we like you to be present in our artworks.
Tereza Ruller, Hieronymus Bosch
and Pieter Brueghel
In her work Tereza creates a surface to document her performances of H. Bosch’s and P. Bruegel’s complex paintings. Using her body, she renegotiates the relationship between historical canvases and contemporary self-performing culture. The audience is invited to create an environment for Tereza’s restaged figures. Historical allegories are transformed into a participative event. The overall image grows and changes over the time, as a sequence of visitor‘s interactions.
Curiosity Killed the Cat exhibition
at Het Nutshuis, Den Haag
curated by: Welmer Keesmaat
Part 2: EQUESTRIAN
In this act, designer became a commander. Inspired by cavalry generals –during the loud sound of medieval battle– Tereza led the crowd to fill in a simple questionnaire.
ingredients: 25m2 participatory mood-form, motorbike, performing designer as a navigator, 4hrs long performance
kindly supported by Wang Motorcycles
photo by Studio Johan Nieuwenhuize
• Art (22), • Data Visualization (8), • Exibition (11), • Participation (8), • Performance (13), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Social (16), • Web (8)
Parade explores narcissism in today’s world. It questions the ecstasy of parading the self to the world—duplicating the self or achieving the image of the ideal self as a means of achieving a sense of value, distinction or immortality.
How do we construct our identity in a post-representational digital reality? Parade is a fantasy rainy world, where hearts together with hundreds of other emojis orgasmically fly across the screen.
Our audio and visual collaboration takes you into Yllis’ deeply personal and ultimately expressive post-Internet universe. As in every romance, there need to be two –a couple– to sparkle the relationship and eventually love. Therefore we constructed a hybrid body from mapping parts of Yllis’ face on Tereza’s head. So Yllis can stay loving himself and an imaginary girl in one ultimately hybridised existence.
Yllis makes experimental electronic pop, melding a myriad of sonic influences to create a musical image of the future—a vision of globalised culture streaming through wireless internet pipelines, borderless andhyperconnected.
Shadows in Paradise
Exposure to mass media arouses fear. Even if the frightening scenarios are fictional they blind us and make us unable to act. Fortunately, we can train to overcome this stream of dread.
Visitors of the exhibition were asked to come and break the spell of apprehension during an enchanting ritual.
The time is up, watch it here: shadows.therodina.com
Anti-fear costume and flag icw Anna Mala.
at The Small Museum
January – February 2016
• Art (22), • Exibition (11), • Installation (10), • Performance (13), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22)
Re-scaling Turrell and Gaillard
Rotating installation displaying art works situated in public space that were initiated and donated by Stroom Den Haag.
We designed re-scaling tools to perform at the site of land-art. Designer became a performer operating those tools.
First we re-scaled Turrell’s Celestial Vault, 30 meters wide and 40 meters long ellipse. This volcano was built for audience to experience the sky. Because for Turrell light and space are the object of his interest.
Then we found and measured Gaillard’s Dunepark, temporarily excavated burried Atlantikwall bunker from World War II. For Gaillard, the physical process of excavating in the dark and wet soil was a form of negative sculpting.
Installation icw Office of Hard Work
Thanks to Arnold Mosselman
• Art (22), • Curatorship (4), • Installation (10), • Motion (16), • Performance (13), • Photography (3), • Research (22)
– Installation as performative space
– Designer as a Playbourer
– Post-Fordist Baby
– Affordance of Props
– Multidisciplinary graduation project that shows Circulation of work.
Borders between play and labour are disappearing. Work time and leisure have become unified in one never-ending shift. This is especially articulated through our networked presence in multi-internet reality.
Every hour of our play, minute of entertainment and megabyte of shared data generates profit. This realm of the lost division between labour and play is called playbour. All of us have become players in this game. But who is the real winner?
Playbour is an activity of work that feels like a play and leisure – attractive and pleasurable production.
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
Playbour: The New Workaholism
Borders between play and labour are disappearing. Work time and leisure have become unified in one never-ending shift. This is especially articulated through our networked presence in multi-internet reality. Every hour of our play, minute of entertainment and megabyte of shared data generates profit. This realm of the lost division between labour and play is called playbour. All of us have become players in this game. But who is the real winner?
Playbour is an activity of work that feels like a play and leisure – attractive and pleasurable production. Examples of this phenomena are social networks as Facebook, Tumblr, fashion blogs, game modding etc., that function playfully but generate profit to others.
Part of the graduation project Playbour: The New Workaholism by Tereza Ruller @ The Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. All rights reserved (c) 2015
Ventolin – music, lyrics, mix, production
Ondřej Ježek, studio Jámor – mastering
The Rodina – concept, art direction, video, design, lyrics
BumBum Satori -production
• Data Visualization (8), • Installation (10), • Motion (16), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Text (7)
Action to Surface
Rethinking surface production in terms of performance
The Rodina’s text on performative design.
We, designers, are used to presenting graphic design as a surface‑centric practice, the way of surface production. In addition to this, Tereza tries to step out of separated media constraints and tend to establish a new field of potential through identifying performative components in graphic design processes and results.
This research establishes links between action, body, designer and surface. It attempts to convince the reader, that surface production could be an action, happening, or chance‑driven act. Therefore the text introduces necessary theoretical, philosophical and historical backgrounds of performance art.
The narrative covers examples from Leonardo da Vinci through Modernists, Post‑War Expressionists and Andy Warhol to recent work by Hito Steyerl. It also presents graphic designers working with action in their design process. For example Sister Corita Kent’s activism, Stefan Sagmeister with his involvement of the body and nomadism, the conceptual approach of Czech designer Petr Babák, Maki Suzuki with his excitement “to do”, ephemeral surfaces and the unforgettable events of Cox and Grusenmeyer, Moniker with their Conditional Design happenings towards surface and Auto Italia’s identity of interactive assistant.
Finally, the text explains why the contemporary form of labour – Sven Lütticken’s concept of general performance – is so important. This thesis is a manifestation of the emerging designer, his/her milieu and effort to position himself/herself into the world of democratised surface production.
Book available at studio The Rodina, Amsterdam, The Royal Academy of Art Library, The Hague and in the library of Stroom Den Haag, The Netherlands, library of ESAC Cambrai.
Lecture and poster commissioned by ESAC Cambrai, FR.
Research, concept, text, design and code by The Rodina
• Book (8), • Data Visualization (8), • Participation (8), • Performance (13), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Text (7), • Web (8)
Internet Wise Glossary
What is and what could be Internet?
Inspired by Joseph Muller Brockman’s quote: “I don’t surf, I dive.” we started to be curious: how does it work, which pioneer and computer scientist invented what sort of technology and what are the relations to the rest of the culture or society.
Result of the research is a gathering of 110 terms on GitHub, online open source hosting service for programmers and hackers, compiled into a book.
What is the book? Is it an elegant typesetting, trendy typeface, well arranged layout, or just a pile of paper? Sure, It’s all of it, but especially the book is a kind of memory.
Beside the human brain, cells chromosomes DNA and many more, it is a safe store of information, place where you find what you have left there. Rather than inert stone surface or bank tresor, memory works like glass of jam or pot of honey. It’s sticky, adhesive liquid, in which you put your finger, you are not able to clean it anymore.
Memory is not content neutral, its not transparent part of information path. It actively changes the information. Every form of memory contaminates its content.
According to previous statement, we designed the form of memory and content together. This is visible in a form of a special thread layout that catches the internet specificity. Internet memory is not two dimensional space handing linear information like most of the books. Sprawl of networks nodes, and connections is displayed as Holographic model.
Every point contains whole information or path to it. Every meaning thread cross other definitions. Reader can follow the the predefined direction, or can turn to crossing connection. The whole text is one physical hyperlink linking itself in infinity of combinations.
This book covers just two dimensional version of meaning spaces – but this principle of information organization works also in every n-dimensional space.
This book is part of The Whole Internet Catalog, a large eclectic collection made under the supervision by typographer and hacker Thomas Buxó.
Investigating the Internet was firstly inspired by Whole Earth Catalog published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, which gathered particular knowledge of that times and was distributed by post.
Texa with her atlas Sugarlands is one of the twelve winners of the ‘Solidarity or Solo’ competition – published on Open! – an Amsterdam-based publication platform that fosters and disseminates experimental knowledge on art, culture and the public domain. Open! works with theorists and designers who contribute to the creation of an experimental and critical body of thought.
Tereza Rullerova’s Sugarlands not only portrays the amount of sugar consumed in each European country, but also discusses the historical impact of sugar on the political landscape and its role as a “soma”.
Thx to Niels Schrader from Mind Design & Lauren Alexander from Foundland
In this atlas I want to approach the role of the SUGAR consumption in relation to the several aesthetic, social, cultural, economic and ideological aspects. The SUGAR as food is a basic source of energy, the essential substance which our body needs to live. There is no consciousness without the sufficient blood sugar level. That physiological importance makes it play major role in society and economy.
The cane SUGAR production was invented in India, later popular in Arabic world, was luxury product accessible only for elites. Because of high energy consumption, the rise of SUGAR mass production developed later during industrial revolution and colonization. Over 1,5 million of slaves were imported from Africa to work in colonies on cane SUGAR agriculture. Than during Napoleon wars, the sugar lack caused by Britain’s blockade of overseas trade started the production of beet SUGAR in continental Europe. That was one of the essential impulses for industrialization at least of middle Europe.
I would say that SUGAR was the first industrial food product – kind of well designed metabrand – associated with its artificial superior whiteness and definite teste. Consequently in 1840 the form of SUGAR loaf was upgraded by invention of SUGAR cube by Czech born Swiss Jacob Christoph Rad. That can be considered to have same value for history of design as Jonathan Ives´s iPhone for 21st century.
In the terms of neoliberal capitalism consume ideology of 20. century were introduced many new forms of SUGAR: sweets, jams, candies and sweet drinks. The feeling of welfare was connected with ubiquitous availability of SUGAR products. But as it is significant for capitalism, the crisis came. SUGAR consumers became obsessive junkies — addicts who repeatedly buy and eat their SUGAR product.
Health issue connected with overconsumption opened new market opportunities. So the “healthy” SUGAR was invented, the nutrition quality was removed, only satisfaction remained. Unfortunately consumption has never brought a chance for absolute self-actualization. So now we can sweeten with “double consumerism” fairtrade SUGAR, when consuming it is simultaneously moral act.
What’s more we can find our forgotten original nature with using “natural” brown SUGAR. We can dream about pure nature and healthy life, but it´s something, we shouldn´t return to,
at least by consuming. As It is nicely described in F. Guattari´s text The Three Ecologies, where he mentions the story of octopus. Scientists put it from dirty water into the clean one, but octopus died. There is no way back, even when we drink espresso with melasa every morning.
And finally it looks now that it´s just a matter of time when SUGAR will be understood as toxic drug under the restrictions of the law. But it is not issue of chemical properties of SUGAR, but the isue of ideology which tend us to overconsume.
In European union we are living in SUGERLANDS. We are trapped in 28 SUGAR landscapes. By taking photos of them I tried to demonstrate our situation. As philosopher Judith Butler mentioned That photographies can only AFFECT us, not provide us with UNDERSTANDING of what we see. This is exactly how ideological images work. Our SUGARLANDS are empty dreary landscapes carefully hidden under the oversaturated satisfaction promising image – sky. The very concept of ideology implies a kind of basic, constitutive naïveté: “the difference between so-called social reality and our distorted representation, our false consciousness of it,” as it describes Slavoj Žižek. In SUGERLANDS we are obliged to consume more, to eat more, to ENJOY.
• Art (22), • Book (8), • Data Visualization (8), • Illustration (15), • Installation (10), • Photography (3), • Research (22)
Ecstatic Trap Designs
Roosje Klap Report
Letter U for BYOB Rotterdam
Healing Modernity for studio Noviki
video Run for music band Videos
Mind Map: Walking with the professor
• Art (22), • Exibition (11), • Illustration (15), • Motion (16), • Performance (13), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Textile (2)
The God of the Internet is coming in new form and shape of Post-digital Patch created from 100% polygon fabric. Bright new edition of handmade scarfs under The Rodina’s favoured religious issue.
A + B + C typographical posters originally created for Breda festival.
Dutch Education – Budget Cuts
1st Prize winning mega hit Budget Cuts by hyper-realistic band Dutch Education is not only data visualisation, but performative design act. Designer becomes part of the design and stages the message.
We’ve received special access to the financial data for Dutch governmental spendings and income for 2014-2017. Task was to carry out extensive research and re-contextualise the information, statistics and figures from the Miljoenennota (Dutch budget plans) resulting in exhibition What’s inside the koffer?.
Curatorial text by Lauren Alexander and Niels Schrader says that “In current times our world economy is ruled by capitalistic excess, unpredictable markets and people-induced crisis. Dutch education, specifically in the arts, is facing sharp budget cuts affecting the cultural producers of tomorrow.”
concept, lyric, choreography: Tereza Ruller
design, dop: The Rodina
sound mastering: Moimir Papalescu
sound recording: studio Ovoce
1st Prize given by Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance / exhibited at: the Ministry of Finance, Den Haag, Netherlands / music video was done within the context of Graphic Design class at the Royal Academy of Art, Den Haag
• Art (22), • Data Visualization (8), • Motion (16), • Performance (13), • Portfolio (25), • Research (22), • Web (8)
Penis Coins Calendar
Penis Coins are the new worldwide cryptocurrency, which generates value proportionally to the size of your penis.
We designed this limited edition of a universal calendar for each month of the year for Body Design exhibition.
Curating is fun. We’ve been responsible for content and visual of an exhibition at Kunstverein Leipzig. Motto was: “Graphic design connected to Brno”. And we added for our purpose, emphasizing the design full of spheres, that exhibited designers have to have balls!
2013 Designers | Adela-Pauline | Deep Throat | Dip | Marek Ehrenberger | Fiume | Kolektiv | Knižní Design | Laboratoř | Věra Marešová | Pavla Nešverová | Martin Pecina | Radim Peško | Pixl-e | Studio Anymade |…
Meet in Real Life
The Rodina was invited to trans-disciplinary work-camp, platform and exhibition MIRL in Frankfurt. Whole team of guest artists, designers and theoreticians was dealing with the Internet reality and it’s opposite – the real life materiality. Read more in Mauser.
Internet users often describe virtual environment by using the world “space” as metaphor of computer science term “capacity”. We turned this relation and created various physical spaces as metaphor of internet phenomenons.
The Cloud patch represents restrictions of human body. The Privacy patch deals with the issue of intimacy. The Firewall creates infrastructure and rules which shape network traffic.
text by The Rodina, 2013
Thx to the FourFiveX research collective
• Art (22), • Exibition (11), • Installation (10), • Research (22), • Social (16), • Text (7)
1) what is important, isn’t necessarily nice
2) re-represent re-represented
3) specialization is obsolete
4) supermodernity is complex
5) adobe kidnapped your brainsSometimes things get out of control.
Especially when following the rules is stronger than your personal aesthetic feelings.You can change the form of Messiah book into 5 Messiah 2sided posters.
The Monument is a visual essay created as a part of Tereza’s graduation artwork subtitled 18 years of Faculty of Fine Arts.
Fifteen marble stones with names of all – at that time current – professors were assembled into a huge pavement memorial in front of the faculty. The weight of used marble was 450kg.
Stones created performative space – a zone for Tereza to do little daily performances.
Catalogue Monument consists of several chapters researching the topic of education, all understandable without further description or texts. Ideas are visually represented by photos. Browse through at issuu
Václav Stratil, Veronika Bromová
and Větrné Mlýny publishers
200 pieces, offset
signed and numbered
• Art (22), • Book (8), • Catalogue (8), • Cover (7), • Exibition (11), • Installation (10), • Performance (13), • Photography (3), • Research (22), • Social (16), • Text (7)