Featured designer Mike Daines ('08)
Posters by Mike Daines
Critique by Jordan Gushwa
Submitted for critique on Thursday October 2, 2008.
A review in the form of a dialog by Jordan Gushwa
Shelby and Pat both like art but they are both very different. Shelby is an intellectual, a classical analytic. Pat is a romantic narrative loving non-conformist, and conforms the least to Shelbys’ over puffed pseudo intellectual bantering. Shelby dresses kind of goofy, Pat is awesome.
Pat - Wouldn’t you say the form making overshadows the type? Or at least, I m drawn to the type because It says something, but then with that little bit of information I spend the remainder of my time lost in the form of the posters... I actually prefer the first brown poster because I can loose myself in an esthetic experience of the form without thinking about type at all.
Shelby - It is a striking piece... It's very symbolic. The infinity symbol with a propeller at its center. Of course the funny foot hands that make up the eyes of an old man... 80% of this composition is made up of vector swashes of what looks like fire or water. And then more smoke or clouds... Did you notice how the graphic language of this poster is flat but then he uses a slight drop shadow in the clouds?
Pat - I think the designer is very conscious of the differences between the inkjet and silkscreen prints. To create the green poster he half-toned the drop shadows. The inkjet print shares the same language as the silk screened prints.
Shelby - Did you notice the use of rich black in the second brown poster?
Pat - But he could have created a rich black on the green poster through overprinting?
Shelby - I don t know. Its very subtle, I think he is consciously taking advantage of the differences each technology affords. Do you think this enhances the series?
Pat - I m not sure, but it sure makes things more complex. We are getting bogged down in technical details. What is this all about?
Shelby - I keep coming back to the old man figure, his face made of fire and water, the six digit hands and the statements I’M WITH HIM... HE’S WITH ME. Look at the wood panels. The I’M WITH HIM, hand is pointed upwards, engulfed by a cloud of fire and smoke. It makes me think of HIM ie. God -- then again, HE’S WITH ME. it s the Royal Him, He.
Pat - Ok?
Shelby - And then if you look back to the brown posters, all the fire and smoke, the old man figure, the hands, feet, clouds and illumination. It s feeling very old testament. Is the brown perhaps a desert? Do the dashed lines delineate a path or journey? Is this about Moses and the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness?
Pat - What? You mean the story about how Moses was confronted by God through a burning bush, commanded to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt to a Promised Land... The parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire, the Ten Commandments, the nation of Israel?
Shelby - Yeah ... Wait, is that part of the star of David in the first brown poster?
Pat - Maybe... ? Wait look at the green one, it definitely is! ... Ok, ok so you re onto a biblical theme. Why would he make work about a 3000 year old myth?
Shelby - Because this story is central to all of the current conflict in the middle east. The Israelis and Palestinians are fighting over the same land the Israelites settled after there 40 years in the desert. The United States continued support of Israel may well have led to 9-11 ... Iraq... Perhaps the three bladed propeller resting in the middle of what seams to resemble an infinity sign symbolizes the three great monotheisms, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all of which lay geographic spiritual claim to The Holy Land.
Pat - Interesting, so the blades turn, churning out what appears to be books blending into the infinity symbol which in turn forms into a foot that looms large over these books... Eek, that s kind of bleak, an infinite cycle of ideology driven conflict.
Shelby - In the second brown poster the hand foot combo forms what looks like some kind of bird. It could be a dove, or an eagle, or a bomber... And then there s the statement in the green poster, NICE GUYS FINISH LAST.
A passing bible school student remarks - That reminds me of this bible verse... Mark chapter ten verse thirty one. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. This is a statement about the end times and judgment. Perhaps you could say those who grasp the hardest in life end up loosing in the end.
Pat - Wait, so we are talking about apocalyptic end time judgment now?
Shelby - Well it all fits, conservative American Christians remain interested in Israel because they believe protecting Israel is a necessary step in bringing about the final judgment. You could make a strong argument this drives US policy in the middle east.
Pat - It all seams so churchy.
Shelby - It s just as political.
Pat - But doesn’t the statement NICE GUYS FINISH LAST mean the opposite of, But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first?
Shelby - It does if we interpret the foot-hands as bombers.
Pat - If you look closely it s as if the feet are stomping on the hands. I think it s about the hubris of war. It reminds me of Guernica.
Shelby - Consider the vernacular nature of the type, NICE GUYS FINISH LAST does indeed illustrate the hubris current so prevalent in middle east conflict on every side.
Pat - These posters feel incredibly contemporary -- and they remind me a bit of Seymour Chwast work. Like when he constructed a face out of pasta. And it s not just the constructed face, it s this goofy kind of presence or attitude. Dry, humorous, very self aware, and often a bit macabre.
Shelby - Constructed faces go way back... The Bauhaus logo?
Pat - But I can t get over the goofy monstrousness of it... and there is the familiarity of this form. It seems to me these posters are about form making, giving birth to a myth. Consider the use of a framing element... It s as if this story is being presented to us, there is a self awareness that a myth is being spun, the old man figure is born of water and fire -- the ethos is born of the mythos, or spirit born of the story.
Shelby - Fascinating, although each poster is graphically framed, presented as complete, you can t grasp the whole story from just one. It s as if the designer is conscious that what he wants to say eludes him and that he can t exactly say it in just one poster.
Pat - Yes, so multiples are necessary to provide more of the picture, and even then it seems as if he s questioning just which one says it better, which medium does the job, which color gets his idea across... an idea that perhaps developed organically without the precise intent of a thesis statement.
Shelby - There is an existential question here about creation and destruction. It s a paradox and it s about the power of the individual over his or her own destiny through the birth of a personal myth.
Pat - So we could reinterpret the foot hand grasping. The hand represents the act of creation, and the foot represents the path the act of creation leads to. Again a relationship between ethos/spirit, or mythos/story.
Shelby - Does the work the artist makes determine his life, or does the life the artist lives determine his work? Does the story give birth to the spirit, or does the spirit give birth to the story?
Shelby - I’M WITH HIM.... HE’S WITH ME. These statements imply a power relationship where one leads and the other follows. And when we talk about leading and following and the artists life it raises the question of originality.
Pat - It s all about making original work?
Shelby - Sure, the Avant-Guard.
Pat - But didn’t Olinde Rodrigues, the first to use this term in speaking about art called upon the artist to serve as the people s avant-garde, insisting that the power of the arts is indeed the most immediate and fastest way to social, political, and economic reform. The Avant-Guard in its originally use was concerned with social change rather than originality.
Shelby - Yes that s true ... But later Clement Greenberg defined the Avant-Guard in its relationship to Kitsch. Avant-Guard being original, authentic -- requiring an educated viewer that could project his or own interpretations into the work. Kitsch on the other hand is a copy, an illusion, its meaning is self evident and its audience uneducated. Later Greenburg went onto defined the Avant-Guard in purely aesthetic terms. To him it was the Avant-Guard s concern to move beyond representation to expression through surrendering to the medium, this meant the painter working with pure abstraction was now concerned not with politics but rather the nature of paint. Pure expression came to replace representation Greenbergs height of Avant-Guard.
Pat - We now see this as a total dead end. Greenbergs establishment of hierarchies have been thoroughly shredded by history. Modernism is dead and notions of originality with it.
Shelby - But you can t deny the possibility of making original work. We need a new working definition of Avant-Guard.
Pat - How would you define it?
Shelby - Ok, well it means to lead or forge ahead aesthetically and intellectually. It characteristically fights against the cannon, has progressive social and political and economic underpinnings, and is highly conscious of the question... what is art?
Pat - That s kind of dumb, what do you mean what is art?
Shelby - Well in a sense to push a boundary it s important to understand what that boundary is.
Pat - So Avant-Guard work by nature should attempt to interrogate the definition of art (or design) the nature of aesthetics, and the practice of making. So we could say a condition of Avant-Guard art may be a bit of self consciousness. Lets apply these criteria to the posters. Do you think these posters are self conscious?
Shelby - I think they may be. They seem to be aware of there cultural location, and they engage each other in a conversation about the appropriateness of materials and printing techniques.
Pat - Do you think they forge new ground aesthetically and intellectually?
Shelby - They are very contemporary, but contemporary form and content is not original form and content.
Pat - Are they iconoclastic in any way?
Shelby - To the trained eye yes, but we now live in a world of narrow casting, fragmentation and micro culture. In a way you can be both an iconoclast and not. It just depends which few hundred people you care to offend.
Pat - What about social, political, and economic progressiveness?
Shelby - The posters are aware of our current climate, but it s unclear to me if they pose any new ways of thinking about social, political and economic issues. They do however facilitate an interesting dialogue about these issues, perhaps this is more effective than being instrumentalist.
Pat - So are these posters in any way Avant-Guard?
Shelby - They do match some of our criteria but not all of it.
Pat - But they are incredibly rich in content, and stimulating both formally and conceptually.
Shelby - And they sure are beautiful.
Pat - You said it Shelby.
Recent Poster Work from Mike Daines
Watch Mike Discuss His Work in Depth
More Designer Profiles
We've posted another example at the link below. On Wednesday December 19th 2007, Riah Buchannan presented an interactive installation for critique. Mark Heggen wrote the review. Both the review and the work differ in style and structure from the work above and should give you a glimpse into the diversity within the department. Click here or on the image below to see Riah's work and to read Mark's critique....