As part of the KINKON Cambridge series a new exhibition has just opened in Cambridge co-curated by Will Hill, graphic designer and Deputy Head of Cambridge School of Art and me, Bronac Ferran.
Graphic Constellations: Visual Poetry & the Properties of Space will have its private view on 5.2.2015. Details are here. http://ww2.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home/microsites/ruskin_gallery/graphic_constellations.html Philip Steadman who designed and co-edited Form journal from 1966-1969 in Cambridge and who was one of the organisers of the First International Exhibition of Concrete, Kinetic & Phonic Poetry in late 1964 will lead speeches.
Fifty years later, we take the first exhibition as inspiration for a new show which focusses on the interrelationship between graphic design, typography, concrete poetry and ideas of the kinetic, or movement within works particularly as it was manifest during the period from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, a period of antecedence in relation to multimedia trends now. The exhibition brings back to the surface a buried interface between the concrete and the kinetic traced and illuminated in writings of commentators such as dsh (Dom Sylvester Houedard) demonstrating how graphic design played a key role in transforming notions of the poetic, from static and contained forms of expression, to open permutations of process and collaborative visual experimentation.
The Arlington, Brighton & other Poetry Festivals of the mid-1960s formed significant contexts for interaction, experimentation and display of visual and kinetic poetry and today, the remnants, documents and material histories of these events can newly inspire. These reference a period pre-Moon Landing, when spaces between disciplinary languages were evolving and networks of artists and designers coinsected in localities for temporary manifestations of emergent artforms not yet tainted by the absolute lure of the digital. Revelling in a pre-digital adventure in typography and design and poetry in motion, this exhibition shows how artists/designers/poets were testing the limits of language reinventing alphabets of signs with for example Liliane Lijn’s Fire-Poems series (1959), her Letraset works from 1965-66 and her Material Alphabet work which we show alongside the remarkable autonomous typography and alphabets of Hansjorg Mayer.
We are also showing Spring II, a lumidyne kinetic work, made in 1959, by Frank J. Malina in Paris, contemporaneous with his Oui et Non work shown in the Cambridge exhibition in November 1964. With the help of rarely viewed archival material loaned by the Malina family the exhibition reveals new insights into the social and professional relations that connected Malina (a US born space scientist who pioneered art and science interactions and became a prefiguring media artist) to leading figures in the avant garde art and poetry world of 1960s Britain such as Paul Keeler and David Medalla who ran Signals Gallery.
Works by Edward Wright, who taught at Chelsea, RCA as well as Cambridge Architecture Faculty, and who designed among other things the iconic turning sign outside Scotland Yard HQ in London, are also included in this show which has been generously supported by Anglia Ruskin University and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.