Spring 2005

Editorial Eye 55

The editor summarises the contents of the latest issue of Eye

After a couple of consciously themed issues of Eye, it has been a pleasure to compile this very diverse edition, which embraces many of our core concerns: design, visual culture, history, photography, illustration, typography and new media. Adrian Shaughnessy’s article ‘Love the Internet’ (pp.37-44) looks at the way the relationship between graphic designers and the Web has become increasingly mature and responsible, more complex and delicate (like many relationships over time) during the past decade. There are many challenges ahead as technology changes, and clients begin to require more sophisticated, immediate and multifaceted solutions.

Kerry William Purcell’s brief but erudite article about Herbert Matter’s Crafty Linotyper (pp.45-48) stems from the research he has conducted for a monograph on the great man: this 1940s ad insert is a surprisingly lighthearted combination of expressive typography and drawings. Illustration features in two further articles: Steven Heller’s overview of current caricature (pp.57-64); and Rick Poynor’s profile of Paul Davis (pp.49-56), whose practice he compares to journalism. Davis, whose self-deluding surfer dude graces our front cover, is a dispassionate observer of contemporary life and times, and what he shows us about ourselves is not pretty.

The Uncoated section, packed as usual with book reviews, also includes reports from the Grafic Europe conference in Berlin, the Communicate exhibition in London and the First Islamic World Poster Biennial. In Monitor (pp.76-77), Jeremy Hall uncovers some fascinating details about the vanished world of the Initial Teaching Alphabet. This issue’s Agenda (pp.74-75) provides fresh thinking on the vexed issue of copyright, introducing a new spin on the term itself: copyleft.

In ‘Taking pictures’ (pp.29-36), Faye Dowling presents a selection of contemporary photographers who are rethinking the medium for a new era – in fashion, advertising, music and magazines. When you look at the artful, colourful creations of Jason Evans alongside Paul Davis’s jaundiced reportage and the controlled firecrackers of Matt Pyke’s Web design, the 1990s already seem a long time ago.

On one level, the vernacular ‘found’ photography of Val Williams’ piece ‘Lost worlds’ (pp.18-28), comes from a different era altogether: shoeboxes of snapshots stumbled upon in fleamarkets; family albums; and photo booth rejects that time forgot. Yet there is something contemporary and alienating in this way of collecting and collating images from a disconnected past. Williams’ article charts the phenomenon from many angles, as it collides with pop culture, performance, art, history, amateur photography, design and art direction, not to mention magazine and webzine culture.

Williams notes that the narrow interests of found magazine mean that it is ‘eager for “found” confessions (especially sexual ones), obsessed by anxiety.’ Perhaps the cult of ‘everyday’ photographs chimes with the current fascination for reality television, for netcam voyeurism, weblogs and the spooky omnipresence of security cameras and camera phones used to record everything from the most banal encounters to street violence and crime. Within visual culture, this fifteen-minute interest in the everyday, in the ‘ordinary person’, appears to be a trend that won’t go away. After all, even the dull surfer who considers himself to be completely ‘outside normal society’ can still end up as a minor celebrity on the cover of an international magazine.