Spring 2007

Editorial Eye 63

Whenever people ask how to get their work into Eye, I’m reminded of the ancient joke in which a musician, lost in New York, asks a passer-by, ‘How do I get to Carnegie Hall?’ The other replies: ‘You practise, man. Practise.’ On reflection, the joke is flawed. Regular practice ensures only competence. You can hammer away 24 / 7 but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be good enough to headline at NYC’s most prestigious concert hall. Unless, like the famously terrible Florence Foster Jenkins, you hand over a wad of cash to promote yourself. Just as well that doesn’t happen in magazines.

When we use words like ‘good’ and ‘right’, it’s usually in their more workaday meanings, as in: ‘is that typeface any good?’ (see ‘Inclined to be dull’ pp.32-37) or: ‘is that image right for the content?’ But ‘good’ also means ‘morally excellent’, and this is the starting point for Lucienne Roberts’ book Good, which relates ethics to everyday practice. Responses to this, and to Lucienne’s talk as part of Eye Forum no. 1 last November show a growing interest in the topic. Her essay ‘Being good’ (pp.74-75) continues the theme, with extracts from interviews she conducted for the book with a barrister, a politician, a philosopher and a churchman. There’s also a report about the early issues of the (coincidentally titled) Good, a new magazine from the United States with a philanthropic back story and a commitment to good design.

For this issue of Eye we are particularly proud to present an extensively researched piece about the graphic design of Argentina. Despite its length, what we document here is just the tip of an iceberg. ‘Buenos Aires project’ (pp.38-51) by César Sesio and Verónica Devalle pays tribute to some of the designers and teachers who – despite political and economic upheaval – have played leading roles in the emerging design culture of this fascinating country. The dialogue between Argentine designers and the Modernists of postwar Europe is a crucial, but little-documented part of this story.

‘Time after time’ (pp.4-5) and the inside covers show work from Bibliothèque’s timely exhibition about the graphics of the 1972 Munich Olympics, by a design team led by Otl Aicher. It was César who told me that the title of Aicher’s The World as Design (Die Welt als Entwurf) translates literally as The World as a Project. This, plus a reference to Argentina’s biggest cultural export in its most recent guise, the Tango-based Gotan Project (a Swiss-French-Argentine collaboration) helped suggest our title.

Rick Poynor’s ‘Dark tools of desire’ (pp.54-61), focuses upon some examples of graphic design not included in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s blockbuster exhibition, ‘Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design’. Rick’s essay, the first of two, ranges from Max Ernst, through Abram Games and Roman Cieslewicz, to Ed Fella and Brian Schorn – who has now abandoned design for electronic music.

‘Reason and rhymes’ (pp.18-31) is about design for creative music: world, jazz, experimental, etc. Despite music distribution becoming more dematerialised, as listeners fill their hard drives with sound files, the relationship between design and music (‘good’ music, at least) appears to have an enduring vitality. Stephen Doyle, while taking an editorial approach to album design, seeks images that ‘rhyme’; Norwegian designer Kim Hiorthøy suggests that simply putting together music and design may be enough, unconsciously echoing Fella’s claim that ‘juxtaposition is everything.’ JLW