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Empty Pages

Today, graphic designers continually diversify their practices by commissioning themselves and taking on other roles. These hybrid designers navigate between functionality (as designers) and autonomy (as commissioners of their own work). Yet hybrid designers do not create hybrid designs. Their practices are autonomous. Their designs are not. Not by definition.

The project Empty Pages contrasts the conventional art book, which is functional, represents and discloses art, with the so-called artists’ book, which questions its function as a book, presents art and is autonomous as art object. Both the representation as the presentation are realized through design strategies. Can that distinction then also tilt through design? Can the conventional art book stand as a thing between its users, as a shared design tool, as an interface? What is the role of reproductions in this? What are the stylistic and aesthetic possibilities and limitations of reproductions? Can the mechanical reproductions of Walter Benjamin be designed as the digital reproductions of Boris Groys: as original performances of invisible originals?

With regard to these questions, the doctoral project proposes a productive and hybrid design practice as research method: the genesis of a publishing house as artistic research into (and an update of) the design of conventional art books. The practice comprises four sections: Papers (catalogue, raisonné), Sheets (catalogue, imaginé), Folds (catalogue, pratiqué) and Pages (catalogue, publié).

Co-promotor: Steven Jacobs (UAntwerpen)