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Small Gods: Perspectives on the Drone

Work / Publication

Small Gods magazine explores “anomalies of the drone”

RCA graphic design graduates Oliver Dickson and Liam Morrow recently joined forces with writer Alex Quicho to make a new publication titled Small Gods: Perspectives on the Drone.

“Liam and I shared a studio at the Royal College of Art,” Oliver explains of the duo’s overlapping background. “We had many proclivities and interests in common, both in terms of our approach to design and across visual culture at large. There was a continual exchange of ideas and references, and an authentically generative atmosphere there. We have collaborated over the years on other projects, such as Designing Digital Now, an ambitious curation and exhibition design, commissioned by Neville Brody and the Creative Exchange.”

The idea for their latest endeavour Small Gods: Perspectives on the Drone came from Alex, who started the project as the final part of her MA, Critical Writing in Art and Design, also at the RCA. “She approached Liam and I with the proposition of designing a publication of her writing,” Oliver says. “We met and discussed how best to represent the work in a book form and from the start, there was a dynamic of creative flow between the three of us. I think this collaborative mindset is present in the completed work, meaning people are interpreting the themes much than further themselves.”

So what can readers expect to find within the publications’s multi-textured pages? “Small Gods explores the use of the drone as medium through the works of three artists: Laura Poitras, Anne Imhof, and Korakrit Arunanondchai, addressing its movement through military, civilian, and transhuman realms respectively,” Liam explains. “Our focus was on producing a publication, which not only documents but is a graphic and tactile embodiment of the nuanced reflections, which Alex has crafted around the work of the artists featured.”

Visually, the type design of Small Gods is “based on the concept of the drone, as the remote embodiment of spirit, in an artificial object,” Liam says. “The starting point is a Celtic Uncial lettering style, harkening to medieval manuscripts. The letterforms subsequently acquire exaggerated technical features, intended to evoke imagery of the airborne mechanism.” For the publication’s body typefaces, the trio turned to Benoit Canaud and Radim Pesko, while print method, image treatment and paper stock choices enabled the trio to explore “complex themes”. “There are varying textures and surface qualities throughout the book, such as the contrast between digital HP Indigo and Risograph printing,” Oliver says. “These give the publication a multidimensionality, intended to reflect the multifarious status of the drone.”

As for the future, Oliver and Liam already have further plans to work together. “We each feel that we have built up a distinct, but complementary approach, and we have a common interest in the forward development of the field,” Liam reflects. “We practice independently at present, but have plans to work together on upcoming commissions, hopefully enabling us to further explore the potential of graphic design, to embrace disciplinary frameworks as diverse as literature, fashion, and contemporary art.”

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