Graphic design is a medium which adapts and changes according to the practitioner utilising it. It can be technical and focussed, executed with almost scientific precision. Simultaneously, it can be highly conceptual, resembling that which could grace the walls of an art gallery. A recent graduate of Central Saint Martins’ graphic design course, Andreas Pappamikail, combines these two areas, merging his technological interests with his political and philosophical ones, resulting in multifaceted, and thoroughly engaging work.
Born in Brussels to a British father who works in IT and French Portuguese mother who works at the European Parliament, Andreas’ interests are suitably varied. “After graduating from high school, a design career wasn’t my only aspiration,” he tells It’s Nice That, “Having grown up in a political hub, I considered joining a political science faculty or studying journalism.” It was upon receiving a scholarship to study his foundation year at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles that his route was solidified.
Several years later Andreas has developed a research orientated design process which blends “a methodological analysis of contemporary events, communicating my findings using the tools of modern media and technologies”. It’s one grounded in investigation and speculation where the intersection of technology and politics often plays a major role. “I see graphic design as a great tool to express ideas and meaning creatively,” he explains, “I believe contemporary communication design will be key in demystifying some core frameworks of our society, taking on a role that was traditionally given to journalists. As we are facing big crises in our institutions, designers might be able to provide a trust that has been lost in modern media.”
With this in mind, the work Andreas produces is often suitably intricate, particularly in its concept. Take his project, Motherboard for example which Andreas himself admits is “the most conceptually complex project I’ve worked on so far”. The project began as an investigation into our relationship with technology, the faith we put in it and the peculiar ceremonial habits we practice as a result. Taking shape as a piece of fiction and a handbound book, Motherboard “attributes emotion, empathy and environmental vulnerability to systems such as artificial intelligence and provides a rationale for that,” Andreas adds.
The story focusses on mankind’s dependence on technology, at the cost of several natural resources. “As man becomes increasingly blinded by the consequences of his incessant thirst for technological renewal, the machines task themselves with saving nature by taking it away from Earth and dispersing it in the universe, abandoning mankind,” Andreas outlines.
It’s in its design that Motherboard really impresses, however, the entirety of the book designed as if an AI system has produced it. Inspired by the book of Genesis, each “psalm” Andreas wrote is “embedded within a page of nonsensical text, randomly generated by an algorithmhttp://libraryofbabel.info that is informed by the concept of the Library of Babel by [Luis] Borges,” he tell us. Each page also features the virtual location of the text within the digital Library and the index contains the hex codes of each page. This system allows “readers” to trace each page of Motherboard’s physical book within the virtual library – “it’s a bit complicated,” Andreas jokes.
Although elaborate, Motherboard is a project worth getting your head around. It’s a prime example of how graphic design can be used as a springboard to explore several concepts in parallel, in this case, mankind’s relationship with nature and technology, the intersection of digital and analogue production techniques, and the infinite and labyrinthian themes expressed in the Library of Babel.
As for the rest of Andreas’ portfolio, it’s equally as accomplished, boasting projects that merge code, Arduino and editorial design to explore the degradation of the digital files or “the cloud”, for example. However, at the crux of what makes Andreas’ work so interesting is the way he turns political and philosophical ideas into creative projects, giving them a materiality. Currently producing a show for a young fashion designer at London Fashion Week and helping some friends start a film production company in Paris, we’re excited to see what Andreas does next.
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