Ines Cox’s latest project, a book titled SAVE, is the culmination of a two-year research period at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. During this time she explored our relationships with technology, focusing particularly on the designer’s perspective and the reciprocal nature of the interaction with their computer. To do this, she consciously observed, documented and imitated the aesthetics that appeared on her own screen, generated by the computer and its software.
“In the book I try to protagonise the volatile and seemingly unimportant steps of the digital (working) process and reveal them as printed matter,” she explains. “I present them as an associative string of screenshots that tell a story where (graphic) characters and quotes (transcribed from the computer) become part of a particular choreography.” By collecting these “visual souvenirs” of her digital actions, which take the forms of photographs, designs, words, drawings and prints, they become “vehicles with which to communicate about our time and formats to suggest narratives on the universe we inhabit.”
Ines says that documenting this meaningful exchange was also a way to show the different levels on which designers work not just through their computer, but alongside it and with it. The pages become records of non-verbal conversations with their tools, transcending them from a mere means to an end, and presenting them as a responsive presence that uses the designer just as the designer uses it. And within this presence, Ines displays the digital processes as characters that perform on the page, moving around, asserting themselves or telling a story of visual associations as they “participate in a choreography”.
These performances abide by rules, however. The various elements and characters are divided into five sections in the book: images, scans, screens, objects and texts. “Most of the images are taken with some distance from the screen and serve as a mirror outside the project, reflecting similar structures,” Ines says. “Meanwhile, many elements were generated during the book making process: these designs I call ‘objects’. Last, but not least, there are the pieces of text I collected from my screen: these are quotes originating from my general interface, the software I use and all of my online platforms.” Each “character” appears when it is necessary for it to, regardless of its category, but every one is numbered to create a system that refers to their titles in the book’s index.
For Ines, it was important that all of these elements that resulted from her research found new life and purpose in a physical context, away from their digital origins. To highlight their newfound materiality and the tactile nature of the book, she combined two types of paper and implemented paper structures to “create even more subtle variations.” Equally, some pages have a yellow tone to accentuate the different paper stock. The rest is printed in greyscale and silver to imitate the presence of similar colour schemes in design interfaces. and to create an “atmosphere” in which the characters can perform. “Just like using only a red light on stage,” she says.
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