NOIT is a journal that revolves primarily around the work of the conceptual artist John Latham, his practice and theoretical concerns. In previous issues it has been a sort-of memoriam for the artist and his work, and considered how burning is used by Latham and his contemporaries. The third edition of the journal – guest edited by artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz and Andrew Wheatley, co-director of Cabinet gallery – is a record of Chaimowicz’s exhibition, Tears Shared, at Flat Time House and NOIT’s previously austere aesthetic is dressed up in the artist’s ideas of ornamentation.
Designed by work-form and Flaminia Rossi, the studio describes NOIT–3 as having been somewhat “hijacked” by the artist: “In some ways Chaimowicz hijacked his exhibition at Flat Time House to show the work of Bruno Pélassy, so the exhibition sits in between Latham and Pélassy, with him in the middle. It made sense for him to do the same in the journal. As an artist he has a very keen sense of design and his ideas of decoration and ornamentation are so in contrast to John Latham’s, there needed to be some sort of interruption or intervention in the pages. It was great to be able to kind of bootleg our own work in a sense too.”
NOIT – 3 is lined with borders and filigree drawn by Chaimowicz, with photographs laid out to reflect the theme of domesticity key to both the exhibition and Flat Time House as a space. “We wanted the photographs to be a literal retelling of the journey through the house, with a sense of movement that would give the impression of a tour. In and between each four-page section there’s the suggestion of a ‘full turn of the head’ connecting each space; the perspective is flattened and colours are juxtaposed against each other in a way you wouldn’t necessarily detect if there in person, but it reiterates the sense of a connection,” says work-form.
Chaimowicz and work-form’s design flourishes in the issue lend it a certain ambiguity. “For the most part it feels like it was made in the 70s, but the borders feel quite Madame Bouverie-era book design, and this is an artist who works with really cheap carpeting, which suddenly brings you back to the 70s again. It’s not ahistorical, but it’s not tied to a particular point of view or time either.” Another addition is a bookmark printed with a selection from Chaimowicz’s collection of pressed glassware. “We kept talking about the vases being cut out and sat throughout the book in unexpected places, but we couldn’t slot them in. A vase cut out by itself looked so incongruous, but as a collection, and a bookmark, they could sit on both every page and no pages – it’s a nice way of adding something extra, that’s mobile.”
The journal is produced by a print-on-demand service, which can be limiting in some ways but also introduces a flexibility that allows for shifts and additions in each edition. “There are ways of sprucing it up, we had the covers printed separately, added stickers and the bookmark. The photographs aren’t perfect but the artwork has come out really nicely. Any designer, given the chance, wants to make work in its most bespoke form, but there’s also real satisfaction in producing something that is right for the budget, the people and the timing, that actually works functionally. Something that isn’t a gilded block of lead that you’ve got to carry around, that’ll take up dust and you’ve spent loads of money on,” says work-form.
There’s this idea that books are very fixed, particularly if you’re designing for a series… It’s so much more exciting to say, ‘well, how much can we change this before it becomes something else?’"
While NOIT–3 is a record of and reflects the ideas in the exhibition, it also very much stands apart – with essays that are responding to, but not necessarily about Tears Shared. “Chaimowicz was very sympathetic to the writing, and the contents of the journal, we spent a lot of time talking about what sort of typefaces would suit each contributor and what approach would work – in a certain way the character of each typeface reflects the character of each writer, and their writing” explains work-form.
Returning to the design of the journal, work-form says: “It’s measured, there are points at which it could go too far, fall off the edge and not really make sense but we really like it. There’s this idea that books are very fixed, particularly if you’re designing for a series – you have to be conscious that if you make the wrong decision on the first book you’ll be repeating it throughout. It’s so much more exciting to say, ‘well, how much can we change this before it becomes something else?’ Working with Marc Camille Chaimowicz was a great reminder of the fact that you can do that, you can skew and really alter the identity of something without compromising it. You aren’t tied to a decision you made two years ago that perhaps wasn’t even that good.”
NOIT is published by Flat Time House and Camberwell Press.
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