The Social Life of Signs

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Within any city or well-trodden landscape, unspoken assumptions infuse space: how streets function, what locations offer, how to navigate and make one’s way within a panoply of people and experiences. Visible and invisible indicators form layers of interpretation that tell us where we are, help us find our way, and even get us lost.

Domaine de Boisbuchet presents a unique challenge to the artist, architect, or designer: an expansive landscape, ripe with ideas, exchanges, and objects, yet opaque from the outside. How can we rethink concepts of navigation, naming, boundaries, and wayfinding to foster the residents’ own creative dialogues, while also offering visitors a recognizable identity and useful directional framework?

Over the course of this workshop, we will uncover the ways in which local spaces take on different identities, propose alternative narratives, and introduce new navigational and social functions through graphics and interpretative layers. This process follows a three-part structure:

Phase I: Research & Naming
How does the Domaine function? In what ways might different actors use these locations? Together we will consider new nomenclatures, language, and meanings around the campus.

Phase II: Mapping & Tracing
What are the unspoken agendas of maps and how can these be harnessed? We will create a set of subjective maps diagramming the parkland, seeking to understand geography but also unpacking the narrative dimension of cartography.

Phase III: Signing & Wayfinding
What strategies can annotate a site in a collective and communal manner? As a group, we will engage directly within the landscape, applying our maps and infusing the landscape with new names, markers and interpretations. Driven by physical and communicative intentions, we will build up narrative and spatial pathways that rethink our relationship with the landscape and with each other.

Prem Krishnamurthy and Emily Smith combine graphic design, curating, and visual anthropology in their collaborative projects, beginning with the competition for the graphic identity and signage of the Museumsinsel Berlin in 2002, and most recently in their proposal for the comprehensive exhibition design of the Bauhaus Museum Weimar in 2014.

In their individual practices, both have worked with institutions internationally to consider the impact of identity, exhibition design, and conceptual narratives upon the museum experience.

P1090573_bwPrem Krishnamurthy is a New York-based designer and curator. As a founding principal of award-winning design studio Project Projects, he has collaborated extensively with clients such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Bozar Brussels, Columbia University School of the Arts, Cooper Hewitt Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Harvard University, Istanbul Design Biennial, The Jewish Museum (New York), M+ Museum (Hong Kong), MoMA, RISD Museum, SALT Istanbul, Whitney Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, and others. Project Projects is a two-time finalist for the Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards, the USA’s highest accolade for design. Prem is also the director/curator of P!, a critically-acclaimed exhibition space in New York City’s Chinatown that reinvents itself and existing exhibition formats through collaborations with artists, designers, musicians, and writers. He has edited books including MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art (with Elizabeth Thomas, 2009) and Speculation, Now (with Vyjayanthi Rao and Carin Kuoni, Duke University Press, 2015). Prem is currently on faculty at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies, where he focuses on the intersections of design and curatorial practice.

ESmith_BTKBW_2014Emily Smith is a Berlin-based designer, educator and researcher. Her multi-disciplinary practice investigates the interplay between the narrative and the spatial, experimentation as play and as research, and visual communication of the emotional and the systematic. She currently teaches in the Communication and Motion Design departments at the BTK University of Applied Science Berlin, and lectures internationally. Emily has worked collaboratively as designer and consultant for identity, print, and exhibition projects with clients such as the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Neues Museum Berlin, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Zeiss Optical Museum, Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, Schering AG, and the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

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