C Magazine

C Magazine Spring 2019

C Magazine, established in 1984, is an essential platform for critical debate about contemporary art. With an emphasis on Canadian practitioners and international contexts, each thematic issue engages with emergent perspectives through original art writing, criticism and artists’ projects. C is committed to facilitating meaningful, pluralistic, interdisciplinary, historically-engaged and imaginative conversations about art.

C The Visual Arts Foundation
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graphic design

This issue of C Magazine ushers in a new visual design courtesy of Raf Rennie. Serendipitously, for this issue’s theme, we turn the lens to graphic design. This is a field which tends to be regarded as a prosthesis to art, a facet of commerce, an effect of mass-production—a discipline bound to service and marketing. Initially, the theme was to be titled “Design and Power” but we decided to simply go with “Graphic Design” and bypass the suggestion that design’s relationship to power is a special case, and recognize that it is rather deeply entangled. Because of the ways in which graphic design is often misrecognized, in this issue, we attempt to sidestep some of the anxious discourses of our field, such as: What can design do (to make things…

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“i’m a little too reb ellious for that”: a conversation with joi t. arcand and winona wheeler

While doing research to design a catalogue for Kent Monkman’s exhibition at the Robert Langen Art Gallery in Waterloo, ON, which was to be typeset in Cree and English, I decided I wanted the typefaces to echo some of the themes of Monkman’s work. So, I opted for Cartier, designed by Carl Dair in 1968 and dedicated to the people of Canada on the centenary of Confederation,1 and BJ Cree UNI, designed by Bill Jancewicz in 1994 for the Naskapi Development Corporation.2 I was interested in exploring the common misattribution of Cartier as Canada’s first typeface, when it was actually preceded by a Cree typeface by around 120 years. I was fortunate to come across a text by Winona Wheeler (then Winona Stevenson) called “Calling Badger and the Symbols of the…

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entangled visions: the birth of a radical pedagogy of design in india

“It is in the emergence of the interstices—the overlap and displacement of domains of difference—that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated.” – Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (1994) The history of design education in India can be traced to a dialogue between decolonial nationalism and transcultural forces of modernity that began to unfold in the late 19th century. A curious entanglement between the independent legacies of Germany’s Bauhaus and the freedom movement in India planted the seeds for a new pedagogy of design that emerged in 1961, 13 years post-independence, with the establishment in Ahmedabad of the National Institute of Design (NID) as India’s first design school. Founded on the basis of The India Report (1958), a visionary roadmap for Indian design…

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a completely customized world where everything is just how i like and need it: the work of shannon finnegan

What if a typeface, one of the most ubiquitous examples of visual design in the world, could be a voice for “the other”? Reading is almost a passive activity as eyes scan storefronts or a newspaper spread. What if, instead of implying mechanical perfection, the letterforms expressed imperfection? Would our shared consciousness around ability shift? Shannon Finnegan’s work uses typography and hand lettering as an invitation to participate in the thoughts, emotions and everyday experiences of a person with a disability. Self-Portrait (2017) is a collection of drawings in pastel-coloured pencil on letter-size sheets of paper, which, at first glance appear to be flyers on a busy billboard, filling the window of The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn, New York. Together, from a distance, the drawings read as a cheerful…

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incidental graphics: to design in and through documents

1. Incidental graphics tend not to be designed. They materialize through existing formal conventions to house information that needs to be stored or communicated. They inhabit these conventions so completely as to become, with their world-making originality, undetectable. When removed from their contexts of immediate use (in which they function perfectly and without notice), incidental graphics appear merely as documents.1 2. (This can be very mundane, or very magical, or both. When I was five or six and first learning how to write, I added “pop-tarts” to a grocery list stuck to our fridge while neither parent was watching. To my astonishment, and even though my past requests for Pop-Tarts had always been rejected, they arrived amid the groceries my father brought home. He thought my mother had written them. This…

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the blackbox trick: magic in the age of techno-governance and corporate secrecy

In 1499, Johannes Trithemius, a German scholar and advisor to Emperor Maximilian, sent a letter to his friend Arnold Bostius regarding Steganographia, a new book he was working on. The letter described the work as involving methods to communicate across great distances and ways of expressing one’s thoughts without using words or signs of any sorts. By the time the letter arrived, Bostius had died, and his colleagues, alarmed by the letter’s contents, made it public, calling Trithemius an occultist and employer of demons. On the surface, the book indeed appears to be a work on magic. It lists demonological names, invocations and ways to use spirits to send secret messages. However, as was later learned upon closer examination, it also contains hidden sophisticated ciphers—a vast display of cryptographic techniques within…