Volume Five / January 2005 / New York City
Interview with E.König
M.L.: Eike, you participated in the fifth volume of "The One Weekend Book Series". Tell me about it. How was it?
E.K.: Well, it was quite unusual. First of all because you become part of this beautiful 48-hour book series and then it concerns this particular city as well. You, Martin, already had some experience, but for me it was something completely new. We often work with our hands, without the computer, but nevertheless it made me nervous and excited, like a student. Being without familiar working materials in a totally different place. In the first 5 hours we collected material, but during working I noticed I missed this or that. The assignment and its limitations taught me totally new things. I felt very bad. My stomach was aching. I had a bad jetlag and was totally exhausted at 20.00 o'clock. We were only able to work properly from 12.00 till 21.00 o'clock. Just as I started to really get into it, the 48 hours were nearly over. I dreamt about "The One Weekend Book Series". I was afraid to fail, things appeared in my dreams I thought were long forgotten, things not happening in my everyday working life. An interesting experience for myself, but it was very interesting to see the others working as well, it made me grow.
It wasnít like I expected it to be, but then again it was like it had to be. The result is great, we laughed a lot and ate little and it got atypically typical New Yorkish. I think that we, the ones that created it, see more connections than someone that hasnít witnessed what we saw. It has something to do with the experiences made. It became a very personal book.
Martin, how it is for you? You always have to get used to new places and people. Are you getting used to it or is it every time a new experience?
M.L.: Every volume up to now has been very different, but what they have in common is that they all have been very intense and emotional. This is an important part of the project. The time pressure, the fear to fail and the uneasy feeling of not having the familiar environment and working materials. It feels very intimate, being in this situation with "strangers". It makes you experience a different side of yourself. This is the situation I want to get. It is the situation in which you are able to take risks and try something new. Only then the results become authentic and therefore more interesting.
I really love this project, it makes me travel, see other places, meet great talents and share with them the intense experience of creating a book in 48 hours. Itís a very refreshing and inspiring experience. I hope I will never get used to it. I think I would immediately stop the project, because being used to it would mean stagnation. I want to be able to keep on learning.
What were your thoughts on the project "The One Weekend Book Series" and its volumes before and after you experienced it yourself?
E.K.: I've got a totally new relation to the project. It got more personal depth after I participated. In the beginning I just thought it was an idea you developed and filled with life. Later, when I saw the results I searched the work for the person and his relation to the visited city. I got surprised every time. After you asked me to participate in the New York volume I started to anatomize the past volumes. What would be possible, what could be made, how the artists dealt with the format, how they coped with the fact that the illustrations become copied, all these were questions that I asked myself. We spoke several times about this, but I had to release myself from this information, otherwise I wouldnít have had such fun.
I enjoyed the experiment. First, you have a different view of the city and therefore experience it differently for a short period. Secondly, it gives you the possibility to observe yourself in special circumstances. I found out about my strengths, but about my weaknesses as well. This sensitizes you and thatís good. After some time passed, I recognized that the result becomes a part of every participator and that you can see the connections between these three parts, even though they are very different individuals. For me this is the visualization of the invisible workflow that happens when one works in a group. Influences, observations, moods, etc. One should repeat this experiment many times. It releases an other kind of energy, it practices certain things that one isnít able to practice as intensely in everyday working life.
Martin, how is it for you? Do you as well see more in this project than the visual result and the motivation you get from it? For me the process is very important and I find it very interesting to experience the other person during working with him.
M.L.: I have always wondered about non-local working groups, this is a common theme in all my TwoPoints.Net projects. Local work means clarity but often misses out on spontaneous emotion and constant thrill. You can always see other places on television or internet and chat with different people via email, but art and design have so much to do with feeling. Being somewhere with someone at the right place, at the right time is often worth more than the best made plan. Although globalization is changing the world, and Europe in particular, I found out that every place is different in its core and creates opportunities easily overlooked when you focus on fashion and trends. It would be interesting to create a traveling work group, one that is constant by not being at the same space. You could see the project "The One Weekend Book Series" as a first step towards this goal.
The lack of electronic help, the computer, is another interesting part of this project. Most of us have become used to use the computer, it has become a substitute for our hands in the process of creation, a very mighty prosthesis. Mighty enough to forget about hand crafted work. What happens now we are going back to pen and paper? In what way has our working with the computer changed our work on paper, concerning both, working methods and aesthetics?
E.K.: I think the biggest problem of the computer is still its limitations, even though it has many possibilities. Pictures created are still made out of bits and bytes and follow a certain grid. We, the Hort, always tried to break the typical look of the computer by bringing something that distracts into our work, but still it is the handmade work that has the greatest appeal to us humans. It is the mistake, the irregularity, we consider as human and therefore relate to best. I realized that the computer does a lot of work, but deletes as well some parts of the process. Parts that are important for the design. If one works with its hands he has to think about so much more. This gives him the possibility to reflect his thoughts more often. The computer gives us the famous "Apple+Z" and today you can even repeat it 20 times. This saves us time and reflection in between the process. The experience is missing. The visual feel, the smell, the amazement of the delicate hand, the outburst of fury, the format, the realness. When humans experience something during creating, the reader feels it in his work. That is of great importance, because it is all about communication.
What do you think about this? Is it in the end only a possibility to make a difference to others? Is there really a visible and traceable development that is able to see the computer for what it is, a working tool? I noticed that the producers of computers are heading more and more in the direction of "private creativity". Easy to handle editing programs with computer effects for the family vacation films, digital cameras that make the people take more trash pictures ‚ click, delete, save, print. Is the industry merely pleasing the simple wish to be creative? Is the industry destroying our business this way?
M.L.: No, because our job is not just to create a picture, it is not a creative throw-off, we, as designers, do not create in order to create. We create a media that is used for communication. This implies a target driven working process. A conscious decision. To be able to make this decision one needs education and experience, not just a tool with a filter.
I hope that the process of bringing the technical possibilities for printing, creating movies or making music to the masses will bring a better definition of our job. I sometimes have the feeling that a client would preferably do the job himself, but because he does not know how to prepare a file for print, we have to do it. If all these people would now be able to print their own designs, only the ones that realize they need a professional designer would hire us. This is at least what I hope.