Tibor: A Graphic Design Performance

Tibor: A Graphic Design Performance

I made this performative installation the day before I quit my studies in Graphic Design, in the third year of the four year degree to focus fully on art at the Massachusetts College of Art. I loved design then, and I love design now, but I knew deeply that the direction I saw design education taking me and the industry that was waiting for me was not what I wanted. The designer Tibor Kalman had died just two years prior, he was one of my design heros, particularly for the socially provocative work he had done for Benneton's Colors. Here, with love, I destroy my hero by defacing his image into various reincarnations. I stapled the new Tibors in front of the design office that evening and in the morning, I formally withdrew from the degree. 


Tibor's Orbit

Marcel Duchamp realized early the importance in questioning what was "great" or who was "master" in art. Perhaps designers, particularly, we as design students might benefit from this approach. we should feel free to borrow from our heroes, whether they be Kalman or Rand, Mau or Maeda, but we must remain critical - and we must always, always remain ourselves.

The power of visual language should not be under-estimated. the power of symbols can be informative, but when used inappropriately, harmful. Steven Heller devotes an entire book testifying to the evolution of the swastika, from its benign origin to its co-option and abuse. The drawn line, or a series of lines, whether manifest in swastika, mustache or logo says something. use your skill to better the world, not sell it.

Henry David Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience, that for the right cause, we should be prepared to accept the consequences, and more importantly, the responsibility of our actions. Jean Paul Sartre believed that everything is a choice and that choices are inevitable. believe in your choices. Change is inevitable. Be an agent of change. Choose to be an agent of change.

This experiment, in part, is a consequence of my interpretation of Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, Bob Gill's Advice for First-Year Graphic Design Students and Dan Friedman's Change of Heart. I must be true to myself. I must say what I believe. I must believe in what I produce. I must produce what I believe to be true.

There appears to exist an irony. Tibor says everything is an experiment, and he demonstrated in his life that he considered himself a part of that experiment. A play on a play on a play. A reproduction of a reproduction of a reproduction. An experiment upon an experiment upon an experiment. The self-reflexive requires reflection. Much reflection has gone into this simple visual statement, but how it ultimately reflects upon you says something about you - which may not necessarily be of me but ultimately it connects us- creating a new loop.

Tibor smiles and says that everything is an experiment. We should smile back.

* Tibor's image comes from the cover of his book Perverse Optimist.



Tibor: A Graphic Design Performance
Design Faculty
Massachusetts College of Art, Boston
February 9, 2001

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