Since We're on the Subject.

10.21.2005

We presented our work in class today (we were very proud of ours), and it caused some interesting discussion, as well as pointing out examples of real body art (vs our found pieces). A classmate of mine showed us the following AIGA poster of Stefen Sagmeister.

He's probably one of the most well known graphic designers, having worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Adobe, etc. He's extremely talented and the reason that many graphic design students went into graphic design. Heck...I wanna be able to design like him.

Sagmeister says of the poster:

"For this lecture poster for the AIGA Detroit, we tried to visualize the pain that seems to accompany most of our design projects. Our intern Martin cut all the type into my skin. Yes, it did hurt real bad."

I know that many people will look at this poster in disgust, or say that it isn't art and he's a lunatic for doing that to himself. Perhaps. And that's ok.

I find myself very drawn to this. I look past the fact that someone took a knife (most likely an exacto knife) to his body and see the raw beauty of the letter forms, and the way they sit on his body. This also begs the question of would I ever do this? Would I purposefully harm myself for art? I think maybe. Not in a severe way (and I can tell you that this is not severe. It's all surface cuts and I doubt that he even has any scars from it), but if I believed in a piece enough, or saw a need for it, maybe.

I'd love to know what you think.

4 comments:

Bar Bar A said...

Wow. My first thought (I looked at the photo before reading the post) was that I liked this guy's bod. But then when I realized those words, etc. were CUT into him I felt kind of sickish. Then I was reminded of Guy Pearce in Memento and I felt good again.

I don't know...this bothers me if he really did get cut, but it does say alot about his commitment to his art.

Wesley said...

"Dude, that guy is cut!"

Actually, I tend to be against any kind of self-mutilation/scarification. Maybe I'm just a prude. I guess if it was really important to me, and using my body as a canvas was the most appropriate format for the point I was trying to make, then perhaps I would. But I can't think of too many points like that I'd want to make, offhand (no pun intended..)

Traci said...

Wes, I nearly shot coffee out my nose. Points for cleverness (or corniness, there's a fine line) go to you today.

I actually agree with you, for the most part. I wouldn't do anything that wasn't appropriate to the message. And, as you would say, "offhand" I can't think of anything at this point that would need to be said in that way. I wouldn't ever do anything severe or permanent (excepting a tattoo) to my body.

That being said, I don't consider what Sagmeister did to be severe. It takes surprisingly little to make a cut show up. For example, my cat claws me accidently, from time to time, when we're playing. Never anything severe, but the scratches show up. I also, ahem, have a nice "A" and "Z" residing on my arm right now (it was completely sanitary). It was a tiny scratch that didn't even bleed. In a few weeks, all evidence of it will be gone.

And Barbara, you brought up a good thought with the movie "Momento". I understand that this photo looks shocking...but how many people do we know who permanently "scar" themselves when they get tattoos? Yet, tattoos (for most people) are not at all offensive or outrageous.

Interesting.

And I would like a tattoo...just a small one, and something meaningful to me - not just a tattoo for tattooing sake. But that's another discussion (one my dear husband tries his darndest to ignore).

Wesley said...

Traci, you're right -- I wonder how long it took for these surface cuts to heal. Like you say, if they're anything like cat scratches (actually, they're probably a bit more sterile), they'll fade in a week or two. So in that sense it's a pretty cool art project. If it was permanent it would just be a stupid thing to have done.

There is something very political about it though, as in, your body is the last thing that can be taken away from you (which is sort of the point in Memento -- awesome movie by the way, thanks well woman).

P.S. I'm usually on the wrong side of the clever/corny divide -- if there really is one...

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