Goethe Satellite @ 221A

In a society where graphic design permeates our visual environment, habits of viewing limit individuals to reading banal visual communication materials without ever really looking at them. Messages are absorbed, but the graphic arrangements that signify these messages are rarely questioned or even noticed. This language of automatic responses disconnects viewers from their visual environment, removing the opportunity for curiosity, discovery or critical thinking in favour of speed and efficiency.

Material Arrangement brings together two Vancouver artists, Andy Chung and Christy Nyiri, and two Berlin artists, Anette K Hansen and Easton West, to explore the role of graphic treatment in the conveyance of meaning. Drawing from the utilitarian nature of the visuals being examined, the title of the exhibition describes what the artists have been asked to do—arrange a collection of materials—and asserts that the arrangement of graphical forms is material to meaning-making in graphic design.

Chung, Nyiri, Hanson and West have each examined and collected a form of banal, commonly overlooked visual communication material—sprites, karaoke typography, bathroom hand-type and street posters, respectively—and will each present their selection of material in an arrangement that disrupts the intended meaning or use of these visuals. Separated from their intended contexts, the chosen materials no longer prompt viewers to read, then move on (either with action or ambivalence), but rather to pause and look, causing new interpretations and observations to become available. This subversion prompts viewers to transcend the role of passive receptor by questioning and interpreting what they are looking at, rather than automatically receiving a programmed message.