Amandine Alessandra (For Jotta)

A graduate of Fine Art at the University of Aix-en-Provence, Amandine began with video, but her itinerant sensibilities have since led her to explore choreography, installation, photography, and ultimately combine these disciplines with her main passion; typography. Having only established her practice as a freelance designer this January, she has swiftly acquired a range of clients from Optimus Kanguru to Selfridges. As part of the Emerge guest edition this week jotta caught up with Amandine during preparations for the exhibition.

Your work is very playful…

Playfulness allows the introduction of different levels of understanding to a message. The relative freedom of interpretation reinforces the impact of the message: it establishes a dynamic relationship with its receivers by psychologically engaging them, instead of limiting it to one single passive understanding.

Although playful things are often the simplest ones, it’s more about getting rid of as much as you possibly can while retaining the meaning and echoing a multiplicity of levels of understanding. It’s simpler and quite tempting to make complicated things.

The work seems to operate through a kind of mimesis; for instance in ‘Book as Block’ you imitate processes through other visual solutions- is it about hybridising your distinct approaches in the same work?<span

I thought of this experiment as a tautology: shut books that are therefore just blocks used to talk about the fact that shut books are just blocks, used as a typographic grid. Books are considered for their shape and colour, rather than content. Building up the letters also reminded me very much of typesetting, as every type made of coloured books had to be blocked with white books, just as it is done in letterpress, where large areas of white space are created by wooden blocks called furniture.

Would you call your work subversive?  ‘Letterform for the Ephemeral’ seems to relate in a very absurdist way to the social sphere and the world of advertising and self determinism.
While doing research for “Letterform for the Ephemeral”, I was struck by a photograph taken during the May 68 protests. It shows Citroen workers and students wearing huge cardboard boxes over their bodies, displaying one huge capital letter each. As they’re holding hands they form the words ‘Nanterre’ and ‘Citroen’. They ‘were’ the message and had to stay together for it to exist, mirroring their fight against social class distinctions and cultural barriers.

The use of people’s body as a display medium in exchange for money has been a fairly common vision in the streets of London for almost two hundred years. One of the only work prospects for non-English speakers involves standing on a busy street wearing advertising on boards around their neck.

“Letterform for the Ephemeral” has a strong potential as subversive and critical medium: no one can stop a group of people to stand next to each other wearing yellow sleeves, even if it happens that the way they put their arms displays a highly visible message.

It makes me think about Francis Alys and his phrase “Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic” I was really struck by his piece on Saint Fabiola at the portrait Gallery.

The movement of the performers relate to the shifting content that one encounters through electronic text; the message is in constant flux….. A message evolves in perpetual flux and its context is permanently shifting. A printed message cannot adapt to a changing situation, the wearable letterform allows comment on situations as they happened:  a group of people standing in a public place can spell out a comment by becoming different letters, one word at the time, a bit like an analogical tweet that would involve a group of people rather than an expression of individuality.

We are increasingly communicating via text, email and Twitter, the difficulty with a lot of this communication is the inability to read tone, we lose the visual side of it. People address this in a number of ways, with emoticons etc, what is your take on this?
Keyboard written words lack any of the para-information we get from handwritten or verbal communication. People counter-balance this with friendlier vocabulary. This is all quite new so the codes are yet to be defined and universally acknowledged, we can find it distressing to receive an email all written in capitals, while the actual meaning of the words doesn’t show any aggressivity.

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