Michael McDermott


Produced for a pop-up exhibition, the poster involves the layering of two parts. The first layer is material, a poster on display, sourced from the site, the exhibition; the top layer reveals the information for the show. The informational layer is type knocked out of a rectangle filled with a blue to magenta gradient. That layer is then overprinted onto the existing poster, allowing the viewer to see the necessary details for the show and simultaneously, an obscured look at a piece from the show. This play between what is primary and secondary creates a more dynamic space on the page, leading to a deeper reading by drawing the viewer into that space.

The goal here was to design a simple type layer to overprint on another designer’s work that would remove the original piece from its context and place it into another, advertising the show where that original was displayed. The layering of the new text on top of the original design challenges the authorship of the piece and the poster itself.

Multiple references inform the formal strategies of Ours. The visual form of the project references make-readies as well as posters designed by Vincent Perrottet and Test Prints from Aesthetic Apparatus. The conceptual inspiration is from a Susan Sontag in her 1970 essay “Posters: Advertisement, Art, Political Artifact, Commidity” where she writes “Thus the poster artist is usually a plagiarist.” Ours blurs the authorship of the whole piece by taking another designer’s work that was created for an entirely different context and giving it a new context by printing the knocked out layer of type on top. The final print also has the names of both designers visible, digitally signed by its two authors. The bottom layer has the name of that designer on it and the added layer is signed Michael McDermott. This forces the viewer to think about authorship and whose work the final print really is.

Traditional make-readies are created out of necessity rather than for aesthetic reasons and are the functional results of a technical process. The work of multiple designers is layered together to make sure the plates and presses are printing correctly. There is no intention behind the make-readies. Ours takes that visual language and embeds it with intent and meaning.

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