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Quarantaine Sessions – A Book For Me

Ines Glowania (1990)

In samenwerking met Onomatopee Projects
NL

Ines is in 2019 afgestudeerd aan Design Academy Eindhoven aan de master Information Design. Nu woont en werkt ze als ontwerper in Keulen (ze is ook een Duitse). “My situation is quite simple. I am staying in my 25qm apartment in Cologne everyday. That is why I am applying to the Residency for the People. I need a push, a reason to continue what I want to do, even though I know I should do it anyway.” Wat Ines wil doen is een boek maken. Dat doet ze als grafisch ontwerper wel vaker, maar die boeken zijn altijd bestemd voor ‘de ander’; een opdrachtgever, docent of geïnteresseerde lezer. Er is altijd een buitenwereld die het boek onder ogen krijgt en waar dus ook tijdens het maken telkens rekening mee is gehouden. Zo niet deze keer. “I will design a book for myself. A book that no one except me will see. Never have I known my client so well.” Een goed boek maken kost geld en tijd. De tijd heeft Ines gezien de corona-crisis al, een startbudget nu ook via Residency for the People.

Op de Instagram pagina van het in Eindhoven gelegen Onomatopee zag Ines Glowania (1990) de oproep voorbij komen. Residency for the People was uitgezet als open call. Ines, multidisciplinair designer die in 2019 in Eindhoven de Master Information Design besloot, zond als één van velen een proposal in. Ze was aangetrokken door de focus van de residentie op de persona boven de productie van objecten. Ook zij ontwierp geregeld voor de ontvanger van haar product, een externe bron, een klant, of opdrachtgever. “Oh well, why not. Let’s try!”, ging er resoluut door haar hoofd, om in haar 25 m2 bescheiden appartement in Duitsland een persoonlijk plan op te stellen. In het plan deelt zij haar verlangen om een boek te ontwerpen. Een boek dat niemand anders ooit zal zien. 

‘I wanted to make a book no one accept me will ever see. Even though someone is allowed to see the outside, (s)he is not allowed to see the inside of the book’, vertelt Ines glimlachend wanneer we elkaar via Skype ontmoeten. Voor de webcam van haar MacBook presenteert ze het eindresultaat van de korte residentie: een wit boek, strak omwikkeld in vacuüm. Het boek was in een tijd ontstaan waarin het leven slechts bestond uit korte bezoeken aan de supermarkt en digitale ontmoetingen met anderen, zoals deze. Juist voor Ines, die zich in haar praktijk focust op de veranderingen in ons handelen door alledaagse systemen, is de crisis bij uitstek een moment om haar eigen werkpraktijk eens kritisch te bevragen. In haar proposal schrijft ze toe naar het statement ‘te willen ontwerpen zonder verwachtingen of prestatiedruk van buitenaf’, iets wat in het dagelijkse leven alom centraal staat. We zijn altijd zichtbaar – is het niet via de ontwerpen die we maken, dan wel via Instagram. In haar residentie zoekt Ines naar een rede om door te gaan met wat ze doet, “[…] even though I know I should do it anyway.”

Een statement als moraal 
‘To create a book is to make an end. Lucas wanted to finish the book within a month, I did’, zegt Ines, wanneer ik haar vraag naar het eindresultaat van de periode. In de verschillende gesprekken die zij met Lucas via Skype voerde werd toegewerkt naar de concrete productie van het boek. Waar zij een plan schreef gedreven door het idee van zelfregie, was de wens ‘a book for myself’ toen vooral een metafoor geweest. Het idee moest nog van inhoud worden voorzien. ‘When you say: “I want to make a book for me”, as I wrote down in my proposal, you don’t know what that means. So Lucas said: “Ok, do it.” And then I realized: “What does that even mean, making a book for myself ?” Ines lacht. “When I said: “I wanna make a book for me”, Lucas mentioned: “Ah, you wouldn’t see it?’ And I was thinking: “That’s really good.” Waar Ines zelf nog niet had nagedacht over de invulling van het boek, werd in de eerste gesprekken duidelijk dat ook zij de inhoud niet mocht zien. ‘The book is actually made by me without seeing it myself, wherein Lucas reflected on what I was saying without being too pushy.’ 

De rest van de maand spendeerde Ines veel tijd om haar statement ‘een boek te realiseren dat niemand ooit zou zien’ te leren begrijpen. Wanneer immers alles kan wat je zelf wilt, wat wil je dan eigenlijk écht met een onzichtbaar boek? ‘I used different types of algorithms to lay out the book, so I didn’t see it beforehand. I used ‘random’ as a word for the algorithm, since my head is a mess itself. […] I also had to find out about the finder in my MacBook, since there are tiny images in that finder which reveal the content what’s inside. It brought me to the point to find out how to not see the small images there. And at some point, my sister was visiting me. I thought: “Shit, I have to move the book”, laying in front of the door. We’re sisters, we’re interested in each other’s readings. At the end, this process wasn’t about the book, but about me trying to understand what designing means without seeing it by others, and what I really want.’

Op 9 juni opende Ines het boek voor de eerste keer zelf als afronding van haar residentie. De avond moest een sociaal gebeuren worden in het midden van haar appartement. Een onmogelijke wens, gezien de omvang van de ruimte en de niet-aanwezige afstand tot haar performance de inhoud van het boek onlosmakelijk zou blootgeven. De opening van het boek voor haarzelf zou daarom een live-stream op Instagram worden, maar: het internet werkte niet mee. Uiteindelijk besloot Ines het proces van openen in haar slaapkamer te filmen. In achttien minuten kijken we mee zonder de inhoud van het boek te kunnen zien. Het openen van het boek is een handeling die Ines kan blijven herhalen, omdat pagina’s vanuit een Japanse bindingswijze zijn gevouwen. Elke keer dat zij het boek zelf opent onthullen er nieuwe delen. ‘But what’s gonna happen if it get lost, or I die? It will be longer in the world than I am. You never think about this question for a certain object, it’s really interesting for me!’

You know, no one knows 
Op dit moment reist het boek naar Onomatopee. ‘Maybe there will be a funny person to open it’, lacht Ines. Die mogelijkheid verbande zij door het boek in plastic dicht te sealen. Ondanks de presentatie in Eindhoven is Ines’ ingeslagen pad niet afgerond. ‘I will keep this topic in mind, since it’s challenging to think about how much we need to see in society. Designing by restrictions is very interesting. In one of our conversations, Lucas and I talked about the book by George Perec [La Disparition], wherein he wrote without using the letter ‘e’. It’s a bit like designing with this restriction of non-seeing’, legt Ines uit. Niet als reactie tegen de beeldcultuur, maar als proces gericht op het behoud van privacy. Waar sociale media een belangrijke focus op het artistieke proces achterliggend aan het eindproduct kan delen, blijft het belangrijk om privacy te behouden. Om, zoals Ines zelf zegt, te kunnen schetsen in het park zonder het met de wereld te hoeven delen. ‘Process should be shown, but – due to this digital era – we have to think about our private spaces. It’s happening now, in Corona. We have to take it!’ Artistieke productie zonder externe restricties heeft Ines de ervaring van kalmte en tijd gegeven, waarover zij in haar proposal al schreef. Haar boek kan niet worden beoordeeld op de zichtbaarheid ervan, wat een zekerheid voor Ines met zich meebracht. Zij kon nu handelen zonder in het proces van doen door gedachten te worden geremd. ‘If you’re scared you get stuck in thoughts’, beaamt Ines. ‘But this time there was no reason to be scared. I really want to keep this feeling of not being scared. Because, perhaps, the book is empty. You know: no one knows.’

EN

Ines graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2019 at the master Information Design. Now she lives and works as a designer in Cologne (she is also a German). “My situation is quite simple. I am staying in my 25qm apartment in Cologne everyday. That is why I am applying to the Residency for the People. I need a push, a reason to continue what I want to do, even though I know I should do it anyway. ” What Ines wants to do is make a book. She often does that as a graphic designer, but those books are always intended for “the other”; a client, teacher or interested reader. There is always an outside world that sees the book and which has therefore always been taken into account during the making. But not this time. “I will design a book for myself. A book that no one except me will see. Never have I known my client so well. ” Making a good book costs money and time. Due to the corona crisis Ines already has the time. The starting budget is provided by Residency for the People. 

A call on the Instagram page of Eindhoven based Onomatopee caught the attention of Ines Glowania (1990). Residency for the People had been posted as an open call. Ines, a multi-disciplinary designer who had completed Master Information Design in Eindhoven in 2019, was one among many to send in a proposal. She was attracted by the residency’s focus on the persona rather than the production of objects. And she too often designed for the recipient of her product, an external source, a client or a principal. “Oh well, why not. Let’s try!” she thought resolutely, and started drawing up a personal plan in her modest 25 m2 apartment in Germany. In the proposal she shares her desire to design a book. A book that no one else will ever see. 

‘I wanted to make a book no one accept me will ever see. Even though someone is allowed to see the outside, they are not allowed to see the inside of the book,’ Ines says, smiling, when we meet each other on Skype. In front of the webcam of her MacBook, she presents the final result of her short residency: a white book, vacuum-wrapped. The book came about in a time when life existed only of short visits to the supermarket and digital encounters with others, like this one. For a designer like Ines, who focusses on the way our behaviour is changed by every-day systems, the crisis is an excellent moment to subject her own work practice to a critical examination. In her proposal, she writes towards the statement ‘the desire to design without expectations or outside pressure to perform’, something that has come to play such a central role in life in general. We are always visible – if it’s not through the designs we make, then it’s on Instagram. In her residency, Ines is looking for a reason to continue what she is doing, “[…] even though I know I should do it anyway”.

A statement as moral
‘To create a book is to make an end. Lucas wanted to finish the book within a month, so I did,’ Ines says, when I ask her about the end result of the residency. The various Skype sessions she had with Lucas were oriented towards the actual production of the book. When she wrote a plan driven by the idea of self-direction, the wish to ‘make a book for myself’ had mostly been a metaphor. The idea still had to be provided with content. ‘When you say: “I want to make a book for me”, as I wrote down in my proposal, you don’t know what that means. So Lucas said: “Ok, do it.” And then I realised: “What does that even mean, making a book for myself?”’ Ines laughs. “When I said: “I want to make a book for me”, Lucas mentioned: “Ah, you wouldn’t see it?” And I was thinking: “That’s really good.”’ Although Ines hadn’t given the realisation of the book much thought, it became clear during the first discussions that she herself couldn’t see the contents either. ‘The book is actually made by me – without seeing it myself, while Lucas reflected on what I was saying without being too pushy.’

The rest of the month, Ines spent most of her time trying to learn to understand her statement ‘to realise a book that no one would ever see’. After all, when anything is possible, what is it you truly want to achieve with an invisible book? ‘I used different types of algorithms to lay out the book, so I didn’t see it beforehand. I used ‘random’ as a word for the algorithm, since my head is a mess itself. […] I also had to find out about the finder in my MacBook, since there are tiny images in that finder that reveal the content what’s inside. It brought me to the point to find out how not to see the small images there. And at some point, my sister was visiting me. I thought: “Shit, I have to move the book,” as it was lying in front of the door. We’re sisters, we’re interested in each other’s readings. At the end, this process wasn’t about the book, but about me trying to understand what designing means without it being seen by others, and what I really want.’ ‘What happens with this book, since it will be longer in the world than I am?’ 

On June 9, Ines opened the book for the first time herself, as a way to finish her residency. The evening had to be a social event in the middle of her apartment. An impossible wish, given that the size of the room and the non-existent distance to her performance would inevitably reveal the contents of the book. As a solution, the opening of the book for herself would be an Instagram livestream, but: the internet didn’t co-operate. Eventually Ines decided to film the opening procedure in her bedroom. For eighteen minutes, we are watching without being able to see the book’s contents. Opening the book is an act that Ines can repeat perpetually, because the pages have been folded from a Japanese binding. Each time she opens the book herself, new parts are being revealed. ‘But what will happen when it gets lost, or when I die? It will be in the world longer than I am. You never think about this question for a certain object, it’s really interesting for me!’ 

You know, no one knows
At this moment, the book is traveling to Onomatopee. ‘Maybe there will be a funny person to open it,’ Ines laughs. She banned that option by sealing the book in plastic. Despite the presentation in Eindhoven, the road Ines took hasn’t come to an end yet. ‘I will keep this topic in mind, since it’s challenging to think about how much we need to see in society. Designing by restrictions is very interesting. In one of our conversations, Lucas and I talked about the book by George Perec [La Disparition], that he wrote without using the letter ‘e’. It’s a bit like designing with this restriction of not-seeing,’ Ines explains. Not as a reaction against the visual culture, but as a process meant to preserve privacy. Where social media can highlight the artistic process behind the final product, it remains important to keep a certain privacy. To be able, as Ines puts it herself, to be sketching in the park without having to share it with the world. ‘The process should be shown but – due to this digital era – we have to think about our private spaces. It’s happening now, in Corona. We have to take it!’ Artistic production without external restrictions gave Ines the experience of calm and time that she already mentioned in her proposal. Her book can’t be judged by its visibility, which gave Ines a certain reassurance. She could now act without being slowed down by thoughts in the middle of the action. ‘If you’re scared, you get stuck in thoughts,’ Ines agrees. ‘But this time, there was no reason to be scared. I really want to keep this feeling of not being scared. Because, perhaps, the book is empty. You know: no one knows.’