by John Feely

AustraliaQueensland College of Art, Griffith University
Published online
March 20, 2014

This assignment asks students to choose one or more texts of a total of no more than 100 words, and without altering the text, create a convincing typographic argument in any medium, guided by the principles of classical rhetoric. Tutor: Jason Grant.

John wanted to challenge “the belief that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the long-term economy”. He created an installation as a kind of 3 dimensional poster. Its physical bulk becomes an affecting spatial experience.

The word ‘Mine’ is coupled with turgid marketing straplines from a local homewares retailer and mining company:

“When you make a lasting impression, it has to be a good one” AUSENCO

“Turn Longings into Belongings” Freedom Furniture

“Mine uses both meanings of the word to highlight the relationship between mining growth and consumerism. It aims to create links between daily choices made by the audience and the industrial-sized repercussions that their needs collectively create.”

So the ‘mine’ of mineral extraction (a void/absence) and possessive ‘mine’ of consumer acquisition (a mass/presence) are linked in a sculptural yin and yang.

It is an example of research and experimentation leading to a focused, distilled and convincing concept. One short word, repeated, invested with context and presence, and released as a critical meme.

As the end days draw nigh, these polite ploys of visual resistance will help ambush the ideologies of denial. And such a simple and forceful idea is realised entirely with letterforms.

  1. Guest comment
    by Ben Ball

    I wrote a whole response to this before I realized (by reading the introduction above) that Ausenco is a mining company. I’d assumed it was a nineteenth century Italian philosopher. But of course the physical business of mining’s clearly at the centre of the work.

    The physical inversion of the word is very neat. As well as the main notion of mining creating a hole, I like the little pun on ‘impression’ – one assumes Ausenco’s intended that too, but it’s nicely co-opted here. And I like the way the physical presence of the letters above the furniture slogan makes them feel material – like furniture. What I don’t feel very forcefully from this piece is that the process of consumerism is destructive. It seems merely vapid – which is also a fair enough point to make.

    The precision of the lines, the exactness of the fit, makes it feel as though the process of consumerism is a game, one that could easily be reversed – you could fit those letters back in that hole. Of course that’s not true of actual process. So I wondered if that net detriment might have been represented somewhere – that we end up with less than we started with – perhaps by eroding the projected letters. But that might spoil the clean, precise rendering, so there are good aesthetic reasons for the piece being as it is. One tiny observation – for some reason I kept wanting to read the letters down rather than across. Currently the letters are static, blocky. For reasons I can’t explain, reading MI down might add a little something – perhaps this erosion I’m suggesting, as the M tails off into the I. We’re now getting a little obscure, perhaps, but MI reminds us of ‘my’, and NE of ‘no’, a kind of self-erasure that resonates with the piece’s political comments, and although we normally read from left to right, those meanings feel to me more apparent running top to bottom.

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