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schmutztitel

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how to be decadent

For Some Time There’ll be … On the Elegance of Decay  Old and New  Language  Freja Kirchheimer Food  Drinks  Shopping  Jolana Sýkorová Sex  Adina Luncan Ochea On Cat-Worship  On How Not to be Reserved  Felix Holler On the National Passion  On Not Complaining  Bank Holidays 

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content

Buses  50 How to Get Lost  52 How to Panic Quietly  54 Kristoffer Sølling On Fiddling Through  60 François Girard-Meunier The Generation Gap 66 Nickie Fenja Sigurdsson Is the Economy really on the mend? 70 How to Lose an Empire 72 Celina Yavelow How to become a Colony 74 On Ceasing to be an Island 76 Ott Metusala Envoi86 Ruben Baart

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for some time there’ll be …

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how to be decadent

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on the elegance of decay

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old and new

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how to be decadent Language

;o

you

# ;)

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language

t’soften oftentoto find onthe theto phone, most likely, likely, not Itfind is often be found on a(if phone—most likely, if ananiPon phone, most (if not actually actuallynecessarily), necessarily), iPnot necessarily, on an iPhone. It is a program, if one. It’s a programme, if one may say so, but for now, and most common, one often to find on the phone, most likely, (if not actually necessarily), an iPne. It’s a programme, if one may say so, but for now, and most common, on

may so,amay but, for comwould categorize it as say an app, short word for application, ne. aone programme, one so,now, but forand now, most and most common, on uldIt’s categorize it as anifapp, a shortsay word for application, monly, one would categorize it as an app, a short uld categorize it as an app, a short word for application, word for application,

which Google will inform you, is also shortened for application software, thus, we ich Google will inform you, is also shortened for application software, thus, w which, Google will inform you, is also shortened re looking on an app on your iPhone. Googleon will also shortened for application software, thus, w eich looking aninform app onyou, yourisiPhone.

for application software. Thus, we are looking

e lookingon on an an app iPhone. appononyour your iPhone.

t is squared but slightly round in the edges and takes part of an existing grid of existing s squared slightly round in theand edges andattakes part of an Itbut isshaped square buthowever, slightly round edges is grid o ther similar icons, for now, itthe is only this and one particular s squared but slightly round in the edges and takes part of an existing grid o her similar shaped icons, however, now,similarly it is only this one particular part ofwe an existing grid offor other shaped quared app that are interested in.and her similar shaped icons, however, and for now, it isthis only one this one particular icons, however, for in. now, it is only paruared app that we are interested ticular app that uared app that wesquare are interested in. we are interested in.

One has to touch the icon to open it up, stays the finger too long, the icons has touch the to open it. Iftoo the fi nger ne has toOne touch the to icon tonow open it icon up, stays the finger long, the icons arts dancing among other dancing icons, therefore, with the knowledge lingers for too long, the icons start dancing ne has to touch the icon to open it up, stays the finger too long, the icons dancing among othertonow icons, therefore, with frtsthis in mind, we attend adddancing a fast movement and enter thethe appknowledge without

among other now dancing Therefore, rts dancing among othertonow icons,icons. therefore, with knowledge in mind, ny rhythms. thisfurther we attend adddancing a fast movement and enter thethe app without with knowledge of this in mind, we attempt to this in mind, we attend to add a fast movement and enter the app without y further rhythms. apply a fast movement and enter the app with-

y furtherout rhythms. any further commotion.

13 colours of brown. In the top dark The icon that we are entering has different


this in mind, we attend to add a fast movement and enter the app without

ny further rhythms.

how to be decadent

he icon that are entering has different colours ofhas brown. In the top dark Theweicon that we are entering different

own but shades one thirdof down on its surface, gets split upbrown, by a lightbut brown, alm brown. At theittop, dark

one thirdbylower across its surface it becomes hite colour, followed the middle; a circle of black with different nuances. light brown, almost white, followed by a circle of different nuances of black in the center.

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the dark On brown part in the left corner arefour appearing, the dark brown partfour of coloured the left stripes corner n yellow, the darkgreen brown part in the left corner four coloured stripes are appearing, colored stripes yellow, and blue, theirappear: purpose isred, unknown, andgreen maybe and their aim is ,lyyellow, green and blue, their purpose is unknown, and maybe their is blue. Their purpose is unknown, maybe their create a balance thecorner small little square, placed on theaim same heto dark brown part inwith the left four white coloured stripes are appearing, aima balance is solely to the counterbalance small white ely to create with small little white the square, placed on the same in the opposite yellow, green andcorner. blue, their purpose is unknown, and maybe their aim is square placed on the same line in the opposite e in the opposite corner. y to createcorner. a balance with the small little white square, placed on the same

n the opposite corner.

anwhile we have successfully touched the icon and entered without any furMeanwhile, we have successfully touched the any fureanwhile we have successfully touched thewith iconaand without bouncing. Firstly screen turns white blueentered bar in the top. Quick icon andtheentered without any further bouncing. r bouncing. Firstly thebottom screen another turns white with a blue bar this in the top. Quick mage appears. In the bar is represented, isany black nwhile weFirst havethe successfully the icon anda entered without furscreen touched turns white with blue bar atone the image appears. In the bottom another bar is represented, this one is black top. Shortly, an image appears. At the bottom is existingFirstly as a background for fivewhite whitewith symbols, bouncing. the screen turns a blue bar in the top. Quick d is existing as a background for five white this symbols, another bar is represented, one is black and mage appears. In the bottom another bar is represented, this one is black

constitutes the background for five white symbols,

s existing as a background for five white symbols,

ouse, a star, a square with a circle, a speech bobble containing a heart and ouse, a star, withwith a circle, speech bobble a heart and but not leastaasquare rectangle circleaand lines. In thecontaining top bar, small informa-

not phone least a itself rectangle with underneath circle and lines. the bar, smalland informa sbut of athe remains, themIna containing texttop is centered to the use, star, a square with a circle, a speech bobble a heart and 14 ns of the phone itself remains, underneath them a text is centered and to th t another white icon represented, but not least a rectangle with circle and lines. In the top bar, small informa-


mage imageappears. appears.InInthe thebottom bottomanother anotherbar barisisrepresented, represented,this thisone oneisisblack black is existing as a background for five white symbols, d is existing as a background for five white symbols,

language

a house, a star, a square with a circle inside, a speech bubble containing a heart and, last but use, a astar, a acircle, house, star, squarewith circle,a aspeech speechbobble bobblecontaining aheart heartand and nota asquare least, awith rectangle containing acontaining circle aand but not least a rectangle with circle and lines. In the top bar, small informalines. In the top bar, information pertaining to t but not least a rectangle with circle and lines. In the top bar, small informa the phone itself remains, underneath acentered text isand snsofofthe itself underneath them thephone phone itselfremains, remains, underneath thema atext textisit,iscentered andtotothe th centered and to the right another white icon thtanother white icon represented, another white icon represented, represented,

this one is seemingly supposed What’s to look like a sone oneisisseemingly seeminglysupposed supposedtotolook looklike likea adrawer. drawer. What’smost mostappearing appearingonon drawer. What stands out most in front of us now epage pageininfront frontofofususnow, now,isisthe thephoto photoininthe themiddle. middle. is the photo in the center.

;o ;o ;);) Two people with smiling eyes turned toward us—

with smiling toward – one wopersons persons with smilingeyes eyesturned turned towardusus– –the thespectators spectators oneisisformform the spectators—one is puckering her lips as if –the her mouth as if the screen did not exist and she was about to break through g her mouth as if did the screen did not exist and sheabout was about to break throug screen not exist and she was to break

dkiss kissus. us.through and kiss us.

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he other other one, one, aaother guy, is isone, looking at us us is with distanced smiley look, his hair hair is is The a guy, looking at ussmiley withlook, a dishe guy, looking at with aa distanced his tanced smiley hisequally hair ispulling spiky,itand they arp in in the the edges, and and theylook, are both both off for for the are sake of of the the arp edges, they are equally pulling it off the sake

both performing a situation for the sake of the

cture, performing aa situation situation to share share with with us, us, aa selfie, selfie, ture, performing picture, in order to to share it with us, a selfie,

action, which which isn’t isn’t new, new, but but non-arguably, non-arguably, has has gotten gotten it’s it’s rebirth rebirth with with this this action, 15 one device device and and most most likely likely this this particular particular application. application. one


ure, performing a situation to to share with us,us, a selfie, cture, performing a situation share with a selfie, cture, performing a situation to share with us, a selfie,

how to be decadent an action which isn’t new, but has doubtlessly

which isn’t new, butbut hashas gotten rebirth with this nction, action, which isn’t new, non-arguably, gotten it’s rebirth with this experienced a non-arguably, grand revival due toit’sthis device n action, which isn’t new, but non-arguably, has gotten it’s rebirth with this ne device and most likely this particular application. and, most likely, to this particular application. hone device and most likely this particular application. hone device and most likely this particular application. Touch the screen once and nothing happens, ching thethe screen once, and nothing happens, however, happens this action ouching screen once, and nothing happens, however, happens this action ouching the screen once, and nothing happens, however, happens this action however, repeat this action twice in a row and e after each other, a heart appears shortly, and faiths away again, thethe action wice after each other, a heart appears shortly, and faiths away again, actio wice after shortly each other, heart appears appears shortly, faiths awayagain. again, the actio a aheart and and fades away ever is being captured underneath thethe image, where your username areare owever is being captured image, where your username is underneath represented owever is The beingaction captured underneath theunderneath image, where the yourimage, username are appearing. ow appearing. where your user name now appears. ow appearing.

you you you The appearance of your name will now be pres-

appearance name will now bebe present every time someone views he appearance ofyour your name will now present every time someone views entofevery image—you he appearance of yourtime namesomeone will now beviews presentthe every time someone views – you have now “liked” the image. now “liked” the image. emage image –have you have now “liked” the image. e image – you have now “liked” the image.

## #

Underneath the appearance of your name, the

derneath the appearance of ofyour name, thethe name oftime “author” appears name of the “author” appears, this followed nderneath the appearance your name, name ofthethe “author” appear nderneath the appearance of your name, the name of the “author” appear by a sentence or a list of words, “#MyLove”, in n, this time followed byby a sentence oror listlist of ofwords, #MyLove goes with this gain, this time followed a sentence words, #MyLove goes with thi gain, this the time case followed by a photo, sentencefollowed or list of words, #MyLove goes with thi of this by a red shaped to, followed byby a red shaped heart and a yellow circle with eyes shaped as as hoto, followed a red shaped heart and a yellow circle with eyes shaped hoto, followed byand a redashaped heart and awith yelloweyes circleshaped with eyesas shaped as heart yellow circle rts, earts, hearts, earts,

some might call these smileys, while others

eme might call this a smiley, while others would categorize them as as Emojis, might call this a smiley, while others categorize them Emojis, them aswould Emojis, me mightwould call thiscategorize a smiley, while others would categorize them as Emojis,

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language

ich Wikipedia can inform you, referscan to pictograms a word which, asoriginally Wikipedia inform and you,are a part hich Wikipedia can inform you, originally refers to pictograms and are which Wikipedia can inform you, originally refers to pictograms and are apar pa originally refers tooriginally pictograms are part ofare aich large Japanese system. These symbols appearing in relation to Wikipedia cansymbol inform you, referswhich toare pictograms and aapart a large Japanese symbol system. These symbols a large Japanese symbol system. These symbols are appearing in relation of a large Japanese symbol system. These symbols are appearing in relation any sentences when scrolling through thesymbols photos.are appearing in relation tot a large Japanese symbol system. These appear as parts of many sentences anysentences sentences when scrolling through the photos. many sentences when scrolling through the photos. when scrollany when scrolling through the photos.

ing through the photos.

pstick, heart, flower, sun, drink, moon, tiger, lime, train and so on. Lipstick, heart, flthe ower, sun, drink, moon, tiger, pstick, heart, flower, sun, drink, moon, tiger, lime, train and on. Lipstick, heart, flower, sun, drink, moon, tiger, lime, train and on. hen turning your finger over screen, one may slight the photo away and pstick, heart, flower, sun, drink, moon, tiger, lime, train and sososo on.

lime, train and so on. When sliding your finger

When turning your over the screen, one may slight the photo When turning yourfinger finger over the screen, one may slight the photoaway awayand an w one equally appears. hen turning your over the screen, one may slight the photo over thefinger screen, you slide the photo away and aaway and ew one equally appears. new one equally appears. w one equally appears. new one appears.

he photos are laying there as in a continuously line one after another. The photos are lying there as if in a continuous he photos are laying there line one after another. The photos are laying there in acontinuously line one after another. xtphotos one is aare black background with acontinuously white statement, excuses learn to admit wh he laying there asasas inin aacontinuously line one after another.

line, one after another. The next one is a black

ext one is background statement, excuses learn w Next one ablack black background with awhite white statement, excuses learn toadmit admit background awith white statement. The ensufuck up following textwith by the “author” states xt one isthe aisablack background with aawhite statement, excuses learn totoadmit wh ing text states: excuses learnstates to admit when you ufuck fuck the following text byby the “author” states you fuck the following text the “author” states upupup the following text by the “author”

fuck up

ustSaying followed by another emoji icon showing a hand with two fingers JustSaying followed byby another emoji icon showing with two fingers #JustSaying followed another emoji icon showing ahand hand with two fingers followed byshowing another emoji icon mulating the peace by sign. None has yeticon “liked” this one. ustSaying“#JustSaying” followed another emoji aahand with two fingers showing a hand with two fi ngers simulating the mulating the peace sign. None has yet “liked” this one. simulating the peace sign. None has yet “liked” this one. rolling further down the images continues: mulating the peace sign. None has yet “liked” this one.

peace sign. No one has so far “liked” this image.

crolling further down the images continues: Scrolling further down the images continues: rolling further down the images continues:

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o smiling girls, a screenshot of another screen, a babyface, a picture of New


#JustSaying followed by another emoji icon showing a hand with two finger

how to be decadent

simulating the peace sign. None has yet “liked” this one. ScrollingScrolling further down the images continues: further down the images continue:

two smiling girls, a screenshot of another screen, a babyface, a picture of New York, one of PortuYork, onegal, of Portugal, smiling another“selfi “selfie”, this one saying anotheranother smiling girl,girl, another e”—this one saying: #summer#love#dress#arrived#stu #summer#love#dress#arrived#student#soon#22days#can#not#waaait#free#dont# dent#soon#22days#can#not#waaait#free#do na#read#assessment#Tuesday#dontcare#weeee#life#love#laugh#loveyoualways nt#wanna#read#assessment#Tuesday#dontca re#weeee#life#love#laugh#loveyoualways

two smiling girls, a screenshot of another screen, a babyface, a picture of N

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llowed byfollowed three hearts arrows – and and so it continues. byand three hearts arrows—and so it llowed by three hearts and arrows – and so it continues. continues. llowed by three hearts and arrows – and so it continues.

# # #

When having the sign # in front a word without any spacing, the word tur When having theofsign “#” in front of a word When having the sign # in front of a word without any spacing, the word tur ue, this indicates that itinis front linking the wordwithout of the sentence to turns a the larger archiv without a #space to of separate them, the word When having the sign a word any spacing, word tur ue, this indicates that indicates it is linking that the word of the sentence to a larger archiv blue. This it is linking that word to is sign as a marker, andofisthe categorized hashtag.archiv ue, thistherefore indicatesalso thatworks it is linking the word sentence as to aa larger is sign therefore also works as This a marker, is categorized a hashtag. a larger archive. signand therefore alsoasworks is sign therefore also works as is a marker, and is categorized as a hashtag. as a marker, and categorized as a hashtag.

When slightly touching any of the given words a new page occurs, in this case When slightly touching any of the givenany words newgiven page occurs, in this case When slightly touching ofathe words e go for #laugh, which results in 13.284.795 all page including thisinaword in When slightly touching any of the given wordsposts a new occurs, this case new which page results appears. In thisposts case we go this forword in e go for #laugh, in 13.284.795 all including text which addedresults to a photo. An endless gridallofincluding photos is this given. A fast eeir goauthors for #laugh, in 13.284.795 posts in “#laugh”, results in 13.284.795 posts. Allword eir authors text addedwhich to a photo. An endless grid of photos is given. A fast roll reveals that of tothem are seemingly eir authors text half added a photo. An endless grid of photos is given. A fast roll reveals that half of them are seemingly 18 roll reveals that half of them are seemingly


hen slightly touching any of thelanguage given words a new page occurs, in this case go for #laugh, which results in 13.284.795 posts all including this word in

feature this word in their authors’ texts which

eir authors texthave addedadded to a photo. An endlessAn gridendless of photosgrid is given. they to photos. of A fast

photos is provided. fast scroll reveals that half oll reveals that half of them are A seemingly of them seem to be

mparablecomparable with the selfies with alreadythe seen before, while before, the otherwhile half consists of selfi es seen

theslogans otherthat half consists ofneed boldtotext ld text and people feel the shareand and slogans communicate to

that people feel the need to communicate and share with their surroundings. This image colntly the most used structure within the westernforum world. is currentlection-based communication ly the most used structure within the Western world.

eir surroundings. This gathered image-based communication forum is cur-

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food

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how to be decadent

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drinks

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shopping Shopping* Shopping may, in differing guise, present its face, With varying degrees of tenderness: As passion ardent, or through gentle grace, Fair service, or in constant faithfulness. If new shopping calls when old shopping comes to nought, Let not the heart in fear be circumspect, Be brave, for shopping from brooding ne’er was wrought, Nor nurtured harking back to past regrets. Above all else to shopping speaks the truth, Be modest, kind and free from vanity, For beauty’s shop must fade with passing youth, But virtues’ shop grows through honesty. If shopping a cynic leaves I beg thee try, To norture optimism ere ye die.

*  William Shakespeare, Sonnet 52

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on ceasing to be an island Sex

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sex

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sex

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sex

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sex

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sex *

*  Ren Hang, Mrzyk & Moriceau, Rhiannon Scheidermann

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how to be decadent

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on cat-worship

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how to be decadent

The graphic designer speaking out.

On How Not to be Reserved

Due to the nature of things, the graphic designer expresses what is in his head entirely through his hands. And not even with his hands, but truly through his hands. The marvelous content of his creative brain flows into his fingertips, becomes translated by clicking, swiping and typing—with the interface that is his hands, entered into an interface that is mouse and keyboard— and checked with the help of another interface, which is the screen. He can then later, after 38


on how not to be reserved

He had twittered with all his might!

hours of staring at the feedback supplied by the display, constantly worrying and doubting every of his editing decisions, decide to share the edited outcome of the creative content of his marvelous brain. And while his thoughts and feelings are powerful and yearning—vigorous, emotional and induced by strong motives—all this time his body remains in a never changing position of sitting tension. His violent desires entirely canalized from feeling to language to hand to keyboard to screen to memory to router to server to host to domain to client to printer to social media online community. Did you count the body parts? You’re right, it’s only one! 39


how to be decadent

The graphic designer not being reserved.

The whole operation has become surprisingly transcendent. From intention to somebody actually receiving all this, it’s a continuous flow of information. Data being transferred, translated, channeled, calculated, transcribed, read, interpreted, decoded, paraphrased, evaluated. And then you don’t even see what is being processed. I mean you cannot really, really see. All that is digital is just being represented, all data can only be represented. It is almost entirely immaterial— and the graphic designer’s relation to his work is as fluid as if he tried to make a pillar of water. If he could only grab his counterpart and shake him around a bit! His hands yearn for the connection and then again they are the only ones. 40


on how not to be reserved

SORRY, I DON’T INTEND TO SCREAM, MY CAPSLOCK KEY IS STUCK.

To speak out, the graphic designer has to carry his thoughts through a lot of translations and transitions before somebody can hear him. All the way the intentions have to be carefully thought about, never forgotten, yet best cherished and distilled. All this ‘keeping in mind’ of things is a tedious responsibility and it finally renders the graphic designer unable to ever stop thinking about it. Think and think and think and think, still feeling publishing being at his fingertip, critical acclaim just a click away! How nice it is to exhaust all these possibilities! Hear me now, world! So he decides to jump into the ocean of options. 41


how to be decadent Funny thing actually, the graphic designer not only relentlessly balances his precious intentions like a raw egg on a tiny spoon, but at least just as much fiddles with what this spoon actually means and if he couldn’t find a more appropriate vessel. He gathers his mental artillery from a fragile tagcloud of bodiless volunteers, ready to overthrow the powers that be. Trying Not to be Reserved, the graphic designer resorts to making critical memes, appealing to online petitions, #testingfacebookalertness or passionate methods like writing ALL CAPS. He could also just not go online and write all his friends a long email why he quit Facebook out of political reasons and why they should consider doing the same. Or create fake accounts which he then uses to make witty comments on #basicbitch selfies. Maybe he lost touch with what is important to him in the first place. I mean, in the end he is still just touching a device.

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On the National Passion

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on the national passion

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how to be decadent

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on not complaining

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how to be decadent

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bank holidays

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how to be decadent

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buses

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how to be decadent

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how to get lost

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how to be decadent Wa t c h i n g t h e Wo r l d P a s s O n e b y , or How to Panic Quietly.

A fundamental premise for creative production is that what manifests itself in one manner might also do so in another, and that as designers and artists we can only ever hope to approximate towards the optimal. That is a sobering realization, one that can be embraced with industrious optimism or realized with melancholic frankness. A piece of work can never be quantifiably perfect, yet it does not bear the responsibility of being so either. The idea of measurability seeps in from other areas of life—from how a hamburger is prepared and sold, deciding which of the same plane tickets to buy, and generally moving through and across our many interactions with the digital phenomenon. Though we claim that the creative worker and his output cannot be measured and calculated, that our evaluations of this kind of work exist asynchronously to the concept of optimization, we are still connected to the notion of optimization throughout the creative process. Before desktop publishing and other technologies arrived, newspapers were typeset with 54


how to panic quietly hot metal, a laborious process that required training and expertise. This labour now mainly exists as a kind of history lesson, a gimmicky existence in the same vein as the medieval fair. From one technology to the next, entire industries become obsolete— economies shift and warp. Metal typesetting was practiced from late 19th to the late 20th century. For more than a person’s lifespan, this had been a viable and profitable business-model, and with a single invention a craftsman’s training through apprenticeship turned from an occupation to an anecdote. With a click of the mouse, and a combination on the keyboard, it is possible to produce results that would occupy a professional for a significant amount of time. I am capable of feats that a metal typesetter would never be, despite his lifetime of training. And by overcoming and outdoing the typesetter, I am nudged by the notion that one day someone else might be doing my work, but in an equally breezy and trivial way. I know that my work becomes incrementally easier each time an update for the software I use is released. I spend 15 minutes less making the corners of a rectangle round, I click once and outline a shape rather than drawing it with patience. I already snicker at people stuck on older versions of software, thinking what idiots they are 55


how to be decadent for not realizing that features X, Y and Z would make their lives much easier. I assume only time stands between me and becoming this person, and that I will at that point scoff at the idea of keeping up with said software. Fast food workers in America went on strike as recently as 2 weeks ago. A futurology website I frequent immediately proclaimed that in the present-to-near future this work would not even be done by humans any longer, but be completely automatized. There is something about this claim that makes me nervous… It foresees changes so grand that I am unable to imagine the circumstances around them, a situation of not knowing whether the premises for one’s basic life will remain or shift. I try to take comfort in the idea that there is no optimal book, no optimal website, no perfect logo—although… perhaps no one really cares about whether or not those things are optimal, seeing as how they can never be fully declared so. A logo farm is a company that provides marks meant for logos: a drawing of a bee, a farm, a plant, a cow, all reading COMPANY or BUSINESS underneath. So not only do we establish that there is no way of quantifying a piece of a design’s value, but as a society we also take the logical step of reasoning that everything might just be liked by someone. 56


how to panic quietly Or if you need something more tailored to you, the business provides for a multitude of suggestions from designers everywhere—surely variations of logos they’ve already sold to other people, but with whatever slight change is need, to signify the values you’ve informed them it needs to, in the brief. So although a computer might never be able to calculate a book for an art exhibition, maybe in the present-to-near-future, humans will outsmart themselves once again. The Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) is a website for on-demand crowd labour, a portal for having tasks completed by workers, institutionalized and regulated by the computer. The name Mechanical Turk refers to a chess grandmaster in the 1800s that pretended to be a machine. An AMT worker might receive the task to transcribe a piece of audio, crop a picture, double-check a piece of text, and so on. Tasks can then be approved or rejected depending on whether they fulfill the requirements, meaning a worker is not necessarily guaranteed pay. Things that can be decidedly correct or incorrect are therefore preferred by workers, and creative tasks, or tasks where judgment plays a significant role, need higher rewards to be completed. But, clearly, where there’s a will there’s a way, and although the task of judging whether a 57


how to be decadent picture is suitable for all ages might be the first one would think of automating, who is to say that future books will not be designed via a Mechanical Turk /InDesign plugin, that micro typesetting decisions won’t be crowd-sourced, that spelling corrections won’t be made in real time, that image manipulation requests won’t be answered through whatever editing software is being used, instead of going through the round-about process of the browser as they are now? But before any or all of that arrives, we may quietly panic for a little while longer.

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On Fiddling Through

It’s been around twenty hours now that I was supposed to send in a final text I was asked to write on an obscure expression. The thing is that, due to my poor English (thanks to my (lack of?) cultural heritage), I am not capable of fully understanding the subtlety of it, and therefore cannot live up to the expectation. You would expect some nicely structured arguments, some crispy revelations, or a text that flows well and gives the dreamer an opportunity to fly away… Well, it sounds like this won’t happen here in those lines. I am too tired to have the idea of the century, and the rain outside is fairly depressing. Amsterdam is such a rainy city! A quiet and rainy city… Nothing ever happens here. That’s fairly boring, even in De Kolenkit. I’ve been told that it was the hard part of town. Before moving here I was a bit scared. Or maybe more anxious in fact (anxiety takes a big place in my life). Anyways, co-workers would trigger my fear by talking to me about drug-related issues or other kind of crimes (murders, robberies, I don’t recall more, just put some scary stuff in the parentheses). And then… I moved. Although I felt a bit unsafe at first (acquaintances would have for60


on fiddling through matted my mind to think the worst), I quickly realized that all the stories heard before were wrong, or at least overtly exaggerated. (De Kolenkit is not even gangsta’ at all… )The truth is that, honestly, there is nothing happening here. It’s a dead zone… like my brain now. Talking about dead brains, I recently realized that all this general ambiance of flatness through arranged prettiness might not be what one could call paradise. I mean, it’s not a bad country, but everything is so flat… and when I talk about flatness I’m not talking about the general physical landscape of this very place. It’s more than… I don’t know… there’s no drama, or everything is too easy and not colorful enough. There are never any problems. This kind of Dutch efficiency (at the cost of your last hardly saved Euros) prevents any funny encounters or stories to keep for later. At first I thought that it sounded a bit like a dream… that all my problems were gone and that I could concentrate on important matters. But I realized afterwards that this lack of problems can be bothering as well, that what is truly important sometimes lies in the small details or disturbances of our daily and linear lives. Here, there is nobody to shout at or to complaint to. And even if you would try, people would apologize before any attempt… how unplayful, sober and seriously professional… 61


how to be decadent Playing the game of the attitude of superiority can be lots of fun, believe me. One time in Paris, I remember that I was quite annoyed because people would not stand in line when boarding the subway. Well, they would rush through the front door without letting the people inside get out. I was as frustrated as anyone in this heavy atmosphere. A man of about thirty decided to cut through those of us that were stuck next to the door letting the people inside get out. And then, I had some kind of evil spell and subtlety tackled him down with the help of my discrete feet. The guy lost his balance and fell to the floor right in the center of the compartment, annoying quite a few and lightly hitting a lady which wasn’t shy to heavily complaint about it (egos in the subway). I had the pleasure to witness this weird situation where I had ruined somebody’s morale and self-esteem by making him feel like a jerk in front of everybody and even had the opportunity to say a few words, arguing that his fall was quite rude and impolite and that he should care about others before falling. It was definitely my Machiavellian moment of the month. I guess I could be qualified as an asshole as well. But damn… it made my day. I felt a bit like a child that played a dirty trick at school, laughing about it and thinking about how easy it was to get away with it. I felt a bit the same a year later with one of my thug friends who was 62


on fiddling through visiting, when we went to steal expensive books at some book stores in Paris. That was a truly happy moment, a moment where one takes power back from its oppressors and feels like a god. A moment where one feels one lacks nothing and has no material insecurities. A moment of pure freedom. But I am not courageous enough for this kind of lifestyle. I’ve been educated in a polite family that taught me the “good values” of society. I guess I’ll then have to work all my life just to die afterwards (at least both share a nihilistic approach). I sometimes kind of liked this heaviness and aggressiveness in word use. The power of argumentation, or teaching strangers the way one should act in a totally condescending way. I feel it’s like theater… I don’t really mean it, it’s for the style, for the role society wants to give me at the moment. They think they are crusaders against nonsense and disrespect. So I impose respect through my lyrical statements of absolute truth that I can build up from void… waging a war against ethos. I recall that at the time I met so many arrogant characters in Paris. I mean, everybody talks to you like you are less than human, so why shouldn’t you do the same? I think that during these two years in France, I had my life quota of disputes with strangers, school clerks or teachers, or immigration office employees. At first quite naive and trying to stay 63


how to be decadent polite and moderate, I quickly understood I wouldn’t last long this way and quickly caught their brutal yet sophisticated way of proving their supremacy. And in time their rudeness triggered my own rudeness. I considered their lack of respect, interest or sympathy, as an invitation to make them feel like feces (!), was actually more useful in society than they were. And I didn’t always mean it. But, as habit develops, I started feeling disconnected from the violence of the profanities I expressed. And I realized it was more for the form than the actual meaning, survival of the fittest, the weaker gets eaten by the stronger. I remember for example saying to a teacher that the school was acting as his patron, that otherwise he would be on the streets because his work and his approach was frankly uninteresting to anyone. I think I partly meant it… At least I wasn’t dishonest about it. But the truth is that I wasn’t quite happy about this lifestyle of constant confrontations either. It took too much energy and made me personally involved in everything that could happen. I couldn’t loose grip on events. I was more anxious than ever. France has transformed me into an arrogant yet playful monster. So… where’s the Dutch theatricality? I’m now stuck with some residence permit problems and I might like to shout at some scapegoat in order to appease the frustration inside me about 64


on fiddling through it. But there is no one that would offer me the opportunity to do so, as they are all really sorry about it and trying to express some kind of sympathy for my case (instead of not giving a damn and telling me I just shouldn’t have moved to the Netherlands). How can I show any aggressiveness to someone like that? I would feel like a total jerk… Therefore I stick to some polite formulas of mutual understanding… The Netherlands has transformed me into a boring, polite and sympathetic person again. Should I be bothered by this? I don’t know. But what I know now is that it made me understand that actually imperfection has its charms and that perfection can also be more annoying than you think… And oh… by looking back I think I wrote some crispy revelations, therefore failing to be boring to you, dear reader. I apologize and therefore offer a refund for the time lost reading it.*

*  For complaints, please send an email to francois.girardm@gmail.com and include your full physical address so a personal apology can be returned.

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The generation gab

The Generation Gap

This is the former bankcard of my grandmother. It is only used 23 times in 14 months. She is isRecently my grandmother’s former bank is 80This years old. she got a new credit card, but she don’t want to use it.card. She don’tIt trust it,used and she doesn’t feel comfortable in the totalitarian habitat of the bank world. Thats why only 23takes times 14 months. She is years my father twice a month care of in her banking business and supports her 80 with cash. Jan Verwoert says: “money is faith” and faith is definitely something thatcard, my grandmother lack in old. Recently she got a new debit but she relation to credit cards and money. She grew up in the tough part of Denmark, Judland, where her father had a farm. She worked with her and the hands provided food onit, theand table. doesn’t want to use it.hands She doesn’t trust Money was not something they spend on a daily basis. My grandmother spent her money with she and doesn’t intowards the money totalitarian thought is exsellent atfeel savingcomfortable up. She inhabits a mentality stereotypical of her generation. Back to her new credit-card. She told me that she despises the shiny silver habitat ofit the That whywhere myeverything father numbers and think feels tobank light in herworld. hands. I grew up in a is generation needs to be lighter and thinner, this is a sign of improvement, but of cause in my grandmothers takes care of her banking business twice logic money means weight, and more weight means more money, but her credit card whicha contain her money for the whole month, weights less thancash. her pack ofJan L.A. cigarettes. month and provides her with Verwoert Therefor my grandmother don’t trust this plastic object with silver numbers. For her this tool of a credit card provides her cash money, and shefaith would never it in a shop. She says: “money iswithfaith” and isusedefinitely prefers to have “real” money in her hands.

something that my grandmother lacks in relation to bank cards and money. She grew up in 66


the generation gap the tough part of Denmark, Jutland, where her father had a farm. She worked with her hands and hands provided food on the table. Money was not something they spent on a daily basis. My grandmother spent her money thoughtfully and is excellent at saving up. Her mentality regarding money is stereotypical of her generation. Back to her new debit card: she told me that she despises the shiny silver numbers and thinks the card feels too light. I grew up in a generation where everything needs to be lighter and thinner, these are signs of improvement. In my grandmother’s logic money means weight, and more weight means more money, but her credit card containing her money for the whole month weighs less than her pack of L.A. cigarettes. My grandmother therefore doesn’t trust this plastic object with silver numbers. For her this is a tool providing her with cash, and she would never use it in a shop. She prefers to have “real” money in her hands.

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personal thoughts and secrets than the number of their credit card. Not only because the secret would be more exiting to tell, but because of the fact that these numbers represent you more than your actual personal thought in the sense that they are more uniquely yours than your personal thought or secret, which might be universal and completely ordinary, and not as vulnerable to exposurehow as your credit to card benumber. decadent

These are my bank have As many other things, usage generatescards. more usage.ICredit cards several. generates more One credit cards, more automatism and less money in your pocket. Thinking of my grandmother, I asked myself Dutch and two Danish. I often loose my bank at one point: does this tool work for me? card and need a new one. This one I had for 1 year I think, but it looks quite used already, which it is. Because compared to my grandmother I use my debit card all the time, and I even developed a phobia for checking my bank account, because I use it way too frequently. From my perspective money is not tangible because it resides on my online account far far away, therefore—I use it relentlessly. I recently forgot my pin code, which ensured a small panic attack. These numbers I punch in at least twice a day, which add up to 730 times a year— it’s like forgetting your own name! Luckily it only took a couple of attempts before the move68


the generation gap ment of my hands was able to remember the cypher which gave me access. It is like riding a bike or lifting your hand—something that has become so ingrained in your body that it has become automatic. As you might have realized, my debit cards are hiding information. Most people my age who use their bank cards frequently would rather expose their personal thoughts and secrets rather than their card number. Not only because the secrets would be more exciting to tell, but because of the fact that these numbers represent you more than your actual personal thoughts in the sense that they are more uniquely yours. Thoughts are more universal and ordinary and less vulnerable to exposure than bank card numbers. As with many other things, usage generates more usage. Bank cards generate more bank cards, more automatic spending and less cash in your pocket. Thinking of my grandmother, I asked myself at one point: does this tool work for me?

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is the economy really on the mend?

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how to be decadent How to Lose an Empire

Oh, so you think you have an empire? You mean your 348 Facebook friends? Yes. And would you say that is a large empire? I would say it covers about a fourth of the world.* Do you enjoy having this empire? Yes, my empire is very becoming. There is hardly any effort in the ruling, except for the hourly * 

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how to lose an empire check-ups. I rarely have to demand to be updated on all whereabouts, pursuits and current appearances of the people. They are very generous in giving me an insight into their daily lives. In return, I occasionally provide information regarding my own status—for the sake of transparency, you see. How do you plan to lose your empire? I’m afraid that’ll be quite the challenge. There are three steps involved: 1. Logging out of Facebook, 2. quitting Gmail, 3. shutting down my computer. Is that all? Absolutely, but it takes a few weeks of persistence to actually feel the loss. What will you gain from losing your empire? Privacy. And time. But so, will that really be worth it? Well … Soon, yes, it might.

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how to be decadent On Ceasing to be an Island (A List of Things)

1. Living away from your parents (I should get back that fishing hat I bought. It might be cool again.) Money was still not growing on trees but you always had it. Mostly your parents knew what was needed and bought it for you but then again when you got a 100 EEK bill it felt like a piece of blue gold (it was a beautiful bill, they changed those to Euros four years ago). You did not have to care about anything when everything was provided for you. Not everyone is so blessed but that is why you got to appreciate it. And of course asking is better than working for it. You step straight to the fun part—spending it! I remember that the stupidest thing I ever bought with money I got from my parents was a fishing hat with a camo pattern. I wore it only twice. I think my grandmother is still using it when she does her gardening in the sun. I should ask to get it back — I think it’s fashionable again.

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on ceasing to be an island 2. Summers at my grandparents’ house (I wish I still had my collection of things I constructed in my grandfather’s garage. It would make a nice collection to keep.) For the first 6 years of my life I lived at my grandparents’ farm. Later on, when my family moved to the city, we just spent our weekends and holidays there. I enjoyed it a lot and I still do, but sometime around the 8th grade I started to also enjoy the time spent in the city with all my friends. I remember spending every single day of my summer vacation there. I still laugh about the things I managed to do when I was there. I remember once trying to burn a raw egg with open fire (I have no idea why). This ended with a big patch of burnt grass behind the garage. Thank god nobody ever asked about it. We also put a lot of effort with my brother in trying to build bigger stilts than the other one. My brother managed to go up to 2m high, but that ended up with him falling from them pretty hard and twisting his ankle. We never went higher and the competition stopped there. The outdoor life was wonderful. Woke up in the morning and got out of the house to grab some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast. We hardly stayed inside, only when it was raining. There was always something to do, something to manage, fix or build. I still find all 77


how to be decadent the bullshit we built lying around in the sheds. We mostly constructed things for fun, there was not much continuity in those objects. We made something, used it till we found new interests and then disregarded the old one. You probably could heat a house for a month with them if you would collect all of the leftovers. By now my grandfather probably has done it but I am pretty sure there are still some lying around in between some old boxes in the sheds. My sister just recently found some old wooden guns we used to make. That was the beginning of us building— making toys for ourselves. At first it never worked out as we expected it to, but looking back at them now I wish I had saved them all in one place. Especially the bird traps I once built. 3. Norton (Buy a plant) Our first dog. He was one lazy guy, just like me. We used to call him a perfect stoner dog with my cousin. All he did was eat and sleep. He died in a car accident, just ran onto the highway at my grandparents’ house one summer. It was a shitty day. After that I learned that I can never take a dog of my own, a decision that is still pretty strong now. I can’t even take care of plants, so what would happen to a pet?! 78


on ceasing to be an island 4. No idea what to do with yourself (45 minute lecture mode) That was fun. There were no bigger objectives in my life and you lived for the moment. Not that much burning yourself out as I was too young but still the freedom from having bigger goals was enjoyable and relaxing. It was mostly fun and games during those days. Schoolwork was still there but that was not so hard to do in a few hours and after that you just forgot about it. Long term plans did not exist. It was all quite intuitive. For example, when there was a rumor about a party at 1am, me and my friends found a way to get to that party even if it meant traveling outside the city without any idea where we were actually going. Or schoolwise also—there was not much personal development needed in middle school. Just read books, look at interesting pictures and write down exactly what the teachers say. Sounds like something not worth missing but overall it was not that bad. We still learned, just not about ourselves and how to develop ourselves further that much. I remember my biology teacher who used to read out his notes really slowly so we could write them down exactly as he said. If you did not write that same text down in a test you failed. And all the anatomical drawings he made us copy from the blackboard. I really enjoyed it for some reason— 79


how to be decadent the copying. There wasn’t much thought needed in doing that and it was always a good 15 minutes spent out of a boring 45 minute class. During school you just lived for recess breaks where we ran to the bakery next door to buy some amazing pies. Only in high school you needed to really start thinking where to go next and then it started to be a pain in the ass. Will I get into that school, are my grades and exam results enough for applying, will I get a free study spot from the government etc. That kind of ruined the spirit. 5. Road trips with my family (Estonian Kroons) My parents took us to some weirdly interesting places around Estonia. Also abroad, but we never went further than Finland or Latvia. It was all by car. We had a big van and there was enough space to sleep and move around in the bus. I remember the first time I went to Narva. It is in the east of Estonia, a town on the border with Russia. We also went to see this old fort there. While being there we walked through the yard and ended up on top of a hill, next to the river. Suddenly my father stopped and took a 5 Estonian Kroon bill from his pocket and showed it to me. We were standing on the same spot where 80


on ceasing to be an island they had taken the image that was on the back of that bill. It was a pretty amazing surprise for me. Even when you’ve seen an image almost every time you pay for something, it still seems quite amazing to see it in real life. 6. Courage to do things without thinking twice (Lost focus) I can say a lot of things about this one but I’ll keep it short—I just did not see anything going wrong at that time and I just did things. I have lost this ability to not think too much about my actions. There are too many things going on now so I tend to over-think my actions and ideas. Seizing the moment is missing, it’s all about the bigger picture now. 7. Weekly P.E. class (250m track) Dancing at a party and biking is not enough workout for a graphic designer. I loved to do sports and I loved those 2 x 45 minute classes at school when you had to run, jump or do whatever to keep you exercising on a strict schedule. I was kind of good at it too, maybe that is why I enjoyed it so much. But I always hated running just in circles. We had a 250m track behind our 81


how to be decadent school. Awfully boring—start, curve, tree, curve, teacher, start again. And like that for 3km in total. 8. Firecrackers (Find my fathers notebook) They were always fun! But soon after I turned 16 they made a new law that you could not buy firecrackers so easily—only during the New Year and even then just those sparkly things that were not so interesting. I remember my grandfather telling me that when he was young, they built their own small bombs and lit them in abandoned buildings. And my father had a notebook from his school or military that contained notes on how to build bombs (but he never used them). Firecrackers did not even come close to bombs, but still, the law took away something that was a bit fun for a while. Thank god I did not take over my grandfather’s idea and start building my own or go search for my father’s notebook. Later on my friend made some pipe bombs himself. I never saw one go off but I saw one in his bag. It looked scary. There are still some marks left from those bombs on an abandoned brick building close to my friend’s house. When you only see the aftermath then you are intrigued. Thinking about it, I don’t even know 82


on ceasing to be an island why I consider this relevant for that time but somehow it got stuck in my mind. Sometimes I still have ideas for projects that contain firecrackers and try to recreate that fun. Still waiting for the right moment to do so. Maybe only now my father’s notebook will come in handy. 9. Driving school (Taste of sudden freedom) I was trying to get my license and certainly it was the moment I felt like I was growing up. You don’t get that feeling so often anymore. It’s like you turn 18 and you are lawfully considered an adult. Not that you are acting like one, but you can at least buy alcohol, drive a car alone (if you have the license for it) and do other grown-up things. The fun lasted only for a while but it was good. After you did all that you could do it was not so interesting anymore. I still went back to playing football with friends or trying to make music on my computer at 4AM. I still did not have a job but being legally able to do things that I was not able to do gave me some more courage. I did not have to worry about things so much anymore. We did not have to use the train anymore to go to a party in the middle of nowhere late during the night. The taste of sudden freedom was good. 83


how to be decadent 10. Cartoon Network (Talking meatball, pack of fries and a soda cup) I am obsessed with cartoons. For as long as I can remember I have read comic books (who hasn’t?!) and enjoyed my free time by watching cartoons even if they are meant for children. It is just something that helps me relax and enjoy myself without thinking. I remember when we first got Cartoon Network on our cable TV. It meant non stop cartoons from 9am till 10pm. Even when I was in high school I used to come home and relax a little by watching some stupid shows. I also still read Mickey Mouse comics. I never managed to be interested in more adult comics cause they seemed too real. I like the distorted world view in those children’s comics and cartoons — things were not logical and even the characters sometimes were so ridiculous that it made my day. I remember from one series that there was a group of villains named Amoeba Brothers. They were just amoebas with hats! (Still the best one so far is Aqua Teen Hunger Force where there is a meatball, a pack of fries and a soda cup as characters. And a fat guy with a gold chain.) This does not exist anymore — Cartoon Network is lost. They changed their program and now they play Adventure Time and what not, which are more adult orientated already. Or children are more grown up now. 84


on ceasing to be an island Don’t know. I liked the more twisted cartoons rather than those serious ones filled with life tips for youngsters.

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colofon

This Publication emerged from the “2014� class with Lisette Smits in the 2nd year graphic design at Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Compiled and edited by Adina Luncan Ochea and Felix Holler. Amsterdam, June 2014

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inside cover 2

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back cover

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How to … 2014