I've been staring at this image for five minutes, trying to remember what I was supposed to be doing. Even as my memory starts trickling back in I'm tying hard to look at the keyboard and not at the poster. I think I was going to open this post along the lines of this poster and the red crotch piece perfectly summing up the attitude of this year's annual, but I'm not sure. Nothing seems sure anymore; even my gaze seems unsure. I'm trying to write here, but my eyes will gaze up to the thigh high boots, down to the shoes, and then back up to the thigh and I can't help from wondering how it would feel to be wearing those boots while holding a gun. With a pony tail. The cod piece and matching bullet belt are too much of a mental black hole to even begin thinking about. I could gaze at that moustache for hours without knowing who, what, where and why I was.
Even now I keep scrolling back up to sneak a gaze, and once again my concentration is broken. I can't understand how it didn't win, it wasn't even included in the finalists. Which is a disappointment considering it's the best of the lot. It's simple, a witty juxtaposition and paints a negative view of the future. Which makes up most of not just the winning entries but all entries entered into this year's annual. It's alarming when today's designers feel the progress of mankind to be a scary place to go to. Where greed, water, waste and unfettered irony run rampant as we head towards our demise. It seems Melbourne's designers feel either helpless or guilty for the current global malaise, considering there were very few uplifting messages to take away this year. Leather boots. I quite liked the use of the poster as a critique on the competition itself. Quite a nice twist on the theme Sample the Future. They didn't really look at the future, but a nice co-opting of the message nonetheless.
Speaking of messages, there was what could have been a very interesting project at the exhibition site. A public message board could have been a fantastic medium but ended up being nothing more than frivolous notes, jokes and quotes. Which is a shame, considering the intent of this wall would have been to create an evolving picture of the thoughts of the exhibition. Pony tail. Unfortunately, the only message to not resemble a prettier version of a public bathroom is the inclusion of Shaun Micallef as a judge on the panel.
Red. Posters. Focus. I was quite a fan of the green roof poster, despite it's aesthetic misgivings. But it's looking forward. It's not whinging or whining and it's looking at solutions. Although the solutions remain in the realm of architecture, industrial design, gardening and landscape design (and contains some very awkward and unnecessary typography), it does take a stab at looking to a positive future despite the dark tones. Sean Connery. Meanwhile, I'm disappointed that neither of these two posters from Studio Pip & Co were included in the finalists. But I'm not surprised, considering their uplifting colour palettes don't suit the helpless and grim message portrayed by the final posters selected. Instead, they're clever musings on the theme. And I thought of the jar idea as well. Moustache. But while I may be disappointed in the exclusion of some posters (I should add that half of the posters were dross) I'm downright angry that the poster below wasn't included. It would have been refreshing to see something more abstract, less jingoistic. A poster is a large format, yet many of the shortlist could have fit on a postcard with their simple ideas that could more easily be summed up in a logo. Heck, most of them were logos. But future/matter, by Daniel Peterson and Anthony Nelson is a damn fine piece of work that would have been great at large scale. Taking ideas from radical architecture movements from the 60s and 70s (and therefore utopian in the brightest, most hopeful and completely ridiculous sense of the word) the poster looks at design through a realignment of not just values, but through process and production as well. Fragmented, relational and traversing different scales of experience. It positions humans as part of nature, not outside and separate from it. By asking the audience to engage with the theme, and thereby think more about the themes instead of proposing a solution, they have done far more than the other posters. Although action needs to be taken – something many of the other posters have highlighted – whining about the state of affairs with simplified terms and images will not produce the considerate and useful modes of thought that is needed to sample the future as we move towards it. Red crotch.