From books to memes, it’s just a matter of graphics. Riccardo Falcinelli speaks

“Today, everything that surrounds us is either design or has a graphic envelope. Disclosure? It hurts. Let’s enjoy memes as long as they remain anarchic.” Conversation with the Roman graphic artist and author who has just published “Philosophy of graphic design”

If you look in your library, among the shelves in your living room, it is impossible not to find a book that Riccardo Falcinelli has put his fingers in, be it Einaudi or Sur, Minimum Fax or Carocci. On the website of his studio, you can scroll through the thousands of covers he has worked on. He also enjoyed success as a writer – “Cromorama” and “Figure” have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The reader just published in PBE “Philosophy of graphic design”, is a smaller “pop” book than the others, which collects texts from the twentieth century, perfect for those working in the cultural industry. “The ambition is to raise awareness of some key figures in graphics,” he tells Foglio. “I made this book because I needed it and it was not there. These are texts that once would have been eminently technical and specialized, but which today can find a more general interest.”

Some graphic designers and art directors had a prophetic vision of what Bianciardi called ‘cultural work’. Muriel Cooper, in an essay dated 1989 “preaches broadband and the problems of smart work when we in Italy were still with Sip. They knew where the world would go”. Do we live in the era of graphics? “Everything is graphic,” says Falcinelli, “Now I was in the process of inserting the current banknotes, even these drew them. Let’s compare with other ages: In the Middle Ages, people did not have to deal with planned things in their daily lives, except maybe Sunday at church. Today, everything that surrounds us is either design or has a graphic envelope. But the real news is that for some years now someone has been making some graphics, even just by filling in a text in Word and choosing the font“.

Graphic design becomes philosophy when there begin to be texts that take a step back and analyze it in relation to its role in society, such as Kinross’s “Modern Typography”. “The customer line is that the form of writing is an ethical, moral problem, which in the end is what should interest us. As a graphic designer, there is one thing that bores me to death, and that is to find myself with colleagues who talk to me about the beauty of the distance “, says Falcinelli, who among the pictures in the book has also chosen the front page of” Ways to look at”. “Berger is an absolute model for method, study, writing. He was very aware of the audience he was speaking to. If you go to see the broadcasts he made on the BBC in the 70s, it’s very clear, but it’s never informative. The popular is the evil. Dissemination is what Rai does: one takes a high, specialized, technical topic and turns it into entertainment, for an audience that is not necessarily interested in that thing.. The difference is here, disclosure is when you address an audience that would not have paid to listen to you “.

He adds that “the new generations know how to better distinguish quality products from the so-called. Also because they handle so many products.” apocalyptic, they say, we are facing a radical revolution, technology is changing the world, but they were convinced that the world was changing for the better, for them technology would lead to improvement, and even among the most left-leaning people there is never “a critique of industry as a form of capitalism. They are convinced that it is from there that the liberation of workers passes. There is also enthusiasm for advertising. Like when Depero says ‘the true artist is where there is an enlightened client'” .

Things have changed a bit. “Today we are in a phase that is too opposite, we are always critical, suspicious, negative, conspiracy theorists, when I read the texts from the 20s, I feel melancholy, and also envious, I say: see how carefree they were a hundred years ago “. One of them is Brodovitch’s article entitled What Modern Man Likes, in which he judges the past but then uses eighteenth-century fonts for Harper’s Bazaar. “Yes, because he was intelligent and he was not a moralist. The most interesting thing about his text is that by making a list of the great innovators, he puts Mussolini in it. It is fun. It makes you understand the point of view in the United States in the 1930s ”.

Discussing the theme of authorship, Falcinelli brings out another of his very well-founded maxims: “The problem is that everything that is visual continues to be judged by the method of art”, And then we end up talking about memes. “Memes are an anarchist pocket in the network,” he says, “as long as it lasts because memes play with the undermining of mass media messages. Until Warner Bros. or 20th Century Fox or Disney decide that the use of frames should not be monitored. At the moment they are not doing it because they can not, but it’s a moment the artificial intelligence will be able to tell you who launched that meme online first.As soon as that happens you can be prosecuted.So let us hold fast to them as long as they are free and anarchist ”.

And social media? “Today, when you share a cover, a visual word of mouth on Instagram counts more than a review for a publisher. And it counts more, not only as sold, but also culturally, it triggers virtuous mechanisms of memorization, entertainment, which newspapers are often unable to activate. “So the one who makes covers also makes them think, how they will appear on Instagram? “Without ‘smooth’. It is an integral part of the subject. We know that today the covers end there, so I have to design something that works both on the right book and as a simulacrum for the network. And that’s right. “But some publishers are in a worse position in this area.” Adelphi’s project is less suitable from certain points of view. in part, it’s also happening with Supercorals, with all the projects born fifty years ago on the wave of other types of reasoning “.

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