Summer 2011

– Summer 2011

Contextual Essays

Artists

Events, Works, Exhibitions

A Flibbertigibbet, a Will-o’-the-wisp, a Clown (Or 10 Reasons Why Graphic Design Is Not the Issue)

Anthony Elms

Tags: Dexter Sinister

Modest beginnings of the cooperatively compiled collection of books for Dexter Sinister's The Serving Library, installed at Liveinyourhead, Geneva, as part of the exhibition and workshop ‘Re-Applied Art', 2010. Courtesy the artists

Modest beginnings of the cooperatively compiled collection of books for Dexter Sinister's The Serving Library, installed at Liveinyourhead, Geneva, as part of the exhibition and workshop ‘Re-Applied Art', 2010. Courtesy the artists

1. Always assume that the reader is capable.1

Dexter Sinister are a publishing concern. Dexter Sinister (Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt) are not artists, authors, critics, designers, editors, impresarios, journalists, philosophers, printers, publishers or snake-oil salesmen — unless they are all of the above at once: a publishing concern. That is, they are focused on publishing, as in the craft and manufacture and management of published pages, from writing to typeface to design to printing to publication to release to distribution to library deposit to mood to retrieval to use to archiving. Dexter Sinister make you note details. Their website is plain and text-heavy, with seemingly endless diversionary links taking you to other pages with more links. The now retired journal Dot Dot Dot entailed words aplenty, often words republished in slightly varied form. The advantage to being a publishing concern that works at every level of the process is that specifics are emphasised: how one issue has been designed; how one text has been generated, edited and distributed; how this one text has been edited and distributed the second time; how this one text slightly differs from its last publishing.

Here the exuberance for publishing and passion for distribution, unhampered by the logic and the strategy of business acumen, tumble over each other in the work. Keeping the path to publishing, that oft-unheard voice of editing and attention to typographic detail makes itself apparent. Dot Dot Dot. Need it pronounced? Ellipsis? Something excised. In their designs, italics and all-capitals are often used to highlight words and enact a point — that during writing a change is recognised, a shift in

Footnotes
  1. This and all further section headings are from Bruce Russell, ‘Ten Aphorisms in Lieu of an Editorial Policy for Logopandocy’, Left-Handed Blows: Writing on Sound 1993—2009, Auckland: Clouds, 2009, p.19.

  2. For more on Meta-the-difference-between-the-two-Font, see Dexter Sinister’s ‘A Note on the Type’ in this issue, pp.28—35.

  3. A latter version of ‘A Note on the Type’ from Dot Dot Dot issue 20 quotes Michael Bracewell’s The Nineties (2002), Julie Burchill’s Made in Brighton (2007) and Alasdair Gray’s Old Men in Love (2007). The version published in this issue quotes three texts by Bruno Latour.

  4. Quoted in the exhibition plan document for Dexter Sinister, ‘The Plastic Arts’, Gallery 400, the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  5. Ibid.

  6. See http://www.theartistsinstitute.org (last accessed on 1 February 2011).

  7. From the exhibition plan document for Dexter Sinister, A Note on the T, 2011, Triennale Design Museum, Milan.

  8. Stuart Bailey, ‘If you stuck a tag on them to track them the way certain fish are tagged these days they would sink instantly’, Dot Dot Dot, issue 20, Fall 2010, pullout.

  9. Christopher Nealon, ‘Camp Messianism, or, the Hopes of Poetry in Late-Late Capitalism’, American Literature, vol.76, no.3P, p.587.

  10. I mentioned to Bailey that curator Bob Nickas had requested two songs by The Fall be played loudly before his talk at Gallery 400 in 2006. Bailey guessed he must have seen Nickas do this elsewhere, and that must be how he got the idea.

  11. See http://fall.byethost13.com/lyrics.html (last accessed on 30 January 2011).

  12. Conversation with the author, 3 January 2011.

  13. S. Bailey, ‘Another Open Letter’, Dot Dot Dot, issue 20, 2010, p.82.

  14. Email press release for An Octopus in Plan View, 9 October 2010.

  15. Zachary Lazar, Sway, New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2008, p.242.

  16. Quoted in the exhibition plan document for Dexter Sinister, ‘The Plastic Arts’, Gallery 400, op. cit.

  17. Dexter Sinister, ‘Message-Signal-Noise-Channel’, 2008, statement to the curators, available at http://www.sinisterdexter.org/other.html?id=7 (last accessed on 30 January 2011). During the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Dexter Sinister occupied a hidden room at the off-site Armory location, releasing a series of parallel press releases and texts that commented on the Biennial, the history of the Whitney Museum of American Art and anything else that seemed appropriate for the moment.

  18. John Miller, ‘Esthetics from Acorns’, The Price Club: Selected Writings (1977—1998), Geneva and Dijon: JRP Editions & Les presses du réel, 2000, p.95.

  19. Sol LeWitt, ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’, 0—9, 1969, reprinted in Art–Language, vol.1, no.1, May 1969, p.13.

  20. The Just-In-Time Workshop & Occasional Bookstore is the name of the Dexter Sinister office on the Lower East Side, where they work, stage events and sell books every Saturday. This location is soon to be closed, as Dexter Sinister turn to a new project, The Serving Library Company, Inc., which is presently set up as an online project until the physical project can be fully initiated. See http://www.servinglibrary.org/ or http://www.dextersinister.org/library.html?id=262 (last accessed on 30 January 2011)

  21. Jay-Z, Decoded, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2010, p.33.