Graphics Incognito will offer a critical reassessment of the intersection of art, design, and material culture through the lens of post-punk, a period of radical aesthetic innovation extending from roughly 1978 to 1984. Tracing a number of strands—the disseminative logic of abstraction from the Bauhaus and De Stijl to Los Angeles-based hardcore bands the Germs and Black Flag, the persistence of the high-contrast graphic approach of the Independent Group in New Brutalism and British synthpop, the Conceptualist underpinnings of the preppy-punk ethos of early Talking Heads, and the centrality of posters and printed ephemera in the work of artist Martin Kippenberger—the book charts a new set of narratives for the post-punk period that puts graphic design in a position of priority. Anchored by close readings of archival material, the book will pursue a synthetic approach, drawing on recent scholarship across design and art criticism to forge connections between genres and move beyond the familiar binaries that have shaped the critical discourse on the boundary between the fine and applied arts. So doing, the book proposes a more complex, historically grounded understanding of the way design can be seen to both traverse and connect seemingly discrete periodicities and aesthetic domains.
Mark Owens is a designer and writer working in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. He received an MA in English from Duke University and an MFA in graphic design from Yale University. He has taught at Yale, Rhode Island School of Design, and Art Center College of Design, and is currently visiting faculty in the MFA program in graphic design at California Institute of the Arts. His essays and critical writing have appeared regularly in the pages of the art and design journal Dot Dot Dot, as well as in Grafik Magazine, IDEA, and Visible Language, among others. In 2007 he co-edited the catalogue for the exhibition Forms of Inquiry at the Architectural Association, London, and in 2010 he cofounded the independent publishing imprint Oslo Editions.