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robertogreco : brooklynmuseumofart   1

The Age of the Anti-Logo: Why Museums Are Shedding Their Idenities
"This month, the Whitney Museum… unveiled a newly revamped identity courtesy of Experimental Jetset (and a website designed by Linked by Air), a trio of Dutch designers known for their theory-based work. Experimental Jetset describe their design as a “toolkit,” which is easily adaptable to contexts ranging from buttons to stationary to games. The sparse logomark itself is based on a heavy black Neue Haas Grotesk text, while a system of jagged lines forming a “W” change based on context.

According to the designers, the “responsive W” is meant to fit around news, artwork, and other pieces of content, like a simple black-and-white frame. “One of the main subjects we tried to explore was the notion of a graphic identity that wouldn't consists of a static, single logo,” they told me over email, “but one that would be able to change shape, reacting to ever-changing proportions and surfaces.”



But these days, developing a museum “brand” is a complicated chore. The visual identity of an arts institution has attract visitors and donors, and it also has to say something about the curatorial stance of a museum. That’s a difficult thing to convey in a single shape or form—and many museums, instead, are turning to “flexible” identities.

For example, the Brooklyn Museum of Art adopted a flexible logomark in 2004, designed by 2x4 to “better reflect the visitor-centered goals of the Museum.” Then there’s the Museum of Arts and Design, which adopted a Pentagram-designed customizable logotype in 2008. Perhaps the most famous—and successful—example of a flexible identity is MIT Media Lab’s algorithmic logo, designed by E Roon Kang and Richard The. Sure, Media Lab isn't an arts institution, but the logo set the tone for dozens of identities that came after it. The design is based on three spotlights, which change according to each permutation—there are over 40,000 unique logos available—and it was so successful because it spoke to what makes Media Lab so successful.

The notion of adaptivity and flexibility in graphic design seems to appeal particularly to the art world, which makes a modicum of sense: galleries and modern museums focus on visual culture as it evolves, and their graphic representation should reflect that. But as logos and identities get less specific and more scalable, is something lost in the exchange?

The original purpose of arts organizations like the Whitney was to guide the unwitting public through the currents of contemporary art with an unpretentious, decisive voice. As far as we can intuit anything about a museum from its identity, are we witnessing a curatorial crisis of confidence? Maybe, but maybe not. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see whether this elegant new identity outlasts its predecessor."
whitney  branding  design  museums  identity  art  medialab  mit  experimentaljetset  brooklynmuseumofart  museumofartsanddesign  pentagram  customization  2x4  adaptability  flexibility  graphicdesign  2013  logos  mitmedialab 
june 2013 by robertogreco

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