XX- . book design . 20082009

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Authors: Elisabeth Hinrichs / Aileen Ittner / Daniel Rother
Serie: Orange Files. Studien zur Grammatologie #1
Publisher: Julia Blume, Prof. Günter Karl Bose.
Institut für Buchkunst Leipzig 2009.
324 pages, 198 Images + 420 citations, Hardcover.
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C o n c e p t
Idea, concept and design of the publication XX- are based on a research project of three designers, which analysed the visual appearance of power in specific constructed signs under the conditions of the totalitarian NS-regime and the imple- mentation of these signs on the typewriter as a fundamental communication system at that time.
The book XX- examines, from an artistic point of view, in three chapters FEMALE (FRAU), SIGN (ZEICHEN), MACHINE (MASCHINE) the way in which administration, communication and technology were an elementary condition of the func- tioning of the annihilation apparatus in the Third Reich.

M e t h o d
The specific method of narration in the book is a deliberate uncommented constellation of visual and textual fragments. The textual fragments are composed of contemporary, philo- sophical, sociological statements as well as statements related to cultural studies and encyclopedic entries. The visual frag- ments consist of advertising and propaganda images of the thirties / forties as well as NS-files from the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives ).
These fragmental sources build a tessellated structure. The content arises from specific constellation of statements as well from contrast and analogy of text and imagery. In this way of dealing with history which makes its documents visible and discloses them for use, the book XX- affords a possible inter-pretation of historical processes without limiting the reader to a singular and defined annexation. By this structure he or she is requested to take a his/her own position towards history by valuating and analysing the sources independently.

C o n t e n t
On the one hand the chapter FEMALE ( FRAU ) gives an account of the female role of a stenotypist and executrix working the machine, who is subjected to the conditions of the rationalisation and monotony everyday working life. On the other hand it questions her status as a subordinate and an accessory in the context National Socialism.
The chapter SIGN ( ZEICHEN ) first analyses the general structure of signs as a means of communication. The relevance of symbols of power is elucidated using the example of the SS-rune as a visual medium of ideology. The Nazis’ sway and crimes are reflected in relation to the ‘rational’ labelling of their victims.
The chapter MACHINE ( MASCHINE ) challenges the alleged neutrality of technology and examines the relationship between the economy and the state using the example of the office industry as the provider of machines in a dictatorial system. The mechanical aspect is brought out in the same way: here the chapter examines the typewriter key as a seemingly marginal activator of all processes and the interchangeability of signs depending on the respective political system. The three chapters are supplemented by excursuses that deal with the concepts of administration, of human mass behaviour, of guilt as well as of the archive as a space of collective memory and of history.

D e s i g n
The book XX-  is composed as a hybrid of a file and a book. The design adopts technics of archival storage, such as registration, catchwords, numeration and categorization. These elements form a visual structure of reading and orientation throughout the book and combine the textual and visual fragments towards an own ‘fictional’ archival inventory.
The combination of a swiss soft cover, an open spine and a cloth binding add an object-like character to the book. Its inner part containing the block, cover, jacket and a flap like a hard cover has the outer appearance of a file that gives account of its content, extensiveness and
( by means of the chapter cards ) taxonomy. The attached book jacket is evocative of such a file’s use in libraries: Here, their jackets are attached inside and replaced by an imprinting. Because of the title’s repetition, the imprinting of a registry number and its appearance robust and fragile alike, the book defies any fixed ascription and reminds us of the terminableness of every archive being bound to the place and time in which they exist.
The A4 format of the block relates to the standard format of the registry that became accepted at the beginning of the 20th century. The possibility of a true-the-orginal rendition of files and book pages as well as the deployment of citations and images refer to the history of the individual documents and their use in archives and libraries. Taken out of their original context and then rearranged, the sources are furnished with references and thus can be traced back to their origin. Recycled, wood free coated paper as well as a sheet of typing paper reflect the documents’ different origins while the sheets seemingly alternate unorderedly in a way similar to an inventory of files. The marking colour orange structures the book, makes connections with regards to its contents visible and highlights individual documents.
Visual language, analysis of imagery, interpretations of signs and symbols as well as constellation, composition and structure are used as design strategies to specify and valuate the material and visual substrate of history. The ‘designed’ book is seen as a possibility to ‘write’ an archive, which acquires, interprets and exhibits history. Therefore haptics, visual and material appearances are important for the personal annexation of the book.
The publication XX- delivers a self-commenting visual interpretation of documents and historical aspects. The archive and literature, as constantly changing spaces of writing are sources of the material. The book is an experiment to read history from a multi perspective point of view. The reader is seen as an equal actor who is confronting his/her knowledge and associations to the composed content.