Precepts of the Literalist Movement: Are You Sure Your Hair Is Right?, 2010. Digital printing, 22 parts, 594 x 840 mm each. Excerpts from Norman Potter, Models and Constructs, London: Hyphen Press, 1990; and Colin MacCabe, Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980. Exhibited in Graphic Interactive Exhibition, a special exhibition of the IGDB6: International Graphic Design Biennial Ningbo 2010, Ningbo Museum of Art, 30 December 2010–16 January 2011.
In 1990, the English designer and maker Norman Potter published what would become a major document of his life and work, Models & Constructs. Precepts of the Literalist Movement is a manifesto included in the book, although it must be dated much earlier, probably from his Corsham workshop days in the 1950s. The twenty-plus-one (zero) precepts, from “Start always at zero” to “encounter!,” have thoroughly affected the way we see design. Not that we have tried very hard to meet the imperatives, but we would embrace them as a guiding spirit when we have to make judgments about what we do.
In 1980, Colin MacCabe published Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics, an analysis of the work of Jean-Luc Godard punctuated by a series of interviews with the filmmaker himself and wonderfully designed by Richard Hollis. In one of the interviews, Godard answers a question about the goal of his radical television work: “I’m not driving at anything but are you sure your hair is right?” The function of a radical, “critical” work is, as we understand, in questioning rather than “driving” one at particular destinations.
As the title implies, Precepts of the Literalist Movement: Are You Sure Your Hair Is Right? is a simple mash-up of the two statements. We applied Godard’s attitude of—permanent—questioning to Potter‘s convicted manifesto, “literally” following one of the precepts, “Ask questions.” This is our way of paying homage to these great critical minds.