23 June 2014

Christian Schlager, Sebastian Rumpl: Austrian Cultural Poster Generator

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Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, 2013



The “Austrian Cultural Poster Generator” allows the user to design posters with Austrian references via a three-step navigation process on a website-like plat- form. Images, texts and designs from the fields of art, design, literature, science, sports, politics, entertainment and news- headlines are combined to create posters that trigger discussions, ask questions and raise awareness.


“At first, I just thought that these were a bunch of formulaic European cultural posters. Some quite nice and others not so good. But then I realized that they were automatically generated by an online tool that allows anyone to customize and produce a poster using an interactive navigation. Although I couldn’t try this tool myself, I like that it could both provide an interesting product and replace a designer with a machine. Very clever!” John Bielenberg


1. How should we read the title “Austria needs a new Visual Identity. Nämlich usw.”? Is there an ironic undertone?


It is commonly said that Austria – and Vienna in particular – has the highest density of posters in the world. However, the creative mediocrity that is put on display only cultivates and encourages a particularly Austrian characteristic: the tendency to look away.

In Austria, where the past impinges on the present much more than it does elsewhere, creative self-confidence has suffered due to an ideal that is always harking back to a past populated by Habsburg royalty and sugary doughnuts. The prevailing fear that the “national” culture – which is actually the culture of the past – could be lost must be overcome not by more provincial solutions but rather vanquished by courage and decisiveness if we are to broaden our horizons. Austria’s penchant for theatricality and irony must be put at the service of new vision ideas, slogans and symbols in order to create a contemporary visual identity for the country.

 “Austria needs a new Visual Identity” sums up the essence of my manifesto on this subject. And “Nämlich usw.” [“E.g., etc.”] is a tongue-in-cheek reference, in the spirit of Mayröcker and Hölderlin, to the fact that this only touches the tip of the iceberg.


2. Can people gain an accurate impression of Austria from the choice of existing images and texts, or do they just convey clichés?


In order to encourage a sense of recognition among viewers, images and quotes that capture the Austrian spirit and highlight the country’s achievements in various different areas were chosen. When combined with other quotes and images, they are sufficiently powerful to banish any sense of arbitrariness, and provide a highly ironic commentary on their specific subject.

Of course, room was made for clichés: the “Icons” segment includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, yodelling men against an idyllic Alpine backdrop, dirndl-clad women dancing à la Sound of Music and a Wiener Schnitzel.


3. For whom is the project intended? Who might benefit from it?


The aim of the project is to turn the spotlight back onto the poster as a medium in Austria. The Austrian Cultural Poster Generator is intended not to demonstrate what makes a good poster, but rather to raise awareness and draw the viewer’s attention to the issue.

Posters are traditionally a powerful means of conveying particular messages or values. However, their impact has been weakened in Austria, and they mostly serve to advertise products or events, or to announce sales. As a result, today there are almost no socially critical posters that do not have a commercial background. In response, the Austrian Cultural Poster General aims to remind viewers of the potential of this medium for making social statements, and sees itself as a foundation for critical analysis of the status of posters within Austria.


Nº 282

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