Simone Robert

Hi! I’m interested in the intersection of art and design as a tool for critique.

About

I want to create experiences. I enjoy using a healthy mix of research and play to guide my design process, and have a steady relationship with editorial, identity, and user experience design. I also like to visit lots of museums.

How would you describe your design style?

Good type over everything.

What is the most useful piece of design advice that you have received?

Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.

What is your favourite typeface?

I keep coming back to FF Bau and Plantin (and am trying to bring back Times New Roman.)

Other than design, what creative fields interest you most?

Art curatorship.

Design Interests

Editorial and Book Design
Branding and Identity Design
UI/UX Design
Design Studies and Theory

For time is the longest distance between two places

For time is the longest distance between two places is the product of cultural anxieties about digitally-mediated relationships. During the time I spent studying at the Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar, Germany, I conducted an in-depth research analysis of sexting and its sociocultural implications. I came across an essay by Luce Irigaray titled How can I touch you if you are not there? which reflects upon the impact of advancements in telecommunications on her relationship with her partner. Having originally been written in the 1990’s, she cites concerns about the impact of the radio, the television, and the fax machine on her exchanges with her partner. When physically together, her partner’s image retains a three-dimensionality; when the image is transmitted through a screen, it falls flat. While she knows that her partner does indeed exist, with a material consistency, the joy in their interactions has (literally and metaphorically) slipped through her fingers.

Technology and intimacy today

From the rise of social media use in the new millennium to the rising plausibility of artificial intelligence, there is much more to concern ourselves with today. Our relationships are firmly entrenched in the digital sphere, though this shouldn’t be interpreted negatively. According to Donna Haraway, technology is the key to emancipation from oppressive power structures which are traditionally considered to be ‘naturally-coded.’ Furthermore, the internet’s communication channels enable us to transgress the isolation imposed on us by institutions, thereby democratizing intimacy, as coined by Stefana Broadbent. The fact that I can communicate with someone 6500 kilometres away at any given time feels simultaneously liberating and poetic.

However many positive benefits come from the increasing pervasiveness of technology in our lives, a number of concerns arise: the less expressive a medium is, the less assured the parties are of mutual attentiveness; the integral role of time in our communications goes overlooked; space and time are delocalized. During the climax of her essay, Irigaray nonchalantly questions how do you caress an image? Building upon her original query, how does technology intimately impact the ways in which we construct intimacy? At what point do modern technologies shift from a third-party role to that of an active participant in the relationship? How may modern technology serve to replace (supplement?) human intimacy? How do you actually caress an image, compounded by all the digital powers of today?

The textiles

We are perpetually caught in the tension between the digital and the physical, a gap which simultaneously closes and expands through technological innovation. In response to these concerns, For time is the longest distance between two places locates itself firmly within this tension. The series of silk textiles interprets the bed as a site for intimacy and vulnerability, extended beyond the purely sexual notion of such. The images were then translated into ASCII code, with messages adapted from Luce Irigaray’s essay intervening in the lines of characters. From a close proximity, the messages are legible, though the image is lost; from a farther perspective, the image becomes clear, but the messages disappear in a mass of characters. The physicality of the silk contrasts with the often-perceived “cold” nature of technology to pose questions about how we construct intimacy and determine authenticity in a world that is increasingly saturated by technology.

Photographs of the installation were then documented in a website and an unbound twelve-page booklet, both of which are accompanied by an essay which reflects upon the impact of technology on intimacy.

Reflecting

This project operates at the intersection of the digital and the physical as well as the convergence between art and design. Advancements in technology naturally serve as the tools for design, in a literal sense, but also serve as robust opportunities for discourse if only we open ourselves up to these conversations. We may not be able to fully caress an image, but we’re getting close.

Credits

Photos by James March
Studio space provided by Kastor & Pollux

See more of my work at the graduate showcase