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EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

: Josh Taylor.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

: Josh Taylor with book.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

: The book contains Poloroids of its subjects.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

: Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Josh Taylor

: Sierra Kohler (left) and Delaney Alice read Josh Taylor's book at EXPO 13.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

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EXPO 13 runs through May 24: Design graduate Josh Taylor offers a book that revolts against past prevarications and recasts the future.

In an alcove of the 1st-floor gallery housing part of the EXPO 13 show, two Cornish students, Sierra Kohler and Delaney Alice, sit reading copies of a book. It’s a charming, almost nostalgic scene to discover in the electronic, data-driven era of computers that phone, phones that compute, watches that make calls, eyeglasses that take pictures, and, soon, labels that talk. But it is just because a book, stubbornly, has solidity that it is the medium of choice for graduating design senior Josh Taylor. The solidity of books imply that the ideas within are equally immutable, and Josh is out to dispel this notion. It is Napoleon who is credited with saying “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” The book is the delivery mechanism of choice for history and the target of Taylor’s book, Audacity: Products of a False History.

Any book is a design project by its very nature: it has this cover and that binding and this layout and thus-and-such a typeface. But the nature of Taylor’s design is about doing a critique of the past by doing a layout for the future.

“My book is more of a future history because I’m looking at people who have not had the opportunity to profoundly influence history yet,” says Taylor, “People who undoubtedly will because they will continue to age and they will continue to grow and they’ll continue to make choices and influence where society is headed.”

Taylor takes people that he knows and designs a way of looking at them that offers new ways to consider them in history. “I’m saying that my generation and all the generations prior are products of false history because of the abilities of the powers at large to withhold information and preventing people from really understanding the truths and injustices that are going on,” says Taylor. He focuses on his own generation to make his point.

Josh is using the medium of a book in an almost ironic way, given technological changes in information gathering and presentation. “The big shift, the big change with my generation with the millenials and with Generation Y is that in our span of life the internet became available,” says Taylor. “And all of a sudden technology has … really permeated our structure of life. This computer has the internet, my phone has the internet … so like the big thing with that is that information and knowledge all of a sudden became like infinitely available. It’s really exposed us, the millennial generation, to a lot of terrible things that have been going on for a long time that the powers at large have been able to keep under wraps. It’s really exposed a lot of falsities in American history — in all the histories — that we’ve been taught as truths. We’re coming to this place where we’re really being able to think for ourselves.”

His history is a compilation of 22 interviews with members of his generation, and he’s seeking in their stories a means to reshape the historical process. The values often enshrined in books of history are the wrong ones, Taylor feels. “It’s primarily artists and creative thinkers because part of what I’m trying to do with the book is reintroduce the creative person as a worker in society.

“Part of what I’ve included in my history book is examples of all these different artists’ processes. Because what I’ve been really frustrated with recently is — not frustrated, but noted and thought should be changed — is that in all the history courses and all the art history courses that I’ve ever taken, I’ve never been introduced to what those historical artists’ processes were.”

Without examining an artist’s process, Taylor feels something essential in understanding their place in history is lost. He demonstrates with the notebook of a noted choreographer. “This person has notes and poetry and research, they have little stick figures that they’re imagining moving around and doing all the choreography that they’ve imagined in their head so if you’re thumbing through it, it just looks like nothing, but when you finally get to the stage and finally see the performance and feel the intensity and you see the message that going on, see the beauty and the movement.”

Something of the origin of Audacity are the classes that force students to confront meaning in their work. “We’re required here at Cornish to pretty consistently have ‘process books’ that are documenting steps that we’ve had along the way or experiments that we’ve learned that like track the journey.”

EXPO 13: BFA Exhibition, May 10 – May 24, 2013, on Cornish campus.
Art May 10 – 24, Virginia/Terry Building; Design May 10 – 24, Main Campus Center. Gallery Hours Mon – Sat, 12 – 5 pm.

EXPO 13 builds upon the annual BFA Exhibition, highlighting the depth and range of our students’ creative inquiry and expression at Cornish College of the Arts. The Art and Design shows serve as the keystone to an expanded schedule of events, including dialogue, performances, and artistic interventions. EXPO 13 celebrates the achievements of Cornish’s graduating seniors by acknowledging their contributions as professional artists and designers. Cornish is proud of their determination, hard word, and appetite for experimentation, as they turn their ambitions from school towards society. Congratulations to the class of 2013.


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