Gluekit Interview, Scion AV Installation presents Long Play

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Scion AV presents Gluekit Long Play

When Kathleen and Christopher Sleboda started working together at Gluekit, the graphic design firm Christopher developed in 2003 as an extension of his Yale MFA thesis, they immediately bonded over a shared love of hardcore punk and vegan food. But perhaps most significantly, they shared an interest in the breakdown of traditional conceptual and aesthetic boundaries in illustration and graphic design. “The first jobs were photographic projects for different art magazines, like the black & white photo installation that we did for Synthetic magazine,” recalls Christopher. “It dealt with the tension between two dimensional and three dimensional spaces—showing 2D objects in a 3D way—and played that tension out visually.”

These early, spatially experimental projects led to more commercial work for the husband and wife duo, including illustration commissions from publications including Rolling Stone, Esquire and New York Magazine. They’ve also developed into projects in industrial design, apparel, and print work. “We’re really interested in trying to find ways to create brand new products that we haven’t seen around before,” explains Christopher. “We’re very influenced by 1960s modernist design, 1970s punk (album art like the first Talking Heads LP), the neon colors of the 1980s, and the work of groups like General Idea–people who just didn’t allow themselves to have boundaries, who explored any medium they found interesting in the moment.”

Gluekit had a solo show at Scion AV Installation earlier this year titled Longplay. Here, in this adaption from a longer piece in the first issue of Scion AV Journal, Christopher guides us through the philosophy of the show and some of the products they created for it.

Photos: “Long Play” From Gluekit Opens at Scion AV Installation

“The title Long Play is kind of a rip off of the idea of an LP record. Then, that’s going to play into other puns and clichés and this idea of “long play” and pieces related to that. So, we’re thinking of furniture—like stools and chairs and record players and pillows —and also other meanings of long play, like the way Kathleen plays video games, which is to be very thorough. And we’re also looking at a newspaper we’re producing for the show that will be called ‘Long Essay’ where we’re pretty much reproducing every text that’s ever been written about Gluekit and every video, so it will be this very exhaustive thing. It’s sort of taking this one simple idea of the LP, the long player, and putting it through these different mediums and metaphors.”

“We’ve been really in love with newspapers lately. The quality of them and the large format and the affordability. We’re kind of conflicted a little bit with the disposability of images in the Tumblr culture. We feel like we’re looking at so many images each day and you just look at them for 2 seconds and move onto the next image. With a newspaper the large format really allows us to sequence images and scale them in a different way than in day-to-day life. I think in general, a lot of our interest is in the collision of those two mediums or presentations of information—the really new versus the really old, then finding spaces in between those areas.”

Gluekit Interview at Scion AV Installation Long Play

“We’re also really interested in the quality of things in design, because it’s so easy to take logos and slap them across a T-shirt and have them become boring. With our book ends we’re working with a company that makes steel and bends steel. These are processes that are more involved and a little more difficult to do than just make something on the Internet and have it ordered. It makes them a little less disposable.”

“We’re looking at combining elements, like something with a pillow that we’re playing with. You associate a pillow with being very soft and comforting, but we would pair that with a pattern that’s very hard and rigid. We’re looking at ways to contrast different ideas about the form and function of the pieces.”

Related: Products for Sale at Gluekit’s “Long Play” Gallery at Scion AV Installation

“We find humor in the idea of being extremely exhaustive in the show. In the show that we curated for the Scion Installation gallery in 2011, we had this kit called “How to Design a Product to be Put on Display in an Art Exhibition” that basically featured like 80 different things that a student might need to learn in art and design. That sort of approach is similar to this show.”

“We’re really big fans of so many different things that people do, and sometimes we wonder exactly where we fit in, in terms of what everyone else is doing. We’re graphic designers and illustrators, but we love art and photography. The kind of illustration we do isn’t really what traditional illustrators do, it has a little bit more of a graphic design component to the illustration. And our graphic design is a little bit more illustrative. And the art that we do is kind of graphic design. So we’re pooling components from all of these things, and we never quite fit or rest in any one of those worlds. We find that interesting, but also kind of awkward as well.”

Watch Gluekit How to Design A Product To be Put on Display

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