PSFK talks to Sam Winston about his work deconstructing and recomposing classic stories.
The three-day OFFF festival showcases top digital artists, web, print and interactive designers, motion graphics studios, musicians, and more. PSFK was at OFFF Paris recently, and talked with Sam Winston to find out more about his process and work. Sam is a storyteller, sculptor and print maker, who generates alternative meanings from the given fundamental blocks of communication.
Can you explain what you do?
I am an artist – I produce art as books. I write stories centered around type and language. Some of them are original drawings, some are typeset books. A lot of collages, a lot handmade. I am using design systems to map strategies found in design and communications.
I took children’s stories and I started mapping the language in children stories in 3 different ways. For example, I took the text from Beauty & The Beast – and ordered it through a timetable. So instead of reading in a linear way, you can read it in order of arrival. By changing the format slightly, you change the language that’s used in children’s stories.
I was taking the text of Jack & The Beanstalk and instead of carrying the story in a linear format, I looked up the encyclopedic definition of “bean” and “magic” – and then from “magic”, I looked at “fairytale”, then “fairytale” let to “short story”, and “short story” led to “poetry”. “Bean” leads to “food”, “food” leads to “protein or life”. So instead of the story carrying on, I began to map how we rely on so many definitions understand the context of the words that we are reading. So instead of going in a linear way, we kind of work behind and make a map, basically. A map language.
The idea behind the book is children’s literature meets adult ideas whether that’s time tables, or encyclopedias or newspapers and that’s how I began to work with this format.
What was your thought process when creating your Romeo & Juliet piece?
I went through the text of Romeo & Juliet and tagged it into 3 emotional states.
1) Everything that was said in passion – so Romeo & Juliet courting
2) Everything said in rage – the families going to war
3) Everything in solace – the priest and the nurse trying to reconcile the parties
And the idea was based on the fact that we are always attracted to something or have an aversion to it – and if we are not attracted to it or have an aversion to it, we ignore it.
Attraction, aversion, indifference or whatever state we are in, it always moves on, so I took all of the passion of Romeo & Juliet and moved it physically by cutting it out – every bit of letter from passion down into straws.