October 2, 2012

2013?: An Interview with Mark Hagen and Jessica Fleischmann

Paper Chase Press:
What interests you about end of the world predictions?

Mark Hagen: Predictions for the end-of-the-world have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to ignore them so instead I started to collect them. With the end of 2012 right around the corner and the rash of new and improved predictions, what better way to celebrate this mystifying aspect of our culture than with a 2013 day planner that is also an encyclopedia of failed predictions from the past two millennia. I loved researching this project, reading about these individuals and their often harrowing lives. Many are sympathetic characters struggling for what they saw as more freedom and justice. Most however are horrible people, liars and charlatans, spurring horrible and indefensible actions because other people were foolish enough to believe them. Greed is of course ever present, but also is the desire to endow life with purpose and meaning, to project onto our unmoored and amorphous existence a linear story, a larger narrative in which humanity is at the center. You know, because the finiteness of our lives terrifies us, but the thought of an uncaring world or universe continuing on even thriving without us, terrifies us more.


PCP: Do you ever wonder if these predictions will come true; are you trying to make us nervous?

MH: I am forever a skeptic and an optimist, but the predictions of ecological catastrophe should give us pause.

PCP: Did you always envision this as a calendar?

MH: My first thought was for a straight-forward illustrated book, but in speaking with Nicole Katz about the project we hit upon the idea of a practical day-planner. The overarching design motif of my day planner that Jessica and I came up with is the black circle. The circle represents both the continuous or cyclic (going round and round forever) as well as a period at the end of a sentence, the finite, the end.


PCP: How did you come to meet Mark and work on this project?
Jessica Fleischmann: We’ve known each other since were in grad school together at CalArts over a decade ago: Mark in Art and me in Graphic Design. He invited me to check out a crit of his work. I loved how low key and skate-park-poetic the work was. I’ve always been impressed with what a nice guy Mark is, and behind the laid back California guy-thing, the smarts.

PCP: What were the ways you channeled the apocalyptic through the design of the calendars?

JF: The design of the Day Planner is actually quite classic, based on the Day Planner Mark uses, along with several desk calendars we’d archived over the years. I think the apocalyptic in there is that people are moving away from paper as a tool to document or organize their days, and there are things you can do on paper that just won’t ever happen in iCal. What’s happening to our brains when the tool locks you down, rather than opening up possibilities and connections and layers.

Formally, the poster sunburst/starburst/black sun is the thing that’s apocalyptic—as each Day Planner entry radiates out from an invisible center, the ragged outer edge of the orb lends a menacing quality to simple, circular form. Is it the earth missing in space? Is it the sun, gone black? Is it a never ending cycle? Maybe there’s no apocalypse at all, and we just keep beginning again.


PCP: What are some projects you have coming up?
JF: About to start on a book with Alexandra Grant for a show at both 18th Street Arts Center and Mains d’Oeuvres in Paris, curated by Pilar Tomkins Rivas and Isabelle Le Normand. Making street banners for REDCAT—it’ll be a kick to see them around town. An installation/exhibition with Juliette Bellocq and River Jukes-Hudson for Big City Forum: The Hub at WUHO during the month of November. An installation with Group Effort for East of Borneo’s Eats of Borneo fundraiser on November 10 at Blum and Poe. Artmageddon the weekend of September 29-30. That was a blast to work on — very 80s-feeling design explosion.

So, a lot of branching out from traditional 2-d design, which is super exciting.