In June, the Warsaw International Poster Biennale celebrates its fiftieth anniversary and will be curated by the Royal College of Art’s head of critical writing in art and design, Professor David Crowley.
Accompanying his exhibition, The Poster Remediated, which will explore how posters have been reproduced and distributed in various media, is a competition which it is hoped will stimulate new thinking around what a poster can be in the 21st-century.
The aim of the competition is “to animate one of ten iconic posters from the history of the Biennale in the manner of what is sometimes called the ‘Motion Poster’,” Crowley explains in an interview with Octavia Reeve on the RCA blog.
“Often commissioned by the film industry, these promo images are not trailers but an animation of elements of the promotional poster. For just a few seconds, letters ripple into life; actors strike a pose; lightning flashes overhead. Figures like the celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser have given us their permission to allow designers to animate their designs.”
In addition to Glaser, the other designers whose posters have featured in the Bienalle since its opening in 1966 and who have agreed to allow their work to be animated are: Marion Diethelm, Roman Cieślewicz, Jacqueline S Casey, Alain Le Quernec, Finn Nygaard, Shin Matsunaga, Tahamtan Aminian, Shaghayegh Fakharzadeh and Małgorzata Gurowska.
Competition entries can take the form of a Gif or an animated short and the best work selected by the jury will be exhibited in the show with an overall winner receiving a prize of €1,000. Full details of the competition, including its terms and conditions and all the poster files, are at biennale.postermuseum.pl. The deadline for entries is May 10.
Regarding the main exhibition at the Bienalle, Crowley says he wanted to address how ‘remediation’ has, in fact, been an integral part of the history of the medium – having frequently made use of the press, TV, cinema and, more recently, the internet.
“Activists have long produced controversial posters to attract the attention of the press,” he says. “The exhibition features ten micro-histories of iconic posters like ‘I Am a Man’, ‘Je Suis Charlie’ and the anti-Vietnam War poster ‘And Babies?’ which have been distributed in these kind of ways.”
Crowley says that the exhibition will also have sections on iconoclasm (and the desire to destroy or remove posters); activism (including the removal of commercial advertising from cities around the world); and the future of the interactive poster.
“There is much discussion today about the death of the poster, but in fact, this concern isn’t new,” Crowley says in his Q&A with Reeve. “It goes back to the late 1960s and the spread of electronic communication. Now, it’s the internet that’s identified as the poster’s nemesis.
“In reality, we still fill our streets with advertising billboards, and when protestors march against injustice they carry posters. New media communications have lots of poster-like qualities: an internet meme – an image captioned with a slogan – is a digital poster, even if it wasn’t created by a poster designer.”