AiR: Mike Fleisch
March 5, 2012
If you find yourself standing at a dry erase board, tasked with simply and visually representing ideas (or reality), especially somebody else’s, the pros will want you to remember a few modeling basics: show the actors, relationships, a context or frame, and then label what you can. This assumes a lot, but it’s pretty useful for most dry erase situations.
I appreciate the ontological earliness and ephemerality of dry erase. It tells you by its nature that there’s more to come, and it’s really not all that sure of itself; its very name is eradication. Words, lines, boxes, frames. The form excels at connections and context, but every new bit of information suggests more that’s absent. Visual models are never finished, just abandoned… questions will always remain. What’s just outside the biggest frame? Are the actors labeled correctly? Are the relationships fairly represented, and would the actors agree with them? How does it all look from the inside? How many dimensions have been flattened out? Are these classifications universal? It’s a lot of uncertainty, expressed in a sympathetic medium. And yet, as Naomi Klein reminded the School of Economics at the University of Chicago, “Ideas have consequences.” In some rooms, on some dry erase boards, the ideas represented portend deep permanence indeed.
Images tell stories… Is this form better suited to certain kinds of stories? Or has it not yet been explored enough to know? It’s not a bad approximation of how our heads work, connecting things and framing them so we can understand and apply. But when the model does fail, which is more interesting: the plainly-there connections that we miss, or those we falsely imagine against all logic? What’s actually at stake are the magic, mystery, and insanity that coat the surface, the slippery madness that comprises the plane and lets us pretend we can always start from scratch.
Mike Fleisch lives with his family in Cincinnati, where he co-founded Chase Public, an arts and assembly space loosely based on The Gift by Lewis Hyde. Writer, designer, painter, and filmmaker; Mike’s first feature film, Good Work, about a postgrad drifter who unwittingly meanders into the one percent, is in the final stages of editing. He does business as The Manufacturing Company, and is on Twitter @mikefleisch.
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