About this reader

We think of the possibility to combine ideas which seem incompatible in the first place. Which allows to go from the "or" to the "and", and taking fully into account an "and-itian" practice, close to the one of the hacker since he sticks out from the duality technophobia/technophilia, and to invent an "and", meaning another way of thinking the industrial world: " The exemplar character of the fights lead by the actors of the Free software movement stands in that, for the first time, workers coming from the industrial world invent a novel organization of work and of economy which made deproletarization its principle and its credo."»

OSP, «Relearn», 2011

Today’s creation largely depends on digital tools. Far from being a neutral means to an artistic achievement, those tools are actually opinionated: they carry values and are full of conventions about the way things “ought” to be done. To us, a greater awareness of the role of digital tools is—if important to everybody—crucial in the education of artists and designers. Instead of means, the soft- and hardware tools can become partners to consciously think and converse with, to question and interrogate and to clash with. And because (visual) creation is so tightly coupled with technological development, a larger awareness of these tools can help one speculate about future practices and invent the tools to support them.

Contrary to other contemporary fields of creation, there is little literature on these questions in the sphere of graphic design. This is why we felt it was important to bring together texts and showcases on this topic into one comprehensive corpus: a tool to think about tools.

With only five exceptions, all materials in this reader is available under licenses that invite re-use, distribution and re-appropriation. This means that texts can circulate freely, and be included in other digital and printed publications; can be translated and otherwise used as necessary.

A reader for designers and developers

Considering your tools is aimed at students (undergraduate) and professors involved in (digital) design, but can also provide professional designers and developers with necessary critical texts to better understand the relations between practice and tools. In the academic year of 2013/2014 the reader will for example be in use at École de Recherche Graphique (Brussels), Piet Zwart Institute Media Design (Rotterdam), La Cambre (Brussels) and Arte 10 (Madrid).


The process of editing this publication involved selecting 15 texts written in French, English, and Spanish out of an initial collection of about 130. The editorial team commissioned translations, negotiated rights and invited authors to develop contributions that could cover missing areas. The editorial team consisted of Stéphanie Vilayphiou and Alexandre Leray supported by a group of co-editors (Nicolas Malevé, Yvan Monroy Lopez, Lilly Nguyen, Camille Pageard, Eric Schrijver) representing different competencies and language areas. A mailing-list allowed a larger group of interested participants to contribute. The reader is first of all this very web-publication. We are currently working with a publisher to develop the materials further into a printed book. Of course you are welcome to print your own versions.

Libre Graphics Research Unit

This reader is one of the outcomes of a two years research program, entitled Libre Graphics Research Unit (LGRU) and conducted by Constant, a Belgian association for art and media, in collaboration with three other European media labs: MediaLab Prado (Madrid, Spain), Worm (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and Piksel (Bergen, Norway).

Tools shape practice Contemporary creative work depends largely on digital tools. These tools are cultural objects themselves, and constitute a vital part of creative practice. Because digital tools often suffer from overdetermined functionality and are full of conventions about the way things "ought" to be done, it is important that practitioners take part in their construction. Unavoidably shaped by conventional models of production and distribution, tools condition creative practice in terms of divisions of labour, vocabulary and medium.

From http://ospublish.constantvzw.org/lab/wiki/index.php/Projectdescription


For further information or if you want to propose a translation, please email the editors. If you're interested in following the process of the project, you can subscribe to the LGRU reader mailing-list.


The editors would like to thank: