Stroom Bibliotheeksessies: Tereza Ruller

Friday 24 October 2014
Location: library Stroom Den Haag, Hogewal 1-9, The Hague
Archive Stroom Bibliotheeksessies/library sessions

Graphic designer and artist Tereza Ruller (1987) was the special guest for the Stroom Library Session on Friday October 24th. That afternoon we spoke, with a small group of selected guests, about her work as a guardian on the border of the fields of art and design, her youth in the city of Brno in The Czech Republic, and about her different sources of inspiration in art, design, architecture, music, philosophy and literature.
Tereza recently designed the visual identity for the WeberWoche at Stroom Den Haag, an exciting program that consisted of a week-long exhibition and two days packed full of crazy performances and tough lectures.

Tereza Ruller was educated in the fine arts and intermedia in Brno and Prague, before going to England and finally The Hague where she is now studying graphic design at the Royal Academy of Art. At the same time she works as a graphic designer, VJ, researcher, and lecturer. Together with her design partner and husband Vit Ruller she is the founder of graphic design studio The Rodina. The studio mainly works for clients in the cultural field: galleries, clubs, architectural publishers, artists and musicians.

During her childhood in Brno, just after the fall of the communist regime, Tereza Ruller lived in an atmosphere where art was holy and at the same time part of the daily life. There wasn't a clear boundary between art and life, they were constantly interfering with each other. Her father was a performance artist and a teacher and her mother worked as a stage designer in the theatre and teached also. The fact that her parents lived as young artists during the hostile communist era where they had to go underground with their avant-garde activities, is a lasting influence and inspiration on Ruller's thinking and work. She is still very much attached to the seriousness and the  ideas of authorship of the modernist era, but she is also heavily influenced by the Postmodern French philosophers of the eighties and nineties. As part of the design studio The Rodina, Ruller is definitely working on the flipside of Modernism, going through irony and bad taste and coming out on the other side saying serious things about the psychological impact of design.

The gut feeling that her designs evoke is the outcome of her desire to have a physical impact on the user of the material. She experiments with designing by means of the body using her own body sometimes as a design tool, as you can see in the video she made as a teaser for the WeberWoche at Stroom.


For this session Tereza brought several bags full of books that she made or that have inspired her. The first book she showed to us, because it heavily influenced her since childhood, was a children's book about a secret garden. Then there were books on modernist architecture in Czechoslowakia between the wars, when the (Jewish) intelligentsia was thriving in Brno, her own designs for monumental wedding cakes, 3-D animations shown on her laptop, and much more.

The future-driven philosophy of the Next Nature group is a big influence on The Rodina designs. With the urge to design our environment, we cause the rising of a next nature that is wild and unpredictable. But sometimes people want to be reassured that old ways still prevail, so the Greek term Skeuomorph is introduced usually for a digital interface that employs "real-world" textures or effects to make the interface feel more comfortable. Skeuomorph and New Materialism are important ideas that Tereza is using in her own thinking about designing through the body and the term that she is using now for her own strategy is Action to Surface.

Aliens and Herons/Vetřelci a volavky
Pavel Karous, editor
Publisher: Arbor vitae
460 pages, most in color. In Czech and English
ISBN: 978-80-7467-039-8
A guide to a strange endangered species: public art from the Normalization era
There used to be a law between 1965 and 1989 requiring between 1 and 4 percent of the funds for every building project be spent on public art. After 1989, though, not only was the law dropped but the ownership of the art changed so that now basically nobody is responsible for it. As a result, many pieces including ones made by important artists have been destroyed.
Pavel Karous has been cataloging public art from the Normalization era for years and  published this "field guide". The book has hundreds of color pictures of public art across the Czech Republic and into Slovakia.

Ritual without Myth
Author: Lily Hall, Laura Smith
Publisher: Royal College of Art ; Pages: 96 ; English
ISBN: 978-1-907342-31-8
Designed by Rustan Söderling the catalogue for Ritual without Myth features a series of short essays that contextualise the practice of the artists in the exhibition (Danai Anesiadou, Erick Beltrán, Lygia Clark, Joachim Koester and others), and provide insight into their diverse approaches to ritual, as well as their embodiment and subversion of dominant myths. Interspersed throughout the catalogue, a visual essay expands upon these written narratives through a series of images and quotations, including images from the Warburg Institute's Photographic Collection, London, that reinforce and open out existing connections between the exhibited works.

26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2014: Graphic Design, Education & Schools
catalogue ; 247 pp ; in English & Czech
graphic design: Johannes Breyer & Fabian Harb
ISBN: 978-80-7027-274-9
Published on the occasion of the 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2014.
Reflecting developments in graphic design and visual culture for more than 50 years now, the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno is one of the oldest and most significant events of its kind. The theme of the 26th edition of the Brno Biennial is education in the field of graphic design and visual communication. The 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design is held from 19 June to 26 October 2014 in the Moravian Gallery in Brno.

Digital Folklore Reader
Edited by Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied
Designed by Manuel Buerger
17cm × 25cm, 288 pages, six kinds of paper, loads of colors, + CAT POSTER
Language: English (83,21%), German (16,79%)
Published November 2009 by merz & solitude.
ISBN 978-3937982250
"Technical innovations shape only a small part of computer and network culture. It doesn't matter much who invented the microprocessor, the mouse, TCP/IP or the World Wide Web and what ideas were behind these inventions. What matters is who uses them. Only when users start to express themselves with these technical innovations do they truly become relevant to culture at large. Users' endeavors, like glittering star backgrounds, photos of cute kittens and rainbow gradients, are mostly derided as kitsch or in the most extreme cases, postulated as the end of culture itself. In fact this evolving vernacular, created by users for users, is the most important, beautiful and misunderstood language of new media. As the first book of its kind, this reader contains essays and projects investigating many different facets of Digital Folklore: online amateur culture, DIY electronics, dirtstyle, typonihilism, memes, teapots, penis enlargement, ..."  Part of the Introduction by Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied

Atlas of Transformation
Edited by Zbynek Baladran, and Vit Havranek ; Author(s) Hakim Bey, Homi K. Bhabha, Boris Groys, Karl Holmqvist [ al.] Softcover, 160 x 220 mm ; 724 pages ; Images 54 color / 82 b/w ; English ; Publisher: JRP|Ringier, October 2010
ISBN: 978-3-03764-147-7
Atlas of Transformation, with its almost 800 pages, is a sort of global guidebook of transformation processes. With structured entries, its goal is to create a tool for the intellectual grasping of the processes of social and political change in countries that call themselves "countries of transformation" (or are described by this term). The Atlas of Transformation contains more than 200 ‘entries' and key terms of transformation. Several dozen authors from the whole world contributed to this book and also some influential period texts are republished here.
Seventh volume of the "Tranzit" series edited by Vit Havranek and focusing on Central and Eastern European artists.

Dread: The Dizziness of Freedom
Editor: Juha van 't Zelfde ; Text/authors: Thomas Hirschhorn, Xander Karskens, Metahaven, China Miéville [ al.] ; Design: Metahaven ; 240 pages ; 21 x 13,5 cm ; Paperback ; English ; Publisher: VALIZ, in cooperation with De Hallen Haarlem.
ISBN: 978-90-78088-81-3
Constantly changing technology and growing communication networks give mankind ever more choices and options. however, every technological innovation has its counterpart: the military, administrative, existential crash; catastrophe looms. Virilio: ‘the innovation of the ship also meant a new form of shipwreck'. This imminent, hard to interpret threat evokes feelings of ‘dread'. Dread is an essential and potentially productive element of the human consciousness, and according to the contributors to this volume, a defining characteristic of the present-day condition humaine. Closely related to anxiety and fear, the concept of dread is associated with the ‘dizziness of freedom', as proposed by Søren Kierkegaard in 1844.