Jonathan Puckey

Posted inDesigner Profiles
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Portrait of Annette Lux at Bold Italic 2009, Ghent, made using the Delaunay Raster plug-in.

Title: Designer

From: Amsterdam

Lives in: Amsterdam

Age: 28


Jonathan Puckey doesn’t design images so much as systems. He and his collaborators, an informal group called Conditional Design (including Luna Maurer, Edo Paulus, and Roel Wouters), build systems requiring human interaction that then sets logical systems into motion.

Puckey was born in Amsterdam to British parents. At 13, he was designing and programming websites, later leaving school to freelance for ad agencies. After the dot-com bust, he entered the Rietveld Academie, where he was confronted with the “refreshing” fact that his whiz-kid technological skills were “easy ways out, visual tricks, like the ‘random’ tool.” But he began “to see technology as a way to accomplish a goal, not as the goal.” Now, he takes on technology itself–“thinking within logical systems”–as his core concept.

Typography is one area in which Puckey has experimented. “Typography frustrates me,” he says. “It’s a limited system.” In this sense, digital type has physical limitations, whereas handwriting and typing can convey the writer’s mood based on the speed at which ink is applied. “With digital type, that layer of added texture is lost,” Puckey says. So he created Typographic Rhythm, a tool that uses typing speed to generate 140 font weights.

Conditional Design meets weekly to discuss and experiment. One of its new projects, “More Is Less,” splits a video of dancing musi- cians into 3,600 frames. Online visitors can strike one of the poses, then capture and upload the image. The program continuously updates, replacing the original frames with the user-generated ones. The result is a new video, transmogrified by Puckey’s chief fascination, “the combination of human behavior and technological systems.”

Portrait of Ken Garland & Associates at Bold Italic 2009, Ghent, made using the Delaunay Raster plug-in.

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