Skip to main content
Graphic Design

Johann Spindler

My name is Johann Spindler. I'm a German-American photographer and designer, currently in the second year of my MA studies in Visual Communication. I pursued my undergraduate degree in physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt, after which I completed my Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts at the RCA. Through my interdisciplinary background, I have learned to value multiple perspectives and approaches. They have influenced me to push the boundaries of the media with which I work, the topics in which I delve into and my goals for the future: to not just explore the boundaries of existing media and tools, but to find entirely new forms of expression.


2021: Upcoming Exhibitions "Terminal" and "DAAD Arts Project 2021"

2020: Shortlisted for RA Summer Exhibition

2020: Recipient of the "Art, Design, Film" scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service

2020: Selected for the Land Rover Masterclass

2020: Speaker at ICON 2020

2019: RCA "Work in Progress" show

2019: Speaker at ICON 2019

2014: Exhibition KSK Groß-Gerau

2013: Awarded E-Fellows scholarship and honorary membership in the jDPG (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft)


I am broadly interested in how we communicate and the way technology sits at the intersection between us, each other and our environment. This is founded on an initial interest in photography, a medium that I approached both as a photographer as well as a scientist, and that has since expanded into projects incorporating graphic design, writing, VR, computation, and media science more generally. Research and criticality are significant parts of my practice, informing both my process and making, whether I am looking at the role of VR in the relationship between memory and touch, or the way something as ubiquitous as light can be tied to cultural or scientific narratives.

Most recently I have focused on the internet as a space that is both opaque and intentional, while at the same time becoming increasingly templated. In this context, I have been exploring the role of UI/UX design in navigation and nudging online, as well as its potential to create an experience of the internet that is more explorative and open-ended, some of which I have implemented in my Sandcastles website. I have also featured work from collaborations with other students and a small photographic project called Lying Awake Dreaming.

Sandcastles is a project on and about the internet. In several parts, it investigates the current state of the internet as a space that is often opaque and intentional, and yet designed in a way that is increasingly uniform. In a series of podcasts and a research booklet, it reflects on the history, nature and design of websites, while through the website itself, Sandcastles prototypes more explorative and open-ended alternatives of what the internet could look like.

For the most part, design on the internet works for the straightforward tasks it´s made for. Templated design and increased speeds make accessing tutorials, comparing products or checking out in an online store easy. These kind of tasks don´t require us to think, and strides around UI/UX seem to have made our active involvement even less essential. When this generation picks up a new piece of technology, we don´t need to read a user manual or consult an expert. The same is true of websites. However, the fact that we immediately understand what we need to do could be not just because UI/UX design is so advanced, but instead because we are actually passive and being engaged with, or because the technologies (and the websites) we´re using aren´t actually that different. For the tasks above this isn´t a problem. They have clear, ethically unambiguous goals which this same kind of design is great at achieving. But for those for which the goal is less clear, like building communities on social media, accessing correct information using search engines or using the internet as a medium for creative or personal expression, these goals become less clear, and increasingly similar design will limit those options.

The Sandcastles website was created from scratch and with the help of David Breuer, who did almost all the programming on the website, while I took care of the front end. This being the first programming heavy project in this form was a massive challenge, but in some sense this goes to show how the existence of templates disincentivizes the creative use of design on websites and the difficulty of creating truly unique designs and information structures online.

Medium:

Website
Non-Hierarchical Glyph
Non-Hierarchical Glyph
Animated Glyphs
Animated Glyphs
Glyph Sound (Home) — Track by Dennis Tjiok Part of the Sandcastles Website Project
Glyph Sound (Play) — Track by Dennis Tjiok Part of the Sandcastles Website Project
Glyph Sound (Skip) — Track by Dennis Tjiok Part of the Sandcastles Website Project
Glyph Sound (Sandcastles) — Track by Dennis Tjiok Part of the Sandcastles Website Project

For this website I created a series of modular and interchangable glyph systems, some of which are animated, sonic or metaphorical, others that actually change the way we interface with a website, such as the non-hierarchical glyph system above (which, instead of arranging a certain number of glyphs in an intended order and hierarchy, creates a navigational system that is more free and gestural). Another aspect I incorporated into the final website is the use of a synchronous interface, creating a website that exists between devices and whose information is interchangeable and interdependent. Through the smartphone implementation, which is accessed through the QR code on start-up, the designs of the website are adjustable, which finally also changes the approach to the information displayed on the website and the way the podcasts are experienced.

Research & Design Booklet: Chapter I

Along with the podcasts, much of the research for this project is documented in a research and design booklet. Similar to the way Paul Rand created booklets for his brand identities, I created this research booklet to include some of the rationale behind the design decisions for the website. It also includes thoughts and summaries of thoughts around computers and computer networks. It covers everything from why certain colors were chosen to the history linking cyberneticists to the counterculture movement, and explores the ways in which design, history and culture on the internet are related.

Medium:

Bookdesign, Creative Non-Fiction, Photography, Illustration

Size:

6.75x9 Inches

Lying Awake Dreaming is a personal project and a visual journal of my experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. It documents my time back in Germany during the first lockdown and my return back to London. It documents a shared experience of solitude and isolation and an event that is and was as much invisible as always present. Photography for this project meant both bridging the challenges of photographing with limited access to the outside world as well as a tool to overcome and as a cathartic practice.

Medium:

Photography

During this past year at RCA I had the chance to collaborate with students from all different pathways on a variety of projects. This included fashion shoots, collaborative films as well as the design of booklets and posters. This section is just a cross section of some of these projects. All images are made by me, the creators of works and models are in order of appearance: Fashion by Bea Brücker, modeled by Karjai Lisbie, Kaiden Ford, Esther Durotolu, Lulu Wang, photography and lighting by me. Performance film developed in cooperation with Lulu Wang, filming and photography by me, with garments by Nicole Kaminska and music by Adam Dove; Fashion by Hyejin Ko, book design and photography by me, Photography for Siobhan Palin, Jenny Choi, Bolim Jeon, Anna Deller-Yee and Nirav Beni

Medium:

Photography, Film, Book

German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)

Stipendien für Studierende im Fachbereich Bildende Künste/Design/Film